Bought a used Vox AC30CC2, want to replace the Wharfedales. What are my options?

AlNiCo Blues? Greenbacks? G12H30s? Something else?

  • Celestoin AlNiCo Blue

    Votes: 8 66.7%
  • Celestion Greenback

    Votes: 3 25.0%
  • Celestion G12H30

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Something Else (Please specify)

    Votes: 1 8.3%

  • Total voters
    12

slysendice

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I know, this one's been done to death. But I haven't seen much on this recently and I'm curious what folks have to say on this in 2022.

I recently picked up a used AC30CC2 for a pretty good price. It's banged up, and it died on me almost immediately after I got it home, but only because - to my simultaneous relief and horror - all of the tubes were the originals from 2006 (!!!). Fortunately I was able to track down what I believe to have been the only quad of EL84s remaining in Canada at the height of the Great Tube Shortage, which was a set of Groove Tubes. Swapped out the original cheapo preamp tubes for some Tung Sols I had on hand while I was at it. Sounds healthy now, at least, but it's still lacking in some respects. I was looking for tones in the realm of Brian May or Against Me! but I'm left with something that, while it still sounds good, I can best describe it as "neutered." It sounds as if the amp is holding back its natural overdrive. I know I need a Treble Booster for the May tones, but it's not even really in the ballpark as it stands now. There's 2 things I know about this amp - 1: some small circuit tweaks will take it from Good to Great (I'll be getting the Lyle Caldwell mods done soon), and 2: the Whafedales have GOT to go.

So the question remains: What's the best option here? Celestion AlNiCo Blues or Golds seem to be the natural choice, but a pair of those will run me more than I paid for the amp itself. Folks on the 'net seem to love them, but I'm not sure they'll be worth it/will get me where I'm looking to go (tones somewhere between pop rock/indie rock/punk). But I've also read that the Wharfedales are (loosely) based around a Celestion Greenback or G12H30 (depending on what you read). Would swapping for Greenbacks/G12H Anniversaries be a lateral move, then? The near 100lb weight on this thing also has me considering a pair of Neo Creambacks, but I'm just not sure.

I also found a pair of vintage Vox/Oxford gold Bulldog speakers for sale near me (here), which would come to a bit less than a pair of Blues/Golds. Can't seem to find much written about these, but the consensus seems to be that they suck. Is that reputation fair?

I'd love to look at the Weber or Scumback stuff, but Scumback isn't shipping outside the USA at the moment, and the Weber site's lowest shipping estimate to me here in Canada is near $100 USD. If it weren't for that shipping charge, I'd probably have gone for a pair of Ceramic Blue Dogs. I still might, considering even after shipping and currency conversion, I'm still coming out several hundred dollars below a pair of Celestion AlNiCos.

While we're on the topic, if I did end up going with the expensive AlNiCos - how much real risk do I run of blowing up a pair of AlNiCo Blues with an AC30 run dirty at stage/rehearsal volumes? Should I go for Golds (or maybe 30w Weber Blue Dogs) to mitigate the risk?

Apologies in advance for the ramble. Just curious to know what thoughts/opinions there are on this matter these days.
 

PelliX

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Congrats on the amp! :photos:

The AlNiCo BLues are the goto for me and many others, but I find Greenbacks work very well. The Wharfedales in there were designed after the Greenback, but I've heard people complain about them before. You don't want anything too dull, certainly. The Bulldog speakers, at least the ones I've dealt with, were absolutely horrendous, but there may be good ones. I've never come across them.

While we're on the topic, if I did end up going with the expensive AlNiCos - how much real risk do I run of blowing up a pair of AlNiCo Blues with an AC30 run dirty at stage/rehearsal volumes? Should I go for Golds (or maybe 30w Weber Blue Dogs) to mitigate the risk?

It's conceivable that you could kill them like that. You would have to give them absolute hell for a while, as they're rated quite conservatively, but I'd say it could go south. And if it does at those volumes, so may you OT, of course.

Sounds healthy now, at least, but it's still lacking in some respects. I was looking for tones in the realm of Brian May or Against Me! but I'm left with something that, while it still sounds good, I can best describe it as "neutered." It sounds as if the amp is holding back its natural overdrive. I know I need a Treble Booster for the May tones, but it's not even really in the ballpark as it stands now.

You have the Top Boost enganged and the EQ/tone quite bright, right? I think GT are rebranding JJ's for their EL84s. Got a picture of them by any chance? Especially in VOX amps (I find), the right valves in the output section make a huge difference.
 
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slysendice

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Thank you! I'll snag some pics next time I'm at the jam space. It's been ridden hard for sure, but IMO "Road Worn" is the best look for a Vox anyway. Looks like my Groove Tubes were EL84R which I believe makes them rebranded Sovteks. I'd have done some research into my options, but I decided to prioritize fresh tubes at the time. The damn thing was making all manner of horrendous noises with those old tubes in it. I'm definitely open to recommendations for my next retube though!

I'm running into the top boost channel, with the channel blend engaged for a little more heft. I'm running a Jazzmaster with a Duncan Quarter Pound bridge pickup (output is just a hair shy of a P90). Both channel volumes all the way up, treble at about 1:00, bass at 12:00 and Cut around 1:00 IIRC. I've also got a Tube Screamer clone that I use as a boost occasionally, but it just seems to just get mushy as opposed to "gainy" the more I goose it. I hear the Caldwell mods release some aggression was there in vintage units, but that Vox reeled in while designing this model in an effort to make the AC30CC reproduce tones that weren't achieved with AC30s in the first place 🤦‍♂️

The more I think about it, the more likely it becomes that I'll end up with a pair of 30w Weber Ceramic Blue Dogs. $100 in shipping is a tough pill to swallow, but at the end of the day I'd still be saving $300 CAD vs a pair of Celestion Blue/Gold
 

PelliX

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For me Shuguang are still the best EL84's for VOX's. Next in line would be the CP Sovteks that I'm actually using at the moment. JJ's just make the amp a bit lifeless and dull, I find. I should check the schematic and see if something might be possible to get more out of them. It's as if they're just a bit 'cold biased', almost.

The TS in front was never a winner for me either, going in clean gets me the best results, and I'm on regular single coils most of the time. Note that the bass and treble are very interactive, much more than in most amps. Some tones need unexpected EQ positions. The higher you set the Cut, the more negative feedback you're giving the amp - bear that in mind, together with the fact that the VOX sound is by design low on negative feedback.

I've heard good things about the Webers, but I can't say I've ever knowingly heard one - best of luck! :)

Were all the old preamp valves cooked? It might be worth your while to experiment there a little by swapping V1 for an old one, presuming they still function.
 

slysendice

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Ah - the negative feedback is something I hadn't considered. I'll mess with my settings a bit and see how things go!

The old preamp tubes were probably fine. They were also Sovteks I believe. Might do some experimenting as I've got a good handful of 12AX7's lying around, but I've historically been pleased with Tung Sol
 

paul-e-mann

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I know, this one's been done to death. But I haven't seen much on this recently and I'm curious what folks have to say on this in 2022.

I recently picked up a used AC30CC2 for a pretty good price. It's banged up, and it died on me almost immediately after I got it home, but only because - to my simultaneous relief and horror - all of the tubes were the originals from 2006 (!!!). Fortunately I was able to track down what I believe to have been the only quad of EL84s remaining in Canada at the height of the Great Tube Shortage, which was a set of Groove Tubes. Swapped out the original cheapo preamp tubes for some Tung Sols I had on hand while I was at it. Sounds healthy now, at least, but it's still lacking in some respects. I was looking for tones in the realm of Brian May or Against Me! but I'm left with something that, while it still sounds good, I can best describe it as "neutered." It sounds as if the amp is holding back its natural overdrive. I know I need a Treble Booster for the May tones, but it's not even really in the ballpark as it stands now. There's 2 things I know about this amp - 1: some small circuit tweaks will take it from Good to Great (I'll be getting the Lyle Caldwell mods done soon), and 2: the Whafedales have GOT to go.

So the question remains: What's the best option here? Celestion AlNiCo Blues or Golds seem to be the natural choice, but a pair of those will run me more than I paid for the amp itself. Folks on the 'net seem to love them, but I'm not sure they'll be worth it/will get me where I'm looking to go (tones somewhere between pop rock/indie rock/punk). But I've also read that the Wharfedales are (loosely) based around a Celestion Greenback or G12H30 (depending on what you read). Would swapping for Greenbacks/G12H Anniversaries be a lateral move, then? The near 100lb weight on this thing also has me considering a pair of Neo Creambacks, but I'm just not sure.

I also found a pair of vintage Vox/Oxford gold Bulldog speakers for sale near me (here), which would come to a bit less than a pair of Blues/Golds. Can't seem to find much written about these, but the consensus seems to be that they suck. Is that reputation fair?

I'd love to look at the Weber or Scumback stuff, but Scumback isn't shipping outside the USA at the moment, and the Weber site's lowest shipping estimate to me here in Canada is near $100 USD. If it weren't for that shipping charge, I'd probably have gone for a pair of Ceramic Blue Dogs. I still might, considering even after shipping and currency conversion, I'm still coming out several hundred dollars below a pair of Celestion AlNiCos.

While we're on the topic, if I did end up going with the expensive AlNiCos - how much real risk do I run of blowing up a pair of AlNiCo Blues with an AC30 run dirty at stage/rehearsal volumes? Should I go for Golds (or maybe 30w Weber Blue Dogs) to mitigate the risk?

Apologies in advance for the ramble. Just curious to know what thoughts/opinions there are on this matter these days.
Warfdales are the best speaker for this amp! I tried several popular Celestions and the Warfdale was the best. Put some decent tubes in it will be better, try plugging the amp into a cab and it sounds really good! :yesway:
 

jmp45

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Warfdales are the best speaker for this amp! I tried several popular Celestions and the Warfdale was the best. Put some decent tubes in it will be better, try plugging the amp into a cab and it sounds really good! :yesway:

I still have the Warfs in my AC30CC2, they sound ok to me. My rectifier went in about 2 weeks. I put a weber copper cap in. I had heard the standby takes them out so I quit using it. Also heard of a mod to fix.
 

slysendice

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Warfdales are the best speaker for this amp! I tried several popular Celestions and the Warfdale was the best. Put some decent tubes in it will be better, try plugging the amp into a cab and it sounds really good! :yesway:
Interesting, non-hate for the Wharfedales isn't something I'm accustomed to seeing, let alone praise! What would you recommend for tubes?

I still have the Warfs in my AC30CC2, they sound ok to me. My rectifier went in about 2 weeks. I put a weber copper cap in. I had heard the standby takes them out so I quit using it. Also heard of a mod to fix.
Interestingly, I also lost a rectifier tube. I replaced the whole set when I realized they were all the originals from '06, but my fresh rectifier tube was dead right out of the box. I never use my standby, I've heard about how it kills the rectifier tube. I might look into the Copper Cap!
 

paul-e-mann

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Interesting, non-hate for the Wharfedales isn't something I'm accustomed to seeing, let alone praise! What would you recommend for tubes?
Anything but JJ. I'm partial to Chinese tubes.

I'm surprised by all the hate for Warfdale, lucky for me I was able to buy a couple extra $25 each to make a 2x12. Matter of fact I'm about to build a tweed deluxe combo and I'm planning on using the Warfdales in a 2x12 configuration for it.
 

Crikey

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I still have the Warfs in my AC30CC2, they sound ok to me. My rectifier went in about 2 weeks. I put a weber copper cap in. I had heard the standby takes them out so I quit using it. Also heard of a mod to fix.
My stand by caused issues for my vox and it works really well with it not being used.
Love my vox. Its a china model but awesome chimey amp
 

dro

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I gigged a CC2 with Warfendales for a few years. Set all switches to high.
I seriously was thinking about swapping the speakers for Alnico Blues.
Then at a studio where they had an AC30HW. I played back to back.
Call me crazy. I liked the Chinese CC2 better.
So I left it alone. Some years later, after moving back to Marshall and 412's, sold it for close to price I paid for it.
Do yourself a favor. If you gig it very much, buy a rolling case. Your back will thank you.
 

paul-e-mann

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I gigged a CC2 with Warfendales for a few years. Set all switches to high.
I seriously was thinking about swapping the speakers for Alnico Blues.
Then at a studio where they had an AC30HW. I played back to back.
Call me crazy. I liked the Chinese CC2 better.
So I left it alone. Some years later, after moving back to Marshall and 412's, sold it for close to price I paid for it.
Do yourself a favor. If you gig it very much, buy a rolling case. Your back will thank you.
I sold my Chinese AC15 for the same amount I bought it for after owning it 10 years, got rid of it cuz it was too heavy to carry and I liked Marshall better! :yesway:
 

Crikey

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I gigged a CC2 with Warfendales for a few years. Set all switches to high.
I seriously was thinking about swapping the speakers for Alnico Blues.
Then at a studio where they had an AC30HW. I played back to back.
Call me crazy. I liked the Chinese CC2 better.
So I left it alone. Some years later, after moving back to Marshall and 412's, sold it for close to price I paid for it.
Do yourself a favor. If you gig it very much, buy a rolling case. Your back will thank you.
Its a beast. Near Twin reverb weight
 

leofender55

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I have a 2x12" cab with Warehouse ET65's in it. It sounds real nice with my Vox AC15 head. Good quality and reasonable price.
 

jmp45

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Its a beast. Near Twin reverb weight

Heavy for sure, but my twin has the weight thing beat by a mile.

74_twin_rear.jpg
 

bassmastermkii

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I have the CC2X. I tweaked it quite a bit (paper in oil bypass caps) and fixed a few “errors” in the loop, new reverb tank, slowed the tremolo and its a great amp with the celestion blues.

My favorite tube in V1 is the mullard short (CV4004). It can take the shake and has a great drive when the preamp for grit.

I like the celestion blues for the chime that the golds don’t quite have. Honestly, the CC2 might be the only amp I have that preference of blue over gold.

I feel for you though. Everything is stupid expensive, even used. Might be cheaper to do mod the circuit right now and wait on parts until you get the right deal. The tube I like doubled in price!

My two cents.
 

Brian Krashpad

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Warfdales are the best speaker for this amp! I tried several popular Celestions and the Warfdale was the best. Put some decent tubes in it will be better, try plugging the amp into a cab and it sounds really good! :yesway:


I still have the Warfs in my AC30CC2, they sound ok to me...

Fwiw, another vote for leaving the stock speakers. Then again, I tend to not buy a piece in order to mod it, so consider the source. That said, I recently brought the AC30CC2 to a 3-day guitar pull/meetup/party where it was part of a shared backline (see photo extreme right), and a group of folks that included some monster players, and it was a popular choice, despite many options, so I guess it's not just me.

52186281358_83881f970a_k.jpg
 

slysendice

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Really loving all the insight here folks, thank you! Seems like the years have been kind to the Wharfedales in terms of public perception. I’ve seen posts defending them from years back, saying they sound fine after they’re broken in - perhaps that’s why minds have changed over the last nearly 2 decades haha.

I’ll probably start with the Caldwell mods and go from there. It’s like $20 worth of resistors & caps, and the time it takes my local tech to solder them in. Supposedly makes a huge difference.

Jmp45, that twin must weigh 10 tons!
 


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