Amplified Again At Last!

Recently when not working on my writing, grant application, or the new house, instead of recording music as I usually do, I’ve been jamming on my new amplifier, a Vox AC4tv. Here it is with my Fender Esquire (built by me from mostly American parts):


I picked this little hottie up when it was only three days out of the store from a guy who decided it was too loud for his guitar room. I can attest to the fact that it must be the loudest 4 watt amp I’ve ever heard. I wanted a tube amp with that Vox chime, but affordable and capable of home use. Well, I guess I can use it at home. So long as nobody else is at home. The AC4tv has only three knobs: volume (the more you crank it, the more it overdrives the tubes), a tone knob (crank it up and you get something like the Vox top boost chime), and a power attenuator (set for 4, 1, or 1/4 watts). At 1/4 watts the amp is loud enough at full volume to bug the hell out of my wife and make my daughter clap her hands over her ears. At 4 watts, however, it has the unmistakable jangle of a much bigger Vox and veritably shakes the walls. Certainly I can use this amp for small gigs, if the need arises (hopefully). It doesn’t have the power or “fullness” of my Ampeg from long ago, but that one was 20 watts (or so, who the hell knows) with a massive 15″ Jenson speaker. I could barely turn it up all the way and stand in the same building. I wish to hell I hadn’t gotten rid of it…. But this little Vox with its 10″ Celestion custom speaker nearly makes up for it. I’ll never get rid of it, unless it’s to trade up to an AC15… and even then, the AC15 isn’t as cute as this little cream tolex baby…

So now my project is to relocate my old effects pedals. As one can see from the picture, I have my mid 1980s Ibanez DML modulation delay. This pedal has an amazing sound. It saved the day back when I was using a crappy solidstate Washburn amp in college, providing a rich, warm depth to the tone, especially as I set it up with just a teensy bit of modulation. Through the Vox the result is absolutely heavenly. I thought it didn’t work when I first put a new battery in it, but with a little bit of fiddling, everything is back to the way it was 20 year ago!

I have no idea, however, what happend to my Ibanez SC10 Stereo Chorus or my MS10 Metal Charger. I can live without the MS10 if need be (the Vox overdrives on its own wonderfully), but I don’t want to. That little beast also contributed to its share of salvation back in the solid state days: it provided rich, deep, tube-like distortion at almost any level I wanted, making my little Washburn (which also had a 10″ speaker) sound almost like a tube amp. I do remember it failed on me once: at my solo for “Funk This College Life” during a gig at some bar (forget the name), it shorted out. If I do find it, I’ll have to open it up to see where the short is, because I never fixed it.

The SC10 is a must have, however. It provided the nicest, richest chorus any old style guitarist could want. If I can’t find it, I’ll have to search ebay… when I have some money again.

Once the past has been shorn up, of course, it will be time for a tremolo pedal, flanger, reverb….

Update: Did find a great deal on a TS9 today:


16 Responses to “Amplified Again At Last!”

  1. choppernewt Says:

    Bar = The Gallery, unless you guys played another bar without me.

    Nice piece of equipment there.

  2. Newt! Thanks.

    What happened to your avatar?

    I should’ve remembered The Gallery. Couldn’t summon forth that name. What an ill-fated gig. I suppose that sort of killed us off as a giggin band in those days. We were destined only to play IWU successfully.

    I think I accidentally gave away my Ibanez metal charger and stereo chorus. They seem to be nowhere and I recall that, many years ago, I gave away my old Washburn amplifier. I used to store the pedals in the back of the amp, so I probably left them in there by accident. Godz, what a fucking lame thing to do.

    • choppernewt Says:

      Eh, I don’t think it went that badly. We brought a bunch of people in, and they all did their part and made lots of noise for us. I think they would’ve had us back if we pressed the matter, we just only ever seemed to have one gig in us, and then we’d roll over and go back to sleep.

      • Yeah, we just couldn’t get fired up for long. I mean, I couldn’t, at least. Won’t speak for anyone else.

  3. I guess not much has changed.

  4. Of course, I seem to be the only one fired up these days (which is a switch). Pent, you’re fired up a little less than I. Newt, you have almost no fire, dude. No fire.

  5. OK on whatever.

  6. Speaking of fired up, going to stop by the local used music shop (Play It Again Music. Seriously) and the one pawn shop I know of that specializes in musical stuff tomorrow (sneaking over after a haircut) to search for a Tubescreamer. I’m giving up on the MS10 if I can find a deal on a TS8 or 9.

    I’m perfectly happy with the overdrive on the Vox, but without an overdrive pedal, the volume has to be too high for basement practice. Plus, you really can’t have too much overdrive, can you?

    OK, it’s your turn Chopper Newt. I think this would suit you:

  7. I like this one, too:×12-Tube-Guitar-Combo-Amp-Regular-BrownOxblood?sku=542184

    It’s a little pricey, but it has good ol’ Fender reverb and 15 watts of tube power. Of course, to get a Fender blues amp to overdrive you’ll… we’ll, it can hardly be done under absolutely ear-splitting volumes.

  8. Crap. Everyone in my house for whom I have to care is now ill so I couldn’t go looking for a tubescreamer. I hate it when I’m thwarted. I want so little in life. A TS9 and an SC10 will make me happy. For a little while.

    Since everyone here is out of comission, time for a beer and some pizza!

  9. If anyone cared, I’d put up some demonstrations of the AC4’s tone, but after a week of playing it I can offer some observations: the sound is, indeed, classic Vox, but if I have one criticism it’s that it breaks up too soon. It might be loud enough for a small gig, but probably not easily with a clean sound. At full throttle the little gal starts to sound like a miniature Marshall, with meaty, crunchy overdrive. Nice, yes. I can use the controls on the guitar (hey! Those controls actually work!) to clean up the sound a little, but the risk is that it will lower the volume too much.

    Oh, well, I still love the amp. Now, to find that ts9….

  10. At least you were smart enough to figure out that we don’t care.

  11. Tried the Tubescreamer today. Well, every self-respecting guitarist has to have one, right? Yeah, it’s fucking cool. And green. At least I can get overdrive at lower volumes than really fucking loud.

    Still like to find that MS10, though, since it gives that nice 80’s distortion.

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