Vox Custom AC15C1

Vox Custom AC15C1
Vox Custom AC15C1

For more than 50 years, the AC-15 has been one of the most coveted tools for obtaining the “British” sound

Vox has dusted off one of their flagship models for yet another reissue that offers a great blend of classic features and modern upgrades. The 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback speakers is probably the most notable improvement. You can expect some serious mids and tons of headroom from this speaker. As has been the case for many years, the “Normal” and “Top Boost” channels offer some variety for the overall voicing of the amp. Both of these channels share the master volume and “Tone Cut” controls. This is particularly cool because it means that the Tone Cut control operates on the power-amp level, not the pre-amp. The result is a true tone shaping of the overall amp voice, not the input.

As one might expect, the power tubes are EL84, which means plenty of UK “Snarl”. The speaker resistance can be switched between 8 and 16 Ohms, which comes in handy if you plan to use an extension speaker. The built-in reverb and tremolo sound ridiculously warm and lush, and can be toggled remotely during stage time with the Vox VFS2 footswitch.

Low-wattage amplifiers are one of the most overlooked and under-utilized tools out there. For recording, it is so helpful to be able to crank a 15-watt amp, and get all of that lovely “stuff” that oozes out of a tube amplifier when it is run at near full-throttle, without driving everyone else in your band (or the engineer) crazy!

Vox Custom AC15C1 Product Page



Line 6 Vetta II Combo Guitar Amplifier

Line 6 Vetta II
Line 6 Vetta II

As digital modeling amplifiers go, the Line 6 Vetta II is at the head of the class.

This amplifier is extremely well designed, well made and sounds fantastic. At 150 Watts, there is more than enough volume and headroom. Whether you plan to use the Vetta II for live performance or recording, the feature set provides plenty of tools that allow you to sculpt your sound as you wish.

The Vetta II is literally two amplifiers in one. At first glance, one might say: “Well, it’s just a stereo amplifier”, and this is true. But more importantly, it is designed so that you can have two completely different sounds going on at once. Of course, you’d probably choose two sounds that are somewhat alike, but in theory, you could have a clean Fender Twin sound and a cranked Marshall Plexi tone combined into one. The combined sounds become one named and saved preset. This is amazing. Just imagine all the possibilities.

Not only does the Vetta II have over 70 classic amp models, but over 80 classic stomp box models as well. It would take you a very long time to run through all the possible combination. Taking things even further, there are 28 cabinet models. Even though this amp has two 12″ speakers, you can choose a 4×10″ cabinet model, or an open-back 2X12″ cabinet model. the end result is that you completely re-think the standard amplifier model and see the Vetta II as more of a tone shaping tool.

Now that you have your tone worked out, you can move on to post-signal processing. Yes, the Vetta II includes studio-grade post processing models that allow you to fine tune your sound as if it were being put through a studio mixing board. There are 64 factory presets and 64 user presets, so you have build a nice library of your own sounds for later recall. There is also an input for a Line 6 Variax guitar, just in case you are using one. While the price tag might be a bit high, this Line 6 Vetta II is simply a world-class piece of guitar engineering and definitely worth a look before you make your final purchase.

Music Man RD 50 Head

Music Man RD 50 Head
Music Man RD 50 Head

I’ve been ranting and raving for years to anyone who will listen that Music Man amps are some of the greatest. Unfortunately, you are in for more of the same.

This rant is about the much overlooked RD-50 Head. I must admit that I never even knew these things existed for a long time. If you can believe it, I actually found one in a pawn shop on 7th Ave and 23rd street in New York City. These kinds of things really don’t happen so much any more as Guitar Center and Sam Ash have pretty much put everyone else out of business. But in this case, there I was in this pawn shop, surrounded by cameras and cheap jewelry. I saw this little mini head that had the Music Man logo. I scratched my head: “….this ain’t an HD-130… what the hell is this little thing…. I didn’t know Music Man made a head this small…”

I then realized that it was the guts of my little RD-50, just no speaker. The guy had some horrible horrible guitar and I had to try it out using some kind of strat copy from hell. The reverb didn’t work so I nicke & dimed him down to something rediculous like $150. Yes, I got this head for $150. I think it cost me about $50 to get the reverb fixed, so the head ran me $200 total. I don’t need to tell you how much I love the RD-50, so you can assume that my rant about the tone of this amp is the same. What is so cool is that this head is so small and reasonable in weight that you could actually carry it to a gig. This is assuming that there is a speaker cabinet at your gig that is up for grabs.

If you are a fan of Music Man amps and are looking for another great alternative to dragging around your 2×12, this head is worth an eBay search.

Fender Cyber Twin SE

Fender Cyber Twin SE
Fender Cyber Twin SE

Ok, so they pretty much invented the analog guitar amplifier. They perfected it and pretty much any guitarist would agree that few are better. So, why they heck would anyone use a Fender digital modeling amplifier? …’cause it’s a great amp, that’s why.

I’ll admit that I really resisted this stuff, I really really did. In principal, it just goes against everything I believe in. But then again, when the “Frying Pan” guitar was first put out by Rickenbacker, I’m sure it was met with the same disdain. Same for the Solid body electric, the Flying-V, The Explorer, the Parker Fly, etc… So, I decided to lighten up and just enjoy the amplifier and there is a lot to enjoy.

They certainly start off on the right foot with two 12AX7 groove tubes. In fact, I think they did it just to shut me up. Probably not, but I like to think so. You really have to find humor in the fact that when you switch between pre-sets, the knobs actually turn so that they physically match the saved settings. This is a bit much, and it introduces more moving parts than need be, but then again, why not… nobody ha anything repaired anymore, you just throw it out. So, what the heck, ok, moving knobs.

The “artist-authored” presets is a very cool feature that features saved patches from such noted ax-masters as Gary Hoey and Greg Koch. This is certainly a time-saver if you want to get started right away with some classic sounds. As far as volume goes, at 130 watts, this thing is ridiculously loud. It’s modeled after a Twin Reverb, so naturally, loud loud loud. It’s full stereo, so the patches can involve some very cool twin channel effects such as stereo chorus or ping-pong delay. There is also a hum reduction feature, which helps to minimize that annoying 50/60Hz buzz. pretty cool stuff here. You will need a small army to transport the damn thing, but if you happen to have such resources or you plan to just leave it in the house, this is an amp worth checking out, the sounds are actually pretty good.

What Is The Difference Between EL84 / EL34 and 6L6 Power Tubes?

What Is The Difference Between EL84 / EL34 and 6L6 Power Tubes?
EL34 Power Tubes

Power tubes can have a dramatic effect on your amplifier’s sound. At low volumes, the difference between one tube and another can be difficult to decipher; it’s almost not worth talking about. Once you start to push a little air, your amplifier will show off what it can do and the power tubes will display their individual characteristics more. Keep in mind, by using pedals, you can make pretty much any amp sound like any other amp, so this discussion is focused on how a few of the most popular power tubes differ from each other when using the amp to get your sound and not pedals. the tubes that readers most often ask about are the EL84, EL34 and 6L6. Here is a rundown of how these tubes differ in sound.

EL84

This tube has a  snarly sound, and is usually found in smaller wattage amplifiers. They break up quickest of the three power tubes mentioned here and have the least amount of headroom. EL84s can be brighter than the EL34 (i.e. the “Vox” sound) and have a bit less low-end. In America, these tubes are known as 6BQ5. They were first produced for radios, helping to eliminate the need for a driver tube.

EL34

Found in the most well-known UK heads such as Marshall, HiWatt, Sound City, etc… these power tubes also have a snarly sound. While they have a bit more headroom than the EL84, they are also aggressive and break up quicker. EL34s tend to compress more than the 6L6 power tube and have a darker tone. This tube is most associated with the “British Sound”, and expression used often with regards to amplifiers. EL34 tubes were quite popular in stereo amplifiers years ago.

6L6

This is the power tube most associated with the term: “California Sound,” Often used in Fender amplifiers, they tend to be used in most American made amplifiers in general then British amplifiers. The 6L6 has more headroom and does not break up as quickly as the EL84 or  EL34. These tubes tend to put out a much brighter tone with more top-end sparkle (i.e. the “Fender Chime”).

6V6

 

For the most part, the 6V6 is considered identical on general tonal characteristics to the 6L6. Same “California” or “Tweed” kind of tone, and most often associated with Fender amplifiers. The main difference is that the 6V6 is a lower output tube. Consequently, they break-up earlier than 6L6 tubes.

Summary

Again, it is not likely that you would feel these differences at low volumes. It is when you start to push an amplifier that the characteristics of these tubes becomes more aparent. Keep in mind as well that as much as power tubes differ, amplifiers differ as well, so the overall voice and behavior of the power tube will vary depending on who the amplifier is designed. If you want to really get a feel for how these tubes differ in sound, get your hands on an amplifier that can use both the EL34 and 6L6 power tubes such as the Mesa Lone Star.

 

Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 6L6 vs EL34 Tube Comparison

Valve Shootout: 6L6 vs EL34

EL84 vs 6V6 18watt amp by Dave Brons