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Does an AC30 really sound that much different?

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  • Does an AC30 really sound that much different?

    ok so I have been looking at my amp stable
    and thinking I may be missing something

    I have
    Bugera G5 head
    Carvin Belair 2x12
    Roland Cube 30 1x8
    Peavey Vip2 1x12
    Laney GC80A 1x12

    and some modeling pedals
    and of course the Joyo American and British (Sansamp clone) pedals

    I was looking at the Vox AC series
    and was thinking, maybe I need one of those
    is it that much different or is it just the speakers it uses

    EHD
    Just here surfing Guitar Pron
    RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
    SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
    Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
    Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
    Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
    Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
    GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

  • #2
    It has its own sound, as unique as Fenders and Marshalls. My fav AC sound is early Blackmore, which is probably my favorite rock guitar sound of all time.
    Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

    Comment


    • #3
      It is its own thing for sure. The normal channel should sound somewhat normal, it doesn't have too much bass cut, but many believe it almost too dark. It doesn't have any EQ controls other than the cut control which is actually part of the power amp section. The brilliant channel ( the one everyone buys the amp for ) is ungodly bright to my ears. It has a TON of bass cut and goes through a significant amount of circuitry before it gets to the power amp. The Tremolo channel is also pretty bright and has a different topology than most tremolo channels. It is the least used channel in the amp. The brilliant channel is where all the AC30 gain comes from. It drives a cathode follower circuit where it makes a little bit of grit and then when at a considerable volume, the PI and power amp distort into that classic AC30 grind. The phase inverter and the power section are probably the most important part of the AC30 distortion sound. Aside from the bass cut ( by way of a TINY coupling capacitor ), the brilliant channel is pretty much like a Marshall JTM45 ( a single triode going right into a cathode follower circuit followed by a tone stack ). The Normal channel is more or less normal. The tremolo is just weird, but whatever... The PI and power amp are different from most other amps though.

      The AC30 is probably what gave EL84 amps such a bad taste in people's mouths. Everyone thinks that EL84's = glassy, brittle, low bass, and gritty distortion; not exactly true. EL84 tubes are actually VERY linear and will gladly amplify full-range sound amazingly. The problem is all the copying that goes on. Most amp makers would take the AC30 format and graft in their ideas and tweaks and then resell it. Well, it started as an AC30 and pretty much still ended up being an AC30. Before long all amps that are EL84 powered are placed into " That " type of sound category. The AC30 thing is an acquired taste and some can make it work, and others like me can't deal with it.

      Getting back in line about how the PI and power amp are the core of the AC30 sound, let's compare it to a Marshall 18-watt ( AKA Watkins Dominator ). The amps have similar attributes with the exception that the 18-watt doesn't neuter all the bass and the original versions didn't have a cathode follower circuit. The PI and power amp sections are the same, but different... How is that you ask? Well, the PI in each are nearly identical in most regards. The majority of resistor values are different, but the topology is the same. Where they really veer off is the resistor values after the PI. The 18-Watt uses 470K while the AC30 uses 220K grid leak resistors. The Marshall has a LOT more gain going to the power tubes. The AC30 cuts a bit of level going to the power tubes. What this means is that the 18-Watt is spanking the power tubes pretty hard making them distort before the PI does, whereas the AC30's PI is distorting before the power tubes do. Another big difference between the two is the grid stopper resistors for the power tubes. The 18-Watt uses 8.2K's and the AC30 uses 1.5K's. The lower the resistance the brighter the sound. So while the topology between the two's output sections are identical ( aside from the number of power tubes and a cut control ), the AC30 has more grit coming from the PI and the power tubes are brighter sounding with the relatively small grid stoppers.

      I recently designed an amp using EL84's and have the same power section topology as the 18-Watt and AC30. I of course used my own resistor and cap values and have what you could say is a hybrid of three different types of power sections. What I can say is that my amp is not lacking in bass and can give you the chime if you desire. My amp is designed to get PI breakup well before the power tubes do and I can say that PI distortion has a gritty kind of grind to it. It is smooth and sweet, but it has that edge and grit that makes designs like the 5E3 and other Fender amps famous.

      I have a Strymon Iridium pedal, which has an AC30 emulation in it. I cannot for the life of me make it work. It is too bright, or too dark, and there just seems to be no way to get an even sound that is not trying to clear my sinuses out with an ice pick or sound like an amp with a mattress over it. With the Round and Punch channels, I can do what I need. In having actually used an AC30, it was so shrill and bright, I just couldn't stand to be near it. Having mic'd dozens up as a live sound engineer, I can say that it was hit or miss if they were just bright as ever-living ****, or somewhat decent sounding. Some say brightness is next to godliness, but the AC30 may have found God's mother then!!! The speakers it comes with do kind of contribute to that sound as well. Rhett Shull recently released a video going on about how much he loves the AC30. I will say that of all his intro songs and demos, the AC30 was my least favorite sounding. The chirp, brashness, and grit is just too much for me. Brian May has an arsenal of AC30's and they are HEAVILY modified. He runs his amps dimed and to me, they sound muddy and undefined, leaving me with the feeling that they were modified to cut LOTS of HF content; perhaps too much.

      I say if you are gassing for one, pay the extra doh for a vintage model and look for a 1966 model. This is a darker sounding variant that uses the speakers that are synonymous with the AC30's sound. Certainly, try them out first, I think if you are not used to bright amps, the AC30 will definitely show you the meaning of it.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have a Mesa Blue Angel that has 4 EL84s in it (and 2 6v6s). Selecting the EL84s channel sounds bigger and bolder than and Vox I've ever used.
        Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

        Comment


        • #5
          My Belair is EL84
          I love how it sounds
          Super loud though
          EHD
          Just here surfing Guitar Pron
          RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
          SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
          Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
          Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
          Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
          Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
          GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't use an AC15 right now -but the most compliments I would get on my tone/guitar sound playing live would happen when I used to play AC15 out. Always get comments. I think it's the sparkle in those high mids that speaks to people.

            However, it wasn't versatile enough for what I was doing then or now -so I haven't had as much use for it. -but it is magical for cleanish tones.
            “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Yvonne Chouinard

            Comment


            • #7
              Voxes (and their derivatives) are definitely their own thing, and they don't really sound like a Fender, Marshall, Mesa, etc. If I were in the market for an AC type I'd honestly take a Matchless or Bad Cat over the Vox; they'll do just about all of the classic Vox tones and bunch that the Vox won't do without a pedal.

              I really need to back off the amp GAS, but I've been thinking about asking Ceriatone if they'll make me an HC30 clone with a Lightning power section (dual EL-84 switchable between 15W & 7W).
              Originally posted by crusty philtrum
              And that's probably because most people with electric guitars seem more interested in their own performance rather than the effect on the listener ... in fact i don't think many people who own electric guitars even give a poop about the effect on a listener. Which is why many people play electric guitars but very very few of them are actually musicians.

              Comment


              • #8
                Before blowing the money on actual AC30, you could get a Wampler ThirtySomething, run it into the cleanest, even amp you have and see if that gives you useful sounds. It if lights up your playing, then maybe a real AC30 is worth it. I would look for an older one that is actual plywood cabinet, and preferably with Celestion Blue speakers (though greenbacks are ok.) I wouldn't pay that kind of money just to have one in the stable, however. I would get one if there are known sounds it makes that you need.

                Comment


                • #9
                  i may just run through some modelers and see
                  EHD
                  Just here surfing Guitar Pron
                  RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
                  SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
                  Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
                  Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
                  Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
                  Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
                  GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by beaubrummels View Post
                    Before blowing the money on actual AC30, you could get a Wampler ThirtySomething, run it into the cleanest, even amp you have and see if that gives you useful sounds. It if lights up your playing, then maybe a real AC30 is worth it. I would look for an older one that is actual plywood cabinet, and preferably with Celestion Blue speakers (though greenbacks are ok.) I wouldn't pay that kind of money just to have one in the stable, however. I would get one if there are known sounds it makes that you need.
                    I've never used that pedal -but I've listened to it in online reviews and sounds great -and if it can get you the VOX sparkle in to something like bassman style derivative like a Fender Deluxe -it would give you so many options on tone. The Iridium pedal VOX setting is pretty good -I have that one.
                    “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Yvonne Chouinard

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      dang it
                      Just looked in on the "what amp" thread
                      now its the Victory VC35 with tremolo

                      oh my goodness that thing sounds awesome
                      EHD
                      Just here surfing Guitar Pron
                      RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
                      SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
                      Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
                      Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
                      Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
                      Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
                      GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ehdwuld View Post
                        My Belair is EL84
                        I love how it sounds
                        Super loud though
                        While I don't have a Belair, I do have a Carvin Vintage 33 and I find it to be closer to the typical Vox voice as opposed to the vintage Fender voice one would expect from looking at it.

                        You could probably get most of the way there with your Belair and an overdrive.

                        FWIW, those Vintage Series Carvin amps have an excellent clean channel and I imagine modelers or amp clone pedals would do well with them.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I may just be looking for something I already have

                          thank you
                          EHD
                          Just here surfing Guitar Pron
                          RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
                          SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
                          Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
                          Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
                          Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
                          Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
                          GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            AC 15s are pretty cheap used and come with either a greenback or a blue. Either way not cheap Celestion speakers. You pretty much have to crank them to get overdrive but it’s a pretty distinctive sound. The reverb and tremolo are a little bit different than a Fender amp but good sounding. It’s a gig worthy amp and freaking loud. So it’s not really a bedroom amp. The AC30 is even louder and is the sound of The Beatles, REM, Queen and Rory Gallagher as well as U2. So, it’s capable of diverse sounds and takes pedals well but not necessarily the same pedals you use on your Fenders or Marshalls. It’s not for everyone but you haven’t lived until you played a Rick or a Gretsch through a cranked Vox.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I use a lot of AC30 (and AC50) profiles with my Kemper, they sit in a mix really well

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