Vox AC30 Normal and Top Boost Uses

Discussion in 'Ampage Area' started by Waxhead, May 1, 2021.

  1. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    Ok so a few months ago I got a Mesa Boogie Transtlantic TA-15.

    It does many things but its tone options include a cloned AC30 normal channel & top boost.
    To my ears, and others who own AC30, the TA-15 Vox tones sound very very similar and equally as good as a re-issue Vox AC30. It has all the jangle/chime of AC30 if you run it thru Celestion alnico speaker, or a Celestion Creamback.

    But TA-15 also has 5w, 15w and 25w options plus you can switch between normal and top boost channels. It also has master volume dial, has more gain on tap than an AC30 and only weighs 12 pounds.

    I've played/gigged AC30's and found them very limiting by not being able to switch between normal and top boost on the fly. In music I play I do a lot of switching between clean and overdrive/distortion tones mid song. I understand you can insert a jumper between the 2 jacks on AC30 but that just blends normal and top boost. I've never tried it but suspect that wouldn't provide anywhere near the gain boost I'd require.

    A better option is to use something like this as a channel switcher....

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    But that's extra cost, extra set up, more cabling, more to go wrong etc.
    How have people who own AC15 / AC30 dealt with this issue ..... or do you all just play clean and don't switch from clean to overdrive on the fly. Overdrive/distortion pedals can be used obviously but I try to avoid those when an amp has better quality overdrive/distortion.

    TA-15 has solved these issues but I'm wondering what you Vox owners do.

    Also, while the Vox AC normal channel has many great uses I'm struggling to find a wide variety of uses for the top boost overdrive voice. I find the normal channel best for clean tones so I use that mostly. Yes, Queen, Ritchie Blackmore, U2 and sometimes Tom Petty (Mike Campbell) used top boost overdrive. But I don't play Queen, U2 or Deep Purple songs.

    So what other rock bands mostly used AC30 top boost overdrive ??
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2021
  2. NervousJohn

    NervousJohn Electromatic

    87
    May 8, 2017
    U.K.
    I have a vintage non mv AC-30 built before top boost was standard. Normally I’m jumpered into the “normal” and “brilliant” channels both set about half way, guitar on about half to suit and use pedals to get overdrive.

    No idea what the pros do.
     
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  3. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    I have a micro A/B switch and run the A into normal and the B into Top Boost in my AC15. The AC15 also has its own foot switch to engage the HOT mode mini toggle, but I kind of like to leave that on anyway. The micro A/B switch does not take up much space, and if you don’t need to see the light change color on it you can use it without power. This is a no frills switch that does not have a phase switch, but I don’t need that on the Vox, I think the one I got is by SonicCake, there are others in that small micro size also. Mine does have a slider switch for the Y or both AB option, but you can not engage that with your foot.

    The channel switch applies to the looper pedal also, if you have that earlier in the chain, unless you run a looper on the one branch that goes after the AB switch like on the cable to the Normal channel if you want to play a clean loop, then swap to the Top Boost to solo over it.

    I am using a single stereo TRS cable with left/right splitters from my AB switch to the amp inputs Normal and Top Boost. But you can also run two individual TS cables.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2021
  4. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    fROMOHIO
    I've also typically run an A/B/Y in front of my two channel Voxen/Marshalls/Fenders if I wasn't going to jumper one into the other. It's a bit more flexible than the few built in channel switching amps I've had & doesn't seem any more complicated to set up if you've got a full featured A/B/Y box.

    Top Boost is great for all kinds of stuff IMO. The AC30CCH w/ the matching Wharfdale loaded 2x12 I had could chug, crunch, or grind w/ the best of them for my tastes anyway. It's pretty much the same story using the AC4HW1 plugged into a good sized cab.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2021
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  5. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    Thx Sid....

    I'm struggling to find much use for Top Boost overdrive other than a few T Petty songs.
    Any suggestions ???
     
  6. Penguin Picker

    Penguin Picker Gretschie

    120
    Apr 2, 2021
    Canada
    I only play through the Top Boost.

    With my amp I'm a "set and forget" kind of guy. This thread made me go back and check things I have fiddled with for years so I played with the Normal channel and linking the two and it's definitely Top Boost for me although I didn't mind linking the two on some songs.

    Sigh... Some day we'll live somewhere other than an apartment. Kinda sucks having a AC30 that's never been turned up higher than 3 except once, when I lugged my gear up to my father-in-law's house in the country.
     
  7. BarryMClark

    BarryMClark Country Gent

    Age:
    45
    Apr 4, 2011
    Atlanta
    I've never done the Mesa TA15... but I owned one of the handwired AC15s. The sound is GLORIOUS. if you're TA15 does anything like it, then awesome. :)

    I used the topboost for rock and the like. The normal I used for maybe jazzier tones. That was me tho. :)
     
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  8. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    fROMOHIO
    Going for a more aggressive sounds (most of the time somewhere in the neighborhood of '80s/'90s Hardcore/Punk or guitar oriented indie rock & some stoner-y sludgefest mostly just for fun) w/ the Top Boost voicing on that AC30CCH & AC4HW1 through a 2x12 I've used a "transparent" OD or boost w/ most of my guitars w/ moderate-ish output pickups & could generally cover edge of breakup through crunch to pretty damn dirty to my liking w/o needing to twiddle knobs on the amp mid-song/set.

    Normal channel on the AC30 was great for chimey cleans through edge of breakup to jangly crunch (although I liked those sounds better going through an Alnico Gold & a Greenback rather than the Wharfedales).

    Both the AC30CCH & AC4HW1 Top Boost seem touchy about fuzz or distortion being fed into them if I felt I needed to go there, but I usually didn't. The natural character of the OD/crunch goosed w/ a boost worked great for me.

    I've never seen or played w/ a TA-15 in person to have any direct frame of reference on its Top Boost channel & not everybody's looking for the same specific sounds so it could just be that Top Boost OD is not for you outside of a "classic rock" setting?
     
  9. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    Run thru my 1x12 cab with a UK made Celestion Creamback the TA-15 normal and top boost voices sound almost identical to an AC30, except TA-15 has more gain on tap. So TA-15 provides more versatility for standard rock imo.

    I prefer the normal channel clean tones to top boost clean myself and can switch from normal channel to top boost on TA-15 without any need of aby switches. Edge of breakup tones are covered well on either the normal or top boost voices. Can also run the normal channel at 25 watts and top boost overdrive at 15w.

    Atm mostly I'm using the Vox normal channel for cleans and switching to the TA-15's Marshall JCM voices for overdrive and distortion. And not using the Top Boost much for overdrive cos I'm struggling to find bands that suit the top boost overdrive flavour. It has it's own distinctive flavour which suits some bands/songs but not others.

    My issue is finding anything other than Petty, U2, Deep Purple or Queen that really suit top boost flavour overdrive. Just assume TA-15 Vox voices and AC30 sound the same
     
  10. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    OK exactly which rock songs ?
    TA-15 sounds better than AC15 - it's comparable to a much more versatile AC30.

    TA-15 also does great Fender Tweed, Marshall JCM overdrive/distortion tones, plus a Mesa Boogie overdrive lead voice similar to a Mark IIC+ or Mark V amp.

    All great - I'm just struggling to find uses for the specific flavour of AC30 top boost overdrive :)
     
  11. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    fROMOHIO
    I dunno, I've only owned 4 different strictly AC type amps (the AC30CCH, AC4HW1, an AC15C1 & a Morgan AC20) w/ a Top Boost channel/voicing & they've all had slightly to fairly significantly different sounds/biases to them. Kinda been the same story w/ the other varieties of AC style amps I've played through as well. Like I said before it's entirely possible no Top Boost sound would do it for you for stuff other than classic rock or pop, I've found the 2 I was mentioning to work very well for me for a broader variety of sounds than that but different strokes, right ? ;)

    I don't really see an advantage in using the amp's footswitch to change channels over an A/B/Y, assuming you already have one & a spare cable or a split TRS. The few amp side switchable multi channel amps I've had had footswitches that actually seemed to take up more space than the biggest A/B/Y I've had & either used just as many 1/4" cables to connect or a proprietary multipin connector that you were screwed if something went wrong w/ or it got lost w/o lead time enough to order & receive a replacement from a 3rd party outfit since the manufacturers didn't make their replacements widely available or standard across models or production years.

    Just my .02 though :)
     
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  12. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    I've been driving the front end of my 1965 AC 30 top boost channel with a Mesa Boogie V-Twin tube preamp since 1993.
    It's an awesome sound that I've used on countless recordings over the years and in large halls when I was playing live.
    The rooms got smaller and I bought a British made 1998 AC 15 and played 100s of shows using the V-Twin through the AC 15. It always worked for me even though it lacked some of the punch that the AC 30 has. If I was playing metal I took along my Marshall 800. You couldn't beat that combination as far as I was concerned...:D.
    The thing most people like about the Vox AC 30 & AC 15 is how well they sit in the mix. I never had a problem with being heard - Vox AC amps cut through all the crap.
    I personally don't think the Chinese AC amps sound anything like the original British made amps.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2021 at 7:49 PM
  13. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    Have you ever owned a 60s AC 30 Top Boost amp with original transformers and speakers?
    If not you haven't really heard yourself through a real AC 30.
    None of the reissues over the past 25 years sound or respond to your touch the way an original JMI version does. I've played through dozens of them and owned a few. Matchless are good amps but they don't grunt like a JMI AC 30. I think the original transformers are a key factor. When you replace them the amp loses some of it's magic. No 15 watt amp including a Vox 15 can match the feel of a 60s JMI AC 30. The punch they have is something you never forget.
     
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  14. BarryMClark

    BarryMClark Country Gent

    Age:
    45
    Apr 4, 2011
    Atlanta
    I used it for anything from Proto-rock like The Rumble on up through bands like The Clash, Queen, and ACDC. All without pedals.
     
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  15. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    No I've never played a vintage AC30 and always expected them to be much bettter.
    I've only heard other people play the vintage amps and they sounded much better than re-issues to my ears.
    I'm not comparing them to vintage AC30s.

    The TA-15's Vox normal and top boost voices sound almost identical to the re-issues I have played/gigged.

    Yes can well imagine the AC30 top boost & Mesa Boogie V-Twin tube preamp would be a deadly combo.
    And I've got lots of overdrive options with good pedals. plus the TA-15's Marshall JCM, Fender Tweed and Boogie modes.

    Just wondering how I can increase the range of options for top boost overdrive (used alone) in the classic rock area :D
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2021 at 10:40 PM
  16. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    Thanks Sid.
    Nah I don't need any aby switchers cos TA-15 allows switching between normal and top boost channels at will.
    Was wondering what most AC30/15 owners do though.

    I really like the top boost overdrive flavour in the right song.
    TA-15 has more gain than AC's so it's more versatile for heavier styles
     
  17. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    Thanks - yep Queen for sure.
    Clash is another one I hadn't thought of :D
     
  18. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    As a long time acoustic player, I am probably not the best connoisseur of electric tones, but I would think you could do a variety of Tele stuff on the Vox, mostly cleans, but maybe some driven, I am thinking of Bruce Springsteen and maybe Pretenders. I guess the question is more what can’t you do with a Tele and a Vox, right? But that’s just me.

    I really like my AC15HW AlNiCo Blue with my Gretsch Electromatic 12 string on Normal/clean, but if you drive it a little, you can get into early Who territory, kind of a reasonable facsimile for Byrds stuff too.
     
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  19. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    yeah Glen there's a multitude of uses for Vox AC clean and edge of break up tones with any guitar.
    I'm only asking about the top boost overdrive flavour and you've just given me another - The Who - so thanks :D
     
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  20. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Can’t help you with TB tones but I found this background tidbit on it in the Vox showroom site.

    The year of it’s introduction in ‘61 it was offered as an optional kit. It’s rumoured to have been schematically lifted from a Gibson GA70 amp, perpetuated by the inclusion of an electronic design flaw. :)

    http://www.voxshowroom.com/uk/amp/ac30_tb_hood.html

    Somewhere I have a J.Rockett HighTop pedal which (cl)aims to add the top boost circuit to any amp. Designed by Mark Sampson from Matchless notoriety.
    It’s a great(dare I say sleeper?) pedal as treble boosts are concerned, but since I’ve never owned a Vox AC anything I can’t say how accurate it is as a Top boost.
    I’ve never used it much. It annoys me to no end the speaker EQ(which is fixed) is foot switchable, while the EF86’s adjustable EQ has to be activated by a mini toggle switch. FFS…
     
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