What is it that give vintage AC30 amps the magic tone?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by TRIODEROB, Jun 20, 2006.


  1. TRIODEROB

    TRIODEROB Senior Member

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    the true vintage ac30 vox seem to win the
    "best amp I ever heard" contests all the time.

    what gives these prized amps the magic tone and why is it the
    clones come close but never nail the magic.

    Now on the other hand the fender deluxe I had made from a
    mission amp kit was every bit as good as true vintage 5e3 deluxes
    I have played.

    what is it about the vintage AC30?

    the iron, caps, speakers ???
     
  2. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Don't buy into the internet hype machine.

    I had a '64 Vox AC30, it was a great amp that had a particularly characterisic sound.

    It was a great sound, but it was not the best sounding amp I ever heard, unless the question was "What amp sounds like a '60's Vox?"

    To answer your question about why do they sound the way they sound, the answer id the same for everything, it's the combination of the components and, more importantly, the design.
     
  3. e-z

    e-z Member

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    It's special magic English Beatle dust.
     
  4. 908SSP

    908SSP Member

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    I think your ears are so burned out at the typical tone feast it is the only amp with enough high end to still be heard.

    :)
     
  5. bjm007

    bjm007 Member

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    I agree...

    I think there IS magic with AC30's and Celestion Blues. Another combination just about as cool IMO is a Marshall Plexi and a 4x12 with G12H30's.

    They both produce a unique tone that is so appealing to my old ears that it makes me a better player......

    Maybe it's just me, but at the very least those two combinations are what rock and roll tone is all about :drool
     
  6. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    The class A circuitry?
     
  7. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    That and the magical fairy dust. :)

    Actually...I've heard some old AC30s that sounded mediocre at best. They're not all great. ... But once you've heard a really nice one, it is a thing of beauty. I stumbled across one many years ago in the mid 70s. I was dead when I got it, was repaired once or twice and then eventually sold dead again. But in-between, it did have a glorious, wonderful sound.
     
  8. bscepter

    bscepter Member

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    Plug into an AC30 with a humbucking guitar in the Normal channel and turn it up all the way. Then post back...
     
  9. procos

    procos Supporting Member

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    Not sure why they sound so good. I will say that my '62 AC30 sounds better than any amp I have ever heard or played. And that includes any soundclips or tones from any albums I have ever heard. I just love mine. Doesn't mean it would be the best for someone else though.

    Chuck
     
  10. hogy

    hogy Member

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    And now you're posting again. Magic!
     
  11. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Your ears. Mine like many newer amps much more. The Vox CC for one.
     
  12. Rusty G.

    Rusty G. Member

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    Wouldn't it be too bassy sounding? I would think that you'd need a treble booster to keep it from booming out. . .Then again. . .I don't know. I don't have an AC30 with blues. I do have a 1997 AC15 with 2 X 10's, and I've turned eveything to the right and plugged in a les paul and it all mushed out. I definately need a treble booster to do that.
     
  13. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Done it many, many times with my old JMI AC30.

    It's a great tone, but to say it's the "best" implies there is only one tone.
     
  14. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I hope you're joking... :)

    The AC30 is not Class A. The real irony is that the type of sound it and other cathode-biased, no-negative-feedback, hot-running Class AB amps have is precisely because it is Class AB. It's a characteristic of the way the bias point is affected by the signal level, and true Class A amps don't do it.

    What I don't know is how the AC30 ever came to be called Class A - the proof that it isn't is written on the original schematic, exactly because the bias voltage is specified as different values at idle and full power. But it's been responsible for one of the biggest pieces of myth and misinformation in the entire field of guitar amplification... and is now unfortunately an accepted part of marketing lore/BS.

    Sorry, pet peeve, but I really feel that it's important to try to educate people about this...
     
  15. tralfax19645

    tralfax19645 Member

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    Hi,
    The biggest key in my opinion is the ineffecient output transformer. If you were to side by side compare with a CC to a DC 30 for example, the matchless has a wider freq response and it is louder. ALOT louder. The CC has a purposely compromised OT with a weaker magnetic/inductance coupling between the primary and the secondary. It gives the effect of rolling off the high Hz and the low hz. You can tinker with the cut and driver output ciruit to get a modern transformer to have the same type of roll off,without loosing the extra power to the mids.
    If your doing a strait up clone with all the stock VOX values, get a mercury tone clone, and youlll be good to go.
    Rob
     
  16. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I was just going by what Ritchie Fliegler said in his book "AMPS! the other half of rock 'n'n roll".
     
  17. 1964

    1964 Member

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    + 1
     
  18. dhines

    dhines Member

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    First of all, I'm glad someone brought up the Class A myth on the board. You guys are right. Everyone claiming Class A right now really isn't. But, for argument's sake, and marketing's sake, we can at least agree that everyone using the cathode-biased, EL84 design as we currently know it can be lumped into the "class A" category. Let's just call it a practical semantic tool to denote that type of amp. :AOK

    On why I think old Vox amps sound so good...
    1) less bass equals more chime. most guitarists don't get this - no matter how much bass you "think" you need, turn it down. your guitar always sounds better in the mix and 20 feet in front of the amp. I don't mean make it thin, just keep the bass down. vox does this naturally.
    - compare a vintage vox and marshall circuit, there are two caps that are reversed, the vox configuration peels out a bit more bass
    - this is the same circuit that matchless and badcat have built their reputations on. it's just a vox with much more preamp gain and beefier transformers
    2) someone mentioned vox transformers. that's part of it too. they had a distinctive sound. the 4 most critical items in an amp are tubes, caps, transformers and speakers. those elements make 80% of the difference between good tone and bad tone.
    3) the combination of the preamp circuit, power amp circuit and tube choice (EL84s), and the old vox speakers really magnified the chimey effect
    4) don't forget the open back cabinet too
     
  19. MLG8675

    MLG8675 Member

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    John is right! BTW Randall Aiken has a great article about why the AC30 is not Class A on his website.
     
  20. BBQLS1

    BBQLS1 Member

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    It's because they run on the edge of destroying themselves and often do.
     

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