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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Digging the amp, wish it was an EF86 circuit. Swapped the Alnico Blue for a Neo Creamback. I know some people love Alnico Celestions, but I don’t play at stadium volumes, so to me they feel a bit muffled and are physically heavy.

Also, decided to pop some Sozo’s and a nice old Astron in and replace the IC’s. I know some of you feel that a $5 capacitor is the same as a $0.57 capacitor, sure, they both do the same thing, but the $5 ones sound better to me as far as the signal caps are concerned.

I am not an amp technician and I don’t actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to electricity, so if you ever see me comment on or hear me talk about circuitry, I am either lying or relying on you to know even less in order to value my input. I am good at soldering.

It matches my bonercaster really well.

AC15HW
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Update after 1 week:
went a head and upgraded the filter caps and bright caps on the volume pots as well.

Picked up an NOS Tesla EZ81 for the rectifier and a set of JJ EL844’s.. no, not a typo.. 44’s.. 25 less volume, 25% more natural gain.. very pleased. No loss in clarity or punch.

Circuit component Electronic component Audio equipment Electronic engineering Computer hardware
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This a well built amp.
It’s been a long time for me since I’ve had an EL84 based amp. I’d love a lighter cabinet although I think that the size and construction of it seems to be geared towards the projection of a very loud 15 watts pushing a Greenback or Alnico blue to the limit.

I’m always finding ways to try to brighten and lighten up amps so that they can have clarity at lower volumes.
 

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Man, that’s a beauty. I’ve been dancing around a Vox HW for a while. I’d probably go for the AC4 if I did, although the 15 is tempting. I have the AC4-c1 and it’s a fun little amp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Man, that’s a beauty. I’ve been dancing around a Vox HW for a while. I’d probably go for the AC4 if I did, although the 15 is tempting. I have the AC4-c1 and it’s a fun little amp.
It’s a tough call because the 4 and 15 are usually on kijiji for similar prices. The main difference being the normal and top boost duality.

I think the 4 would be really fun as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What a gorgeous box.

What's the single biggest difference in performance, if you had to pick, over the PCB?
Simple answer:

The handwired version does genuinely have a slightly more textured feel and sound. I highly recommend buying a used handwired amp whenever possible over paying as much or more for the PCB version brand new.. that being said, for live purposes or in a very busy or high gain mix / band scenario or for someone who is not able to afford either, there is nothing wrong with the PCB version, they still sound very nice. I guarantee that you could get some very nice AC15 ish tones with a Roland Cube and a BigMuff Russian Deluxe pedal. I know this because the BugMuff Russian Deluxe turns all of my amps into an AC15 under the right settings.

Elaborate and completely off the top of my ass answer:

I’m not very familiar with Vox amps. I’ve owned an AC4TV combo and stack at one point, loved them both at the time but truly didn’t understand what Vox was in relation to American style amps or what I was supposed to be looking for.

Having since had a chance to noodle with a couple of EL84 based Dr.Z amps (M12, highly recommend) and (Carmen Ghia, not my cup of tea at all), I can see what people mean when they say “chimey”. To me it means a sort of brutal high definition but beautiful sound which has allowed me to appreciate what it is this Vox is traditionally prized for. Jazzmaster lovers will know exactly what i’m talking about when I say brutal but beautiful.

I think that the PCB version likely will sound the same on stage or under high gain recording situations. To me the biggest difference that I can detect is the feel of the amp. Seems like handwired circuits have a bit more sag and touch sensitivity. As far as sound, I feel that there is a lot more at play when it comes down to pickups, speaker and tubes and most of all VOLUME. I own one guitar and it is a single coil strat wired with a 3 way, so I can definitely hear more texture when playing clean than the PCB version. I don’t think this would be as apparent with humbuckers or if the amp itself is being placed into a complex mix.

What I can refer to is the difference between a PCB ‘65 DRRI and a ‘64 Custom handwired Deluxe Reverb: The biggest difference I notice is the feel. The touch sensitivity and dynamics of playing simply feels different. The PCB feels nice and juicy and fat but more punchy VS the sound of the rich and more textured handwired. The taper on the knobs is much better on the handwired version to my observation and I strongly prefer the much weaker P12Q speaker that comes with the handwired VS the heavier and louder C12K. The cabinet on the handwired is also pine which is softer and lighter than the birch ply.

Back to the AC15, one of the fundamental characteristics from what I understand about the original AC15 was the EF86 preamp tube. Which this does not employ. That being said, there are 12AX7’s that are glassy and hifi in nature which can come close to my ears. I have an early Great Britain made Phillips Miniwatt in the normal channel preamp (which is one hell of a tube but cost more
and a Tungsol gold pin 12AX7 in the top boost preamp which in combination with the creamy Neo Creamback gets really nice detailed thick overdrive.
 

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Simple answer:

The handwired version does genuinely have a slightly more textured feel and sound. I highly recommend buying a used handwired amp whenever possible over paying as much or more for the PCB version brand new.. that being said, for live purposes or in a very busy or high gain mix / band scenario or for someone who is not able to afford either, there is nothing wrong with the PCB version, they still sound very nice. I guarantee that you could get some very nice AC15 ish tones with a Roland Cube and a BigMuff Russian Deluxe pedal. I know this because the BugMuff Russian Deluxe turns all of my amps into an AC15 under the right settings.

Elaborate and completely off the top of my ass answer:

I’m not very familiar with Vox amps. I’ve owned an AC4TV combo and stack at one point, loved them both at the time but truly didn’t understand what Vox was in relation to American style amps or what I was supposed to be looking for.

Having since had a chance to noodle with a couple of EL84 based Dr.Z amps (M12, highly recommend) and (Carmen Ghia, not my cup of tea at all), I can see what people mean when they say “chimey”. To me it means a sort of brutal high definition but beautiful sound which has allowed me to appreciate what it is this Vox is traditionally prized for. Jazzmaster lovers will know exactly what i’m talking about when I say brutal but beautiful.

I think that the PCB version likely will sound the same on stage or under high gain recording situations. To me the biggest difference that I can detect is the feel of the amp. Seems like handwired circuits have a bit more sag and touch sensitivity. As far as sound, I feel that there is a lot more at play when it comes down to pickups, speaker and tubes and most of all VOLUME. I own one guitar and it is a single coil strat wired with a 3 way, so I can definitely hear more texture when playing clean than the PCB version. I don’t think this would be as apparent with humbuckers or if the amp itself is being placed into a complex mix.

What I can refer to is the difference between a PCB ‘65 DRRI and a ‘64 Custom handwired Deluxe Reverb: The biggest difference I notice is the feel. The touch sensitivity and dynamics of playing simply feels different. The PCB feels nice and juicy and fat but more punchy VS the sound of the rich and more textured handwired. The taper on the knobs is much better on the handwired version to my observation and I strongly prefer the much weaker P12Q speaker that comes with the handwired VS the heavier and louder C12K. The cabinet on the handwired is also pine which is softer and lighter than the birch ply.

Back to the AC15, one of the fundamental characteristics from what I understand about the original AC15 was the EF86 preamp tube. Which this does not employ. That being said, there are 12AX7’s that are glassy and hifi in nature which can come close to my ears. I have an early Great Britain made Phillips Miniwatt in the normal channel preamp (which is one hell of a tube but cost more
and a Tungsol gold pin 12AX7 in the top boost preamp which in combination with the creamy Neo Creamback gets really nice detailed thick overdrive.
Very informative. Thank you sir!
 

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Those things look beautiful,
You ever see any around? Are they still in production?
I have 2 of them. One is more Vox based, the other is more blackface. Both sound amazing, but really like to cook ears for 30 watts.

They do come up every now and then. There is a Facebook page that sometime people will post one for sale as well.
 

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Bruno Underground 30 amps are Vox based and are beautiful sounding chimers.
I had one of those limited Vox AC30 hand wired amps that were built by Tony Bruno (‘03 maybe). It was one amp I regret selling. I still have a newer AC30HWL which is great, but the Bruno one was just a notch better.
 

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1965 Fender Mustang, Ampegs, anything to test an amp.
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Back to the AC15, one of the fundamental characteristics from what I understand about the original AC15 was the EF86 preamp tube. Which this does not employ. That being said, there are 12AX7’s that are glassy and hifi in nature which can come close to my ears. I have an early Great Britain made Phillips Miniwatt in the normal channel preamp (which is one hell of a tube but cost more
and a Tungsol gold pin 12AX7 in the top boost preamp which in combination with the creamy Neo Creamback gets really nice detailed thick overdrive.
If I were to clone an AC15, it would be the 1959 production version; it uses 2 small signal pentodes in the preamp stages. The vibrovox, tremolo circuit uses a pentode for the Low Frequency Oscillator, one of the few to do so. Of course it's a personal taste but I like the way pentodes compress at the rail; triodes tend to hit the rail rather abruptly...similar to BJTs. The 59 version uses an indirectly heated rectifier with a bit more sag than a 5Y3. Here's the schematic for the 1959 AC15 (excuse the clarity, it's a copy of an original:
Rectangle Font Parallel Technology Pattern
 
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