Six Guitar Players Who Really Define Vox

January 10, 2017
Written by PGS Staff
We took a poll around the office and came up with this list of six guitar players and tones that really define Vox. It wasn’t easy, but in this end we all thought this was a fair summary and introduction to Vox tone and the AC30. Be sure to let us know who you think deserves to be on the list, and your favorite solo played through a Vox amp! 
The Beatles
The AC30 was vital to the British invasion of the ‘60s. When bands needed sparkling cleans or a small amount of dirt, they would turn to their Vox amps to make it happen. Too often we focus on the most epic and legendary solos and miss guitar tone that just perfectly fits the song.
The Kinks
This one was pretty hotly debated, but we decided to include it, if only because it was one of the first tones that came to everyone’s mind. The legendary, unmistakable tone of “You Really Got Me” is one of the all-time great old-school crunch tones. The story behind this tone is a little more complex than you would immediately think—the band actually used two amps to achieve the sound. The first, (famously known as the “little green amp”) was an Elpico that had the speakers cut with a razorblade. The Elpicio was then plugged into a large Vox. It’s kind of like plugging in the grandfather of crunch pedals, and the sound is unmistakably awesome.
Iggy Pop
Raw Power is exactly what it sounds like—the raw power of a man and his cranked AC30. If you have any question as to what great, dirty, Vox tone sounds like, give “Raw Power” by The Stooges a listen. Here at the shop, we all agreed that it’s easily one of the most badass albums around, and it’s all Vox tone, baby!
Brian May
I think it’s safe to say Brian May is one of those players who inspired legions of kids to pick up a guitar and learn how to play it. Brian Mays incredibly vocal guitar tone came largely from a wall of overdriven Vox AC30s. It took a powerful guitar, amp and player to stand as an equal to Freddie Mercury, and Brian May totally nails the mood and feel of the song with his solo in Bohemian Rhapsody.
The Edge
Guitar players are often hailed for their technical mastery of the instrument. The Edge, however, has built his reputation on tasteful and understated playing. While there was some disagreement on his “best” solo, it was hard to find anyone who disagreed with him being on the list. The Edge uses the guitar as a true songwriting tool, and the AC30 is his longtime weapon of choice. The Edge has been quoted saying he has taken an original 1964 AC30 in the studio for every album and taken it on every U2 tour. Now that’s commitment to an amp! It’s also worth noting the Edge is a big pedal user, and loves to run all sorts of interesting chains through his AC30.
Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl is a huge fan of organic amp overdrive, and so are we when he is rocking out. There's Nothing Left to Lose was recorded on an AC30. In Dave’s own words, “We focused on not using too many distortion pedals, and went for a cleaner, fatter, more natural overdrive. We used a AC30 for pretty much everything on the record, tweaking the sound so that it broke up nicely when played loud.” You can check out the whole article over at Foo Archive, and it’s definitely worth a read is you dig his tone. 


  1. Andreas K says:

    How about Rory Gallagher? Brian May wouldnt be anywhere without Rory.
    PLus the VOX AC30 treble booster combo should be worth mentioning. And this is what Brian actually took from Rory.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 10:40 am
  2. Matt Hancock says:

    I’d have gone for:

    The Beatles
    Rory Gallagher
    Brian May
    The Edge
    Tom Petty
    Peter Buck

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 10:42 am
  3. Daniel Coakley says:

    Maybe John Scofield?

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 10:45 am
  4. rick says:

    Paul Weller? Hello! The Jam, a wall of AC30s!!

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 10:49 am
  5. PresidentDogeater says:

    What about Hank Marvin? The Shadows???

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 10:52 am
  6. Randy says:

    I would think Petty/Campbell and the Heartbreaker sound in general would have made the top six.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 10:54 am
  7. Robert Simpson says:

    Nah, they pretty much nailed it.  GOOD LIST, PGS!!!!!

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 10:55 am
  8. Nathan says:

    Tom Petty, Peter Buck & Paul Weller make 9. Egregious not to include them.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:02 am
  9. Richard Towne says:

    Agree re the Tom Petty sound, along with John Jorgenson, who has played Voxes his entire career (Vox derivative Matchless for some touring periods) and directly influenced Brad Paisley, who started with Vox and moved on to Dr. Z for a more reliable and slightly dirtier EL 84 tone. Neither Pop or Grohl are known for the Vox chime. In addition, about half the modern P&W sound (a very large commercial demographic) is based on the Vox tone.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:03 am
  10. Rick Morris says:

    Paul Weller of course.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:06 am
  11. Greg Treadway says:

    You mentioned The Beatles’ connection with Vox amps, but before the Beatles there was Hank Marvin and The Shadows.  In fact, the first Vox AC30 amplifier was built for Hank after he mentioned not getting enough volume out of his AC15, in order to be heard above the crowds of screaming teenagers at the time.  Hank went on to use his AC30 on The Shadows’ famous recording of “Apache” in the summer of 1960.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:10 am
  12. dezinerdave says:

    I’d have plumped for Camel mainstay Andy Latimer.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:17 am
  13. jim brown says:

    The list is rubbish without Rory Gallgher

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
  14. murray sanders says:

    Hank Marvin worked with Vox to get something bigger the the AC15 without Hanks input their probably wouldn’t have been an AC30 for a much longer time and leaving him out of the list would be a crying shame

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:35 am
  15. Richard Kellogg says:

    How about Daniel Lanois

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:50 am
  16. Joe Barborich says:

    Rory Gallagher!!!

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm
  17. Gregory Geist says:

    Its a very sad sad thing that Rory was not put on this list… it was the only reason i opened the email. Hoping to see who followed in his footsteps in the way of the Vox…... but it wasn’t what i thought.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm
  18. Marc says:

    Rory Gallagher was definitely one of the better Vox Advocates…most of those mentioned (except for the Beatles and the Kinks) were influenced by Rory’s sound.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 12:22 pm
  19. MichaelB says:

    The English instrumental group The Shadows were probably the first group to use the AC30 and delivered a unique sound derived from a Stratocaster, a Meazzi tape delay and the Vox AC30. This set up influenced numerous British guitarists and apart from the tape delay is still used by The Shadows to this day. A GEAT amp which every guitarist should at least try once!

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm
  20. Roberto Bezuidenhout says:

    Your “board of experts” really doesn’t ‘have a clue! Dave Grohl and Iggy Pop before Hank Marvin!!?? Who even knew that these two actually play Vox’s? Hank Marvin put Vox on the map in the first place and his tone is sublime. They’re a marriage made in heaven.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm
  21. Nazo Bourounszian says:

      Yes agree, Beatles Rory Gallagher, Tom Petty ,  Iggy P Hank Marvin , and Sure the Edge

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 1:01 pm
  22. David Dyte says:

    Geez, people, calm down. It’s not THE ONLY six players who define the Vox sound. These are fine choices, and there are other fine choices that happened not to be in this selection. Kudos for a great list in impossible-to-please conditions.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm
  23. carie says:

    neil finn!

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 3:09 pm
  24. Craig McDonough says:

    Don’t forget the best tone of all - Ritchie Blackmore on the “Machine Head” album. He used an AC30.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 3:32 pm
  25. Lawrence Timer says:

    Phil Keaggy is always making his tones with a Vox twin twelve with Blue Celestion speakers

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm
  26. Skippydelic says:

    I wish that the editors had made more of a distinction between players who DEFINE the ‘Vox tone’, and players who just USE Voxes!

    Someone who ‘defines’ the ‘Vox tone’, by definition, should be someone who not only USES a Vox, but who uses it as an ESSENTIAL ELEMENT of their music!

    For the British Invasion bands, the ‘Vox tone’ was a VITAL part of their sound! Starting with Hank Marvin, the AC-30 was England’s answer to the Fender Twin; it was THE ubiquitous amp!

    For later players like Rory Gallagher, Brian May, and Tom Petty, again, the AC-30 tone was an ESSENTIAL part of their sound!

    Is it fair to include Dave Grohl and Iggy Pop (James Williamson, actually)? There’s no arguing that they’re excellent musicians, but was the ‘Vox tone’ an ESSENTIAL part of their sound? I can’t really say that it was, at least not in the unmistakable way that the others on the list were.

    And why only SIX players, anyway?

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 4:07 pm
  27. Manuel says:

    Funny enough Brian May very often played a wall of AC30 SS instead of regular AC30’s. SS is/was the solid state version from the 70’, an amp that you would not automaticly expect to be played by somedody like Brian.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 4:48 pm
  28. Pat Walsh says:

    When He was young Brian May asked Rory Gallagher (playing with Taste) how He got his sound and Rory said “Vox AC30 and Rangemaster treble booster” and Brian May’s sound was born.
    Any Vox list without Rory Gallagher is missing a Vital and Important Guitarist who Really Defined Vox

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 4:54 pm
  29. Greg says:

    The Beatles actually only recorded with AC30s for the first couple of albums. They then changed to the larger models, including solid state ones.

    Mike Campbell’s mid ‘80s tone with his Goldtop and Broadcaster into a pair of AC30s made me want to get one (which I did in ‘87).

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 5:11 pm
  30. lee says:

    both Rick and Francis of Status Quo used AC30’s , during the late 70’s early 80’s they used a wall of about 18 vox Ac30’s but they have alaysed used Ac’s since they started

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 6:18 pm
  31. iimu says:

    Don’t forget Keith Scott. He got right kind, 59’ Faun, black panel.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 6:25 pm
  32. Tom says:

    For those who are saying Tom Petty, he’s definitely a Vox player but he played super Beatles where this seems more focussed on AC30 users. I agree with those mentioning Peter Buck, he is a quintessential Vox player. I’d also throw in Dean DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots as his Vox tones are excellent. Long time AC30 users.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 7:18 pm
  33. Jacinto says:

    Dave Grohl pfft…you guys can do better, Rory Gallagher and Peter Buck are in a different universe altogether.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 7:21 pm
  34. Zulujoe says:

    It´s always a challenge with a list like this, and in this case, it´s too short, I mean just see all thoose comments :-) - Hank Marvin WORKED with WOX - he was the one who suggested that they should build a more powerfull amp - I really like your newsletter and try to get around to read it - but a more in depth reseach would suit you, and would raise the “value” of the newsletter - here´s the full story -where you wil learn that Hank Marvin of the Shadows was the guy who helped THE BIRTH og the AC30….
    Reg Clark worked in the Vox store in London’s Charing Cross Road in the early 60’s, and credits Hank with instigating a major Vox development :
    “He suggested we made one with two speakers and it was from that comment that the AC30 came.”
    The Shadows had tried the more powerful Fender Twin, but the Vox AC15 provided the sound they wanted, albeit with insufficient volume.  Using two amplifiers each was rejected, and Vox finally came up with the legendary AC30, with the group taking delivery of four in late 1959.  The AC30 was a 30 watt model with 12” twin speakers and EL84 output valves.  Hank’s amp was modified with a treble booster to provide a cleaner sound at high volume levels and this model was later sold commercially as the AC30 Top Boost.  Bruce also used an AC30, without modification, and Jet Harris had a bass model.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 7:24 pm
  35. Laurent says:

    Rory is missing…
    Hank Marvin too.
    Guys of Radiohead too.
    And I think there’s a place for Lenny Kravitz.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 7:56 pm
  36. Max says:

    Dave Grohl? Seriously?

    Where is Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead?

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 9:36 pm
  37. Tim MIcsak says:

    I believe Deep Purple Machine Head was recorded on Vox Amps. Talk about Iconic sound and riffs and you missed that one? Live Blackmore ran into Marshalls, but the Smoke on the Water sound everyone heard on the radio was a Vox.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:14 pm
  38. Simon says:

    Christopher Steen from Refused.
    I think his tone on The Shape of Punk to Come was mainly his AC30 and very few pedals.

    posted on January 10, 2017 at 11:49 pm
  39. J.R. says:

    I agree with many comments here but all I’m hearing are a bunch of Tone Snobs whining (the election is over, hah hah). Get yourself a Vox, if you don’t have one you need one, pair it with your favorite axe and rig, and rock on! Even the little TV Mini’s are great. Peace, ya haters.

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 1:16 am
  40. jbro says:

    Unknown Hinson.

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 1:24 am
  41. JLO says:

    Brian May used the Deacy amp a lot in the studio. He did use Vox but I think the Deacon amp saw a lot more use.

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 2:02 am
  42. Alex V says:

    Yes, Tom petty!

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 2:21 am
  43. Mike says:

    George’s great riff on Day Tripper. John said that the opening feedback on I Feel Fine was the first ever feedback recorded after he leaned his Gibson next to his Vox once and produced the now-famous sound. Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, for sure. The Edge, definitely.

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 5:42 am
  44. Danny says:

    Hank Marvin / The Shadows, pure and clean!

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 5:54 am
  45. Thom Opal says:

    Another giant HUZZAH!! for Hank Marvin & The Shadows. 

    A re-write of this article is due!

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 7:09 am
  46. Braverhund says:

    List are so subjective…but when you overlook Rory Gallagher, you lose all credibility. Bad enough that he’s constantly overlooked when people name influential and great guitarist…...but on equipment too?  ....When you mention Vox, immediately my mind goes, Beatles, Gallagher,  May…..I’m sure most savvy readers agree…. (And I do agree with the reader who mentioned Blackmore’s Machine Head Tone…but that’s also a bastardized Vox tone from RB huge dose of Hornby-Skews…and obviously Blackers is most thought of for his Marshall tone….and eventually his Engl tone. )

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 9:57 am
  47. Sean Roberts says:

    Let’s give credit where credit is due. Iggy Pop isn’t a guitarist. James Williamson did all of that killer guitar work on Raw Power.

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 11:28 am
  48. Sean Roberts says:

    Sorry to double comment, but I’d like to give an honorable mention to my personal favorite Vox player, Agostino Tilotta of Uzeda and Bellini. Check out the incredible guitar work on the Uzeda song “This Heat”

    posted on January 11, 2017 at 11:35 am
  49. Robert Mosack says:

    Leaving out Hank Marvin and Rory Gallagher is like leaving out Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page from a Marshall listing.  Just saying…

    posted on January 12, 2017 at 8:04 am
  50. Marko Strom says:

    Stari demo snimci grupe Prežderani sa Kalvarije, snimano kod Čika-Osmana u Donjem Darovaru, jebagaled!

    posted on January 12, 2017 at 8:29 am
  51. Brian Roe says:

    Machine Head by Deep Purple.  Richie Blackmore playing a Strat into a AC30

    posted on January 13, 2017 at 8:19 am
  52. Joe Beach says:

    My guess is the original list was compiled by music critics and not musicians.

    posted on January 15, 2017 at 6:33 am
  53. Christian says:

    It does not have Rory Gallagher, so it’s a NO list.

    posted on January 17, 2017 at 11:37 am
  54. manuel dasilva says:

    Rory Gallagher
    Brian May
    Dave Davies (The Kinks)
    Jeff beck (Yardbird)

    ... And Me !!! :)

    posted on January 17, 2017 at 10:18 pm
  55. Kane Miller says:

    Tom Petty/Mike Campbell, and John Schofield

    posted on January 18, 2017 at 2:03 am
  56. mick hay says:

    Dave Clarke 5 Anyone.

    posted on January 18, 2017 at 3:02 am
  57. Trev Wilson says:

    Got to be Hank and Bruce top of the list AC30 top boost!

    posted on January 18, 2017 at 5:56 am
  58. Joe Cooper says:

    Some pretty glaring omissions here. Here’s my list:

    Hank B Marvin
    Rory Gallagher
    Brian May
    The Edge
    Tom Petty

    Dave Grohl? A drummer who played guitar in his spare time!

    posted on January 22, 2017 at 10:12 pm
  59. Glenn Moore says:

    Erm, calm down folks! It was an office poll. There’s likely only six working there!

    posted on February 14, 2017 at 7:08 pm
  60. Lawrence Timer says:

    Phil Keaggys amp tones are from Vox AC30

    posted on February 14, 2017 at 10:53 pm

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