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  1. #1

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    They are versatile and tonefull, from the AC1 to the AC30 and all that fall between. Is there a concensus amongst Jazz players on the merits of Vox amps ?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I had one of the newer AC30 amps and did not like it for jazz tone. And it was heavy and user unfriendly.

  4. #3

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    Vox amps are voiced quite bright, the smaller versions have a low headroom and the ones I‘ve played also had an audible hiss. So for me they never worked, besides being large and heavy. Scofield sounds good through a Vox but that‘s not what I consider a „trad“ jazz sound.

  5. #4

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    I once sat on the balcony of a large concert hall, listening to Scofield playing through a pair of AC30s. Apart from being loud, they were also very directional, and I happened to sit right inside the beam. And yes, a manipulated sound that belonged to the far end of the jazz guitar tone palette.

    Indirectly, the OP's question also relates to the new Quilter SuperBlocks. While the US version remains my choice for jazz, the AC mode in the UK variant is usable, if you accept a little hair. Can't prove this but somehow the UK version appears louder overall, maybe due to gain kicking in more aggressively than in the US version.

  6. #5

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    First you have to define in your own mind what a jazz player or rather, a jazz sound, is. For a lot of people around here, the Polytone sound would be a benchmark. It's a great sound.

    I also enjoy Casper Hejlesen's tone (and playing) here thru a Vox. Our friend Jens Larsen also plugs into said amp, the first one in his video.




  7. #6

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    I bought a Vox AC15C1 a few years back and, in a stupid move, sold it to buy a marshall which I needed for rock music at the time.

    Since then I have always wanted another AC15C1 and tried a few seconds but finally decided on a new model.

    The most difficult thing with this amp is getting the beautiful warm sound on phone etc.

    Here's me sitting beside the amp trying to capture it's tone better.

    Edit. The guitar is an Ibanez AFJ85



    Edit 2: This is the first AC15C1 I had. A great sounding box. Excuse the playing



    The way I found this amp was that I took my guitar into the local music shop and just played through every amp.

  8. #7

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    My dad used a Vox in the middle and late 60's for all his studio work and gigs. I believe it was like a Buckingham solid state. The cabinet was 2 12 inch speakers and the head was separate. I had for about 8 years in the 1980's and sold it actually easily. It was a bit worn but frankly too bright, solid state sound just did not capture the warmth of the guitar. My dad used it with his Barker guitar and now his old Barker sounds much better on the Claris R2. I do wish I had the amp in some ways it was a piece of work to look at and a pain to carry around. It stayed parked in my house.

    Not sure on the model cannot remember maybe someone can chime in on what it might have been?

  9. #8

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    Besides Sco, Wolfgang Muthspiel plays through them, and I love his sound! Otherwise, not often seen on the Jazz stage...

    Last edited by marcwhy; 10-12-2021 at 08:52 PM. Reason: update

  10. #9

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    I've used them when they were included as backline for gigs. Not my first choice of amp but I managed to coax a decent sound of it. It was one of the newer AC30s by the way. The tone controls are a bit strange if you're used to Fender amps for example. It was on the bright side, I had to roll off the tone control on the guitar most of the way down to tame the shrillness.

  11. #10

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    Not a first choice for a loud clean fat tone! But a lovely amp for cutting through a loud Rock Mix! Oh yes and Heavy as well!

  12. #11

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    Yes, I forgot the mention the weight. The AC15C1 weighs around 22kg I think.

    My aim was to gig with it but honestly when I play out I use my Roland's.

  13. #12

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    I read somewhere that one of the reasons John Scofield plays Vox is because of their availability in the market.
    It is known that John uses two Vox apms-stereo set.
    These are heavy amplifiers but very popular.
    Organizers of concerts can easily provide them to John at gig.I hope.

  14. #13

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    One MAJOR factor is this : in what setting do you play (any amp) ?
    In my case I need an amp (or several) that sounds good at home, at really low volume but also at gig volume, be it with a drummer-less trio, an organ trio or a bigband. My preference goes to a more or less traditional jazz guitar tone, having grown up listening to Wes, Jim Hall, Burrell, Pat Martino, Joe Pass and later Pat Metheny - the more angular, dirty and bluesy sounds a la Scofield and Stern did not influence me as much.
    I'm pretty sure that Muthspiel did not specifically order a Vox for this particular gig and Sco's preference for Vox amps is simply grounded in the easy availability of these units. I'd be happy playing my ES-345 through a nice AC30 (handwired or a vintage 60's model) for any Soul/Blues gig where I didn't have to schlepp it around myself ....

  15. #14

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    I have to admit that I have never played a concert on Vox.
    I mainly use the AER Compact XL and a hand made 20 watt tube amplifier.

  16. #15

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    While I don't have a Vox, I do have a single ended EF86 to EL84 valve amp into a Greenback.
    So most of the ingredients of a Vox (I guess). It was modelled on a Vox circuit.
    I would say this- clean, crisp, articulate and unforgiving. Nothing is hidden. It is bright and everything is heard.
    Yes, part of this is the unique amp circuit, but the Greenback is not in my opinion a soft response speaker. It is very much ready for rock and stiff. If it was a 50 year old greenback it might be different.
    Sounds beautiful as an amp, but I would not get clean warmth out of it. I get clean, 3D, in-your-face out of it.
    The EQ is not scooped (on mine) and VOX owners may have a different experience, but I do not associate that amp as a Jazz tone in my ears, unless I was possibly some sort of fusion God at which point it might well be awesome.
    m

  17. #16

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    I would back up though and say-
    The Amp is only part of the tone. And the amp / speaker/ cabinet combination is as varied as the Guitar/Pick/ String/ Scale length.......player combination. It is all a signal chain.

    If you can get the tone for your version of jazz out of the combination in your hands, then what does it matter if others can or can't?

    And if you are a travelling musician at a pro level, as someone above suggested- backlines around the world are likely to have an AC30, Deluxe reverb or something along standard lines. Less risk to you if your own rig cant get there in a playable state. Smart move. You can depend on consistent tone from gig to gig and the more common the components you use- easier access to spare parts. The more unique your rig, the more exposed you are to irrecoverable failure.

    If a Vox with the right input EQ works for you- Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
    M

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy
    Besides Sco, Wolfgang Muthspiel plays through them, and I love his sound! Otherwise, not often seen on the Jazz stage...

    That's an awesome tone. But those big heavy amp days are over for me.

  19. #18

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    One of my favorite amps is an old, impractical Vox that was made by Thomas Organ in the USA. It is the late-60s Vox Essex Bass Amp. A 2x12" speaker, sealed-cabinet, combo amp, it is some ways was the precursor to the Polytone amp.

    The Essex had a preamp under the top of the cabinet with two inputs and just a volume and a tone knob. Near the bottom of the cabinet, on the right side wall, was the 55-watt rms power amp. On the baffle board were two, heavy-duty 12" drivers. The size of the amp was about that of a Fender Twin Reverb set on its side.

    The amp was adequately loud and boasted a terrific tone for archtop and solid-body guitars. A Les Paul, Stratocaster, or ES-175 played through the Essex (the three guitars I used to run through it) achieved excellent sounds with a minimum of knob twisting--after all, there were only two knobs to twist.

    When the first Polytones came out, they really reminded me of the old Essex amp.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    One of my favorite amps is an old, impractical Vox that was made by Thomas Organ in the USA. It is the late-60s Vox Essex Bass Amp. A 2x12" speaker, sealed-cabinet, combo amp, it is some ways was the precursor to the Polytone amp.

    The Essex had a preamp under the top of the cabinet with two inputs and just a volume and a tone knob. Near the bottom of the cabinet, on the right side wall, was the 55-watt rms power amp. On the baffle board were two, heavy-duty 12" drivers. The size of the amp was about that of a Fender Twin Reverb set on its side.

    The amp was adequately loud and boasted a terrific tone for archtop and solid-body guitars. A Les Paul, Stratocaster, or ES-175 played through the Essex (the three guitars I used to run through it) achieved excellent sounds with a minimum of knob twisting--after all, there were only two knobs to twist.

    When the first Polytones came out, they really reminded me of the old Essex amp.
    Ooh -- that's interesting indeed:
    The VOX Showroom - The Vox Essex Bass Amplifier - V-4, V104, V1041, V1042 and V1043

  21. #20

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    there's a consensus amongst me that they are the best amps, but i'm not a jazz guy. like anything, you have to know what you want and what you're doing to get the best results. there are a fair amount of misconceptions and stigmas about voxes that often lead to user error, or people just doing the same thing over and over with them.

    which brings us to "jazz", which often leans pretty traditional and can very much prefer to keep doing the exact same thing over and over again. is a vox the first thing i'd reach for in search of "traditional" jazz tones? no. but are there a wealth of clean, broken and dirty tones in there that an enterprising guy or gal can appropriate to make great sounding music? indeed.

    in a super general sense, they tend to be very mid forward, with less focus on bass as the volume and gain increases. so they cut through mixes better than many amps bigger in size and wattage, and are insanely loud, but not really earthshakingly bassy. but they can be plenty round and full, if that's what you're after. and they are pretty responsive to a plain old eq or speaker swap, if you like.

  22. #21

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    I used to have a Vox AC15VR - kind of a SS version of a AC15 (but had a 12ax7 in the preamp)- that actually had a really good jazz sound. Not the smooth rich sound of a Fender Twin, but it had a slightly nasal honk that provided a nice early swing era electric guitar sound. It didn't have much headroom but that was part of its charm. It wasn't anywhere near as shrill as the backline AC30s I've used. It had quite a fat sound from memory.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    I'm pretty sure that Muthspiel did not specifically order a Vox for this particular gig and Sco's preference for Vox amps is simply grounded in the easy availability of these units.
    Perhaps they both like Vox amps, like a lot of guitarists.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    I read somewhere that one of the reasons John Scofield plays Vox is because of their availability in the market.
    It is known that John uses two Vox apms-stereo set.
    These are heavy amplifiers but very popular.
    Organizers of concerts can easily provide them to John at gig.I hope.
    Are Vox amps seriously more available/popular than Fenders?

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by feet
    there's a consensus amongst me that they are the best amps, but i'm not a jazz guy. like anything, you have to know what you want and what you're doing to get the best results. there are a fair amount of misconceptions and stigmas about voxes that often lead to user error, or people just doing the same thing over and over with them.

    which brings us to "jazz", which often leans pretty traditional and can very much prefer to keep doing the exact same thing over and over again. is a vox the first thing i'd reach for in search of "traditional" jazz tones? no. but are there a wealth of clean, broken and dirty tones in there that an enterprising guy or gal can appropriate to make great sounding music? indeed.

    in a super general sense, they tend to be very mid forward, with less focus on bass as the volume and gain increases. so they cut through mixes better than many amps bigger in size and wattage, and are insanely loud, but not really earthshakingly bassy. but they can be plenty round and full, if that's what you're after. and they are pretty responsive to a plain old eq or speaker swap, if you like.
    Interesting. I might try one one day. Fender BF amps are annoying in many ways, usually find myself mid boosting them with EQ etc.

  26. #25

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    I had a vox ac10 for a while. Cool amp, but lots of bass & lots of sparkle & the tone controls didn't change much.
    It was sort of a one hit wonder that didn't sound much like jazz to me.