Thanks to the VOX Heritage AC15 Handwired Combo amplifier, your search for the Holy Grail of Vox tone ends here.
To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Vox guitar amplifiers, Vox has introduced the first of a new Heritage Collection of hand-wired amplifiers – the AC15H1TV. Rather than just a typical reissue where a vintage amp is dusted off and copied, this amplifier, like the others in the Heritage Collection, transports you through the golden age of Vox tone, combining the prized EF86 preamp channel of 1958 with the 1963 Top Boost channel all in one amplifier. Add in some modern tone shaping control enhancements and the result is perhaps the finest Vox amplifier in the company’s 50 year history.
The EF86: The magical Vox tone
What is it that makes EF86 based Vox amplifiers some of the most collectible in the world? Maybe it’s the way the amp naturally overdrives, almost breathing with a life unto its own. Dynamic changes in pick attack almost seem to be anticipated before you make them. Or maybe it’s the raw power of the creamy distortion as you crank the amp all the way up and slam down on a power chord. Whatever it is, there is an undeniable magic about this period of Vox amplification. An age when the most simple of circuits produced some of the most complex of tones. Now in short supply, the EF86 Pentode tube is at the heart of this elusive tone. Fifty years later, the magic returns.
The AC15H1TV: A detailed look
Channel 1 is the EF86 Preamp channel, and features two inputs wired in the traditional way that gives them a 6dB gain difference between them. A two-position BASS SHIFT switch is included, with position 1 voiced to the original vintage-correct bass response and position 2 voiced to tighten the bass response and reduce any muddiness during high volume use. The three-position BRILLIANCE SWITCH provides flat response when in the OFF position. Position 1 is a new position voiced like the early AC30 Treble amps, while position 2 is the original brilliance circuit, which acts as a dramatic bass cut. The EF86 Mode switch re-configures the EF86 valve from Pentode mode to Triode mode. Triode mode will give a lower gain tone with higher headroom. Pentode mode is the famed original mode and has a very sweet high gain tone with not very much headroom.
Channel 2 is the Top Boost Preamp channel. Like Channel 1, this channel includes two inputs wired with a 6dB gain difference between them. The Treble and Bass controls are from the 1963 Top Boost circuit and are extremely interactive. Very minor adjustments of these controls can yield dramatic changes in tone color.
And true to Vox form is the Top Cut control, which cuts high from either channel end as it is turned up.
The O/P Switch adds even more flexibility to the AC15. This switch changes the power output valves from Pentode Mode, which is the normal operating mode of the power amplifier, to Triode Mode which halves the power output to 7.5 watts and will alter the tone to be somewhat smoother.
The Finishing Touches
Great care and research went into the cosmetics for this special amplifier to meld vintage correct attributes with some modern revisions. These touches include a vintage TV Front
cabinet, pre-1960 logo placement, and a vintage inspired cream vinyl covering. An extremely limited edition run of 400 amplifiers will be produced with oiled mahogany cabinets.