About Vox Amplifiers
Vox was founded in the late 50s by Thomas Walter Jennings and Dick Denny, two old war buddies who used to jam during air raids. Vox’s first amp, the Univox, was actually a primitive synthesizer. However, after Rock & Roll broke, and the youth of Britain collectively contracted guitar fever, the original design was scrapped to cater to six-string slingers such as The Shadows. The 15-watt AC-15 proved a success, but bands still required more volume to compete with the din of adoring fans. In response, Vox cobbled together two AC-15s, and the AC-30 was born.
Compared to the clean, scooped tone of a Fender or the dirt-kicking power of a Marshall, the unique circuit of a Vox amp offered a smoky, articulate, chimey tone that came to flavor the British invasion. The Beatles negotiated an endorsement deal while still honing their act in Hamburg. The Rollings Stones were put on to Vox by an early manager who happened to have been a former Vox employee.
The Vox AC30
The AC30 was unique for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they eschewed “Negative Feedback”, a concept borrowed from high-fi sound systems to mitigate distortion at higher volumes. Taking out the negative feedback caused the tone to gradually saturate, and also emphasized the natural harmonics of the guitar. The EL-84 vacuum tubes, which had less headroom than the 6L6s that Fender used in their larger models, also contributed to the distinctive “breakup” of the AC30. Finally, the Celestion Alnico Blue G12 speakers added a warm compression that made the iconic amplifier eminently palatable.
Modern Day Vox Amplifiers
Post-60s, Vox amps remained extremely popular, as did their effects pedals (such as the wah-wah used by Jimi Hendrix). Brian May of Queen created his signature tone by combining a homemade guitar with a host of AC30s. The Edge of U2 recognized the Vox sound as the ideal “pedal platform” for his small army of delay effects. The guitarists of Radiohead rely on the Vox tone to give listeners something familiar to hold onto whilst transporting their listeners into different musical dimensions.
Today, Vox boasts a massive catalogue of amps and effects that range from the classic to the futuristic. For the vintage enthusiasts, they have all-tube offerings such as hand-wired AC15s and AC30s. For those who crave the variety and flexibility of digital technology, they have modeling amps such as the VX15GT, which allows you to dial in 11 amp profiles as well as effects. Splitting the difference, Vox has many innovative hybrid and “nu-tube” amps, such as the VT40X, the Mini Superbeetle, and the Cambridge50, which combine real vacuum-tube tone with modeling. Without Vox, Rock & Roll and the modern gear landscape would be very different, and we are honored to be a part of the tradition. Give us a call today and let us help you find a Vox that suits your unique voice.