Perhaps you went for a gig, and the only guitar amp at the venue is a Vox amp, and you’re wondering if you can get your killer metal tones out of it. Or maybe you own and love the versatility and tone of Vox amps, and you want to use it in a metal band you just joined.
Whatever your reason, are Vox amps good for metal? After some hours of research, here is what I found.
Vox Amps are generally not ideal for Metal music. That’s because They mostly don’t have enough low end and high gain that is needed for the characteristic “chuggy” sound of metal guitar. However, you can get a decent-sounding metal sound with the Vox Valvetronix series amps.
Later in the article, I’ll give you some tips on how to make any Vox amp suitable for metal. And I’ll follow that up with my recommendations on some amps you should go for if you’re primarily a metal guitar player. But first, let’s take a closer look at why Vox amps are not ideal for metal.
Why Vox Amps are not good for metal
Now, why exactly are Vox Amps not good for metal?
Vox amps lack low end.
Vox amps are excellent amps for many different styles of music but metal. And the first reason is this: Vox amps lack the needed lows that make metal guitar sound heavy and chuggy.
As you may already know, heavy metal guitar players play a lot of muted guitar rhythms and riffs. And that only sounds great when the amp you’re playing them through has some bass or low end.
This is not the case for Vox amps. These amps, by default, don’t have a lot of bass that is needed for the “chuggy” sound metal guitar players love to hear.
The cabinets (or speakers) are capable of producing lows. However, for some reason, you can’t get those lows by plugging your guitar directly into the amp. With the help of guitar pedals, you’ll be able to get some bass out of any Vox amp.
Low end refers to the depth element and bass frequencies of your amp’s EQ. These amps amplify notes which sound too clean and neat rather than produce the chugs and distortions associated with Metal music and its varieties. This is especially true for Vox amps with low wattage.
Vox Amps don’t have enough gain needed for metal
Vox amps have a very decent amount of gain. And some amps actually have a high gain that works for many styles of music.
However, they don’t have enough gain needed for the level of distortion metal guitar players require. That’s because metal guitar players prefer an amp that can heavily distort and provide the “dirt” they need for a chunky guitar sound.
Why you may want to use Vox Amps for Metal
The shortcomings of Vox amps may actually be a good reason to use them for metal. What do I mean?
If you’re looking for a signature sound that is unique from the generic metal guitar sound we’re all used to hearing, using a Vox amp for metal may actually be an excellent idea.
Vox amps have beautiful and characteristic sound outputs. They are mostly tube amps and can be configured and tuned to give a variety of unique sounds. Their characteristic “chimey” sounds are almost unmistakable, with distinct quality.
Many Vox amps also have built-in effects like reverb and tremolo circuits, thus giving one the chance to sweeten your licks and riffs further. Depending on the type, they are primarily built to focus on clean sounds but could also do the ‘dirty work’ of crunchiness, highs, and aggressiveness.
What kind of music are Vox amps good for?
Without a doubt, Vox amps are one of the most versatile amps you’ll come across. One thing that makes them even more versatile is that they take guitar pedals really well. So, by using the right pedal or a combination of multiple pedals, you can pretty much use it for any style of music.
But primarily, their build-up makes them suitable for classic rock, gospel, clean guitar, and pop music. They have been historically used even in heavy metal as well (we’d be looking at some of these in a bit).
How to Make Vox Amps Good for Metal
Inasmuch as they are generally not the best choices for Metal music, there is one thing you can do to get the metal tone you’ve always been for. And that is to use guitar pedals.
There are many guitar pedals out there that are uniquely engineered for metal. Using such a guitar pedal lets you instantly get that metal tone out of whatever Vox amp you’re using. And that’s the great thing about Vox amps — they take pedals really well. This means they’re able to project the sound coming out of guitar pedals really well.
If you’re looking for a recommendation, one of such pedals that I’ll recommend is the Boss Metal Zone MT-2 (on Amazon). They’re one of the most sought-after guitar pedals for metal, and they sound incredible.
It is cost-friendly, boasts of a 3-band EQ with High/Low shelving controls, together with a mid-band parametric EQ that allows you to shape the metal tone before it gets to your amp. It also has distortion and level knobs, thus providing high-quality sounds, precision, and delight in hearing yourself play.
It is a pedal of choice among guitar players, even those with a preference for heavy metal. And it also works well with amps known for clean outputs such as Vox amps.
You could also try out and experiment with other pedals, which may provide the desired outputs you want. But you’ll never go wrong with Metal Zone MT-2. Check out the video below where Ola Englund, a guitar gear enthusiast, and Youtuber, used a Metal Zone with a Vox AC15 amp.
Vox Amps that are actually good for metal
Although most Vox amps are not ideal for metal, there is one option out there that is actually great for metal. And that is the Vox Valvetronix series amps (on Amazon).
The Valvetronix series amps from Vox are solid-state modeling amps. Unlike most Vox amps that are analog amps, this is a digital amp. And they are designed to model the sounds of different classic amplifiers, including a model of the classic Fender Deluxe amp and the Vox AC30 amp.
There are three amps in this series — the VT20X, VT40X, and VT100X. And the primary difference between them is their size and their power rating.
The great thing about this amp is that you can get a great-sounding chunky metal tone out of them with some tweaking. And because they’re digital amps, there is a feature that allows you to save those presets that you can recall at any time. And this makes them a great option for gigs.
One thing I love about the Vox VT series is the fact it has presets made specifically for heavy metal on them. And this will help you get just the right metal tone you need with a few tweaks. Check out this video where Zack and Justin of CityMusic SG demoed the metal tones they were able to get with the Vox VT40X and VT20X.
Recommended Amps for Metal
Orange Micro Dark Terror
Now, the Orange Micro Dark Terror (on Amazon) is a great choice of amp when it is all about chugs for you- and even more. It comes as a super portable, pocket-friendly ‘giant’ among its contemporaries. It is a 20- Watt, one-channel amp with Volume, Shape (EQ), and Gain control Knobs.
It was built with heavy metal guitar players in mind (as it is well fortified with low end). Not only that, but it also boasts sufficient mid-range to facilitate your play in different milder genres. It is sufficiently loud and can hold you down too through clean times to moments where you want to go distorted. In all, it is a great choice, if you ask me.
Boss Katana MK2
The Boss Katana MK2 (also on Amazon) also does a very neat metallic job for electric guitar players. It is an upgrade on the MK1. At 100 watts, this combo has a variable power control and stereo output options, as well as 5- amp voicings and 60 Boss effects from which you could make a choice. It has a 12 “speaker and promises to satisfy your metallic cravings.
The controls are easy to use, and one more thing- it is bigger and heavier than the Orange Micro Dark Terror, though.
So, therefore, when it comes to Metal music, chugs are essential. And if these are what you want, then you perhaps may not want to consider Vox Amps in general- save you have a great pedal or are using a Vox VTX series amp or another type that matches your tastes upon trying it out.