Vox AC30H2, guitar woes, etc

I mentioned last time that I traded my Sig:X amp for a bunch of other stuff, right? I got the ZT Lunchbox early last week, and it’s pretty cool. On Thursday, I got the big stuff: the VOX AC30H2 and the Fulltone OCD (v.4).

The VOX is nice. While it’s true that it was manufactured in China, which is not ideal, the craftsmanship is pretty excellent. It is a handwired amp, but it’s not point-to-point or turret board. It is a PCB type of construction, but all of the components are wired by hand, rather than installed by some giant machine. This doesn’t necessarily affect the tone, but it makes the amp less failure-prone and easier to repair if it does break down.

I read a lot of dudes on the internet who bash modern VOX amps because they’re inferior to the UK-built amps from the late 60′s. Well, you know what? The modern ones don’t catch on fire like the old ones did.

This AC30 is quite different from the Custom Classic series that Vox came out with a few years ago. The Heritage series doesn’t have tremolo, reverb, or an effects loop like the CC series did. That’s perfectly fine with me. I’m not a big fan of built-in effects like that. I’d much rather use outboard effects that I can access on a pedalboard. An effects loop would be nice, but it’s not really necessary since I’ll be running this amp clean.

Anyway, I took it to practice on Thursday, and I was having some issues getting it to stay clean. Even though the volume was pretty low (relatively speaking – this is a loud, loud 30 watts), I couldn’t get it to keep from breaking up. I played with it some more on Friday at the house, and I managed to figure it out. The amp has two channels: the top boost channel and the EF86 channel. At practice I was using the Top Boost channel, but I discovered that the EF86 channel is capable of delivering some massive-sounding clean tones that will not break up regardless of how hard you hit the strings. I had the volume at 12:00 (which is really loud), and full chords stayed perfectly clean when I hit them full on.

My pedalboard is currently undergoing some revisions. I picked up a Strymon blueSky Reverberator a couple of weeks ago, and it’s already gone. It’s a really great pedal with some amazing sounds in it, but it’s just too much money tied up in an effect that I’m really not going to use all that much. I’m keeping the Brigadier delay, but I’m picking up a Line 6 M9 to replace the BSR.

I already had the M13, and sold it because it was overkill. However, I really miss some of the weird loopy things that it can do. Things like pattern tremolo, pitch shifting, particle verb, step filter, sweep echo, etc are all really cool glitchy effects that I can use. The reverb sounds won’t be as good as the blueSky, but it’ll be close enough for spacey live stuff.

I also picked up a Musket Fuzz from Blackout Effectors to replace my diy Mayo clone. This thing is awesome. It’s kind of a modern take on the Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi. It has 6 knobs for tone shaping, so it’s really versatile for a fuzz pedal. It can go from mild overdrive tones to wall of sound fuzz. It’s pretty sweet.

I’m liking the OCD more than I thought I would. It’s really open-sounding, even at high gain levels. It’s not overly compressed and you can still hear your basic guitar-amp sound underneath the extra gain.

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In less happy news, I have run into a snag with my Jazzmaster purchase. I found the one that I wanted, checked the seller’s references and sent him payment. Unfortunately, he is now claiming that his paypal account is frozen and he is refusing to ship the guitar until his funds are released. I filed a claim with paypal, told him that I wasn’t okay with waiting and that he needs to ship the guitar as per our agreement. I haven’t heard from him in a couple of days. I know I’ll get my guitar or my money back eventually, but it could be weeks before that happens. Part of me wants to fly out to wherever this guy lives and punch him in the face.

My office (continued)

A couple of months ago, I posted about my office/studio in our new house.

Back then, it looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

It’s a little messy, I still need some art hanging on the walls, and I still need curtains/shades, but I’m getting pretty comfortable in here. I kinda forgot how horrible the old color was.

Off topic – that little box on the left side of my desk is new. It’s a ZT Lunchbox, and it’s pretty amazing. It’s a 200W solid state amp with a single 8″ speaker, and it sounds huge. I got it as part of a trade for my old amp. I originally planned on selling it, but it’s so cool that I think I’ll probably keep it. The AC30 is supposed to get here on Wednesday, and I’m still trying to decide what I should do with it. I suppose that I should probably play it before I decide to sell it.

More gear flipping

I will soon be the owner of this. It’s a VOX AC30 50th Anniversary Heritage Handwired combo with a pair of Celestion AlNiCo Blue speakers.

I wasn’t really planning to get one of these, but somebody made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (no severed horse heads were involved).

I decided a while back that my Fryette Sig:X is not really the amp that I want right now. It’s a really, really great amp, but it’s not really the flavor that I want right now, and it’s kinda complicated. If I were in a touring rock band playing a lot of big rooms, I would probably keep this setup. However, I’m not touring, so I don’t really need it.

Anyway, the musical direction that I currently see myself going in calls for an amp with a great clean channel first and foremost. The Sig:X has a really good clean channel, but it doesn’t have enough clean headroom to balance well with the distorted channels. I just want a simpler amp, and I want a combo. I don’t really want to mess with the head/cab thing anymore. At least not right now.

The amp that I decided to get was a Mesa Lonestar Classic. It’s a 6L6-based amp, but it’s not a Dual Rectifier. Channel one is a great blackface Fender-style sound (along the lines of a Twin Reverb) and Channel two is a heavier blues-rock kind of tone.

Anyway, that’s the amp that I decided to get once I sold my Sig:X. However, this dude on The Gear Page offered me an even trade for his AC30. His AC30 is worth $2-300 more than my Sig:X. I told him that I was possibly interested, but that I would have to think about it. He emails me back and throws a couple more items into the mix. He offered me his AC30, plus a ZT Lunchbox practice amp (worth about $200 on eBay) and a Fulltone OCD distortion pedal (over $100 used). This deal is really balanced in my favor. I was skeptical, but this guy is legit. He has a lot of references and a perfect track record on eBay, so it doesn’t appear that he’s scamming me.

I’m gonna do it, even though the AC30 isn’t my first choice. I’ll probably just sell all of this stuff and buy a Lonestar and a good roadcase. You never know, I may end up loving it. If it’s good enough for Thom Yorke and Jeff Tweedy, it might be good enough for me.

In other news, I found a white AVRI Jazzmaster with a Mastery bridge that I’m gonna buy, so both of those things should be here next week. It’s gonna be a busy week for gear.

Brigadier Delay and blueSky Reverb demo

I did a quick video demo of the new strymon pedals and thought I’d share. I’m using my G&L ASAT Bluesboy into my Fryette Sig:X clean channel. I’m using the RAILhead Effects PURE to boost the amp into some light breakup. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with lots of different settings – it just kinda gives you an idea of the character of these pedals.

Anyway, if there’s anything that you want to hear in particular, let me know.