The first amp created exclusively for electric guitars and the first amp designed especially for the rock`n`roll. John Lennon’s first Vox, the legacy of the great era, the model used and praised by many great musicians, the VOX AC15 is born again in three different models C1, C2, and C1X.
This amp was first introduced back in 1958 in Great Britain and has since become the favorite model of both aspiring guitarists and the world’s renowned legends. The voice of the British Invasion is the first that comes to mind when you talk about Vox AC15.
The model produces a powerful bright signature sound and has a classic design with chicken-head knobs and metal switches. Its reverb and tremolo effects provide a vast space for experimentation and creativity and the price is enticingly affordable. This Vox is great for home and studio as well as for small gigs.
Vox AC15 Amp history
VOXAC15 creator, Richard “Dick” Denney was an amateur who loved playing the guitars just as much as he loved electronics. In the mid-1950s, he was building amps for himself and his friends prior to joining Vox (then JMI) and becoming one world’s best amp designers.
Instead of simply putting more power in the amplifier, Denney experimented with the resulting sound. He was invited by the Vox founder Tom Jennings whom he had met while working at a munition factory during WWII. The two had played music together in bomb shelters during Nazi attacks.
Denney first introduced AC15 back in 1958 and tested it in the field. He would hit the local clubs offering the model to the guitarists performing there. The final version as we know it came to prominence in 1959. It became so popular that the company changed its name after it. BTW, Vox stands for the voice in Latin.
All three Vox AC15 models are 15-watt amplifiers powered by three 12AX7 and two EL84 tubes in the preamp and power stage. The difference between them is the dimensions and the speakers.
The sound of C1 and C1X is produced by 12″ 16 ohm Celestion G12M Greenback and 16 ohm Celestion Alnico Blue respectively. C2 model has two 8 ohm Celestion G12M Greenback speakers.
The amp has three inputs: for a footswitch sold separately and two channels – Normal and Top Boost. A Normal channel produces a brighter sound. It’s a classic Vox: chiming with sparkling metallic tones. Use it whenever you want to perform your favorite compositions of the British Invasion.
Top Boost provides a more muffled darker tone. On the other hand, it has an equalizer and thus is more flexible when it comes to sound and more versatile when it comes to various styles and genres. Musicians often use it with lead guitars.
All three Vox AC15 models (C1, C1X, and C2) have similar controls. There are two power switches. One turns it off and on, the other one is standby. It enables you to warm up the tubes before the beginning of the session and during the breaks to achieve optimal performance.
Next goes the Master section with Volume and Tone Cut knobs. The former will regulate the loudness of your amp, the latter will muffle the sound if you turn it clockwise.
Vox AC 15 comes with a vintage Tremolo effect on both channels that sounds like a vibration (as if the volume of music is constantly changing from high to low). It has a separate section and two controls. The Depth sets the intensity and the Speed changes the frequency of Tremolo vibration.
The Reverb is available for both Normal and Boost channel. The Level controls the amount of reverb the amp produces.
Top Boost section has Volume and Equalizer knobs. The latter sets the Basses and Trebles. The Normal section has only Volume.
Note that both EQ controls are very sensitive. That’s why the producer advises to set them at 12 o’clock and then carefully tweak in search of your perfect sound.
Volume knob in both Top Boost and Normal section controls the preamp and thereby the gain. If you want overdrive just turn it clockwise and enjoy the music.
Vox didn’t change much in the amp’s minimalistic design since 1958. There’s no need in it really. AC15 has become a living and breathing classic and the vintage look of the new model can have an augmenting visual effect on both the performers and the audience.
The black case and brown diamond grille cloth, yellow highlights and logo, vintage controls, and handle are perfectly combined to elicit the atmosphere of the good old 1960s.
The last but not the least is the amp’s dimensions. None of Vox AC 15 models is compact. Both C1 and C1X have 602 x 265 x 456 mm (width, depth, and height) and weigh 22 kg. The C2 is even bigger with 702 x 265 x 556 mm. It’s also pretty heavy (30.2 kg), so if you’re planning to take it around just bear it in mind when planning transportation.
AC15 amplifier has the legendary Vox chime with its bright and intense upper-middle that resembles the music of a bell and the pick attacks that dwell on the verge of distortion but never cross the line. It gives you that signature sound of the British Invasion “devised to outshout” the screaming fans – the power combined with clarity.
Summary Vox AC15
C1. C1X and C2 are reincarnations of Vox AC15 – one of the world’s most renowned tube amplifiers that had been shaping the sound of the British rock scene for decades. It is a great amp for home, studio, and small concerts.
It is versatile when it comes to playing various music genres as it works in 2 modes – Top Boost and Normal. Combined with a Tremolo effect, the Normal Channel makes your music sound like classic British Invasion. In addition to that, the amp provides bass and treble EQ along with reverb and distortion options.
The amp is somewhat heavy so transporting might be uncomfortable but the specifics and quality of the sound make up for this tiny flaw.