The Fender Blues Junior IV and the Vox AC15 are two of the most popular mid-size valve combo amps on the market, but which is the best?
In this article I’ll be comparing these two electric guitar amps head-to-head in terms of tone and specifications to help you decide which to buy.
The Vox AC15 sounds brighter and crunchier compared to the Fender Blues Junior IV which has a warmer and smoother tone. The AC15 has two channels with reverb and tremolo effects, whereas the Blues Junior IV just has a single channel and a reverb effect. Both amps have a 12″ speaker and 15W power output.
|Feature||Fender Blues Junior IV||Vox AC15C1|
|Speaker||1 x 12” Celestion A-Type speaker||1 x 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback|
|Pre-Amp Valves||3 x 12AX7||3 x 12AX7|
|Power-Amp Valves||2 x EL84||2 x EL84|
Tremolo (Depth and Speed)
|Inputs||1||2 (one for each channel)|
|Outputs||1 x External Speaker Jack||1 x External Speaker Jack|
1 x Extension Speaker Jack
|Dimensions||18” x 16” x 9.81”||23.70” x 17.95” x 10.43”|
|Weight||31.5 lbs||48.5 lbs|
Images link to Amazon
Comparing the Tones
The AC15 and Blues Junior both use the same pre-amp and power-amp valve and have 12″ speakers, but there are some differences between the specifications which results in different tones.
The Vox AC15 has more mid-range and sounds crunchier and brighter in comparison to the Blues Junior. The Blues Junior has more bass-response giving it a warmer and smoother tone.
The differences are most obvious when the amps are cranked and this is when you’ll really notice the British-crunchy overdrive of the Vox coming through. It sounds more articulate and clear in comparison to the Blues Junior.
Check out this YouTube video to hear the Fender Blues Junior IV and Vox AC15C1 played back-to-back.
Features and Controls
The Vox AC15 has two channels (normal and top boost) whereas the Fender Blues Junior just has a single channel. This helps to make the AC15 a bit more versatile, especially if you’re using a footswitch. The top boost channel on the AC15 is the most comparable to the single channel on the Blues Junior as it has more gain.
In terms of the individual controls, the AC15 has a 2-band EQ (bass and treble) whereas the Blues Junior has a 3-band EQ (bass, mids and treble) which helps you to shape the tone a bit more easily.
Both amps have a switch to add some more versatility but the functions are different:
- Vox AX15 has a tone-cut switch which reduces the treble and makes the amp sound warmer
- Blues Junior IV has a fat-switch which adds more gain and bass
In terms of the built-in effects, both amps have reverb and the Vox AC15 has an additional tremolo effect which can be adjusted using two controls (depth and speed).
Both amps allow you to connect an external speaker, however only the Vox AC15 has an output for an extension speaker as well. An extension output allows you to use both the internal and the external speaker at the same time. Connecting a speaker to an external output disconnects the internal speaker.
Unfortunately, neither of these amps have a built-in FX loop. Only the Vox AC30 offers this. Check out my comparison between the AC15 and AC30 to learn more about the differences.
Size and Weight
One drawback of the AC15 is that it is a much larger and heavier amplifier compared to the Blues Junior. In fact, the AC15 weighs 17 lbs more than the Blues Junior IV which makes it over 50% heavier.
This can be a bit of a pain if you are going to be frequently transporting the amp. Here’s a table outlining the dimensions and weights of both amps.
|Specification||Vox AC15||Fender Blues Junior IV|
|Width||23.70” (60.2 cm)||18” (45.7 cm)|
|Height||17.95″ (45.6 cm)||16″ (40.6 cm)|
|Depth||10.43″ (26.5 cm)||9.81″ (24.9 cm)|
|Weight (Imperial)||48.5 lbs (22 kg)||31.5 lbs (14.3 kg)|
Which Amp Should You Choose?
In my opinion, the Vox AC15 is the better option out of these two amplifiers, particularly if you’re going to be cranking the amps and going for more driven tones. The AC15 sounds clearer and cuts through the mix more. The extra channel and the option to add an extension speaker is also very useful.
However, some players will prefer the warmer tones of the Blues Junior, particularly if you’re playing more cleans. It’s all personal preference. The Blues Junior is also significantly lighter making it easier to transport.
My recommendation is that you go into your local store and ask the assistant if they can set you up with an A/B footswitch so you can really test these amplifiers out and listen to them in person. That way you’ll know for sure which sounds the best for your style.
If you want to check the current prices of these amplifiers, here are links to Guitar Center:
Check out my complete guide to the Fender amp range to learn more about the other valve combos available.