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Getting a Vox AC15C1 to sound better at lower volumes

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by maplebeans, Mar 4, 2019.

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  1. maplebeans

    maplebeans Tele-Meister

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    I have an AC15C1 and really like it. I think it's a solidly built amp and offers good value for the money. I also think it sounds great when I can open it up. When I get the master above half it opens up and sounds so good with my KOT pedal.

    Problem is I find myself not always being able to play it on the right side of noon on the master volume. When I play it at more reasonable volumes (to keep the sound guy happy) I find the sound to be much more spikey and brittle for lack of a better words. I just can't seem to find the pleasing tone zone that I so much have when I get the power tubes cooking.

    Have others experienced a similar thing and has anyone found a solution (a pedal or something), that helps their AC15 sound more like it does when it's cooking but gets you there when you're running at lower levels?

    Thanks for the input.
     
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  2. slauson slim

    slauson slim Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Try a clean boost pedal or a boss ge7 eq pedal- it has a volume control.
     
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  3. Mr Scallywag

    Mr Scallywag Tele-Holic

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    Try running the master volume full open then the channel volume to taste. The AC15 works better that way in general.
     
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  4. hrstrat57

    hrstrat57 Tele-Afflicted

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    you have already changed V1 and V3 for better preamp tubes?
     
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  5. maplebeans

    maplebeans Tele-Meister

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    Yes. I’m running Tung Sols 12ax7s and jj el84s. I’m happy with my cranked up tone. Just not as happy with moderate volumes.


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  6. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    Talk the sound guy into buying you an ac10?

    On a more serious note,

    If I recall (because I was looking to buy a used ac15) one of the speaker lines out mutes the internal one, and has a load of switchable 8 or 16ohms?
    Maybe an extension cabinet with one of the eminence speakers with a built in attenuator? It's a 12, not super hard to find a cabinet for it, may theoretically give you the right sound but more manageable.

    I may be overlooking obvious things though. Fortunately there are far wiser folks than me on here.
     
  7. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    For 35 years or so I gigged with the lowest-output amp I could use in a particular venue. My first suggestion is an AC10 - or even AC5 - if he Vox tone is *your* tone. Because I played a wide range of music I had amps with Fender, Marshal and Vox voicing with different output levels specifically for this purpose.

    A few were custom-built and could take various output tubes, but I found it necessary to use amps with (comparatively speaking) the top-headroom level of a Champ to a Pro Reverb (The Vox AC15 being similar in output level to a Pro; the AC30 closer to a Twin, which was overkill in ALL situations for me)

    But if you can use just the Vox-type sound I'd recommend BOTH smaller Vox models to cover smaller clubs/venues. It's nearly impossible to use a single amp the way you're describing IMO.

    But if you have to because of finances I'd try one or all of these as temporary solutions -

    12AU7 or 12AY7 preamp tubes - and NOS are, in my experience vastly superior tone wise.

    A low sensitivity alnico-mag speaker: 95 or 96 db if you have a 98+ db speaker in it now. The problem is it'll take the speaker(s) 20+ hours to break in a *mid* volume running wide-range music through it. I use an isolation cab, but an old ipod or extra phone loaded with classical, big-band and/or prog rock run in a loop works well (rock and country generally have a more limited frequency range and wider frequencies tends to break speakers in faster). a simple baffle board, old, cheap solid state amp and a corner of a garage with lots of towels/blankets over the speaker works as a makeshift "Iso" box.

    You might also contact Thom at Tone Tubby. He has some lower-priced but excellent alnico speakers, and may be able to do a custom, low-db one for you without breaking the bank. Worth an email or call. Weber used to do stuff like that when Ted was alive but I haven't found the same responsiveness in recent years.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  8. maplebeans

    maplebeans Tele-Meister

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    Truth be told I use to own an Ac10. I really liked it cranked up too but felt I couldn’t justify keeping both the 10 and the 15 and felt the 15 was more pedal friendly not to mention much better build quality. Maybe should have kept it.

    You’re attenuator idea is a good one. Maybe something like a torpedo captor that knocks of 20db I think.

    Thanks for your thoughts.


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  9. maplebeans

    maplebeans Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for sharing from your experience. Makes sense to have the right amp for the job. Although I was hoping for a cheaper option! Tubes and speakers might be a good thought too.




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  10. Millebern

    Millebern Tele-Meister

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    A Timmy pedal might help.
     
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  11. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    I understand your hope for a cheaper option - but this is what virtually every gigging player around Southwest L.A. County I have played with, have serviced gear for or know of is using - and ALWAYS 2 amps (and 2 guitars minimum, although I usually had 4-5) at every gig. The second amp is a backup just a little over what will work at the venue from a practical basis.

    In the 60's and early 70's I was trying to squeeze a modified BF Vibroverb (before we knew NOT to mod such amps!) into every gig, regardless of size or style of music (rock, country rock,. country, blues). Then in '72 I talked to Clarence White for about an hour before one of his acoustic gigs with David Grisman. HE was the one that clued me in to a specific setup he used outside of the Byrds' gigs, where he was using a dimed Showman and Super Reverb to drive his Vibratone (Leslie):

    The lowest-output amp you can use JUST short of the top of its headroom at a specific venue with your guitar controls dialed back about 20% - both volume and tone (in his case, from large to small this was a Super Reverb; a Vibrolux Reverb; and a Deluxe Reverb).

    This way the amp can be driven by the guitar. No pedals necessary (he had a homemade fuzz, but it was for special effects). There was just enough guitar volume travel to increase the clean volume for solos, and a tiny "nudge" more sent the amp into smooth output stage saturation (his amps were all dialed-in by Red Rhodes...and seriously, you NEED a good amp tech to really get good, consistent tone).

    The tone control travel varied the "bite". He had one more trick - the boost coil on Red's VHTBX bridge pickup - but regardless of pickups or guitar(s) the same system works wonders.

    I've used it ever since. Very honestly, I consider myself a medicocre player with good control/touch and very good tone. But I'm NO hotshot and a moron when it comes to theory.

    Yet before I had to retire due to physical issues I was turning down more jobs in all sorts of styles than I could take, because I didn't overplay OR bury anyone, had tone that fit, and knew when to lay out. And the amp "fit" is a critical component in that whole picture. Actually far more than my "playing"!
     
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  12. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I used to play my AC15C1 at low volumes on the Top Boost channel, running clean, with a Joyo Ultimate Drive in front of it and it sounded fine.
     
  13. ShortintheSleeve

    ShortintheSleeve Tele-Meister

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    I use a Wampler Tumnus with the gain around 8:30 and the volume just shy of noon with my AC15 and love the sound.

    What channel are you playing through? I use the Top Boost channel with the volume around 11:00, the bass around 10:00, and the treble around 10:30, with the tone cut around 9:00. It's not often I play somewhere that I can get the master much past 11:00, but I don't have the issue of sounding spiky or brittle. I used to have that problem a bit, though, before I dialed back the treble and tone cut, which really allowed the mids to shine.
     
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  14. bendercaster

    bendercaster Tele-Afflicted

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    I ran a 12ay7 in mine for a while and it helped with what you are talking about. I don't mind the preamp distortion on an AC15, but I agree that they sound best with the master volume past noon. With the 12ay7, I could turn the master volume up higher without it getting as loud. The preamp distortion wasn't as pleasant, but I keep the channel volume down around 9 o clock anyway.

    The band I play in now lets me get loud enough that the 12ax7 is back in there. Keeping the tone cut low can help with that spikiness at lower volumes too.
     
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  15. Lord_Ingipz

    Lord_Ingipz Tele-Meister

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    Top boost or mixed normal and top channels with the channel volumes at 3/4 and set the master to preference. That's at least what I do with my ac30cc2.
     
  16. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have the Dano pedal that is a Timmy clone and the only use I ever had for it was when I owned my AC15. Works great with that circuit.
     
  17. Lynxtrap

    Lynxtrap Tele-Holic

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    Power attenuator is an obvious suggestion. THD Hotplate or something like it.
     
  18. muscmp

    muscmp Tele-Afflicted

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    i jumper the normal and top boost channels and mix from there. normally with the volume levels pretty high and the master fairly low. but, it sounds to me that you have too much treble or too little bass or both. try changing those when you have to play at lower volumes.

    play music!
     
  19. maplebeans

    maplebeans Tele-Meister

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    I run my cut at about 1 or 2 oclock, treble between 10 and 11, bass around 1 o'clock. Sounds great when things are cooking.
     
  20. vkinetic

    vkinetic Tele-Meister

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    I have just got mine and I love it. We rehearse in a ridiculously small room so playing levels are low. I got a great sound straight out of the box with these settings (using a Standard Tele with Joe Barden pickups which are bright):

    Normal channel; Volume at 11:30; Master at 9:30; Tone Cut at 12 o'clock. I had a TC Electronic Spark in front of it just for a boost for solos.

    I have had an AC15HW once but sold it. Other than that Ive always been a Fender man. The last Fender amp I had was a Super Reverb but it was just too loud. I'm just loving this little Vox - fantastic sound.
     
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