When I was looking for an amplifier I knew my price range topped out at $600 and I knew I wanted a tube amp. After looking around a bit I narrowed my choice down to the Vox AC15CC and the Fender Blues Junior amps.
I needed to hear the amps, so I headed to a local Guitar Center to give them a listen.Since I’m a beginner I didn’t feel like I could really get a good idea of what the amps could do since I have a limited range of things I can play (that and I’d be too embarrassed to crank up the volume to get a good listen). So I asked one of the employees to play on the amps (and believe me, this guy could play. I had him playing Blues, Rockabilly and Jazz). As he played we tried out the spectrum of settings on each of the amps. I had him play a Strat and a Les Paul to get different sounding guitars in the mix as well.
I found that the two amps performed pretty closely for most settings on both guitars. I would say the Fender had a slightly better higher end sound and they were just about indistinguishable in the mid range. However, it was the low end where the difference really showed. The Fender was dark and muddy (with the “Fat” switch on and off) while the Vox had a clear deep low end. I was actually quite surprised how big the difference was and how bad the Fender low end sounded compared to the Vox (even the sales guy playing was digging the Vox). They both had great sounding distortion when cranking the master all the way up with the boost volume down. The reverb was a toss up between the two, but if I had to give a winner I’d say it was the Fender. And the Vox has a tremolo setting that the Fender doesn’t have (a cool feature and sound to have, but not something that will be used often)
In terms of looks, while I do like the looks of the Vox I think the Fender Tweed has a much cooler retro look. While looks do matter to me, they are far down on the list of reasons to buy an amp.
Each of the amps offer a higher end model. The Vox has the AC15CC with a Celestion AlniCo Blue speaker and the Fender has the Blues Junior with a special design Jensen Speaker. I decided not to look at the higher end versions because I felt if I wanted to upgrade the speaker myself I could at a later time for less money.
So, after hearing and seeing the two amps, I think the clear winner was the Vox AC15CC. Had the Fender produced a better low end, or at least closer to the Vox, I would have gone with the Fender. But the low end difference was just too great to disregard. The Fender is $100 cheaper, but I think the extra $100 is worth it for the Vox.
I’ve had the amp for a couple months now and couldn’t be happier with it. Highly recommended.