Throughout the 1950s, rock ‘n’ roll had progressed from an underground scene to a worldwide phenomenon. The first electric guitars and small amps were the primordial weapons used by the stars of this era to conquer the world, but with a growing audience, the technology had to keep up. Enter the AC30.
The first VOX amp, the AC1/15 emerged in 1958. But its modest 15 watts of power wasn’t going to be enough to cut through the ever-increasing din of the rock ‘n’ roll fans. The AC30 doubled up the power and gave voice to guitarists hungry to reach the ears of expanding audiences.
Now, VOX has come full circle. Their new version, the AC30 OneTwelve maintains the full-blooded, all-tube tone of the immortal original, distilling its essence for the modern player.
With the AC30 OneTwelve, VOX offers a new generation of players the opportunity to tap into a 60 year legacy of excellence and harness the tone of a true legend.
Here Come the Brits
Throughout the ’60s, the AC30 became synonymous with the sound of the British Invasion, famously gracing the stage alongside the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The ’70s brought Queen to the world stage and the AC30 was a key weapon in the arsenal of guitar wizard, Brian May.
When Britpop came, led by the likes of Blur, Oasis, Elastica and Pulp, the world went crazy for a new wave of quintessentially British sounds. And what was their weapon of choice when reviving the sound of ’60s swagger? You guessed it: the AC30.
Far from the cold confines of the UK, many guitar legends from our own fair shores have taken up the mantle for the AC30. Alex Lahey, You Am I’s Tim Rogers and The Living End’s Chris Cheney are just a few of the locals that have fallen under the charm of this classic.
The jangling guitar sounds that exported decades worth of British sounds across the globe were an AC30 trademark. The amp’s cathode biasing and lack of negative feedback influenced that famous top-end bite, infusing the guitar tone with valve-driven harmonics – just the thing to create sparkle in an aggressive rhythm guitar tone.
And if that wasn’t enough, the team at VOX introduced the Top Boost circuit as a standard option in 1964. This was an ingenious addition, for it allowed players to maintain that crucial edginess in their sound at lower volumes, transforming the AC30 into a studio classic, as well as a live powerhouse.
A New Generation
The chime, the power and the attitude of the original have been refined in the AC30 OneTwelve. It retains a healthy complement of tubes: 2 12AX7 tubes in the preamp stage and 4 EL84 tubes in the power amp stage.
The user-friendly EQ circuit, just a knob each for treble and bass interact to cover a much wider swathe of the frequency spectrum than the names suggest, making it easy for the player to manipulate crucial mid-range tone as well.
The Volume and Gain controls also enjoy a symbiotic relationship: with more Gain and less Volume, you can engage more preamp stage saturation, with less Gain and more Volume, more than enough clean and bright tone is available at your fingertips.
Along with the classic characteristics of the original, there are a host of features that make working with the AC30 OneTwelve a more streamlined experience.
Significantly, the two twelve-inch Celestion speakers are cut down to one, saving the back of many a guitarist. There’s a simple single input for sound sources, but you can run a parallel effects chain by using the FX Loop and connect to a 16 Ohm cabinet of your choice via the External SP Jack. Speaking of effects, there’s a digital reverb – tweakable with a single knob – that emulates the original’s spring tank.
Most importantly, the character of the original AC30’s Top Boost channel is the source of inspiration for the single-channel operation of this amp, making it even easier to simply plug in and recreate that vintage tone.
The AC30 is one of those essential voices in the pantheon of rock, going together with the sound of the British Invasion like bangers and mash. With the AC30 OneTwelve, VOX has captured the spirit of the original icon.
For more details, visit the Yamaha website.