My very good friend Dem passed to me
his vintage VOX AC30.
||For the uninitiated, which
would include me until recently, this is the guitar amplifier of choice
for many top guitarists. It's a valve amplifier (as opposed to current
transistor and microchip technologies) and has such a wonderful warm
sound. Until I heard this amp I never really appreciated how important
the amp is in the sound of a guitar.
These amps originate from the 60s and were pivotal in defining the sound
of British pop in the Beatles and Stones era. Notable users of VOX AC30s
include the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Edge (from U2), and Brian May
(from Queen). But if you found this page you probably know all this ...
So let me tell you about my AC30. These old ones are notoriously difficult
to date, but this is certainly an early 60s model, non top boost, probably
from around 1962 which would make it as old as me. (Any experts out there
who see these photos and can help with the dating please use my Facebook contact (on the left) and message me).
I don't know too much about its history up until the time Dem got it,
and used it in My Dog Has No Nose. I now know that this amp contributed
to those amazing guitar sounds in their live shows and on their album
(not omitting the guitar and Dem's talent!). A previous owner had split
the housing in two so it now has separate head and speaker cabinet. It's
still the original cabinet, just in two parts.
|MDHNN wound up and the amp
was unused for a number of years. When I got it I was busy for a couple
of months and only at the end of summer 2008 did I get to plug it
in and give it a whirl. Wow. Even with my poor guitar skills it
sounds completely wonderful.
I noticed some intermittent noises which were not too bad but really
needed sorting before I could record etc with it. There was also a hum
that I probably could have lived with, and Dem had pointed out that some
of the features didn't work properly.
This amp is way better than I deserve to be using, given my standard
of playing and the quality of my guitar, but I decided that as custodian
of this rather wonderful amp I should look after is best I can. So I looked
around the net for someone who might be able to repair the noise and possibly
also restore some of the functions. I came across John Chambers who works
pretty close to where I live.
||John was a great find. I'm
not doing a sales pitch here, and I'm certainly not on any commission,
but I'd heartily recommend John to anyone who needs this kind of work
doing on vintage or modern equipment. He's great to chat to, and clearly
loves what he does. He has an amazing familiarity with every tiny
component of the AC30 and even though I have a very limited understanding
he toured me round the components with enthusiasm and reassuring expertise.
He takes before and after photos as he works, in part so he can show
his customers what he has done, but also I suspect because he likes them.
Visiting John's workshop is a real pleasure - it is everything you would
hope for, stacked high with jobs in progress, benches and shelves teeming
with parts and tools, and a rock and roll soundtrack.
Yesterday I picked the amp up from John and connected up. If it sounded
fantastic before it sounds amazing now. Various valves and other components
have been replaced. The slight hum has gone, there are no noises, and
John has made sure of its electrical safety and replaced various missing
bolts that should have been in there to keep it solid.
On this page are some photos that I have taken, and some of John's which
he has kindly said I can use. I'm also adding in a sound recording of
me playing, but if you want a better idea of what it can sound like you
need to visit the My Dog Has No Nose site.
Wikipedia VOX AC30 page