Vox AC30 vs Fender Vibrolux Reverb

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by AJBaker, Jun 14, 2021.

  1. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    How do they compare?

    On paper, they would seem comparable: the Fender with 35-40w is slightly more powerful than the 30w Vox, but the Vox has more speaker area with 2x12 vs 2x10.
    (Speaker sensitivity would be another factor of course, but both models have been equipped with a variety of speakers over the years).


    In real life gigging situations, what has been your experience? Is one drastically louder/cleaner than the other?
    Are both amps capable gigging platforms?
    With a band, do you get to push it into drive?
    Does one sound 'better' to you than the other?


    One area where the Fender clearly beats the Vox is in portability: 21kg is easy enough to carry, even with one handle. The 32kg Vox is a bear of an amp, but at least it has extra handles to make carrying more doable.
    Is there enough extra tone in those 11kg to justify the weight of this amp?


    Thanks!
     
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  2. rdjones

    rdjones Tele-Meister

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    The Vox uses skinny output tubes ...
     
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  3. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Holic

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    I had one of the white knob black vinyl Fender Vibrolux Reverbs that were made 10 to 15 years ago. Don't know how it would compare to the Siverface reissues out now, which I've played in stores and was very impressed with. They have a great vibrato and reverb! The white knob Blackface I had was an awesome gigging amp. Great cleans, broke up really well and was a very good pedal platform. For a 35 watt 2x10" amp, it was as light and as easy to carry as a 22 watt 1x12" Deluxe, but built solid as most Fenders are. I've played Vox AC-30s and AC-15s a little, but never owned one. My impression of the AC-30 and AC-15 is that they are very trebly and can get a little thin. Like most amps with EL-84 power tubes, they seem to be a bit of a one trick pony. And they are quite heavy.

    FenderVibroluxWntKnob.jpg
    Not my photo or my amp.

    Probably said with a little tongue in cheek. But yes, I agree The Vox uses EL-84 output tubes which are much smaller in size compared to the 6V6, 6L6 and EL-34 output tubes used on many other amps. IMHO the Vox EL-84 output tubes also have a skinnier sound compared to other output tubes.

    TubesImage.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
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  4. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes TDPRI Member

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    Aren't class A amp circuits louder per watt than class AB? It's my understanding that the AC30's 30 watts compares to a 50-60 watt AB amp...

    If true, that makes the AC15 closer to the Vibrolux Rev. Of course, I'm speaking of the "real" BF/SF VR amps, and not the "Custom Vibrolux Reverb Amps."

    The Vox amps have a sweet clean tone (particularly the Top Boost amps), yet when cranked, can get that "Brian May" sound...

    The closest I've come to gigging either of the amps in the OP's comparison is a "drip-edge" Bandmaster back in the early 70s... My BMaster was up against Traynor amps of similar vintage... The Traynors sounded more like the tweed Bassman and early Marshall amps, and their overdrive was quite nice, while my BMaster was just too loud and clean to sound like they were in the same band! Very frustrating for me. That's when I began my OD pedal hunt... I finally acquiesced and joined the Traynor family! Haha!! They are excellent amps, even though quite heavy.

    Between the AC30 and a BF/SF (mid-late 60s through 70s) Vibrolux Reverb Amp, I prefer the Fender. I can always add pedals to get the Vox-ish sound, but, the Vox will never get the Fender sound. Then consider the weight, and it's a no brainer (for me). I have the "Brownie" Vibrolux (35-ish watts, 1x12), with a very efficient Lil Texas speaker, and it suits me just fine sound and weight wise. I drive it with pedals that get the Marshall-y sound, and the Vox-ish sound... Light weight, loud enough (not too loud), and great fun!
     
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  5. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Vox is way louder, and way.treblier.

    If the Vox has Greenback/s it'll be louder. If it has Blues it'll be twice as apparently loud.

    The Vibrolux with 2 *10 pushes less air than a 2 * 12 Vox. The Vox has tons more gain on tap via topboost. Mostly top end.

    The Vibrolux has a dinky output transformer compared to the Vox. It's got lots of bluesy distortion from about halfway up the volume dial which is still loud. The Vox just outscreams it at the top end. The Vox in good condition with Blues is louder than a vintage BF/SF Twin.
     
  6. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes TDPRI Member

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    I was with ya right up til this last comment... My drip edge Twin was louder AND cleaner than the either of my AC30s (red panel, and grey panel - both from 1964). My AC30s were louder than my AC50, but not as loud as my AC100... The 50 & 100 amps were class AB, however...
     
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  7. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Depends what speakers are in the Twins. EV or JBLs, I'd agree would hold their own. But the more common Utah, Oxford, CTS, Eminence - 95/96db speakers: 102db Blues will kill them in apparent volume and on a db meter for top end, although obviously not lows.

    That's not to say it's necessarily a nicer sound and 5 minutes later the AC will probably pop the Blues.

    The AC30 is also an A/B amp, it's cathode biased quite hot but it's A/B.

    I think we can agree it's a lot louder than a.Vibrolux, even though my 78 cranked ,
     
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  8. Len058

    Len058 Tele-Meister

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    The vox doesn't have a negative feedback loop, which makes a huge difference. I have a DIY amp with a switch for the NFL so I know how much the tone and amount of drive changes.
     
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  9. knavel

    knavel Tele-Holic

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    Having / having had both a 64 BF Vibrolux Reverb and a 63 AC30, each is what I would point to as arguably the paradigm of Fender / Vox sound. The BF Vibrolux is my favorite Fender amp in the arsenal.

    But the starting point for me would be the weight differential you observed. I had to sell my AC30 because of the weight alone.

    I have been looking at one of those Vietnam made handwired AC15s to scratch the Vox itch, but even the AC15 is 52 lbs per the spec sheet (~23kg). A VR will weigh in circa 40 lbs (less than 21kg but mine is old so maybe they weigh more now).

    I would gig worry free with the VR in the settings I play at--for an outdoor gig, especially with poor or no mic'ing the amp, then I would favor the AC30. But at this point in my life/gig scene, I have very infrequent need for AC30 and I can't imagine how anyone other than someone who plays decent sized venues with roadies going for the AC30.
     
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  10. Mr.Ike

    Mr.Ike Tele-Meister

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    Vibrolux reverb is a sweet amp. Can not recommend enough.
     
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  11. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    The AC30 is NOT a class A amp.
     
  12. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    A single tube amp by definition is class A. That means the power tube conducts current for 360 degrees of the signal sine wave

    An EL84 AC4 or 6V6 Champ struggles to put out 4-5 watts. Thats with tubes being run past rated limits. Champs it's common to find the tube dissipating 120-130% of rated voltage and current at idle.

    So a push-pull class A amp would be lucky to push out 10 watts. Tubes in class A are rated lower than run in A/B for voltage and current.

    https://www.aikenamps.com/is-the-vox-ac-30-really-class-a

    The confusion is people like Mesa started making Vox-type EL84 amps and marketing them as 'Class A'. Naturally, people think Class A means better. In the 90s you saw lots of amp.makers advertising EL84 cathode biased amps as 'Class A tone'.

    Single ended Class A amps are typically cathode biased, Vox ACs are cathode biased so therefore they must be class A...... A Tweed Deluxe, Marshall 18watt and numerous other push-pull amps are cathode biased but not Class A amps.

    There are a few parallel tube single ended class A amps like the Kustom Defender 18 but they aren't push-pull. I'd say 18 watts is very optimistic and they are known tube eaters.

    The Vox is a loud amp because like most pommy amps of that era it's rated before distortion. Like a Plexi that can output 160 watts peak the AC30 can put out 36. Plus the Celestion Blues speaker rated 102db. 3db extra efficiency is like doubling power. 6 db is like 120 watts through 96 db speakers.

    Someone noted - no negative feedback means lots of gain in the preamp. plus topboost. A topboost AC30 is much louder than a non topboost.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
  13. Cosmic Cowboy

    Cosmic Cowboy Tele-Holic

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    Very good choices, both of them. Kinda depends on the music you plan to play. If you are playing on the cleaner side, the Vibrolux is gonna do the thing. The AC30 has some the of the sweetest chime and breaks up much quicker.
     
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  14. noname_dragon

    noname_dragon Tele-Holic

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    As clean tone goes, they are very different, both wonderful.
     
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  15. KC

    KC Friend of Leo's

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    I don't think this is a question anybody can answer but you. These are both big capable gig amps. AC30 is louder when pushed but you're not going to be pushing it much in today's gig environment. I like the Vox sound well enough to haul a Bad Cat Black Cat 30 around, a weapons-grade AC30 that weighs like its bolted to the floor. But I don't think you'll run out of amp, even outdoors, with a healthy Vibrolux. So: what sounds better to you?
     
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  16. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    My limited experience is the AC30 is bright and loud compared with a Vibrolux with stock speakers. V'lux more controllable in a gig situation.... indoors anyway...
     
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  17. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Afflicted

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    That's a real apples and oranges comparison. I haven't played a Vibrolux in a long time, but I think it will have more clean headroom. Forget about wattage ratings, the AC30 will be way louder than a Vibrolux. I have a SFTR and a Hayseed 30 which is an AC30 clone, and while the Twin is louder, it does not overpower the Hayseed 30.

    The tones between the two are very different in my opinion especially the clean tones. Personally, I prefer Fender clean tones to Vox, but generally prefer the edge-of-breakup/chimey tones on a Vox to Fender. Neither is better, just different.
     
  18. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree with the apples and oranges statement. From my experience Vox watts don't equal other amp watts. My AC15 is easily the loudest 15 watts I've ever heard; and I don't think I've ever turned it up past halfway. A cranked AC30 will keep up with a Twin Reverb onstage. It will have some breakup though, but that's kinda the point of owning a Vox - getting that magical breakup.

    My main issue with my Vox is it doesn't work well as a pedal platform. Very finicky when it comes to pedals. Not sure if that applies to the AC30 too.
     
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  19. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Afflicted

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    Vox will break up way sooner. My Vibrolux needs to be deafening before I get any dirt, but that's what pedals are for.
     
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  20. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

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    A Pro Reverb would be a better 2x12 comparable amp to a Vox AC30.
     
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