Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

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Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (maxwell) » Thu Oct 17, 2019 11:19 am

If you just search "Beatles" in this forum, nearly all the results pertain to the single thread about the best Fender amp.... I'm surprised that there is no mention/discussion about VOX. There's plenty of interest in the discontinued Rick/TR line, but even those discussions do not mention any particular musical tone related to a past musical sub-genre.

I am surprised, especially with all the Beatles fans here (there, and everywhere) regarding other/non-Fender amps. So, whose got a VOX practice amp that they like when they musically revisit the Beatles in 1963? (current or discontinued models)

PS - I think the "VOX Pathfinder" may be one, but, if I'm not mistaken, that line had various sub-models; need to be specific....
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (admin) » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:32 pm

Orville: I have had very good luck with a VOX AC15. Reasonably light weight (well compared to the VOC AC30) and it nails a lot of early Beatles' sounds. It wouldn't hurt to throw in a Rickenbacker and Gretsch for good measure too. :)
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (teb) » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:49 pm

The Vox Super Mini Reverbs are awfully nice little amps if you can find one. They use a Pathfinder head with reverb and tremolo, paired up with either a cab using two 10" speakers, or four 8" ones. Despite being small, they can get quite loud when desired.
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (maxwell) » Thu Oct 17, 2019 6:01 pm

Thanks! I'll check them out.

PS - Peter--I just checked out/searched for used "AC15" at Used Guitars / Guitar Center. There are 75 listings, with all sorts of variations of the "AC15" line, e.g., AC15.. -C1, -C2, Hxxx, etc., --- bunches of model AC15 variations. Just to confirm, you are recommending the "AC15" and not a derivative/variation of that specific model?

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/?Ntt=VOX%20AC15&Ns=r
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (admin) » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:30 am

I think you will find the VOX AC15C1 (Greenback) speaker will suit you fine. You can pick these up used and in good condition for very good prices. While they won't break your back (like the AC 30) they are still around 45 pounds.
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (jps) » Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:09 pm

Not a VOX, but I would very seriously look into a Swart amp, such as the STR-Tremolo (Tuxedo version) I had a couple years ago (a good friend of mine has it, now). I only sold it because I sold all my electric guitar gear as I only play acoustics these days (other than my basses).

https://swartamps.com/amplifiers-swart_str-tremolo.htm
Or perhaps, an EL84 variant:

https://swartamps.com/swart_mod_el-84.htm

All their amps are excellent so check them out and find the one that suits your needs.

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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (admin) » Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:53 pm

Swart makes great amplifiers unless you are on tight budget. Very expensive here in Canada, at least for me. :)
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (jps) » Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:16 pm

Yeah, even not cheap here, but far more reasonable than many other boutique/one-man operations. His builds are impeccable.

Here is the inside of the chassis on the STR-Tremolo I had.

IMG_0308-1200a.jpg
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (maxwell) » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:03 pm

Well, thanks. I thought $500-$600 (and 30 lbs.!) was the upper end of my budget, at least the upper end for a practice amp. :) I just sit in my room and hack, hack, hack, twang, twang, twang....

I have several cheap amps. A few I bought because someday I want to give a few of my really cheap guitars away to some school, group or someone who wants t learn to play; you can't seriously give someone an electric guitar without an amp (well, I guess you "could").

Anyway, I have this old VOX - I never really considered it a "Beatles tone" amp. Of all the research I've done on it--Pathfinder 15R / V9168R--I've haven't found any reviewer associating this with early Beatles music, although it is fairly popular; strat & tele players seem to like it, in spite of being a solid state.

But, I can see now that from the posts here, and the lack of posts about a Beatle practice amp, that it probably doesn't make that much difference -- tweak your amp & guitar tones and find your best sweet spot. I'm going to back off of getting a new amp for the time being and just work with Pathfinder 15R. I appreciate all the recommendations.

Now, I have to find some decent 12-54 flatwound strings that won't cost me $30+.... Looks like D'Addario Chromes 12-52 may be it for a short scale/325.

Thanks.
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (iiipopes) » Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:57 pm

A few years ago, I got a close-out deal on a solid-state Vox Pathfinder 15R. After clipping the diodes that render a snarly "bedroom metal" tone, I really enjoy playing both my 360-12 and my 320 through it. It now has a nice open tone. One other mod I made to it was to bridge the solder trace for the finger on the either/or external speaker jack (there so the company doesn't have to honor "warranty" claims" from those who don't know better), so now I can run the inboard 8" Bulldog with an external Jensen Vibranto to run a combined 4-ohm load, which the "white paper" on the output MOS-FET says is actually preferable and has better efficiency. Plus, when I want it, I can get good overdrive, reverb, and good tone shaping from the stock circuits.

Solid-state? Yes, remember that the original Thomas-Organ built American Vox Super Beatle amplifiers were also solid-state.
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (maxwell) » Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:35 pm

"Clipping the diodes".... Sounds easy... :wink:

You're fortunate to be able to do that kind of stuff. I changed the power cord on my TR7 from 2-wire to 3-wire, and I thought that was difficult.

I had to struggle to get my used Pathfinder 15R. I could only find them on the Guitar Center web site, so I bought one for pickup at my local GC -- turned out it was sold long ago and no one took the ad down. Ordered another, and when we unboxed it, it turned out to be a Pathfinder Bass head. Found another, but called to verify - paid over the phone with my credit card -- a few weeks later my cc bank puts a hold on it, asking me if I bought a bunch of stuff (the better part of $2,000), incl. $200 of smoke shop items.... During the early days of the www, calling and ordering over the phone was the safest; not any more. Anyway, the correct amp showed up, a little worn, but functional. Has a weak reverb, as all do from what I read. I wasn't sure if mine really worked. So, after reading up and watching YouTube videos, I came up with this "drop test" -- turn the reverb up all the way, lift the amp off the carpeted floor a couple of inches, and let it drop. The reverb was working. But, I ended up buying a reverb pedal that can do that classic surf drip; it's cool.
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (Kiddwad57) » Wed Nov 06, 2019 5:32 pm

Lot's of excellent suggestions.
Jim Elyea caption.png

I'll add a late '60s Thomas Organ Company Cambridge Reverb to the list:
Vox CR front.png

Solid clean sounds, great reverb and trem.
Vox CR panel.png

If you have the footswitch you can take advantage of the wah-wah like MRB feature.
Vox CR back.png

And it's Beatle approved!
Vox CR and George.png
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Re: Best VOX Practice Combo Amp for Early Beatles Sound

Postby (iiipopes) » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:09 pm

Be careful with older amplifiers, especially if they have two-prong plugs. Of course, in addition to deteriorating filter capacitors, some older solid state amplifiers have germanium transistors instead of silicon, and even though many people prefer the tone of germanium, especially when over-driven, they, like the capacitors, can deteriorate as well. Finally, the OP talked about changing the power cord from 2-prong to 3-prong on another amplifier. That's not all. See the switch for polarity on the photo of the back of the Cambridge amp? Old Fender amps also had this. In a prior generation, this was necessary for older or non-existent wiring codes and non-polarized plugs, if set up properly at the venue and checked with a multimeter to make sure nothing "hot" went to the frame of the amplifier or other wiring. I got shocked badly one time when someone accidentally tripped over an old Bogen PA non-polarized power cord out of a socket, and didn't tell me; wanting to be "helpful" they plugged it back in, and got it backwards. You should have seen the blue spark from the microphone to my upper lip as the lights dimmed! Fortunately, I was not injured, knew exactly what had happened, reversed the offending PA power plug, and continued on with the gig.
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