Vox AC-15 Twin Tube Amplifier (1964)

Vox  AC-15 Twin Tube Amplifier (1964)
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Item # 11833
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Vox AC-15 Twin Model Tube Amplifier (1964), made in Dartford, Kent, England, serial # 01212, black tolex covering finish.

While originally overshadowed by its more famous and powerful sibling the AC-30, as volume levels have come down since the 1970s the original JMI-made AC-15 is now one of the most revered of ALL amplifiers. The Vox AC-30 was literally THE sound of the UK Beat Era and the US British Invasion; this AC-15 Twin model was at the time considered not as "Pro Level" an amp due to its lower wattage rating. Today the fantastic breakup at lower volume this model offers has made it one of the most sought-after studio and live amps in the world for those who prize pure tone above all.

JMI (Jennings Musical Industries) of Dartford, Kent could hardly keep up with the demand as the Beat Boom took England by storm; players of the time used a number of now-classic guitars but nearly all owned -- or coveted -- an AC-30. Bill Wyman brought an AC-30 to his audition for the Rolling Stones and instantly got the gig for just owning one! The AC-15 was built in much smaller numbers than the fully-pro grade AC-30 and is considerably rarer today.

The AC Twin models were conceived both as a response to the Fender Twin and demands by top JMI/Vox endorsers the Shadows for a louder, more reliable stage amp. The Twin overhaul to the AC-30 featured a completely redesigned chassis, abandoning the old top-and-bottom format that had been proven fairy detrimental to the longevity of the amplifiers; touring musicians habitually threw cables and such in the back of the amp where the fragile tubes were mounted upright. The new version was part-aluminum, part-steel construction, containing everything including the tubes at the top of the cabinet much like Fender amps of the day. Unlike Fender practice these were mounted front-ward in the chassis necessitating accompanying vents at the top-front of the cabinet.

The AC-15 Twin was a similar upgrade to the old single-speaker version, featuring the same split-front styling as the rest of the Vox line-up. According to Jim Eleya's exhaustive research, this particular amp is "version 17" which was made between late 1964 and early 1965. By this time the AC-15 Twin was covered in "basketweave" black covering with black-backed diamond grillcloth. Three handles were fitted at the top alongside the three louvers for the aforementioned vents; even at half the power this amp is nearly as heavy as the 30-watt model. Anyone who has carried a twin-speaker Vox up (or down) narrow club stairs appreciates the end handles!

This was the last incarnation of the AC-15 (during the JMI years) and is basically a scaled down AC-30. It features two channels, (instead of three) each with two inputs, a vibrato/tremolo selector and a speed control, as well as volume controls for each and master brilliance and top cut controls. Running two EL84 power tubes into two Celestion T.1088 speakers, this AC-15 puts out right around 15 watts, true to its name.

Many AC-15s from the early-mid 1960s have generations of heavy use behind them, and the wear to prove it. This one is a very rare fine, having managed to survive the Beat Boom and beyond showing hardly any wear whatsoever and remaining remarkably well-preserved overall. Unsurprisingly it is a truly fantastic sounding amp, especially if you have opportunity to crank it up!
Height is 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm.), 27 1/4 in. (69.2 cm.) width, and 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm.) deep.

This AC-15 is the nicest condition Vox from this era we've ever had the pleasure of featuring in our showroom. It is truly quite rare to find one of these amps is such a well-preserved state; most belonged to players gigging them into the ground decades ago and the thin basketweave black covering is easily damaged. This one shows hardly any notable scuffing or wear, save for a small stain on the upper rear panel and some staining along the bottom edge. The serial number plate on the back has some small scratches but is clean overall. The grey escutcheon top panel is nicely clean with minimal disturbance. The original handles are in excellent shape, as are the plastic vent louvres. The grille cloth is in impeccable condition, taut and showing no punctures or signs of tearing. The original Vox-logo footswitch is also present with the amp.

Internally, the AC-15 remains original and largely untouched except for the bare minimum component replacements needed to keep it working to modern standards. The power, choke and output transformers all appear original, as do the two silver/grey Celestion T.1088 speakers. The amp has received our typical service/maintenance including replacement of electrolytic caps, cleaning of all jacks, pots and sockets and a new grounded 3-prong power cord installed. Please note that the plastic dome voltage selector has lost some of its "snap" at the indicated input voltage positions, so care should be taken to ensure it is set to the appropriate input voltage.

This amp was made at the apex of the UK Beat Boom, as Beatlemania had spread to America and the world. We don't know who may have played it in 1964 (and since!) but it oozes vibe and is simply one of the coolest Vox amps we have had, a Beat-era masterpiece and a spectacular sounding amp by any standard. Overall Excellent Condition.