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Vox AC30HWHD 30-watt Handwired Tube Head Reviews

5.0 stars based on 8 customer reviews
Questions about the Vox AC30HWHD 30-watt Handwired Tube Head?

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  • from Chicago February 7, 2017Music Background:
    Rock n Rolla

    A "real" Vox amp - Made for the Stage

    I'm not going to compare the amp to other amps manufactures products like Marshall, Fender, or some boutique amp because that is simply a players taste in the voicing of the amp. Every amp is different and some will work better than others amps in certain types of music or even recording parts of song. So I will go into detail for someone looking for a Vox and the sound that only a Vox can produce.

    I will start of saying that this Vox amp is the best Vox amp product they have put out since JMI owned them in (1957 - 1968). It really is close in capturing the voicing of those amps built by JMI in the hay day of Vox amplification. The blue alnico speakers are a large part of the sound and I would highly recommend these speakers because they are very similar to the original bulldog speakers. Sure the vintage amps are the real deal in the sound, but this amp is much more versatile than the vintage amps. It is also is way more stage friendly than the vintage amps because of the master volume that does not kill it's tone. This is why this amp is a great stage amp and will keep the Vox tone.

    The amp is a 2 channel amp. I will explain how to set it up so keep reading. The way Vox set it up to be a 2 channel amp with it's foot switch really doesn't work. The foot switch only works on the gain channel and will switch the gain channel from "Hot" to "Cool." In the picture of the panel you will see a toggle switch with "Hot and "Cool." The problem is that there is a jump in volume when going from "Hot" and "Cool." It's quite a bit of volume spike between the 2 so it's hard to work with playing live. So what you need to do with this amp, (and what makes it great for the stage) is you will need to get an A/B channel switch. Run one channel to the Normal channel of the amp. Then run the other channel to Top Boost. You will switch between the amp channels. I use the Normal Channel to run more of my effects. I pretty much leave the Top Boost as a high gain for that Vox distortion. Also, if you are wondering what happens if you press BOTH A/B on the A/B channel switch. The amp does not blow up which was my main concern. I'm not sure if it is causing any damage or stress on anything internally amp, that I don't know. I really just did it because I knew eventually playing live I would hit BOTH rather than OR on the foot switch. I didn't get any cool blending of the 2 channels. The Top Boost channels over powers the tone. So I try to step on OR rather than BOTH.

    The amp really does a nice job capturing the vintage JMI Vox sound. I have recorded a lot of tracks with vintage Vox's in the studio. The problem is that the vintage amps were made before master volumes were common on guitar amps. You really have to turn them up around half way to get that killer distortion. So using these amps live on stage has always a volume problem. Specially in smaller stages and rooms. You loose tone turning the vintage amps down. So the master volume on this amp actually works well like a modern boutique amp. You don't loose tone at a good stage volume. This is another reason it's a great stage amp. There is a switch to lower the wattage. At 15 watts, from what I heard, it really doesn't do it. At 30 watts to me the amp just sounds better.

    I see some complaints about lack of EQ (Treble, Bass, Mid) for the amp. I find this kind of funny, because it's the whole reasoning behind the "Top Boost" feature in the 60's. There was never an EQ on the vintage amps. There was a Trem jack (tremolo), a Normal jack (had more bass), and then a Top Boost jack that gave more "brilliance." The Tone knob or the Tone Cut is really the key to any Vox amp ever made. This dials in how dark and how bright you need the amp. It just works perfect on these amps.

    To me, finally a Vox that can be used on a stage. The CC2 models before it never really dialed in right for me. They were to "touchy" when trying to dial them, the distortion to me wasn't the Vox distortion from the past. The Marshall era 6TB were made well, but the voicing was off because of the speakers, and were loud as heck on stage. This amp is a great rendition of the vintage Vox sound and can be used while performing live.

  • from Gadsden December 10, 2016Music Background:
    Played in several bands

    Dream Amp

    This amp just has good pure tone. If you play metal, look elsewhere. I got the matching cab with celestion blues. The speakers DO make a difference. I tried the head with a 4x12 cab with 75 watt celestions. It did not sound as good as the alnico blues. You can get a wide range of tones on the top boost channel by manipulating the volume/master volume. I could not find a bad tone. On the normal channel it also sounds great, but i prefer the top boost for EQ control. The foot switchable hot/cool mode acts like a boost for solos that works great. It adds a little treble and volume. You can drop it to 15 watts with a flick of a switch, but i prefer the full 30 watts sound. Big shout out to Delvin Wolfe for hooking me up here. I like dealing with Sweetwater.

  • from Martha's Vineyard MA. October 21, 2016Music Background:
    Only playing just over two years

    Vox Amp

    This is a really nice sounding amp and is user friendly i am very happy.

  • from Bamboo Room Studio September 12, 2016Music Background:
    Musician / Studio Owner / Engineer

    This amp is a secret weapon!

    I am a professional studio owner and the proud owner of an amazing amp collection. This amp is the best value of any amp I have purchased hands down. The amp is quiet (No Noise) even when cranked and the tone is second to none. It delivers that classic Vox sound that has been imitated by many and some very well but if you want that classic sound everyone knows don't waste your money on any other amp. This amp could cost more than double its selling price! Best deal on any amp I know and an essential tool for any working studio. As a head configuration it works well with the studio setup we use and allows to experiment with many different speakers. Alnico's take you to the promised land and EV/JBL style high power style speakers really let the amps hand wired perfection and character shine. Rented a Matchless 1994 DC-30 Combo a client wanted for a session and we took it back after he tried the Vox ;)

  • from Toledo, OH April 4, 2012Music Background:
    Gigging Musician

    Awesome Amp - Excellent Vintage Tone

    The AC30HW Head is simply awesome. I have researched AC30s for over six months and fell in love with the Youtube demo clips of this amp. When I took it home I was in total awe with the tone this amp delivered. I am currently playing the amp through a Marshall 1960 4x12 Cab. My Les Paul Standard, Fender 52 Telecaster Reissue and Fender American Deluxe Strat have never sounded as good as they do when I plugged into this head. The amp is very responsive to your playing style. It will articulate the sound of really digging into your strings or give you a creamy warm tone with a light touch to your strumming pattern. The highs and mids of your tone will really come through the speaker but then there is this perfect blend of lows that compliments the overall sound quality of this amp. It seems that every time I turn the amp on and play with the controls I am able to produce new sounds from this amp. The Top Boost without the hot switch will give a great overdrive sound just to the point of breakup. The Tubes with distort slightly more with the 15watt switch engaged which is to be expected. The hot switch will definitely get the EL34s to breakup but not to the level that metal lovers will like.
    The amp is quite loud and would be able to cut through the drum mix in a small to medium venue without having to be miced. I am able to get decent tone in my house with the master volume turned to about 1:00 oclock without the family complaining especially if I plug the amp into the low gain jack. I was worried about not having an effects loop; however, I have run my Lexicon MX400 Rack and other pedals into the amp and they have sounded great. So far I have not missed having the loop available.
    I grew up in the 60s and 70s and had the privilege of hearing great tube amp back then from friends band I was around. I can say this amp sound every bit as good as those awesome vintage amps. If you play Blues, Jazz or early to mid 70s rock and roll this amp will not disappoint. To get AC/DC sound or metal it will need the help of pedals which it will handle without any difficulty. I can highly recommend this amp. Great job VOX!

  • from Wyoming, USA June 7, 2011Music Background:
    Gigging hobbyist and tone hound

    The Real Deal -- Complete the journey

    I used to think that the details didn't matter - for me anyway. But the difference between these handwired VOXs and all the others, and any other amp, for that matter, boils down to one thing: you're there. You've gotten 80% or maybe even 90% there with other amps. With this amp, you get all the way there. That tone that, soon as you hear it, you smile and think,

    "That simply couldn't get any better."

    Now, I suspect the other gear in the chain should be quality stuff as well. I'm going through my Frankenstrat with Seymour Duncan Antiquity pups. My custom Tele with the Lollar P90s sounds just as good through this. In my experience, HB-equipped guitars sound merely "wonderful" through this amp. Quality single coils are your ticket on the train that goes all the way to perfect tone here. I wanted to experiment outside the usual 12" Celestion Blues setup, so I built a cab with a 10" Celestion Gold, open-backed, and a good ceramic 15" Jensen beside it, but closed back and unported. This setup brings out all this amp's juicy low-mids to highs goodness, but at 90 watts total room, I don't get the speaker breakup at full volume available with two Blues. So sooner or later I'll buy the Blues cab.

    But even with all that, you're still not talking a boutique amp price with this thing. Believe me, it sounds better than any boutique amp you'll find, when used for the D, G, B, and high-E strings. And yes, that includes Dumbles and Trainwrecks - both of which I've tried, and are excellent, but I didn't achieve nirvana (not the band) with those. I did with this Vox AC30HWHD. Turns out that final 10% is where all the good stuff is.

    (if you play metal, disregard all the above -- this ain't your amp)

  • from Austin January 10, 2017

    Absolutely fantastic!

    I owned an AC30 CX2 combo for years and loved it, but the weight was started to annoy me, so I sold it. I tried a Fender Deluxe Reverb and instantly missed my AC30, so I returned it and grabbed one of these and WOW! I'm running it through a custom made 2X12 with an Eminence Governor and a Celestion G12K100...I know it's an odd combo and not the Alnico Blues...but this setup JAMS! I may eventually get another 2X12 built with and Eminence Red Fang and a Private Jack to get that classic Vox flavor. I prefer Eminence tone and prices to the Celestions in which they imitate. This amp sounds so sweet...the clean tones are simply amazing and the drive is meeeaaan. Much meaner than my combo ever was. At first, I was a little bothered by the lack on on board reverb, but after plugging in an earthquaker device Levitation pedal, I couldn't be more pleased. I keep this amp set to clean with a tinge of breakup and use my pedalboard for everything else. My board has never responded so well to an amp...all the effects sounds fantastic and my JHS Andy Timmons OD absolutely smokes through this amp. As far as the little features like the bright/normal switch and the hot/cool switch...I just keep mine set to normal and cool. The hot switch adds a TON of gain, and sounds good, but I don't use it much. The hot switch also adds alot of noise to the amp, as does cranking the preamp volume. Lack of an effects loop also is a bit of downer, but I use this as a clean platform live, so it doesn't effect me. I'm gonna upgrade the tubes soon to see if that alleviates the noise a bit. Until then, my ISP Decimator keeps things nice and quiet without sucking any of the tone. These negatives are only very small annoyances, and that's why I give it an overall score of 4.5. I would say this is my favorite amp I've ever played on for rock music. I also do metal, but I have other amps for that..this does everything else beautifully. I think this head is worth every penny and it looks fantastic! Do not hesitate...

  • from Columbus, Ohio August 23, 2016Music Background:
    Guitar player

    Boutique Level!!

    This is a great amp!! I have a 65 amps London and a tone king imperial handwired for comparison, this amp hangs with those amps. I purchased a Morgan 1-12 alnico gold cabinet for this amp and they pair really well. I've only had it for a week so no input on how it will hold up, but it sounds great. If you're looking for "that" sound buy this over the Chinese built ones. As usual Sweetwater and Alan Carter were perfect on their sale and delivery.

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