Vox Custom Classic Amp Series

The Custom Classic Amp Series was produced by Vox UK between 2005 and late 2009. While first announced in a US Vox price list dated July 23, 2004, first shipments arrived to dealers in the US in April 2005.

History: The Vox Custom Classic Series was designed to replace the AC30TB, AC30TBX, AC15TB, and AC15TBX amp models manufactured under contract to Vox by Marshall in their facilities in England.

The decision to discontinue the TB and TBX models in 2004 was caused by a number of reasons. First, Marshall Amplification PLC needed to concentrate the use of their manufacturing capacity on the growing popularity of Marshall products. Secondly, costs in materials and labor in the UK had escalated, causing the retail price of the AC30TBX to rise to $3200. Sales had started to sag due to these price increases.

A third concern was the additional costs incurred due to the inclusion of the highly complex "Vib/Trem" circuitry in the AC-30TB and TBX models. "Vib/Trem" was an original feature of JMI Vox amps made in the 1960s. The "Vib/Trem" effect was unique to the Vox AC-30. Many amps feature "tremolo." In technical terms, tremolo is "variable amplitude modulation." Simply stated, this means a pulsing of the loudness of the output amplifier at different speeds and depth. This is not a difficult effect to design into a guitar amp. Vibrato, on the other hand is "variable frequency modulation." This involves the wavering of pitch. A much more complicated circuit is needed to create the vibrato effect in a guitar amplifier. Looking at the schematic for a 1960s era Vox AC-30 with "Vib/Trem" in the image below highlights the complexity of this circuitry. The area highlighed in yellow shows the part of the circuit devoted to "Vib/Trem."

As the costly "Vib/Trem" channel was not very popular with most guitarists, it seemed like a good idea to eliminate this feature on the proposed new Custom Classic Series. The savings from dropping "Vib/Trem"would allow the addition of a high quality reverb circuit, previously not included in the AC-30TB and TBX series of amps.

Steve Grindsrod, head engineer at Vox in 2004, had many other "clean sheet of paper" ideas for the Custom Classic Version of the AC-30. The inclusion of a "Master Volume" control would allow the new amp to be overdriven at the preamp level without excessive output levels. A series of control panel switches could be incorporated to allow the new amp to not only have "top boost" circuitry, but also offer AC-30 Normal and AC-30 Treble tonalities as well.

The further addition of an "Output Bias" switch would allow for the choice between an 82 ohm (like a vintage AC-30) or a 50 ohm (hotter tone and output) bias resistor.

Another consideration was to incorporate these new circuits into a traditional 1960s JMI Vox style chassis and slider board.

With the design "wish list" in hand, Vox went shopping in 2004 for a manufacturer to produce this new series of amps. This search led to an audio electronics firm in China that had an excellent reputation for producing products with superb workmanship and using quality materials. In addition to making amps for Vox, this Chinese firm was also manufacturing high end stereo components under contract for a famous European "boutique" hi-fi brand.

  • Click here to read "the inside story" on the AC-30CC amplifiers, featuring pictures and descriptions personally given to North Coast Music by Steven Grindrod, head engineer at Vox in 2005.

  • Click here to read about the AC30CC1

  • Click here to read about the AC30CC2

  • Click here to read about the AC30CC2X

  • Click here to read about the AC30CCH

  • Click here to read about the V212BN AC-30 Enclosure

  • Click here to read about the V412BN AC-30 Enclosure

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