Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The history of Vox guitar amps
March 4, 2012 7:20 PM   Subscribe

How Dartford Powered the British Beat Boom, a BBC documentary on the history of Vox guitar amps, played by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Shadows and Queen. Part II
posted by Ardiril (14 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks, going to watch. Now I can revive my old Vox-lust that has been barely sated by Line 6 equipment.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:12 PM on March 4, 2012


Thanks for this. And, how timely...a guy I've just started playing with just ordered an AC15 Handwired. I'm going to have to kill him and take it. For a while now I've had a lust for an SG Standard run through a plain old AC15 with the Celestion Blue speaker, but have chosen to buy exciting things like windows and insulation for our new house. Sigh.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:51 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just the other day I had a meeting with some gentlemen at KORG headquarters here in Tokyo (I'll be taking part in a kid's concert that is being partially sponsored by KORG) and was a little surprised when I first walked into the company showroom and saw a big wall full of Vox amps. I shouldn't have been, though: KORG acquired the Vox name in 1992. Apparently KORG's remakes of vintage Vox amps are pretty good, although I couldn't vouch for that personally.

Thanks for the links, looking forward to watching these clips.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:56 PM on March 4, 2012


Nice documentary. He skipped over a lot of the details of the AC30 mystique though. The "Top Boost" variant that some prefer (and some hate). The preoccupation some people have with AC30s with certain brands or colors of speaker inside (particularly the blue Celestions). Rumors of certain famous musicians deliberately running the AC30 at the wrong voltage or even slashing the speaker cones for a different sound. Legendary music tech Pete Cornish put quite a bit of effort into hacking Brian May's huge array of AC30s.
posted by w0mbat at 11:26 PM on March 4, 2012


Love it. This is what having a public broadcaster is all about, 30 minutes on the social history of a particular (and awesome) guitar sound.

The Creation, "making time" riff about sums it up. A Gretsch or Rickenbacker through this thing equally awesome.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:17 AM on March 5, 2012


I was asked to design a new Treble Boost to replace the unreliable and noisy one then in use. My first design was rejected, as it did not distort!! The second design I prepared had the required frequency and distortion characteristics, plus the following improvements:

High Gain (+33dB @ 3KHz)
High Output (+10dBm)
Much reduced noise (-92dB ref: max output)
Total absence of any radio station interference due to the inclusion of my RFI filter.


Emphasis added. Analog circuit design was always an art.
posted by three blind mice at 3:05 AM on March 5, 2012


Total absence of any radio station interference due to the inclusion of my RFI filter.

Now see? If Nigel Tufnel had been using that amp at that Army base gig, Spinal Tap might not have broken up!

True, they reunited later, but still...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:26 AM on March 5, 2012


Great stuff, thanks.

I've love to see something similar for other great rock amps. I was just checking out Ampeg, who were accidentally responsible for one of the best guitar sounds of all time IMO - Mick Taylor with the Rolling Stones 1969.

Apparently the Stones went to the US with their usual Fender amps, but nobody in their entourage had remember the voltage was different, and the amps promptly blew up. Luckily Ampeg happened to be building some of the world's loudest, heaviest, most insanely powerful tube amps at the time, so the Stones were saved.
posted by colie at 3:55 AM on March 5, 2012


the Stones went to the US with their usual Fender amps, but nobody in their entourage had remember the voltage was different, and the amps promptly blew up.

Hmm... dunno why they'd "blow up". England is 240 volts, America is 110, right? I can see where the amps wouldn't be powered properly and would be useless, but you don't fry anything by giving it less electricity than it wants, no?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:56 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


flapjax: We could well be into the realms of urban legend here... especially as this Wikipedia page says the Stones' original amps were impounded at customs instead.

Just another great tale of a tube amp...
posted by colie at 5:26 AM on March 5, 2012


KORG acquired the Vox name in 1992. Apparently KORG's remakes of vintage Vox amps are pretty good, although I couldn't vouch for that personally.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, the original owner of the Vox name, JMI, is making some rather familiar looking amplifiers.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:39 AM on March 5, 2012


Love it. This is what having a public broadcaster is all about, 30 minutes on the social history of a particular (and awesome) guitar sound.

It's also 30 minutes spent promoting a brand name product. I'm actually kind of surprised the BBC allowed it, to be honest.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:50 AM on March 5, 2012


Emphasis added. Analog circuit design was always an art.

What amazes me is how often analog circuit design, especially in the realm of electronic musical equipment, was total hackery, safety hazard, and/or just plain crappy design. To this day, one could easily spend $1k on an electric guitar that has noisy pickups, is completely unshielded, and makes the player the path to ground in the event of a faulty ground somewhere else in the chain. Which is completely possible with vintage designed equipment. But this flawed stuff is so firmly ensconced, and musicians so remarkably conservative in some ways, that companies who made an effort to modernize equipment sometimes took their livelihoods into their own hands.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:45 PM on March 5, 2012


I'm another satisfied vox owner. The korgs sound great, specially if you put good tubes in them.
posted by valdesm at 2:12 AM on March 6, 2012


« Older Republican candidate for the US Senate Barry Hinck...  |  "The People's Song Book," publ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments