Vox Amp Settings and Controls: A Complete Guide


Vox are well known for their top-of-the-range valve (tube) amplifiers. In this article, I’ll take you through the main controls and what they do, the built-in settings on the most popular Vox amp models and some example settings for different music styles to help you get started.

At a Glance

Vox amps usually have at least two channels (e.g. clean and overdrive) and four controls: gain, treble, bass and reverb. The treble and bass controls allow you to shape the depth and brightness of tone, and gain adjusts the distortion level. Some Vox amps include reverb, modulation and delay.

The Main Controls

There are several main controls found on pretty much every Vox amp so let’s take a look at those first.

Preamp Circuit (Channel Selector)

The preamp circuit, also known as a channel selector can be found on some Vox amps such as the entry-level AV Analogue Valve. This changes the “voice” of the amp by adjusting the emphasis on different frequencies and the gain level. The tone can then be tweaked further using the other individual controls. Popular channels include: clean, crunch, overdrive and high gain.

Gain

Gain adjusts the level of distortion. The higher the gain, the more distorted the tone will be. High gain settings are best for hard rock and heavy metal. Avoid having the gain too high, or the tone can become a bit muddy and muffled, and the feedback levels will also be increased.

Treble and Presence

The treble control adjusts the high-range frequencies emphasised by the amplifier. The higher the treble, the crisper and sharper the tone will be. High-treble settings are popular when using high distortion, to provide more clarity to each note, and amongst lead guitarists who need their tone to cut through more.

The presence control is similar to the treble control in that it adjusts the high-range frequencies, however it also affects the treble control. It can act as a treble limiter, when rolled down to adjust the treble peak.

Bass

The bass control adjusts the low-end frequencies emphasised by the amp. Having a high bass setting is popular when using a lot of distortion in heavy metal, as it helps to provide depth and sustain. However, you should avoid having the mids too high because it can start to sound a bit too “boomy” and muddy.

Power Level

The power level control on a Vox amp adjusts the overall volume by reducing the wattage. This makes the amp suitable for different situations, ranging from bedroom practice, to live performances, allowing you to easily switch between maximum volume levels.

Effects

Most Vox amps have a built-in reverb control. Reverb is an effect which causes the guitar to sound like it is being played in a very large room by providing an echo effect. This is a very useful control that provides more life and depth to the tone and is used in a variety of different music styles. Other popular effects on Vox amps include modulation, delay and tremolo.

Switches

There are several switches that can be found on Vox amps depending on the exact model:

  • Bright Switch: adds more high-end (treble).
  • Fat Switch: adds more low-end (bass).
  • Bias Switch: changes the waveform setting (left = modern, right = vintage).
  • Hot Switch: bypasses the tone control and adds gain.
  • Cool Switch: allows the treble and bass controls to function normally.
  • MV/ Bypass Switch: removes the master volume control from the circuit, to allow the amp to be used for lower volumes.
  • OP Mode Switch: lowers the output (wattage) allowing the amp to be played at lower volumes.

Popular Vox Amplifier Controls

The main controls will vary depending on which Vox amp you are using. Here are the controls you can find on 5 of Vox’s most popular amplifier models.

Vox AV Analog Valve

The Vox AV Analogue Valve amp comes with gain, bass and treble controls. The preamp circuit selector allows you to switch between 8 different voices: clean (2 channels), crunch (2 channels), overdrive (2 channels) and high gain (2 channels). The power level switch allows you to lower the wattage, acting like a master volume limiter.

Vox Valvetronix

The Vox Valvetronix amps come with gain, volume, treble, bass, presence and master volume controls. It also has built-in modulation effects, reverb and delay controls. The 11 amp model controls allow you to adjust the “voicing” of the amplifier.

Vox Pathfinder

The Vox Pathfinder has two channels: clean and overdrive. It also has a gain control, allowing you to adjust the level of distortion, and treble and bass controls which allow you to adjust the high-end and low-end frequencies to shape the tone. This is one of the simplest Vox amplifiers to control.

Vox Mini Go Series

The Vox Mini Go Series has 4 basic controls: gain, treble, bass and volume. It also has a variety of built-in effects. In the Effects 1 control, you’ll find chorus, phaser, tremolo and octave, whilst the Effects 2 control is for reverb and delay. It also has a power level control, looper setting and allows you to add a rhythm pattern featuring rock, metal, pop, blues, funk, R&B, jazz, latin, dance 3/5/7 and metro channels which controls to adjust the tempo and volume.

Vox AC Combo

The Vox AC amp range has a simple, easy to use control panel with 5 settings: gain, bass, treble, reverb and volume. This gives you enough customisability to shape the tone for a variety of styles, but does not include many built-in effects like some other Vox amps.

Vox AC Handwired

Vox AC Handwired amps have controls typically of true-valve amplifiers including master volume, master tone cut, normal volume, top boost volume, top boost bass and top boost treble. The Bright switch can be used to add more high-end. The Hot switch provides a boost in gain, and the Cool switch allows the treble and bass controls to function traditionally.

Vox Amp Setting Examples

It’s always best to take some time to understand your amp’s control and try different settings to get the best tone possible, but I understand that some people reading this article will just want some example settings (presets) as a starting point. Remember though, these will sound different depending on the guitar you’re using, and even the room you’re playing in. So take them with a pinch of salt and be prepared to make some adjustments.

Amp Settings for Rock

  • Channel: Crunch or Overdrive
  • Gain: 6
  • Treble: 6
  • Bass: 4
  • Reverb: 2
  • Switches On: Cool

Amp Settings for Metal

  • Channel: High Gain or Overdrive
  • Gain: 8
  • Treble: 7
  • Bass: 7
  • Reverb: 2
  • Switches On: Fat or Hot

Amp Settings for Blues

  • Channel: Overdrive
  • Gain: 4
  • Treble: 5
  • Bass: 4
  • Reverb: 3
  • Switches On: Cool

Amp Settings Clean (Warm)

  • Channel: Clean
  • Gain: 1
  • Treble: 4
  • Bass: 7
  • Reverb: 3
  • Switches On: Cool

Amp Settings Clean (Bright)

  • Channel: Clean
  • Gain: 1
  • Treble: 8
  • Bass: 3
  • Reverb: 2
  • Switches On: Bright

Step-By-Step Vox Setup

If you really want to get the most out of your Vox amp, then it’s best to start from scratch when setting it up to really dial in the best tone possible. Here are some step-by-step guides for setting up different models, that can be used for any genre of music and with any guitar.

Vox Pathfinder Setup

  • Make sure your guitar’s volume and tone controls are set to maximum.
  • Select the clean or overdrive channel.
  • Set the volume to a comfortable level.
  • Set the gain, bass and treble to midway, and turn off reverb.
  • Adjust the gain to achieve the required level of distortion (for the overdrive channel-only).
  • Increase the bass to add more “fatness” to the tone, or decrease it to reduce this effect.
  • Increase the treble to add more brightness and clarity, or decrease it to make the tone more mellow.

Vox AV Analogue Valve Setup

  • Make sure your guitar’s volume and tone controls are set to maximum.
  • Select the preamp circuit from the 8 different options.
  • Set the volume to a comfortable level.
  • Set the gain, bass and treble to midway, and turn off reverb.
  • Adjust the gain to achieve the required level of distortion.
  • Increase the bass to add more “fatness” to the tone, or decrease it to reduce this effect. Turn on the “fat” switch for a similar effect to increasing bass.
  • Increase the treble to add more brightness and clarity, or decrease it to make the tone more mellow. Turn on the “bright” switch for a similar effect to increasing treble.
  • Add reverb if necessary.

Vox Valvetronix Setup

  • Make sure your guitar’s volume and tone controls are set to maximum.
  • Select the desired voicing from the 11 amp model options.
  • Set the volume to a comfortable level.
  • Set the gain, bass and treble and presence to midway, and turn off all other effects.
  • Adjust the gain to achieve the required level of distortion.
  • Increase the bass to add more “fatness” to the tone, or decrease it to reduce this effect.
  • Adjust the presence to control the treble peak.
  • Increase the treble to add more brightness and clarity, or decrease it to make the tone more mellow.
  • Add reverb if necessary.
  • Add any other effects e.g. delay and modulation.

Vox AC Setup

  • Make sure your guitar’s volume and tone controls are set to maximum.
  • Set the volume to a comfortable level.
  • Set the gain, bass and treble to midway, and turn off reverb.
  • Adjust the gain to achieve the required level of distortion.
  • Increase the bass to add more “fatness” to the tone, or decrease it to reduce this effect.
  • Increase the treble to add more brightness and clarity, or decrease it to make the tone more mellow.
  • Add reverb if necessary.

The key when dialling in the best settings for any amp, is to make each adjustment individually, and then listen for the differences. This will help you pinpoint any problems you may have, and get the best tone in the most efficient way possible.

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Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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