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Size: Bass|Change
Price:$36.99 - $144.43
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on October 28, 2008
I recently discovered this little tone wonder by cruising the guitar effect pedal vids on You Tube. (I discover a lot of new things that way, especially with independent user reviews). The sound of this little effect box was a real eye-opener! Plus, I was looking for something that would be very simple for practicing on the couch, that didn't require connecting a lot of wires or an AC adapter. Everyone seemed to be very positive about it - which has got to mean something.

My gear lust got the best of me, so the next day when I happened to be in Best Buy, I checked with their new music department (!) and there it was, they had several of them. I purchased it on the spot and couldn't wait to get home and tear the wrapper open.

There are almost no instructions included, except to tell you the obvious not to break it. I was a bit worried that it would not fit into the jack cavity on my two Stratocaster's, but it does quite nicely, so obviously that was part of Vox's design criteria.

All the Amplug effect plugs were made to be plug and play as simple as possible. All you need is a set of headphones, and your guitar to be ready to go. The body features a very bright red LED indicator for on/off status, and three tiny embedded pots labeled: gain, tone and volume. That's it!

The most obvious difference between this and any other distortion/amp modeling effects I've tried, is that the Amplug is completely modeled with analog circuitry. There is nothing digital involved. The benefit is like night and day. The unit totally reacts to your playing, and your guitars pick up and volume settings. When you push it hard, it sags a little bit, and pushes back at you like a real amp and does - NOT like a digital model. The effect is uncannily warm and realistic, like a real tube amplifier.

There is one simple headphone output, which is fine for personal listening, but is a bit of a minus for recording. After hearing this thing I definitely decided that I'm going to be using it for a lots of my recording sessions, but it is a little weak in the output department, which adds a little noise to the signal. It's not a horrible issue, and certainly not worse than using a real amplifier, but I wish they could have addressed this and given the output a hi/lo setting. I record with this by using an eighth inch stereo adapter cable from its headphone output to the stereo RCA ins on my mixer.

The unit is powered by two little AAA batteries. I think it goes through them faster than the 15 hour rating, because it's crucial that you use it with full battery power, otherwise the tone suffers. So, if you buy this keep several pairs handy (or better yet use rechargeables.

I am giving this a rating of 10 for sound quality simply because it just sounds so good!. It's the closest thing I've ever heard to a real Vox AC30 tube amp, without having the real thing cranked and miked up in a room. The fact that you can have that kind of sound for $40 is pretty unbelievable.

I have had several tube preamps (Hughes & Kettner), a Marshall combo, a Roland VG-88 modeler, and most of the latest guitar amp software - this little unit simply blows them all away. The sound is rich and juicy, without ever becoming shrill or brittle, no matter how you set the controls. The three knobs are extremely touch sensitive; the slightest change makes a huge difference in the sound. I have never had anything that reacts so much to changes in my guitar settings. In fact, before this I always left the volume and tone on my guitars all the way up. You have nearly an infinite variety of sounds from clean to dirty (within the realm of an AC30 - this is definitely not a metal device), and even after hours of playing you'll find yourself discovering juicy new tones from it.

The basic sound is warm yet chimey, like a classic AC30. Roll the gain past 8, and the drive suddenly kicks in and puts you in Brian May territory. So convincing! It can also do cleaner Beatles 60s type sounds.

Every other distortion type effect I've tried (especially in Guitar Rig3 and Amplitube - yuch), simply sounds like a dead layer of brittleness stuck on top of your sound. Usually they don't change depending on how you play and lean in. This is completely different, it's more organic like a real amplifier. Back off and it's clean - push in hard and it really rings and grinds. I was really surprised by how it did that - and I'm wondering why it took so long for any manufacturer to do it right - especially since this is built with older analog technology.

With the tone control up past five there is definitely noise introduced. It's not horrible, and no different than any real amp I've played, but you'd think they could make a modern device a little quieter. It sounds very good with all my guitars and seems to bring out their true character, but it really sounds the best with my Fender Strat with stock single coils. Chime city! With my Les Paul I was able to coax out sounds from buttery smooth to 70s rock. It was easy to get the chunky sound from the beginning of T. Rex's "Bang A Gong" (no digital modeler ever let me do that before), to the blocky rhythm guitar sounds from Thin Lizzy's "The Boy's Are Back In Town".

I was also surprised that it sounds very good with my two bases (a Hamer Cruise Bass and a Thunderbird). With a little low end EQ added into the mix, I was able to get a very warm and satisfying recorded bass sound. Not the SVT I'm looking for, but that's another search....can't wait to try the Amplug Bass when it comes out.

The build is made from very light plastic. It looks nice, but it feels a little cheap. I worry that the pots, and the jack are not going to last very long. For something that sounds this good I do wish they could have made it more robust - because I plan on keeping this around for a very long time. Oh well, guess I can't complain for $40. At this price point, if it broke I would definitely go out immediately and buy another. This device is just begging to have a pro-model made that uses the same analog technology, but in a rocksolid floor mount case, with better output options.

I've been playing guitar for longer than I'm going to admit here. My playing and tastes tend to go a little towards the eclectic. I like 70s album rock and progressive styles ranging from Zepplin, to early Genesis to Killing Joke, with a dash of Terje Rypdal. All played with taste of course ;)

Currently, I am primarily concerned with recording in my home studio. For the last few years most of my guitar sounds have been coming from my Roland VG-88, primarily using my own patches that I've spent ages tweaking. I'm not going to put down the VG here, as I plan on keeping it for ever, but since getting the little Amplug AC30 this week and recording with it, the Amplug has now earned it's place as MY sound. It's that good. In fact, I'm going to put my opinion on the line and say that this device with my two Strats is possibly one of the best guitar sounds I have ever heard. At least coming from my hands anyways....

In my studio instead of plugging it into my guitar, I have it plugged into the output jack of an MXR 10 band EQ so it can always stay in one place, with an adapter cord going from it to my mixer. My guitars plug into the MXR pedal. Don't think you can put another distortion pedal in front of it - it can't handle any type of boost in the sound and will break up in the most horrible brittle way. The MXR EQ is just tweeaked ever so slightly to remove a bit of middle and add top end.

It's very important to remember to change the batteries as soon as the light begins to dim, otherwise the sound loses its character and becomes very thin and brittle as well. Keep several sets handy. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that a $40 pedal has become my signature sound - but it's the truth. I plan to try out the other Amplug flavors, and maybe collect most of them, but the AC30 seems to be the most versatile as it can go from clean to dirty.

Oh yes, one more useful thing that I've discovered about it: if you turn the bright red LED on and and hold it by the jack plug right up to somebody's face, and tell them it's a small personal Taser device, they tend to jerk back really quick as it's really very convincing at that too....
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on January 24, 2010
I recently purchased the Vox AMPlug for Bass, because it was the most compact headphone amp I could find for my travel bass. It truly is a great headphone amp with great sound and great FX. It's got that groovy and classic Vox AC100 bass amp sound that truly inspires. With the right headphones/earphones, I worry that I'm blasting my neighbors. Thankfully they can't hear a thing.

The only initial negative is that the construction is flimsier than it looks. The battery door barely stays on, and the gain, tone and volume "wheels" are hard to see and access.

Aside from that, I highly recommend it.
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on March 4, 2008
How many times have you bought an effect or a gadget like this for your guitar, take it home and find yourself totally disappointed? If you're lucky, you may be able to return it for a store credit at best. Well, after leaving the guitar store, I sat there over a cup of coffee and thought, what did I just spend $39.99 on? A little plastic box with a brown sticker to make look like a "cutsie" miniature Vox amp head, a jack and a few control wheels. However, I really needed something to plug into late in the evenings because my neighbors don't seem to share my appreciation of music. Looking at the Amplug, on the back, it appears it was Made In Japan. "I thought that's interesting, some of the best effects were manufactured in Japan like the original Tube Screamers and Boss pedals, maybe this would turn out OK".

Finally got home, installed the batteries, plugged it in and nothing... The batteries include with any of these devices are usually ready for the recycle bin straight out of the package. New batteries and WOW! I've heard AC30's before and this little device actually sounds like one. I was very surprised at the dynamics and the openness of the sound. It has three wheel controls: volume, gain, and tone. Turn up the gain and you get a nice Brian May-type overdrive. Dial the gain down, turn up the tone and volume and it's very Beatles mid 60's clean. I was very surprised at the lack of compression. I've heard the other two versions of the Amplug(classic rock and metal) and didn't like them because of that "over-compressed" sound. To me, they were fine if you really like the distortion factor but with this AC30 version, you can take it from clean with nice high-end boost to a useable overdrive i.e. SRV, without the coloration of the guitar's true tone. The literature claims it uses analog modeling and it must be the case. True-digital effects have a very cold sterile sound quality. This has a warmer analog-tube feel to it. Again, this is a $39.00 device, it has limitations but overall, it appears very well designed, somewhat frail looking but sounds better than advertised. Whoever designed the modeling circuit, got it right. I've used it with a '63SG Jr., '74SG Special, and custom built Strats with Kinman pickups and I'm more and more impressed with tones I'm getting from it. There's a lot of tonal flexibility with the three controls.

If you get one of these Vox Amplugs, use a decent set of headphones, it really allows you to hear more of the harmonics. The only criticism I have is that it could have been constructed of heavier plastic for better durability. Other than that, it's one of best devices of any sort for guitarists that I've seen in a long while. You'll end up using this a lot more than you can imagine. Comes in very handy if you're out demo-ing guitars.

Check out sound clips of the other two versions(classic rock and metal) as well before you buy.
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on August 24, 2011
I purchased this because I just started playing bass again this past year and all the practice amps under $200 just sounded weak or farty to me, and I tried quite a few! I needed something to tide me over so I can practice and play along with CD's etc until I drop the cash on good combo at least 50 watts and 12" speaker equipped.

Tone: I honestly enjoy the tone from this little headphone amp more than some of those 20 watt combos I have tried out. I have a Jazz bass with passive pickups, and this headphone accurate amplifies that Fender tone with just the amount of "Coloration". My only complain is that in standard mode the volume ius just not as loud as I would have liked. Its totally usable, but if you want it blaring loud it just doesn't get there. Not with passive pickups. More on that later...

Controls: Gain, Tone, and Volume. Simple as that. I like the seperate gain knob. Seems out of place on a bass amplifier but its nice to play the gain and the master volume off of each other for the right amount of gain / attack / volume. The tone knob offers a drastic range but to me the sweet spot is right in the middle, and the upper and lower ends of the spectrum sound strange muted or plucky.

FX: The switch has 3 settings, "Standby" (which is off), then "On" for standard mode, and then "FX" mode. Here you have gain boost and some light / moderate compression. You get far more volume from the unit in this mode, but have to dial back the gain to get a normal clean bass tone that seems usable to me. I have found I like the standard mode for normal solo playing /practicing as the tone has a nice balance of warm / punchiness. Then when I plus in my mp3 player to jam or I'm in a noisy environment I use the FX mode for the boosted sound.

Reliability: I can't comment too much as I have not had it very long. Some commenters have mentioned the build seems a bit cheap. Its definitely flimsy plastic and should not be abused like a stompbox would be. Mine does fit perfectly into the input jack of my Jazz bass, some have posted issues with that.

Usability: I give it 5 out of 5 stars here. Its simple, its user friendly, its dirt cheap and super compact compared to bass preamps on the market. I would have never thought I could practice an instrument while traveling (it and a pair of headphones slip right in my gig bag) or practice at home with decent bass tone and not need an amp or cable.
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VINE VOICEon February 16, 2008
Easily the best headphone amplifier I've tried! In the past these things were either full of hiss, smothered in echo, or were little more than glorified fuzz boxes with an Walkman-style headset. (That was definitely the case with Vox's discontinued AC1). The Amplug is different. It plugs right into your guitar's output jack, and has distinct tone, gain, and volume controls. No, this doesn't sound like a 100 Watt Vox head shrunk into a palmsize toy. It DOES sound amazingly like a much larger and more expensive amplifier, with very pleasing and tube-like distortion at higher volumes. It's the "classic rock" model, meaning that it's optimized for the chunky tube-distorted sound of the mid 1970s.

I like the Amplug a lot.

If you're into lead or rhythm guitar in the styles of Free, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, or the Who, you're going to enjoy this as a very valuable and inexpensive practice tool. The sound quality is good enough to use the Amplug as an amp simulator if you want to record your guitar directly to your computer. I think many people would be fooled into thinking you really had a large tube amp if they heard the recording. It's an amazing simulation, and I prefer the tube emulation in it to some digital effects units I've tried. I actually like the fact that it doesn't have built-in reverb as I'd rather use my own reverb when recording than be forced to settle with the built-in type.

Drawbacks? The clean sound is anemic. (This is not the headphone amp to use if you're planning on comping jazz chords with a heavy right hand. I have tried my mandolin with the clean setting and the results were somewhat better due to the double coursed strings.) Also, the Amplug really does require fresh batteries - the sound as the batteries weaken becomes more and more abrasive. As the batteries die, the sound gets progressively irritating. The plug isn't angled, so you're going to have a hard time using this with a Strat-like guitar. (I use a Gibson SG and I don't have this problem). The construction is very lightweight plastic that does not inspire my confidence. For a few dollars more, the Amplug could have a metal chassis that would be very durable. None of these things deter me, because I don't expect miracles from a Japanese-made plastic amp. This is in no way a surrogate for a real amp, such as Vox's own DA5, and is very much a single-trick device - but it does its single trick very well.

I bought the Vox Classic Rock amPlug on a whim in a music store. I'm glad I did! It's helped to excite me once more about playing and practicing daily. The price is definitely right, and the distortion sounds are superb. Buy this with the understanding that no amp can do all things and you'll have a great time with it.
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on February 14, 2013
This is a great-sounding, simple solution for my bass practice. I like to practice in the morning before my wife wakes up, and hooking up to an amp with headphones is an option but this device makes things so much more portable. Toss this in a gig bag and you'll be able to practice anywhere.
The quality is good-to-moderate. Switches and dials feel a bit too cheap, making it seem a little bit like a 'made in China' kind of product, but not so cheaply made that it will just fall apart - unless you're pretty hard on your gear.

I like that I can hook up my iPod, cellphone, or metronome to the AUX input jack for practicing.

Here's a big warning, though: I have an Ibanez which has the angled, recessed 1/4" jack in the body and this WOULD NOT PLUG IN because of the unusual jack layout. The body of this thing is shaped such that you can't plug in any more than about 80% of the way because of the location of the bridge and the shape of the bass body. It doesn't work at all. If your Ibanez has this jack layout, you'll need some kind of pigtail/extender cord or a 1/4"-to-1/4" adapter. I didn't want *another* cable, so I found a 1/4" adapter to use. Another warning if you need to go this route: MAKE SURE you purchase an adapter which is mono-to-mono (tip & sleeve - your best bet) or a stereo-to-stereo (tip-ring-sleeve) or an adapter which has a stereo male tip and a mono female jack on it. I purchased a mono-male-to-stereo-female and as you might have guessed, this shorts the signal to ground because the 'ring' connector in the female jack portion of the adapter is common with the tip connection, causing a short. An adapter like this should run you about $3-5 and I found one here on Amazon: Monoprice Gold Plated Metal 6.35mm (1/4") Mono Plug to 6.35mm (1/4") Mono Jack Adaptor
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VINE VOICEon January 16, 2008
I have always thought of getting some sort of small headphone amp to plug into my guitar and practice with while lounging on the couch or around the house.

When I saw that Vox had made something that fit that description, I wasted no time in ordering this. I have a Vox Tonelab and just love it. This little do-dad is easy to use...thumb wheel controls for Gain, Tone and Volume. There is an Aux jack to plug in a CD or MP3 player to jam along with, and then of course there is the headphone out for your choice of headphones.

The analog circuitry inside is said to emulate AC30 amp, and I think it really does sound more like an amp than a tiny headphone amp. The Gain and Tone controls give you a pretty good control on tones either dirty and distorted or chiming and clean. I think you could even take the headphone out of this and go to a recording device to get a different tone for solos or recording projects as something different!

My take is that this little do-dad is well worth the $39.99 price tag!
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on January 3, 2008
Got this for Christmas, and it is a lot of fun. The sound is very warm an tube-like, unlike the old compressed-to-death SRD Rockman tone of the 80's. The gain can be turned down for a clean tone, but when turned up, it has a very nice distortion. The only feature missing is reverb, as it only delivers a studio dry tone. One drawback is that it swings around in the jack, but I'm not sure how it can be avoided. Also, it was actually refreshing to see "Made in Japan" label- as opposed to some of the shotty Chinese made products. If it had reverb I would give it 5 stars. Pretty cool to walk all over the house and be able to jam, and a nagging spouse is easily drowned out! :)
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on February 27, 2013
I gave this amp 5 stars because of the extreme compactness and portability. There are better quality and better sounding guitar headphone amps on the market but you won't find anything this light and small.

That said...a word of CAUTION:
Some other reviews have referred customers to the Vox website to hear demo samples of these Amplugs. I was one such customer. The demo of this amp on the Vox website demonstrates the clean tone with reverb. This Amplug DOES NOT have reverb! Before you buy this, you should know that. Chorus? Yes, it does have a chorus effect--it does NOT have reverb. Obviously, Vox decided to dress up their demo a little bit to make this item more appealing. In my personal opinion, that was misleading and enters the terrain of false advertising. Just to be very clear, this Amplug does NOT have Reverb effect.

Now that we've established that this does NOT have reverb, I can say that this amp does have a decent sounding Chorus effect. The chorus fattens the sound up and can ALMOST give it a slight reverb-type feel to it (like a Delay with a very short slap back time can do). It also has a very good Clean tone (which is what I was looking for).

There is a Gain control which can add some distortion. The overdrive of the gain doesn't sound bad at all either! It can take you from that slightly dirty tone that is perfect for Blues all the way to a VERY distorted Metal tone that rocks hard!
If you want 100% Clean on this, you turn the Gain very, very low or all the way to 0%. You can turn the volume up to 100% and you will have a clean sound with no distortion--and in MY headphones anyway--it's VERY loud. The Tone control makes a huge difference in my experience with this. All the way down it almost muffles the guitar and wide open it gives it nice, shimmering, glassy highs. Of course using the volume and tone controls on the guitar itself will also have a great effect on the type of tone you can pull out of this little Amplug.

Overall, I think this was a decent purchase for the price. I would recommend it to someone who needs a headphone amp and doesn't want to spend the money on a more expensive, full-featured unit.

3 stars for sound quality, -1 for lack of Reverb, +2 star for extreme portability. 5 stars even without Reverb.
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on July 19, 2011
This is a cool little gadget. After having played an Amplug AC30 for some time, I was looking for better lead sounds. AC30 is good for clean and crunch sounds and bluesy solos. But it definitely lacks in high gain solo department. Enter the Amplug Lead in the scene. This unit is very good from the sound, price and portability stand points.

Here is a brief explanation about the sounds:

Clean: Put the gain on 0, volume on 10, tone to your liking. Roll back the guitar volume to around 4-5 (depends how hot your pickups are, whether they are single coil humbucker etc). You get a nice clean sound, closer to a marshall than a fender.

Crunch: Gain around 4, volume and tone to your liking. Guitar volume full. You get a nice crunch for chord work and rock fillers.

Lead: Now this is where this shines. The amount of gain and sustain is unbelievable. And it still retains note definition on higher gain levels. It does get a bit noisy after the gain goes above 7. Would have been nice to have some sort of noise gate circuit in there. Take half a point away for that.

Delay: Just OK. You get a bathroom echo with 3-4 repeats, not a spacey lead sound. Take another half point away for that.

Sounds awesome through a pair of quality headphones. Even plugged it into my studio monitors, and I must say that I was impressed with the sound. Plugged in the output of my laptop into this little guy and I was able to jam along with songs/backing tracks.

Looks a bit fragile the way its constructed, but I plan to be very careful with it. I would definitely have to buy again if it broke.

All in all, awesome unit. If you are trying to decide between the different Amplugs, just go with the Lead. You get many different sounds by doing small tweaks.
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