amp choice dilemma

nathan a

Hero Member
Okay guys, so here's the scoop: I have a friend with a 25% discount on all amps at guitar center on the day after Thanksgiving (maybe anyone can get this discount? It doesn't really matter).

I'm going back and forth between the Vox AC15, and Fender Deluxe Reverb. I'm really leaning strongly towards the Vox, which would be $450 with discount. Or $712 with the Celestion Blue speaker. I'm also intrigued by the AC30, which has tons more options and tweakable stuff. Haven't been able to play through one yet. $900 with the discount.

I'm always fighting the Deluxe's capability to be LOUD, but the AC15 is totally controllable. Is the AC30 really terribly louder than the AC15? If not, I might as well take advantage of the discount and do the AC30 for 900. But then, I couldn't afford the celestion blues ($1350 post-discount, too much).

So the dilemma is, AC15 with celestion blue, or AC30 without the blues. Or the Deluxe, which just has this appeal that keeps calling me back.... I want them all! Any insight guys?

EDIT: I suppose another option is the AC15 w/blues, and possibly changing the tubes for a little more clean headroom.
Sounds obvious but go for the one you like best. Their both great amps so its one of those things where you probably won't be dissapointed either way.

I'd personally go for the fender too however.
The AC15 and Deluxe Reverb are not all the different in LOUD.

15w vs 22watts is a non issue.  In fact, 15w vs 50w is a non issue in the loud dept.

lets do the numbers

assuming the same speaker in all amps - lets say a medium efficient 96db/1w @1meter speaker

96db @ 1w
99db @ 2w
102db @ 4w
105db @ 8w
106db @10w
108db @16w
109db @20w
111db @32w
112db @40w
114db @ 64w

So look at the table.... 15w, essentially 108db, while maybe 2db more at 22w.  In acoustics, 3db is a "threshold of discernible difference",  Most headphones and audio equipment are rated in +/- 3db from 20-20,000 cycles (or whatever their range is).  Thats the consumer level of "flat" audio.  Its a non issue.

Take a little 5w Champ and run it through a honkin 110db efficient speaker.... At 4watts it'll be putting out 116db... or more SPL than a 60 watt amp using the medium efficient speaker.

Things like "headroom" and transients (aka that nice solid bass thump) are not reflected in pure SPL numbers, but.. you cannot escape the physics of it.

To my thinking, the noticeable difference between the 15 and 30 watt vox's will be small, if there at all, so the 15 with the blue's would be my choice; those are incredible speakers.  That would leave the difference between the Vox and the Fender, which, to me would be easy to decide, but what works for me, may not be what you are going for.  Vox amps to me are phenomenal sounding, and a little out of the norm, different.  Fenders, perhaps more versatile.  Either of these guys with a few carefully chosen stomp boxes will get you where you want to go, but without knowing where that is, style wise, I don't know that I could make a recomendation.  Personally, for what I like to do, the Vox would be my choice.  Of course, I already have a bad-ass sounding Fender amp, so, I'm probably no help at all, as usual!
You can get the speaker new on Ebay for $250, so it's not a discount at all.  I'd get the AC15 and just get the speaker later, or something very very similar from Eminence or Jensen for half the price. If you can put together a guitar, surely replacing a speaker is easy.
CB I figured you'd have something along those lines to say. We've had this conversation before, and I appreciate that little example this time around. So I'll stop worrying about loud.

tfarny, buying the speaker installed w/discount, versus off ebay, is only a $12 difference, so sort of a non-issue. I do see what you're saying about buying the AC15 stock, then popping in a less expensive speaker. I know nothing about guitar loudspeakers though, so I wouldn't know how to choose. Anybody?

guitlouie the 15 w/ blues is way high on my list. Unless you guys can suggest a similar, kickass speaker for less money? For the record, I play folk-rock, jazz, 'blues rawk' kinda stuff.

Here's a question for all: Would the AC30 give me more clean headroom? I don't know if that's how stuff works. If so, here's an idea: AC30 w/stock speakers at $900, then toss in new speakers that are less expensive than the Blue's. So many options..
The AC 30 (original at least) is no king of clean.    However it will give you a bit more solid bottom and clean - at similar volume levels than the 15w cousin.

Back to the db story - think of it this way, tha AC30 can make the same db (considering the same speakers) and have double the power "in reserve" for transients, or those thumpy and bassy tones.  Dunno if that makes sense.  Thats why things like a Twin Reverb are so clean, without being really... as loud as some Fender amps.  Take a Super Reverb, its as loud.  Take a Super Reverb with 101db Celestions in it... its DAMNED loud.  But at the same volume level, the Twin Reverb has a lot more "spare" to give - twice as much in fact.  You have to consider, in order to "drive" the output at a certain wattage (dissipation) you have to have a power supply that can do it.  If you're not maxing things out, that power supply is loafing just a bit more on the lower wattage amp.

Turn it around... take the AC15.  Its damed near as loud as the AC30, but its crankin' its lil heart out to do it.  Not as much reserve there, its closer to its limit, at any given db.  Whats that tell ya?  Says its gonna saturate, break up, sag, all of the above...

Hope that clears up the mud
Nathan, I don't know that much about it.  It just seems like $250 for a 12" speaker is a whole lot of money, and I've been told that with celestions you pay for the name just like anything else. My point was just to say that you're not getting much discount on the speaker portion of the deal. I like AC-15s too. Wish I knew more, I'm going to get a better amp soon too.
I don't see any real difference in specs on the Celestion site between a Classic series Vintage 30 and the Blue Alnico that costs more than twice as much other than magnet type and the Vintage 30 handles more power; I've been real happy with the Classic Vintage 30s I've replaced the original speakers in a couple of Fender tube amps with, that might be another option for you with the AC15
Two speakers I'm rather fond of, sadly both discontinued, are the silver series Celestion 12, and the old Vintage 10.  The new G10Vintage whatever.. forget the name, its not the same.  The Eminence 10 and 12 Alnico's are good too, especially the ones with Kapton coil formers (with the K suffix).  Those are damn near identical to the old original Jensens.... at a small small fraction of the cost.