Improving your Sound

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After you have bought a new amplifier, chances are that you like it very much and it's your new baby. However, after the first euphoria, you may find some things that could be better... Here are some suggestions how to improve your personal sound on an AC30 (and other amps if you have), no matter which model you´re playing.

1. Yes, the amp might be new, but try to resist the seduction of tweaking it in the first few weeks you´re playing. Take enough time to really get used to your amp. Give it enough time for speakers to break in and to get used to all possible settings. Also try different guitars to enable yourself to differentiate which parts of the sound are related to the guitar and which are based on the amp.

2. Nearly every amp can be improved by changing the tubes. Most factory tubes are not the best sounding ones available. Still, to improve the sound, it's good to have an idea which aspects of the sound you want to improve. Note that finding the right tubes can be a tough job, even if you have decent experience. This is because every model is reacting different to different tubes. An AC30CC2 might show a different behavior than an AC30HW. For more information about tube changing, see our article Spotlight on Tubes.

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3. Another way to affect the sound is to change the speakers, which might possible have the biggest impact on the sound. Make sure to give new speakers some time to break in and being played before you rate them (in the beginning they may sound brighter and harsher than after they've been broken in). In the journey of finding the right speakers, as always, trying things out for yourself is the best and only way to really find out what works for you. In addition, there are also a lot of YouTube videos around so you can get a basic idea of speaker sounds and differences. You should also consider mixing speakers which may work very well with certain combinations. You find more information on speakers here Spotlight on Speakers.
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4. Still not satisfied? There is always the possibility to modify your amp. Of course, before any modifications, you should have an idea about the problem and/or the improvement you expect. And, most importantly, do always leave any mods to a qualified amp tech unless you know exactly what you're doing - guitar amps may still contain high, lethal voltages!

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Original AC30-Guide blog comments on this article:

Pascal on 11. May 2012 at 11:43 said:

Hi everyone,
first thanks for this great article i really enjoyed it. I have a real newbie question though, because i never changed or modded anything on my ac 30 yet:
Can you change the tubes in a vox amp without having to braze?

jattle on 11. May 2012 at 12:19 said:
Yes of course, it´s just plug and play on Vox Amps.

diederik on 15. June 2012 at 13:10 said:

Hello,

I play on a VOX AC 30 CC (+alnico blue speakers) and I’m planning to change the tubes. (original “vox”tubes are still in there since 2006)

I’m looking for a warmer, more creamy clean sound. I don’t use the boost channel,
I love the way my amp sounds when I use boost/overdrive pedals through the clean channel but the pure clean sound (meaning no pedals) is missing some “capacity to spread the sound around the room” (is this what they call headroom?) (bit difficult to explain, sorry, I’m not a native English speaker .. )

So, could you give me a suggestion?
Based on the info on your website, would this be a good idea ?

– 4x EL84 Mullard ?
– v1: Mullard? preferred series?
– v2: Tung Sol ? 12AU7?
– PI: electro harmonics?
– rect. JJ ?

Thank you very much !!

greetings,

Diederik
(Belgium)

Billy on 17. May 2015 at 14:33 said:
I’ve learned a few tube tips from Ken Fisher and Gregg Levy at High Test Guitars. You want a complex brighter tube in V1 like an Amperex Philips/Holland and darker more midrange heavy tube in V2 and V3 like an old Mullard. Valco EL84’s are the best but Tungsram are great and last a lot longer than JJ’s. I personally find JJ’s to not be scooped enough in the mids for me.

jattle on 15. June 2012 at 14:54 said:

Hey Diederik,

it depends on what you like. If you really want to find your sound you may have to buy some more tubes and change. For the EL84 my suggestion is to get the Mullards, JJ or TAD.
V1, V2, V3 get some and try, also the rect. tube. If you don´t use the boost channel, V2 is unimportant, because V1 is for Normal Channel and V3/PI used for both.
You may look for low microphonic v1 tubes, 12AX7 or if you think you need more clean sound, then try the 12AU7.

All the best
Jens

diederik on 15. June 2012 at 19:15 said:
Thank you Jens,
Going to order very soon and I’ll keep you posted about the tubes and the result ..
grtz,
diederik

Dan on 18. July 2012 at 17:35 said:

Hello,

I bought a AC30 c2x. I’ve heard that it’s better not to use the standby mode to avoid damage of the rectifier tube.What do you think about it?

regards
Dan

jattle on 19. July 2012 at 9:39 said:
Hi Dan,
the AC30C2 doesn´t have a rectifier tube (the oder CC2 had), it´s solid state rectifing there. So no problem regarding the use of the standby switch in case of rectifing there. But I still would not recommend to use the standby switch, simply because it´s not nessesary and it may stresses the output tubes because if you switch on when they are cold, they still get the full voltage but cannot work because they are not heaten up. If they are heaten up and you then use the standby switch in the first moments they can get a peak voltage from they will suffer in duration of life. That´s also what my physic professor said who´s specialised in tube technique. Simply leave the standby switch on and switch on and off only with the main switch. If you need your guitar to be quiet, simply turn the volume pot down on your guitar. Remember the older amps didn´t have a standby switch and they still work. Also daily things like tape machines etc… didn´t have a standby switch and worked well.
You summary: If you find it confortable not to use the standby switch, do not use it. If you need to use it in any special case (can´t imagine what a case this would be), use it.

Patrick Mathews on 6. November 2013 at 5:16 said:

I have the AC30C2x, and am using an ABY switch. a – normal low, B – top boost high. I am looking to get a super clean tone in the normal channel without loosing the volume compared to the top boost. This would be for swells with verb, pog, and dd20 delay. I also use a sparkle drive to fatten up the tone on all of them.

Daniel Vasquez on 15. February 2015 at 2:15 said:

Hello!
I have an AC30c2x with the bright cap mod done. Somehow no matter what channel I get I am not getting right tone. I try to run it as clean as possible and use pedals for my overdrive. On the top boost channel it seems that the highs and bass have some sort of separation and the pedals start to sound fuzzy when they are used. The normal channel sounds more rounded but the fuzziness is an even bigger issue. I have tried all different types of combinations, jumped channels, used an attenuator. Any tips on getting a well balanced clean tone that won’t make my overdrive pedals too fuzzy?

Thanks,

-Daniel

Jim on 29. January 2016 at 1:31 said:

Do you need to do anything besides plug in the new tubes when doing a tube swap?

jattle on 29. January 2016 at 17:53 said:
No you don´t. Just plug in and play on the AC30s.
 

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