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New Gear Day

I've mentioned my desire for a Vox AC30 in a prior blog... well, I finally picked one up today. Not only that, but I also bought a Gibson Les Paul Studio with it Razz

I've got a decent tax return this year, and, for the first time in about 12 years or more, I don't need to apply it directly to existing debts. With that in mind, my wife and I decided we'll play with some of the return and put away the rest. I've been intermittently saving for the guitar amp for a couple years, but the money always had to be pillaged for some bill or other before I reached my goal, so I started searching for an amp to eventually buy. I wanted to get something along the lines of the AC30C2X, the current version of the amp (the amp has had a couple versions since the 60s) equipped with high efficiency Celestian Blue speakers, with reverb and tremolo circuits. I didn't end up getting that, I settled for an AC30C2, which aside from having Celestian Greenbacks is identical to the C2X. The Blues are a bit more efficient (requiring less electric power to push) than the Greenbacks, meaning that they can be a bit louder, but they also have a more chiming, bell-like top end in their frequency response, while the Greenbacks have more high-mids, giving a throatier growl to the tone. I can upgrade the C2 to have Blues, but the speakers are ~$350 each... so it's not a cheap upgrade. Luckily, the amp sounds great as is.

The Les Paul was kind of an impulse purchase. I found the amp being sold with the guitar for $2000Cdn, and I began to consider it. The amp new is $1250, and the guitar would run about $1400, plus taxes. The AC30C2X I was considering buying new is $1500 new (~$1840 after taxes). I didn't already own a guitar with two humbuckers, so it would fill a niche not occupied by any of my other instruments, and if I don't like it, it shouldn't be hard to flip to buy something I will. The finish and build quality are good, and the neck plays fairly well, though is somewhat different feeling than my go-to guitars.

I offered the seller $1800, and he accepted.

The amp sounds like I knew it would; I've tested a few through the years to know how they should sound, and one of my bandmates recently picked one up too.
With my Fender Telecaster and Jaguar, the amp is nice and bright and clear, and they both crunch nicely when pushing the gain. My goal was to get a sound akin to what can be heard on the Jam's News of the World, and I've succeeded. The Les Paul pushes the amp harder with its higher output pickups, and the humbuckers are more mid-heavy than the single-coil pickups in the Fenders. Without extensive EQ play, I've found the Les Paul a little bit muddy sounding for my taste, and occasionally on the bridge pickup it could even get a bit spikey... but it still sounds pretty good. I haven't played the LP though my Fender Twin Reverb to see how I like it through that amp instead.

I've got a bit of playing ahead of me to make my final verdicts, but I'm fairly satisfied with my purchases so far.

7 blog comments below

Great things are much better financially Ankhanu. Does it mean you finally got a permanent job instead of contract? Guess speakers are next on the list?
deanhills on Sun Apr 19, 2015 12:29 am
I got on as a regular, though seasonal, employee last summer. My term is 6 months, though last year I had extensions through 8 months. I go back to work Monday for the start of this season. But, that's just part of the situation; my wife's grandparents' estate was finally settled this winter, and we got some inheritance that let us pay down a few debts that were keeping us in the classic cycle where you pay down some debt, but there's enough that you can only really keep up with the new debt, and not break very far into the owing principal. We got enough to pay off student loans, one of our cars and the credit card (as well as put some aside for my wife and daughter's university educations). With those debts cleared our monthly payments have dropped considerably. It feels very good to not struggle quite so much.

I'm not sure I'll ever upgrade the speakers. It's a lot of money for not a lot of gain. I mean, I would notice the difference, and it would make me a little happier, but, no one in the audience will notice... it won't make one jot of difference to anyone who's not a gear snob Wink
I'll likely be better served saving up for a vintage Fender Mustang (hopefully with a Competition Blue finish that's aged over to green through the years, like this), or a Rickenbacker 4003 Smile There's always another piece of gear to lust after Wink
Ankhanu on Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:15 am
Fantastic gear, Ankhanu!
standready on Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:57 pm
Ankhanu wrote:
no one in the audience will notice

That's true!
I got a expensive headset several years ago,
but most friends of mine and me do not actually feel the difference from the cheap ones and the expensive one.

So I go for the average ones after that, which make me feel better in performance and not so much effort to my wallet.
rx9876 on Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:49 am
I ended up selling the Les Paul.
While it sounded good, particularly through my old Fender Twin Reverb, and it played well, I just didn't take it out of its case enough to justify owning it. I suppose in the end I now find Les Pauls a little boring, and I'm more of a Fender type guy in general. I might get a Gibson some day in the future, but it'll probably be a Firebird or RD... something a little more unusual Wink
I'm selling it to a friend who will make much better use of it than I ever could, so that feels nice Wink

My plan is to use the money from the sale to get a Fender Mustang. I would LOVE to get a late 60s/early 70s model, in Competition Blue that's faded through the years into a lovely green... but that will likely take a couple thousand dollars, because collectors artificially inflate the market for players Razz
I know a luthier in Halifax, who said he could build one to spec for me for about $2500, at friend pricing...
Both of these options are a bit rich for my blood, so I'll likely have to try and find a reasonably priced Japanese re-issue model... which is fine too, but getting one in a colour I REALLY like could be difficult.

The AC30 has been working out wonderfully. It's exactly what I'd expected it to be, and it interacts wonderfully with my guitars and my bass VI. It's interesting that at 30W, I don't need to turn the volume up very much to play at gig volumes where my Fender Twin Reverb (100W) is up pretty high in the same situations... mind you, I think the Twin likely needs new capacitors.
Ankhanu on Sat Oct 17, 2015 8:23 pm
Guess one of these days you're going to need a larger house for your collector items. Quite in awe of your music hobby. Cool
deanhills on Sun Oct 18, 2015 3:10 am
That or a storage system Wink
In the next day or so I'll take a shot of my music room/collection.
Ankhanu on Sun Oct 18, 2015 8:21 am

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