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Vox Valvetronix AD50VT 50w 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp



Sound Quality

I mainly use a hand-built Fender Stratocaster, three single-coil Fat 54 pickups, sometimes I use a Telecaster, sometimes keyboards through it. It definitely suits my music styles, it excels at what I need it for, especially the rock, rockabilly, jazz and British rock styles. The amp is no more noisy than your typical tube amp, sometimes you hear a little solid-state digital noise that you have to control with the built-in noise reduction, but it's so minute, you don't notice it unless you want to be stickler and put your ear to the speaker to hear it. In other words, big deal! Its sounds are the key here. I've owned (and borrowed) a wide range of amps, especially Fenders and Voxes, and this amp does a great job of getting the nuances of what made those amps great. The 4x10" Bassman setting is perfect, has that great grunt and of course, you have the excellent delay for your Scotty Moore licks. The Blackface 2x12" is fantastic, bell-clear, great tremolo, they definitely took their time with this, and the two Dumble amp settings (clean and overdrive) also show lots of tone research. There are three Marshall settings, 70s (for JTM 50/100 amps), 80s (JCM800) and 90s-series amps. The 70s Marshall model sounds note-perfect, you add a little reverb, every note sounds like Pete Townshend's tone on "Live At Leeds," the 80s model is nice and crunchy (70s metal, hard rock) and the 90s is very hyper, but definitely usuable). The Mesa and Soldano models are both great, once again very usuable and they get the sound across. Then we get to the Vox models. I personally own a Vox AC-30, so I can say for certain that the AC30 top boost setting is every bit exact. I call this amp "my other AC-30", not only for the three top vents on the amp's cabinet, but for that sound. It sounds like an AC-30 with Greenbacks in it, every Class A harmonic is there, you have THE SOUND for a ridiculously low price. The AC-15 sound, once again, is beyond words. Cut the bass, put the guitar on the bridge pickup, play "Day Tripper" intro hook, and get a wide smile on your face. It's that simple, you have the potential to recreate the sound of the British Invasion all the way to Queen, Status Quo, Tom Petty, and U2 at your fingertips, of course, if you have the chops and talent (I'm a simple player, I always have been, but once again, it's like owning a Corvette. Maybe you'll never go faster then 65, but you might do it one day, so it's nice to know you have that power in your grasp). The amp has no nasty solid-state distortion, nothing brutal, everything is silky, especially since I replaced the EH12AX7 (a little harsh) with the Telefunken 12AX7 (a great tube). The Telefunken drastically altered the disposition of the amp, especially since the Telefunken is a older, burned-in tube. The amp's warmth just amazes me, I'm still amazed that a company known for an extremely high-priced product (the AC-30 I bought retailed for over two grand) can produce a product (regardless of where they built it, and it's built in Korea for the record) for under $400 that gets THAT sound. Definitely a ten. However, you must READ THE INSTRUCTIONS THAT COME WITH THE AMP. This is a must, not as much for the amp models as for the effects. Since there are not many controls on this amp, the knob and buttons that control the effects levels control more than one aspect of the effect, and the effect models are quite intricate in how they can be adjusted, so if you don't know what you're doing, you won't get the sound you want, and this amp can get EVERY sound you need with little effort.

Reliability/Durability

My AD30VT (30-watt Valvetronix amp) was borrowed by the guitarist in my friend's band for about a month. He used it for everything, used it in at least four gigs that month (three sets a gig), all rehearsals, and no problems whatsoever. He actually bought his own 30-watt amp, he felt he couldn't be without it, it also was a hell of a lot lighter than his Peavey Classic 30. I've only had the AD50VT about a month, but no problems so far, and since it contains the same construction, electronic structure, and parts as the other amps, I don't see any problems. I'm an amp tech (part-time) anyway, so if something breaks, I can fix it. I'd definitely use the amp at a gig without a backup, mainly since I don't have the money to go out with an arsenal of gear, so it's got to be the one and I think it'll be fine.

General Comments

I have been playing keyboards for about thirty years, guitar for about twenty years. I own a Fender Stratocaster, a Vox Continental, an Alesis QS6.2 keyboard, and I have a '68 Reissue Pink Paisley Fender Telecaster set aside for my daughter when she gets to be a good guitarist and knows how special the Paisley Tele is. My amps are a '68 Fender Princeton Reverb, a re-issue Vox AC30TB with Blue Bulldogs (put one of those in the AD50VT, and watch out!) and the AD50VT. I had to cut down my guitar and amp collection because I had no space (I had a collection of Thomas-built American Vox amps, they're great amps when they're restored) and I figured that since I had such a great core selection of gear, what else did I need (I mean, I own an AC-30 and a Stratocaster, I don't think I can do any better than that right now, especially since I want to start playing Shadows tunes, and that's what Hank Marvin uses). If this amp were stolen, I'd just go buy another one, if I could find one. These amps (especially the 30 and 50-watt models) have been pretty hard to get, apparently there was a quality-control problem at the plant that made the IC chips for the amp, and Vox decided to wait and get the problems fixed rather than farm the production out to someone else, hey, extended wait for the amp as opposed to increased costs, I'll wait for the cheaper amp, you know what I mean?), but Guitar Center seems to have some in stock now, they're online, and you can even get amps at North Coast Music (www.northcoastmusic.com) that have the metal grille replaced with original Vox grillecloth for a little more money, but the metal grille doesn't really bother me, it's a post-modern Vox amp, and it still looks stylish. I love its ability to make every sound I'll ever need, from a Deluxe Reverb to Marshall to AC-30 at a fraction of the cost of all those amps (ever price a Deluxe Reverb lately??), and if it isn't a Marshall stack, well, you've got a speaker out on this one, plug in a cabinet and have fun! As far as things I hate, there's nothing I hate about it, it looks great, sounds amazing, it's not bulky, it's loud enough for anyone, it's a Vox amp, and so much more. Like I said before, the lack of a few more preset buttons could be a little bit of a problem, but if you're like me, you use the amp in manual or you get the footswitch, use the footswitch to select between the two presets or set it to the manual setting you have on the amp. That's three settings, put a tube screamer in front of it if you want, I noticed that some reviewers wanted combined reverb/delay (the amp hasn't got this), well I have an echo unit, so I'm set if I ever need this combined effect. PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!! This is the key to getting the sounds you need on this amp. I compared it to Line 6 amps, the Fender Cyber series (ugly-looking and horrible-sounding), and the original Valvetronix amps (beautiful to look at, and I like the blue grillecloth, a nice twist on the old theme), and this amp came out on top for all the right reasons. It's a fun amp to own, it's good for all situations, it looks like a no-bull player's amp, it's built to take out and gig with, not to admire it in your den, and it throws out great sound. And, all misty-eyed sentiment aside, it's a Vox, maybe not a traditional-looking one, but you still feel part of that great chain of musicians who chose this amp brand for its sound and style, everyone from Hank Marvin to the Beatles to U2 and every band that plays the Conan O'Brien show (90 percent of them use Vox AC-30s, isn't having a trust-fund great? Oh brother...)Oh yeah, one more thing I'd like to share--READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!! Did I say that enough? Good, now go get one, and drive your neighbors crazy!




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