The AC10 was one of the very first amps that Vox produced, and it proved a huge success thanks to its beautiful tube tone. Sadly, the original was discontinued in 1965, although it’s been reborn in the 21st Century! Today we are looking at the new Vox AC10C1 – a modern tribute to a much sought-after classic amp. With big shoes to fill for under $500, we find out if the AC10C1 lives up to the reputation set by its famous predecessor.
Vox amps have very distinctive retro styling and we are glad to say the AC10C1 looks every bit a vintage amp, despite coming along decades after the original.
It has a single channel, which is based on the classic Vox Top Boost tone circuit, giving you a range of vintage and modern tones. Under the hood, it features the same EL84 power valves as the original AC10, plus two 12AX7 preamp valves. It also boasts an automatic power-off feature that’s quite unusual in valve amps.
The sound is being pushed out of a 10” Celestion VX10 speaker, which is, of course, hidden behind the iconic Vox brown diamond cloth. Finally, in terms of features, this model doesn’t have the tremolo that the original had, but it does have a very nice studio-quality reverb that polishes off the natural tube tone nicely.
This amp is all about the classic Vox tone, so there isn’t an abundance of controls. With the controls set on the top of the amp, Vox has gone for a master volume, and separate gain control to get the right amount of overdrive at different volume levels. There are also bass and treble controls to finetune that Top Boost tone circuit.
You also have your reverb control, plus an external speaker jack. It all seems very simple, but remember, if you’re buying a valve amp like this it’s because you want that classic tube sound and not a million ways to distort it. There are other amps for that.
The question on everybody’s lips – does it produce that chimey vintage Vox tone? We are happy to say the answer is a definite yes! Set the gain low and it delivers a warm and clean sound, but start to crank it up and you get a rich, creamy overdriven tone that made Vox famous.
It’s a small 10-watt amp, so it’s easily portable and has enough valve power for practice or stage. However, if you feel you want a little extra, you can connect a separate 16-ohm guitar cabinet with relative ease.
One of the nicest things about the AC10C1 is that the reverb never becomes overpowering. It’s very easy to dial in just the right amount of ambiance without drowning the sound.
Overall, this little amp is well worthy of the Vox name. It may differ to the original in some ways, but it still delivers that genuine Vox tone, while the bass and treble controls actually add a bit more detail than the original.
Tube amps have a different feel altogether and that’s something to consider if you haven’t played through one before. Ultimately, if you want that creamy overdrive then you won’t be disappointed. In short, the AC10C1 may not be the most powerful amp, but it remains one of the best tube amps in its price range.