This is IT.
Save for the Prosonic, this amp has made every other amp i own (and still want to own) almost irrelevant. Not that i don’t want anymore amps (i still would like a Marshall!), but it makes me feel like i dont NEED them as much.
The AC30 pretty much rounds up the tube tone i personally have been looking for. There’s not one tube amp that can nail EVERY tube sound authentically. Each amp specializes itself to a particular sound and tone. Though the Prosonic grabs the top prize for unparalleled versatility (goes from Fender CLEAN to hot bluesy tone to scorching red hot shred machine), the AC30 CC2X takes the niche of the sweet clean chime and the un-imitatable Top Boost tone. Think about it – almost every amp manufactured these days either imitates or clones a Fender or a Marshall (which by the way, as every tube amp afficionado knows, Marshall amps originally imitated and cloned a Fender Bassman!). But not very many (if at all) clones an AC30. It is unique!
ebay- it’s a dirty jungle! It’s a bane for sellers, but a boon for buyers. Being careful and knowing what you’re looking for helps in making an educated purchase.
I saw this AC30 with a Buy It Now price and a Best Offer, with free shipping. The description read that the seller “does not have the power cord to test it”. Which means IT DOES NOT WORK! I saw the blue AlNiCo speakers and thought, well, maybe i can use those speakers instead if the amp is completely dead- they do command a good price. Plus it looks clean, the grill cloth looks straight (most grill cloths are either sagging or out of place already with amps this old and used). I can also part away with the cab easily.
So unknown if it works or not, if its fixable or not, i went and got it. Took over a week to arrive, and man! did it look like it was going to be a disaster!
The box it came in was super beatup, tape all over, flaps not even p[roperly closed, some holes thats bleeding with (gasp!) peanut packaging!!! Damn you people who use peanuts for packaging. You can never take anything out of the box without spilling any peanut on the floor. So DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!
I didnt even bring it inside- i took pictures all around without touching the beatup package. I even took a video of me taking the amp out of the box.
Aside from the awful peanuts, the amp was also wrapped tightly with almost 2 inches of bubblewrap. Good! it wasnt all just peanuts. slowly i took the buble-wrapped amp out, but to no avail- i STILL had peanuts spilling out. DAMN YOU TO HELL, PEANUT PACKAGERS!!!
As soon as i got the amp out, i started to SLOWLY cut through the bubble wrap. It was tightly wrapped that it took sometime to completely remove all of it. and then i saw the amp in its entirety.
CLEAN AS CLEAN CAN BE!!! WOW! that 2-inch thick bubblewrap made up for the crummy packaging! HALLELUJAH!!!
I can’t see any breaks anywhere, no dents, no huge scratches, no tears, no structural damage at all. PRISTINE!!!
After cleaning up all the peanuts and packaging and bubblewrap in the trash (this is still outside, mind you), i hauled the monster up a flight of 17-step stairs to my apartment. backbreaking motherfucker!
a much thorough inspection indeed confirmed that there were no breaks or dents or structural damage to the amp. It WAS missing the power cord (which is the same as what you have on a PC, which is easily acquirable. It also just means that the seller must’ve tested it,. saw it didnt work, and made a poor excuse of “unable to find a cord” for it. Whatever, it’s now in my possession).
The bell covers of the Blue AlNiCo celestions had dust on it, indicating its been around a while. It did have the footswitch to go with it, but also was missing the 1/4 stereo cable that connects it to the amp. no big deal, i have both missing cable and power cord.
Plugging in the amp, it did NOT light up at all when it was turned on. I opened the fuse holder, and it didnt look like it blew. So my first thoufght was the Power Transformer. Damn. That’s not cheap. Oh well- im handy with the solder, we may be able to fix this.
So i got the drill/driver and went to town opening up the back. Not the easiest chassis to take out- there were 6 MORE screws that help the chassis to the amp after the back was removed. and then it revealed the tubes (its like a peek of heaven! he he).
JJ EL84s, a Sovtek GZ34, and 2 JJ 12ax7 and 1 chinese-made 12ax7 preamp tubes. Not bad, but it can be better- if i do fix these there’s going to be some tube-rolling happening. Maybe. IF i even fix it.
After tooling around, it seems nothing was done, no noticeable changes, upgrades or mods done at all. GOOD! that means no one really did anything to it. It’s worse if someone did- you don’t know what they’ve done, which could have caused or even contributed to it not working.
I also found ANOTHER fuse that’s blown- right under the IEC receptacle (where you plug in the power cord to). I had to wait a few days to get the replacement fuse, as i didnt have the right value AND size for it. Online technical manual and schematics revealed what it needed.
Once the fuse came in, i replaced the blown one, and once i turned the power switch on, there was light!!! The tubes were glowing! HELLOOOO, NURSE! it was a fuse issue! Or so I thought.
Then as quick as my elation, the amp blew the new fuse. huh. Something is making it blow. I over-ordered a lot of fuse, with different ratisgs. Probably not the correct rating. Putting a higher rated fuse STILL blew it though. But with the chassis out and the tubes glowing, i saw the tube rectifier (GZ34) flash briefly just before it blew the fuse. AHA!
I quickly turned the amp off, waited for the tube to cool down, and pulled the Sovtek rectifier out. Let’s see if it is indeed just the tube or something else making it flash bright briefly and also blowing the fuse. I have another amp (the Epiphone Blues Custom 30) that uses an old stock U.S.-made GZ34 rectifier, so i pulled that off of it, and plugged it in the AC30. Put a new fuse, plugged it in, and turned it on.
This time it stayed on. YES!!! It was a bad tube rectifier. After a few minutes of warming up, i slowly turned the volume all the way up (to 11!) and can hear a slight unmistakeable overdriven amp hum. I plugged in my 12-string Gretsch, and KERRANG!!!!
WE HAVE SOUND! AND MAN, HOW SWEET IT IS!!!
I spent no time putting the chassis back in and the back panel on. I’m playing this now!
KNEE-BUCKLING AND ALL THAT GOOD STUFF
Wow. this beast is jaw dropping! I knew what i was gonna get, but i never knew how good it really sounds. I spent a good hour just turning knobs, fiddling with tones, finding out what does what, getting myself familiar with the amp. So much tonal variety, but so unique-sounding! Everything works! And the Vox chime – heaps and heaps of it! So much so that there is even a tone cut knob that tames it back, if you so desire. Overdriven, the Top Boost is so sweet you can almost taste it. mix both that and the Normal channel, and the grit just gets grittier. The reverb has a switch that makes it sound hauntingly cavernous, perfect for deep retro-surf sounds. And the tremolo is not just useable and passable- it adds a flavorful dimension to the already magnificent sound.
and all it took to fix it was a tube rectifier and a fuse change. This was one chance i took that could’ve turned into a nightmare waste of a purchase, instead became one of the best fixes ive ever done.
So now we have The Keepers: The Fender Prosonic, this Vox AC30 CC2X, the Fender Bassman Ten, the Plush P1000-s, The Kalamazoo line (Reverb 12, Model One, Model Two, Bass 50), The Peavey Windsor 100W head, the projector amps (RCA and Bell & Howell), and… that’s it. Maybe the cheap solidstate no-name 100W bass amp just so i have something for my bass guitar.
This is IT. now let’s JAM!!!