April 23, 2024


The Gods Made Home

Guitar Amp Tone – Where is the ‘Sweet Spot’ on a Vox AC15?

So you know where I’m coming from, I play a ’72 USA Telecaster through a Vox AC15.

The sweet spot is the culmination of setting your amp to best enhance and bring out the natural tone of your guitar and/or signal chain. So if you’ve got a Fender Telecaster for example, the sweet spot will very different than if you’re using a Gibson Les Paul. The Tele will call for a sweet spot that enriches the toppy, twangy sweetness of the guitar, whereas the Les Paul will produce a sweet spot that highlights the smooth, more powerful sound of that guitar.

You’ve no doubt been experimenting with your amp’s dials and switches to get different sounds when all of a sudden it just sounds great. Move one dial slightly and that sound isn’t there any more – sure it still sounds good, but you’re not hitting the sweet spot. Or if you find a sweet spot and then plug in a different guitar, you’ll find that the amp responds differently to the input signal it gets from the new guitar.

So with my Vox AC15, when I need to, I can get a range of different sounds, all with the clarity and presence you’d demand from a true class A piece of kit. The other great thing about this amp is the character. A lot of people say that the Vox AC15 and to a greater extent the Vox AC30 tend to mellow out a sound, smoothing off the edges and enhancing the brightness. But when set up for it, your Vox AC15 can be a real bitch. Try playing a high output guitar (something with P90s or Humbuckers), through a BOSS OC2 Octave pedal and driving a Vox AC15 quite hard – there’s no sound like it – it’s brutal. Not as high gain as an Ibanez through a Marshall – but the clarity and depth of tone is unmatched.

Reliability has always been an issue with valve amps. For those that are new to the world of valve amps – here’s a quick (very quick) breakdown. Valve amps are pretty much always superior to non-valve or solid state amps. Simply because the valve is what produces the tone. Without valves, your amp is simply emulating a sound, rather than creating it. This is why valve amps have sweet spots.

As you probably now, the longer you leave your amp switched on, the hotter the valves get. And the hotter your valves get, the warmer and more pleasing the sound it creates. But valves, a little like light bulbs, do burn out. In the bad old days, a blown valve could create havoc with your amp, shorting out your fuses and even catching fire. Nowadays changing a valve is about as easy as changing a fuse. Once you’ve done it, it’s simple.

So the key to understanding and finding your amp’s sweet spot is experimentation.