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Ac-15 Twin Combo Amplifiers

1962 Vox Ac-15 Twin Combo

Color: Fawn, Rating: 9.00, $13,000.00 (ID# 02115)
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All Near Mint and All Original 1962 'Fawn' Vox AC-15 Twin
"Please Please Me / Love Me Do"

 

1962 Vox AC-15 Twin Combo

This is an original February 1962 Vox 'Fawn' AC-15 watt, twin speaker tube combo weighing 55.00 lbs., and is identical to the one that The Beatles and John Lennon made so famous. The solid pine cabinet measures 27 1/4 inches wide x 20 3/4 inches high x 10 1/2 inches deep. Two original twelve-inch Goodmans Audiom 60 'Economax'  speakers with stamped cone codes: "12 781". Third Circuit with 8 tubes. Copper top control panel with two "Vibrato" inputs, with three rotary controls (Amplitude/Speed/Volume) and two "Normal" inputs with two rotary controls (Volume/Tone). Five-way 'plug-in' selection for mains voltage, two-way on/off switch and red pilot light. Original 'fawn' rexine covering with original brown latticed grill cloth. Serial No. "4055" and Model No. "AC-15" stamped in blind on rectangular metal plate affixed to top back panel of cabinet. The fawn rexine covering is exceptionally fine and the three original brown leather handles show virtually no wear. There is a very small tear in the grille cloth over the left-hand speaker, otherwise this amp is near mint. Interestingly there is an "Apple Records" sticker on the inside of the base of the cabinet. A wonderful fifty-seven-year old legend… just turn it up for real tube gain at a reasonable volume. Complete with the original Vox 'on/off' foot-pedal (for Vibrato) and a later black tolex cover. This is by far the finest example of a 'Fawn' AC-15 Twin that we have ever seen. This spectacular amp has just been fully serviced by 'Tone-Wizard' Doug Anderson of Tone Zone in Altadena. The sound from this Combo with its Goodmans speakers is quite unique and absolutely phenomenal…

"On July 27, 1962, John Lennon and Brian Epstein walked into Hessy's Music in Liverpool where John bought on hire purhase a Fawn Vox A.C.15 Twin. Brian co-signed. The base price was £110/5s/0d (110 pounds, 5 shillings, no pence, which at the time equaled $308.70 USD). The hire purchase charges added an additional £22/15s/0d to the cost, bringing the total to an even £123 ($344.40 USD). John put down £20, and agreed to pay weekly installments of £1/2s/6d. He actually made four payments, putting a total of £31/2s/6d (31 pounds, 2 shillings, and 6 pence) towards the cost by November 29th. The serial number on the agreement was listed as “1583”, but this was a typo, likely the result of too quick a look at a hand-stamped number. In 1962, the number sequence for the A.C.15 models was in the 4000 range, so the actual number would have been #4583. The serial number 1583 would not be given to any A.C.15 Twin until the middle of 1964 when the second serial number sequence was used… That same night, John used his new A.C.15 Twin onstage at the Tower Ballroom in Brighton. George Harrison was also seen that night with  a new Vox amplifier, a Fawn A.C.30 Twin.

Coincidentally, Hessy’s owner Bernard Michaelson had recently sold Ringo his dark brown Premier drum kit to use with Rory Storm. In less than a month, Ringo would use that same kit with The Beatles.

On August 22nd, The Beatles spent an afternoon at the Cavern Club practicing with their new drummer, Ringo, who had joined the group four days earlier. In evidence were their still new Vox amplifiers. Both John’s and George’s amplifiers had Fawn covering, brown grillcloth, copper panels, non-radiused backs, black pointer knobs, pill voltage selectors, and leather handles. John’s amp had 12” Goodmans Alnico speakers with Economax frames, while George’s had blue 12” Celestion T.530 speakers. Bernard Michaelson remembers being at Hessy’s and fitting a Top Boost unit to the back of one of The Beatles’ amps, in this case, George’s A.C.30 Twin. In order to mount the controls, the serial number plate was removed, and a hole was cut in the back panel. As was typical with after-market installations, the serial number plate was not put back on the amp. That day, George plugged into the high-gain jack of the Brilliant Channel.

Since an A.C.15 Twin and an A.C.30 Twin are the same size and shape, it is often very hard to differentiate between them in period photographs. There is, however, a good way to determine which amp one is seeing. The control panel cutout for the 15 is a bit narrower than on the 30, which means there is more space on the top between the cutout and the outside handle. On the A.C.15 Twin, this space is four finger-widths wide, whereas the same spot on an A.C.30 Twin is only two fingers wide…

On September 4th, John and George used these amplifiers at EMI/Abbey Road, Studio 2 recording “Love Me Do” and “How Do You Do It?”…

On October 12th, The Beatles were again seen at the Tower Ballroom with their Fawn Vox amplifiers, this time sharing the bill with Little Richard. John’s 15 Twin was on his tray stand, and George’s 30 Twin was on the tube stand.

On November 26th, they were back in the studio to record “Please, Please Me” and “Ask Me Why”. Although The Beatles continued to use their Fawn Vox amplifiers through the end of the year for live performances (except in Hamburg, where they used the venue’s Fenders), this would be the last time they recorded with these particular amplifiers." (Jim Elyea. Vox Amplifiers The JMI Years, pp. 570-572).

If a Vox AC-30 was not in the budget for a young guitarist living in the 1960s, the AC-15 Twin was a good option. The AC-15 Twin and AC-30 cabinets had the same external dimensions and both had two 12" speakers. Unlike the AC-30, which featured two Celestion Alnico Blues, the AC-15 Twin utilized two Goodmans Audiom 60 Economax speakers. The AC-15 Twin used the original AC-15 circuit designed by Dick Denney. The heart of Vox tone comes from the power amp section, and three key design concepts were combined in the AC-15 power amp design to create the characteristic Vox sound. Denney's design used two small bottle EL-84 power tubes to make the first component of the Vox signature tone. The EL-84 is a highly efficient tube. It was capable of producing 15 watts per push/pull pair at a relatively low circuit plate voltage of only about 350 volts. By comparison, EL-34 and 6L6GC output power tubes required plate voltages that approached 450 to 500 volts. The efficiency of the EL-84 also had a downside. EL-84 tubes were a bit more prone to distort due to their reduced "headroom." Simply stated, when pushed hard, the distortion level could creep up into the 7 percent area. This distortion was normally controlled by the incorporation of a circuit design called "negative feedback." Negative feedback sends a bit of the signal coming out of the amplifier back to the input of the power amp. This not only cleans up the distortion, but removes some of the harmonics in the signal. After listening tests, Dick Denney decided he preferred the harmonically rich tone of the AC-15 amp without negative feedback. He also liked the way the amp distorted when overdriven. The second ingredient in the creation of the Vox sound was to eliminate the negative feedback circuit in the power amp. The final ingredient involved the method of biasing the output tubes. Bias is a controlling voltage sent to the control grid to keep the current passing through the tube within safe prescribed limits. Most tube power amps have a manual bias adjustment for the output tubes, typically adjusted from time to time by a trained technician. Denney discovered that his AC-15 design sounded better when the traditional manual bias adjustment was abandoned in favor of a self biasing or "Class A" output circuit. Denney felt that this non traditional approach to biasing the output tubes yielded a superior sounding amplifier. Most guitar amps utilize a bank of 12AX7 (or ECC83) tubes in the preamp area. Denney's design for the preamp section of the AC-15 followed a different approach. The AC-15 preamp not only included three 12AX7 and one 12AU7 tubes, it also included a high gain EF86 pentode tube. The inclusion of the EF86 tube in the AC-15 preamp design further enhanced the harmonically rich tone of the AC-15. One of channels in the AC-15 Twin included Vib/Trem, an effect that combined variable tremolo (pulsed volume) with variable vibrato (wavering pitch). A cast aluminum remote foot switch canceled the effect. (www.voxshowroom.com)
 

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