A brief history of early hand wired Vox AC30 amps –
In 1959, under pressure from super popular UK group The Shadows who requested amplifiers with more power, Vox UK produced what was essentially a double-powered AC15 and named it the AC30.
The AC-30 tube amplifiers produced in the UK by JMI (Jennings Musical Instruments) from 1960 to 1969 were hand wired and featured point to point construction. These JMI amps also featured GZ34 tube rectifiers.
While the term “hand wiring” indicates the chassis components were manually inserted, wired and soldered, point to point construction adds yet another dimension. Point to point construction requires that every electrical junction in the amplifier be completed by the direct interconnection of the component leads or wires, way before the use of circuit boards.
In addition to a GZ34 rectifier, the tube complement included three ECC83 (12AX7) preamp valves and a matched quad of EL-84 output tubes.
Early AC30s sound great in their own right, but the model evolved to its optimum form when the Top Boost tone stage was adopted—first as a back-to-factory add on in 1961, then as a standard model option in 1964. The Top Boost circuit adds another preamp tube to the signal chain, as well as a simple yet powerful EQ stage with treble and bass controls that are very interactive in use, upping the chime factor and adding a little grind when pushed hard.
With all of these elements under the hood, the AC30 combo was topped off by a pair of delectable Celestion G12 speakers, which translate everything from the amp’s sweet sparkle to its raw, singing lead tones as if they were born to do the job. Put it all together, and it’s a sound that has launched a thousand hits.
Once rock and roll emerged from the pubs of London to larger venues in the early to mid 1960s, the demand for the Vox AC30 skyrocketed, and it became the voice of British rock guitar long before the beginnings of Marshall.
The Shadows, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, Pete Townshend, Rory Gallagher, Paul Wheller, Queen, Mike Campbell & Tom Petty, Peter Buck, Noel Gallagher, U2 and Radiohead are among the many artists who have used the iconic Vox AC30 in shaping their signature sound.
This particular amp is mighty original, as verified by respected Sydney guitar guru & amp tech Greg Fryer who has personally inspected this amp, inside & out. Greg actually worked with Brian May and Queen for some years, notably beefing up many AC30 reissues for the “We Will Rock You” stage show.
From popular reissue to favourite boutique-amp inspiration to pride of place on every modelling amp’s selection menu, the mid- ’60s Vox AC30 with Top Boost is one of the most copied, emulated, and reproduced amp designs ever created.
But this is not a reissue – it’s the real deal, a classic unmolested Vox AC30 Top Boost combo from 1965.
Greg Fryer visited PREMIER GUITARS showroom and we pulled this baby down, took a pile of photos of its innards, and verified that this original hand wired circuit is pretty much untouched. The original WIMA paper in oil caps are in place, as are the other Mullard mustard caps. The original Woden power and output transformers are there, along with its original Mullard GZ34 rectifier tube.
The output tubes are a set of four high quality and quite rare EL84s made by Hungarian outfit Tunsgram in the 1980s. The Brilliance pot has been replaced. Apart from that, this amp is about as original as you can get.
And does it sound good ? Why YES. All of that original circuitry feeds a pair of beautiful Vox branded Celestion G12L ceramic speakers, which are an integral part of the unique mid 60s AC30 equation.
This one plays loud if you want it, and sounds great at any level. It is in excellent original condition, and really quite amazing order for a 54 year old amp. The original dark grille cloth has faded to brown with a red tinge, with a couple of small holes at the left edge. There are a few minor nicks in the tolex covering here and there, but this one could almost be called in museum condition. Even the original, funky vibrato footswitch is present and accounted for.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better one from 1965.
This is a pro level amp in fabulous condition, which is also seriously collectible – put it to any test and you’ll get that killer, crunchy Brit sound that many have tried to emulate, but only VOX got completely right.
From Vox – http://www.voxshowroom.com/uk/amp/ac30_tb_hood.html