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.
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.