Vox amps are legendary and have a place in the hearts of every rocker. These amps have cemented a place in Rock N Roll history, being played by many famous guitarists. The Vox AC15C1 is a 15-watt tube combo amp that still packs a punch decades after its inception.
In this review, I’ll break down everything you need to know about the Vox AC15C1. So grab your guitar and get ready to plug into one of my favorite guitar amps.
Vox AC15C1 combo amp rating
Vox amps have always had a unique bright tone, and the AC15C1 is no different. It has a classic tube sound that you can hear on a lot of recordings.
The unique selling point of the AC15C1 is how smoothly the tone transitions from clean to overdrive when cranking the volume. The smoothness of its harmonic distortion makes it an excellent choice for many different genres.
While it may not have as many bells and whistles as some other amps, it’s the signature Vox sound that really matters. The price might be a bit steep for a 15-watt amp, but you really can’t go wrong with this classic tube amp!
Frontman Philosophy Score
- 15 watts
- 21.89” x 10.43” x 17.95”
- 48.5 lbs
- 3 x 12AX7 Preamp tubes, 2 x EL84 Tubes
- 1 x 12” Celestion Greenback speaker
- Iconic tube overdrive
- Extremely versatile
- Classic vintage looks
- Great sounding spring reverb and tremolo
- Comes with a footswitch
- Having no effects loop is a serious downside
- Steep price for a 15-watt amp
- Not loud enough for larger venues (however, it’s common to daisy chain 2 AC15s)
My score: 4.75 out of 5
40% of the total score
The Vox AC15C1’s main selling point is its classic British rock tone. The bright and loud vintage overdrive sound appeals to many different aspiring rock guitarists and professionals.
The AC15C1, known for its timeless, warm tone, has been heard on several famous recordings over the decades. The Vox AC15C1 has an outstanding sound quality whether you play it clean or dirty. That said, Vox amps are worshipped for their overdrive tone, so they definitely appeal more to rock guitarists. The Vox AC15C1 starts to distort at lower volumes than Fender amps, so I’d recommend using a different amp if you are a primarily “clean” electric guitarist.
The Normal channel is similar to a regular clean channel. However, as with Vox amps, the tone is extremely bright. Depending on the type of guitar and pickups you are using, your tone may differ.
Having played the Vox AC15C1 with a Les Paul, an SG, a Strat, and a Telecaster, I could safely say that the cleanest tones you could get out of this amp are on the neck pickup with the guitar’s tone knob cranked.
Top Boost channel
The Top Boost channel, the second input channel, gives you an extra gain stage, driven by the 12AX7 tube, making the tone even brighter. The additional gain staging gives you more grit and saturation as you crank it, and the added EQ circuitry gives you more control over the bass and treble frequencies.
The Top Boost channel does more than just turn up the volume. It makes the high and high-mid frequencies stand out more, thus, creating the highly sought-after chime and sparkle that AC15s are known for.
Tone Cut knob
The 12AX7s preamp tubes make the AC15 highly responsive and bright. So, having the Tone Cut knob really helps to pull back some of the high-mid and treble frequencies.
The “Tone Cut” knob especially comes in handy while playing guitars with single-coil pickups, as they tend to get too bright at times.
My score: 4.75 out of 5
30% of the total score
The Vox AC15C1 is a 15-watt tube amp, which makes it great for smaller gigs and jam sessions. Despite it only being 15 watts, it can get pretty loud.
But if you play in bigger venues, you’ll need to mic the amp, as it may struggle to keep up with a drum set without distorting too much. If you want an amp with a similar sound but with more volume, check out the Vox AC30C2, which is a larger cousin of the AC15C1.
Still, the Vox AC15C1 can get pretty loud and sounds great when it’s turned up.
My score: 4 out of 5
20% of the total score
The Vox AC15C1 doesn’t have as many features as other modern amps, but it has everything you need to get a stellar British rock sound.
The built-in effects of this amp are spring reverb and tremolo. The reverb sounds natural and adds breathability to the overdrive. The classic sound of the tremolo further expands the amp’s versatility. You can control the depth and speed of the tremolo and the level of the spring reverb.
It also comes with a footswitch to control them. However, the biggest downside is that the amp does not have an effects loop, which for some guitarists, could be a deal-breaker.
In my opinion, an amp with a classic sound like this doesn’t need many fancy features to back it up. When you purchase an amp of this caliber, you don’t need it to come with a digital effects drive or modeling amp software. But if you are looking for an amp with tons of different tones and more versatile sounds, the Vox AC15C1 is not for you.
My score: 4 out of 5
10% of the total score
Compared to other 15-watt tube amps, the Vox AC15C1 is priced very high. However, considering its top-shelf amp with expert build quality and the iconic British rock sound, the price is justified.
If the Vox sound is the sound you want, you cannot go wrong with the Vox AC15C1, it is a long-term investment that you will be able to play with for decades, and the value of this amp will only appreciate with time.
This is not a great amp for beginner guitarists who are still trying to discover their sound. Looking for something beginner-friendly? Here are my top 5 beginner guitar amps.
Best effects pedals to use with Vox AC15C1
While it doesn’t have an effects loop, the AC15C1 is very responsive to the pedals that are hitting it, whether it be a fuzz, a boost, or an overdrive pedal.
Normal channel with pedals
If you’ve played through Marshall and Fender amps before trying the AC15C1, you’ll most likely notice the difference in the mids.
The normal channel on the AC15C1 has a characteristic EQ, where the mids are scooped out, meaning the lows and highs are more pronounced. This provides the cavity for it to take pedals very well.
Top Boost channel with pedals
The Top Boost channel has a lot of headroom, which means it can handle louder levels of volume without getting distorted. This is helpful when using overdrive or distortion pedals because it lets the pedals add gain to the signal without making the amp too loud.
The Vox AC15C1 pairs exceptionally well with modulation effects like chorus, flanger, and phaser due to the amp’s natural compression. The natural sparkle in the amp’s tone meshes well with modulation effects, creating a harmonically lush texture.
While the in-built tremolo sounds fantastic, you can try plugging in the MXR Phase 90, Boss BF-3, or the MXR Analog Chorus to experiment with different modulation effects.
Reverb and delay
The built-in spring reverb is one of the most realistic reverb effects you can find in a guitar amp, so you really don’t need to invest in a reverb pedal for this amp. That said, Vox amps pair with delay pedals like steak and red wine! The Boss DM-2W Waza Craft Delay and the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay are two popular delay pedals that suit the Vox AC15C1.
Guitars and pickups
While the Vox AC15C1 is a fairly genre-specific amp, it sounds good with most guitars and pickups.
- Brings out the brilliance in Stratocasters.
- Can thicken the jangly Telecaster tone while adding chime to your chords.
- Goes exceptionally well with guitars with humbucker pickups as the bright amp sound balances well with the warmer tone of dual coiled pickups.
Watch Brian May demonstrate why he loves Vox amps.
The AC15 hall of fame
Here are some of the most well-known musicians to use the Vox AC15 amp.
- Queen guitarist Brian May utilized an AC15 on many recordings, including the classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” guitar solo.
- Tom Petty considered the AC15 to be his favorite amp; you can hear it on songs like “Refugee” and “Here Comes My Lady”.
- Many Elvis Costello albums, such as “This Year’s Model” and “Armed Forces,” feature the AC15.
- The Edge has played Vox amps, including the AC15C1, on many classic U2 songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Where the Streets Have No Name”.
- The Arctic Monkeys play through a Vox AC15C1 on their album AM, particularly on the smash hit “Do I Wanna Know?”
So, should you buy a Vox AC15C1?
If you’re on the lookout for an amp with the classic British tone and is loud enough for small to medium-sized venues, you can’t go wrong with the VoxAC15C1. If you find that Vox AC30s and other higher-wattage 2×12 amps are too bulky or beyond your budget, this is definitely the amp for you.
However, if you are a beginner guitarist who hasn’t quite found their ideal sound yet, I would recommend starting off with a cheaper, more versatile amp.