Vox AC30 in a living room



(Image credit: Future)

The lustrous gold Vox logo has been an enduring presence in the world of guitar-based music. From its humble beginnings in the late ’50s to helping the Fab Four be heard over hoards of adoring fans in the swinging ’60s, this British institution would cement itself into every decade thereafter. Walls of AC30s would enable Queen to break free in the ’70s, cause Tom Petty to free fall in the ’80s and there should be no surprises that these amps would end up in the hands of Radiohead axeman Jonny Greenwood in the ’90s. In the present day, Vox amps can be seen taking up residence on stadium stages around the world. So, if you’ve been thinking about following in the footsteps of rock royalty, this guide to the best Vox amps is a great place to start. 

Perhaps best known for their vintage diamond-clad AC combos, the British amp legends actually do a lot more than that, with an expansive catalog that includes modern digital modelers, pint-sized practice companions, as well as their celebrated tube amps. In this guide, we’ve made sure to include a wide selection of the amplifiers Vox offers today, covering various price points, applications and styles. 

So, if you’re on the hunt for an amplifier that sparkles both in sound and looks, that’s earned a boatload of kudos from the biggest names in music and can turn its hand at almost any genre, then Vox is most certainly the brand for you. 

Best Vox amps: Guitar World’s top picks

If there’s one unit that stands as a symbol for Vox’s longevity, it has to be the glorious AC30C2 (opens in new tab) – and that’s why it tops our list. This moderately sized combo may weigh so much that even Thor would struggle to lift it, but what it lacks in the weight department, it more than makes up for in tone. The AC30 is crisp and articulate, with a shimmering top end that makes our hearts sing. If you are looking for the quintessential Vox tone, then the AC30 is for you.

Now, while we love the sound of the AC30, we’d be the first to admit it isn’t exactly bedroom friendly. That 30 watts of power is deceptively loud and it could result in your entire neighborhood finding out you haven’t quite nailed the intro to Johnny B Goode yet. Enter the Vox AC10 (opens in new tab); a shrunken-down take on the famed AC tone that won’t result in a knock at the door from the cops. This little amp is not only more manageable, but it’s also insanely affordable, seriously stylish and sounds epic!  

Best Vox amps: product guide

Best Vox amps: Vox AC30C2

(Image credit: Vox )

1. Vox AC30C2

This Vox mainstay is just as popular today as it was in the ’60s

Specifications

Type: Tube

Speakers: 2 x 12”

Output: 30W

Channels: Normal & Top Boost

Tubes: EL84

Weight: 32kg

Reasons to buy

+

Serious power for gigging musicians

+

Very versatile range of tones

+

Killer reverb and tremolo

Reasons to avoid

Too loud for home use 

Really, there was only ever going to be one amplifier that topped this list – the AC30C2. This sophisticated – yet simple – combo has been the secret weapon of many guitar-wielding legends. Now, while a certain other gilded British amp gets most of the credit, the humble AC30 has been working away tirelessly in the background to bring the power behind acts such as Brian May, The Edge, Mike Campbell, Tom DeLonge, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Dustin Kensrue, Tame Impala, and many more. 

Famed for its recognizable bright tone, piercing mid-range and lush tube-driven reverb and tremolo, the AC30 produces a sound like no other. Utilizing a trio of 12AX7 preamp valves, as well as a quartet of EL84s, this combo’s sound is dynamic, complex and harmonically rich. 

With the option to plug into two channels – as well as a high and low impedance option for both – the Normal and Top Boost channels cover a lot of sonic ground. The Normal circuit is perfect for those who like it simple. With a solitary volume dial and no control over the EQ, it doesn’t come much simpler than this. However, the Top Boost channel is where you go if you want things to get a little hairy, as you can easily push this channel into overdrive, as well as gain access to bass and treble controls.

Best Vox amps: Vox AC10 Custom

(Image credit: Vox )

2. Vox AC10 Custom

Get the AC tone at home

Specifications

Type: Tube

Speakers: 1 X 10”

Output: 10W

Channels: Top Boost

Tubes: EL84

Weight: 12.3kg

Reasons to buy

+

More manageable for home use

+

Really great for natural overdrive

+

Built-in reverb

Reasons to avoid

The smaller speaker can lack low end

As much as some guitarists don’t want to admit it, 30 watts of full tube power isn’t always the way to go – especially at home or in a small practice room. Luckily, Vox has a little amp that still delivers all the valve tone you expect from this legacy brand while also keeping the volume to a much more manageable level – the Vox AC10 Custom. 

Comprising of just the Top Boost tone circuit, this plucky little amp is sophisticatedly simple. While it does take inspiration from the original AC10 of yesteryear, it upgrades its core elements, bringing it into the modern day. 

Unlike the original, the contemporary version comes with a full complement of tone-shifting controls, such as volume and gain for dialing in the exact amount of drive, as well as bass and treble controls for balancing the overall tone. Better yet, you also get a digital reverb and a 10-inch Celestion speaker. 

Best Vox amps: Vox AC4 Custom

(Image credit: Vox )

3. Vox AC4 Custom

This pint-sized Vox packs a punch

Specifications

Type: Tube

Speakers: 1 X 12”

Output: 4W

Channels: Top Boost

Tubes: EL84

Weight: 10.6kg

Reasons to buy

+

Very portable

+

Perfect for studio use

+

12-inch speaker

Reasons to avoid

No reverb 

Continuing the theme of smaller versions of the renowned AC range, we have the most undersized amp available, the Vox AC4 Custom. Much like its slightly larger brother above, the AC4 distills the AC30 down into its most basic components while also reducing the power and therefore, headroom. 

Yes, this amp is perfect for those looking to reduce the volume at home, but it’s also an ideal option for those looking to unlock the tone of a cranked AC without worrying about complaints from the neighbors. Since the AC4 is only a mere 4 watts, it doesn’t have the headroom of the others, meaning it breaks up way sooner. 

It is worth noting that, unfortunately, you don’t get a reverb this time, so you’ll need to grab your favorite reverb pedal to add a little depth to the sound. You do, however, get a 12″ speaker, meaning the bass response is a little fuller than the AC10. 

Best Vox amps: Vox SuperBeetle

(Image credit: Vox )

4. Vox Mini SuperBeetle

A mini amp to twist and shout about

Specifications

Type: Nutube/Solidstate

Speakers: 1 X 10”

Output: 25W

Channels: One Channel

Tubes: Nutube 6P1

Weight: 8.7kg

Reasons to buy

+

A must-have for Beatles fanatics 

+

Built-in reverb and tremolo

Reasons to avoid

The look is for everyone 

We can’t mention Vox without discussing The Fab Four, with The Beatles helping catapult the brand’s popularity into the stratosphere. The Liverpool quartet would use Vox amps throughout their career – with McCartney still using them to this day. 

Vox – and the Beatles – were all too aware that the AC30 sadly wasn’t cutting it anymore, as it couldn’t be heard over the screams of admiration from their teenage fans. This would lead Vox to create the AC50 and AC100 as well as the highly sought-after, made-for-USA, solid-state Super Beetle introduced in 1966, which was manufactured by Thomas Organ, the US Vox distributor. It’s the latter from which the Vox Mini SuperBeetle would take its inspiration. 

The tiny little head and cab set brings that iconic stadium rig to your living room. Powered by Korgs Nutube technology, the Mini SuperBeetle delivers that warm and rich break-up Vox is famous for, but at a practice amp volume – and thankfully, it also has reverb and tremolo on board, so you can create all your favorite ’60s sounds at home. 

Best Vox amps: Vox Adio Air GT

(Image credit: Vox )

5. Vox Adio Air GT

Way more than just an amplifier

Specifications

Type: Digital modeling

Speakers: 2 x 3″

Output: 25W

Channels: 11 Models

Tubes: N/A

Weight: 2.9kg

Reasons to buy

+

Multiple amp models 

+

Built-in Bluetooth and audio interface

Reasons to avoid

Some of the models could be better

With Vox being known as a retro brand, it could be argued that it keeps one foot in the past when it comes to its modern amps. That said, the Adio Air GT is so forward-thinking that it has both feet firmly in the future. 

Combining a powerful, portable desktop amp, a Bluetooth speaker and ​a USB audio interface, this combo’s functions go way beyond that of a traditional amp. Coming loaded with 11 built-in amp models, including classic sounds as well as high-gain and non-Vox tones, the Adio Air GT is a versatile practice partner. 

So if you are looking for an amp that can do way more than just provide a stellar tone, then the Vox Adio Air GT is the amp for you.

Best Vox amps: Vox Cambridge50

(Image credit: Vox )

6. Vox Cambridge50

A powerful digital modeler

Specifications

Type: Nutube/Solidstate

Speakers: 1 X 12”

Output: 25W

Channels: 11 Models

Tubes: Nutube 6P1

Weight: 8.9kg

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent amp models 

+

Definitely giggable 

Reasons to avoid

A little boring when compared to other Vox products 

When the market is awash with hi-tech amps such as the Boss Katana, Positive Grid Spark, Line 6 Catalyst and, of course, the Vox Cambridge, it’s reasonable to assume we are living in the golden age of digital modelers. 

It’s never been more affordable to get an amp with so many tones locked away inside, making it a truly inspiring time to be a guitarist. The Vox Cambridge50 uses Virtual Element Technology – or VET for short – to model various types of amps, while the Nutube preamp delivers the creamy distortion that all guitarists love. 

Clocking in at 50 watts and utilizing an open-back cabinet with a 12-inch Celestion speaker, this unassuming combo is most definitely stage ready, meaning it can comfortably be your gigging amp as well as your go-to practice unit. 

Best Vox amps: Vox MV50

(Image credit: Vox )

7. Vox MV50

A small and mighty head that can go anywhere with you

Specifications

Type: Nutube/Solidstate

Speakers: 1 X 10”

Output: 25W

Channels: One Channel

Tubes: Nutube 6P1

Weight: 8.

Reasons to buy

+

Insanely portable 

+

Handy as a backup amp

Reasons to avoid

Not much in the way of tone shaping

It’s every guitar player’s worst nightmare – you take to the stage, hit your first chord and nothing. Your amp has chosen this exact time to fail. Luckily, you have the Vox MV50 tucked away in your gig bag. You quickly plug it in and well, the gig is saved. Crisis averted. 

Like many of the amps on this list, the MV50 is fueled by Nutube technology and produces an impressive 50 watts of power. A triad of controls – Gain, Tone and Volume – provide a basic level of tone shaping while giving players a fantastic bed for pedals. 

This amp is so small, affordable and simple to use that we strongly believe every guitarist should have one. Okay, it may not replace your main amp, but it’s perfect as a backup or as a mainstay in a rehearsal room. 

Best Vox amps: AC15 Handwired

(Image credit: Vox )

8. Vox AC15 Handwired

The best Vox amp for the vintage aficionado

Specifications

Type: Tube

Speakers: 1 X 12”

Output: 15W

Channels: Normal & Top Boost

Tubes: 3 x Ecc83/2AX7, 2 x EL84, 1 x EZ81

Weight: 22.2 kg

Reasons to buy

+

As close as you’ll get to the retro tone 

+

Stunning look and sound 

Reasons to avoid

For larger gigs, you may need the AC30

Way more expensive than the standard AC15C1

If you have your heart set on a genuine vintage experience – but don’t want to sell a kidney to get an original amp from the sixties – then the Handwired series is your best bet. Relying on turret board hand-wiring, this AC15 will get you eerily close to the beloved old-fashioned combo while benefiting from modern manufacturing techniques. 

Draped in a gorgeous tan covering, the AC15 Handwired looks every bit as good as it sounds – and boy, does it sound superb! Naturally, the 15 watts of power offered up by this mighty little combo is somewhat less than its bigger brother, the AC30, resulting in reduced headroom and more gain at lower volumes – pretty ideal for those sheering rock tones! 

So if you want to own a little slice of history – but can’t get your hands on an authentic piece, then this AC15 is the next best thing. 

Best Vox amps: Buying advice

Two Vox combos in a room

(Image credit: Future)

A brief history of Vox amps

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While the Vox story is a rather long tale spanning decades, it’s a pretty straightforward one. Dick Denney, a young amplifier designer working for JMI amplification saw the rise in popularity of guitar-based music in the late ’50s and sought to create an amp that delivered not only the volume this new breed of player needed, but also the sustain and attacking tone they craved so much. 

By the beginning of 1958, the very first unit bearing the now iconic Vox moniker was released – AC1/15 – and the British amp legends were off to the races, with guitarists of the day flocking to get one of these hip modern amps. Only a few years later, guitar players would be demanding even more volume to keep pace with the loud and brash new medium of rock ‘n’ roll, resulting in Denny and Co. upgrading their popular AC15 model to create a new amp in their expanding lineup, the AC30/4 Twin. Now sporting a larger cabinet, extra volume, as well as an additional speaker, this new amp was an instant success – and is still one of the most popular units Vox creates today. 

Of course, the Vox brand would go from strength to strength over the years as more and more famous players would go on to adopt the bright shimmering tone as their signature sound. The company would create various incarnations of their popular AC range, including 50 and 100-watt options, as well as quirky designs with ‘zimmer-like’ frames that didn’t quite catch on as much as their regular combos. 

Through the decades, artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Brian May, Dave Grohl, Chris Shiflett, Elvis Costello, Joe Walsh and Yvette Young would harness the power of the Vox to achieve tonal greatness, with many more following suit. 

Today Vox is owned and operated by Korg and produces various other products, such as electric guitars, pedals and headphones, as well as their world-class amplifiers.  

Things to consider when choosing a Vox amp 

Close up of Nutube section of a Vox amp

(Image credit: Future)

If you are looking to purchase a Vox amplifier, your main consideration should be whether or not you are looking to go for traditional tube-driven, Korg’s contemporary Nutube technology or digital modeling. Each option brings its own unique set of pros and cons to the table, so it’s worth putting thought into which would benefit you the most. 

Of course, if you’re looking for the most authentic Vox tone, then it makes sense to opt for the traditional tube circuitry of the AC or Hand-Wired series. These amps will get you as close as you can get to that legendary retro sound while also delivering the classy look Vox is known for. 

Perhaps you’re looking for a lighter – or smaller – option that still retains the dynamic ‘feel’ of a valve amp but without the bulkiness. Well, in that case, an amp equipped with Nutube tech should definitely be top of your list. Vox has gone all in on this brand-new tech, and offers many amps that have Nutube at their core, so you are definitely not short of options – just make sure to think carefully about the wattage you need if you plan to hit the stage with your new amp. 

Lastly, we have digital modeling combos. Again Vox offers a wealth of digital amps, from some of the best amps for beginners to stage-ready combos. Their celebrated Valvetronix and VX range are perfect for those seeking multiple tones and effects at home, while the Vox Mini Go is ideal for musicians practicing on the move. 

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First and foremost, I’m a guitar enthusiast – a fanatic, some might say. I’m a firm believer that most of the world’s problems can be solved with a Gibson SG and a catastrophically loud amp. As Senior Deals Writer on Guitar World, I write about guitars for a living, but in a past life, I worked in music retail for 7 years, advising customers on the right guitars, basses, drums, pianos, and PA systems for their needs. I also have a passion for live sound; I’m a fully qualified sound engineer with experience working in various venues in Scotland, where I live with my wife and dog. 

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