Vox AC30CC2X Custom Classic AC30CC2X 30w 2x12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp with Alnico Blues
Overall Rating: I've been playing for about 8 years, and have been playing guitar in my band for the last 18 months. This amp is my only gig worthy amp, and I use a Gibson Explorer and Fender Strat. I have various pedals that I use to shape my sounds...
Overall Rating: I've been playing for about 8 years, and have been playing guitar in my band for the last 18 months. This amp is my only gig worthy amp, and I use a Gibson Explorer and Fender Strat. I have various pedals that I use to shape my sounds and that's one of the things I love about the AC30 - it's got character but can still be shaped to give you your own sound. It's that character that I love so much and lets me forgive the weight, difficulty in accessing the tubes and time it takes to dial in the "perfect" sound.
There are naysayers out there that don't rate these Chinese built amps, and certainly there were issues with the first few years of production. But now they know what they're doing they're making great amps that are well built, affordable, and are considered by most who also own vintage ac30s as being very close to the sound of the originals.
Features: This is a 2007 ac30cc2x. It started life as a cc2 - Wharfdale rather than Celestion Blues - but I purchased UK made Celestion Blues seperately and installed them myself. Amazingly, it's cheaper that way.
Although the amp has two channels - Top Boost and Normal (with additional brilliance switch), it's really a single channel amp. Both channels saturate at about the same time, and as such the volume difference between a clean and a distortion sound would be too great to use in this way. Most people with AC30s treat them as single channel amps, with different input "flavours".
The amp is quite versatile. The voicing of the amp, with its great "chime" and top end, means it always cuts through and is rarely not loud enough. Bands from the Beatles through Queen, U2 through to Thrice and Thursday, use AC30s, and boosted they can sound surprisingly heavy. They also have more low end than they're given credit for, though it's not tight sounding and it'll take months before the speakers break in to a point where the bass is flapping your trouser legs!
This version of the AC30 has an effects loop which is a very handy addition if you run the amp distorted. It also has a blend switch so you can use both channels at the same time, which gives extra options for adding body to your tone. A master volume also seperates this from the 60's AC30s, though the tone definitely suffers when you turn the master volume down. A huge part of the AC30 tone comes from saturating the EL84s and pushing the celestions to their limits, there's really no way round that so for many situations this amp can be too loud. I find the built in reverb basically unuseable - far too long and murky sounding. I don't use reverb so this is a non issue to me, but if it's important to you I'd bare it in mind.
I use this amp in all my gigs and recordings - it has character and I consider it a vital part of my sound. It is, of course, 30 watts, though being voiced so strongly in the mids and high end it will compete with much more powerful amps on stage with no problems at all.
One final point is that the valves are hard to get to -12 screws in all and the chassis is heavy! So a couple of points deducted for this and the bad reverb.
Sound Quality: I mainly use a Gibson Explorer with SD Alnico II pickups. These are lower output than the Gibson stock pickups, and I don't think the AC30 sounds that great with high output agressive humbuckers. It's brash and bright anyway, and I think mellower pickups suit it much better and leave you with more headroom in a gigging situation. My band plays alternative rock and my tones are basically clean, overdriven, and fuzz.
The stock sound of each ac30 is different, so ideally you should try a few and get the one you like best, but a lot of it is down to how broken in the speakers are and the only way to get them broken in is to play them for months. I found the amp to be too bright initially, but like many people i cut out the bright cap on the TB channel and found the amp to be much better tonally after that - it takes pedals much better and still has plenty of treble.
There is little in the way of hiss even when the amp is turned up. I find that tube selection plays a huge part in how noisy an amp is, and you just don't know 'till you spend some time experimenting. The stock valves were pretty uninspiring tonally, and it took quite a while to settle on valves I'm happiest with. it'll be different for everyone, you've got to be prepared to invest time and effort in the search.
The AC30 has a definite character, yet still sounds like the guitar thats being plugged into it. It won't do metal, or ultra clean fender type stuff, but I consider the tone to be unrivalled. Notes have depth and clarity to them, the chime on single picked notes even when boosted is something you won't find anywhere else. This amp sounds exciting when you play solos, and always remains articulate. It definitely sounds better with the master volume up beyond halfway as the lower mids thicken out. I tend to use mine with the master volume at around 1pm, top boost preamp at half (just starting to break up thanks to the lower gain 12au7 I have in V2), and normal channel blended in at a quarter for extra body. This gives me an almost-clean but full sound with headroom left to boost it for solos.
Reliability/Durability: Famously AC30s are unreliable because of the temperature they run at - valves are going to wear out more often than in most other amps because of this. Of course, the decline in the standard of valves has also contributed to this problem, but it's something to watch out for. With three practices and a gig a week on average, I find the EL84s last around 6 months. I use a Webber copper cap as a rectifier, which makes the amp slightly clearer at high volume and also more reliable.
I have never had any problems with them amp that weren't related to faulty valves in the 15 months I've owned the amp, so the circuitry seems to be well put together. build quality is good too - the wooden cabinate is solid, the PCB seems clean and well build too.
Customer Support: Never dealt with customer support.
Overall Rating: This is a really great boost pedal. It's small, easy to use, doesn't introduce hiss, and is about as transparent as you'd want a boost to be. I use it to play alternative rock, and it's great for giving my AC30 a natural crunch, and b...
Overall Rating: This is a really great boost pedal. It's small, easy to use, doesn't introduce hiss, and is about as transparent as you'd want a boost to be. I use it to play alternative rock, and it's great for giving my AC30 a natural crunch, and boosting my Strat into heavier overdrive. Sounds slightly better at 18v - fuller and smoother sounding, but I can't really quantify the difference.
I've been playing for about 8 years and will have gigged around 50 times in 2009, so it sees plenty of use. If it were stolen I'd definitely get another - there are cheaper boost pedals out there but I know this one works for what I need it to do.
Sound Quality: I'm using this at the start of my effects chain mainly with a Fender Strat to boost the signal so it's closer in level to what my Explorer puts out, so I don't need to bend down and adjust all my distortion settings. However I sometimes use it with my Explorer to boost my amp in a more full bodied way than a tubescreamer pedal would do. My amp is an AC30.
This is a really great volume boost pedal. It's got no detectable hiss or hum. It's relatively transparent, though the top end seems to get a bit more "sparkley", and if you power the pedal at 18v the bass gets smoother.
Reliability/Durability: This is a really solid feeling pedal. a small metal enclosure, and the one pot feels very good - it's got a reassuring weight to it. I've been using it for a year now and probably about 30 gigs, so it's not been battered by years on the road. I've got a feeling it'll stand up to the use it gets.
Ease of Use: One Knob, easy as anything to use. It's got a blue LED that can probably be seen from space, so you know if it's on or not!
Customer Support: Never had to deal with them.
Purchased From: Ebay
Price: $60.00 USD
Boss SD-1 SUPER OverDrive SD-1 Pedal
SD-1 Super Overdrive
Overall Rating: I play rock ranging from crunchy, through to classic distorted tones and fuzzy lead playing. The SD-1 on its own probably wouldn't be thick/ distorted enough for the range of tones I use, but it's a great overdrive boost for other ped...
Overall Rating: I play rock ranging from crunchy, through to classic distorted tones and fuzzy lead playing. The SD-1 on its own probably wouldn't be thick/ distorted enough for the range of tones I use, but it's a great overdrive boost for other pedals and amps.
I've been playing for about 8 years now, at the moment my most oft used rig is Explorer (with alnico II pickups) and AC30 turned up loud but cleanish, with various pedals depending on the song.
If this pedal was stolen I'd buy another right away. It's not smooth, thick or massively heavy, but that's not what it's for.
Sound Quality: This is where it gets a bit user-variable. I'm using this pedal on a board with a Gibson Explorer and Fender Strat on one side and an AC30 set just below breakup on the other.
The SD-1 is based on a tubescreamer type circuit - if you want it to be a standalone distortion it'll do "rough round the edges" and because it distorts asymetrically - clipping one side of the waveform more than the other - it gets a bit more raspy in the top end whereas the tubescreamer tends to be smoother. There's quite a hefty bass cut/ mid-boost, and people often complain about that but that's the whole point of this pedal - it sounds best when it's boosting something else that's already distorting, and in that situation the bass cut makes it tight, and the mid boost makes it cut.
When I gig my pedals are set and forget, and the SD-1 is set with the volume on full, tone at 12:30, and distortion completely off. Because I use it mainly to boost my amp into its own distortion or tighten up my big muff for a solo boost, I don't need the SD-1 to add any more distortion than I'm already getting.
I'd have to knock some marks off for the distortion "bleed through". Even with the pedal turned off, some of the distorted tone comes through with the clean sound. It's very quiet but it's there.
Reliability/Durability: Yeah, it's solid as anything and I gig without a backup all the time. That said I've got other boost/distortion pedals so if something did go awry i could get through.
Ease of Use: Very straightforward, this pedal has an almost Zen-like simplicity. Volume, Tom and Gain aren't much to write about but on a crowded dimly lit stage it's great to know at a glance what this little yellow box is doing.
Customer Support: I've not dealt with Boss, never had a need to.