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The Vox Pathfinder 15R

by vaughn skow August 24, 2012 3 min read

Vox Pathfinder 15R

Every once in a while a guitar amp comes into our lives that totally exceeds all our expectations and/or preconceived notions as to how it will sound.  The diminutive Vox Pathfinder 15Ris just such an amp.  The petite cutie is roughly the same size as a classic Fender Champ, and weighs in at a couple pounds less.  Like the Champ, she uses an 8" speaker to push air molecules around. The 15R is a VERY portable amp.  At an average new price of 120 bucks, she’s also very affordable.

Vox Pathfinder 15R - Fender Champ

I plugged into one at a local pawn shop and was totally blown away.  The little solid-state amp sounded like, well, a really nice vintage Fender tube amp, complete with spring reverb and tremolo.  I was smitten; there was no way I was going home without the little Vox 15R.  Back in my home studio I put the little filly through all my usual amp-demo paces, and she did not disappoint.  It’s been said that this little Vox has obtained a cult-like following; it’s true, I’m a convert.  Here are the particulars:

Vox Pathfinder 15R Controls

Clean tone: This is where this amp totally kills.  The cleans are warm and juicy with just the right amount of smooth fenderish sparkle on top.  The two-band EQ is also voiced just right to be quite versatile and powerful, yet still feel like a proper vintage tone stack.

Dirty Tones: In true Vox form, this is where this amp somewhat falls apart.  There is no high-gain sound available, nor is there even a decent Marshall crunch.  When overdriven the little Vox sounds like one of its bigger brothers, kinda raw and ragged.  That’s not my thing, but it is the classic Vox driven tone, so if it is your thing, you won’t be disappointed.  If smooth overdrive is your thing, don’t worry, the little gal takes to drive pedals like a pig takes to mud.

Reverb:  This is one of those “how did they do it” areas.  The verb is from a TINY little spring tank, yet it sounds very good.  Vibroverb good?  No, but very respectable for gigging or recording; about on par with most modern spring verbs.

Tremolo: Again, surprisingly good, especially given the fact that many good tremolo PEDALS cost more than this amp.  Is it as good as a three-tube brownface Fender from 1960?  No, but again very respectable for gigging or recording; more than passable for bedroom rehearsal.

Footswitch: If ya get a f/s, please know that it’s wired to control the Tremolo and the gain boost.  The boost is a fairly huge pre-gain volume increase, too high to be all that useable to me.  Reverb is not foot-switchable.

Goesintas & Goesoutas:This is another strong selling point.  The line and headphone outs are fairly standard equipment on an amp of this breed, but the ext. speaker jack is a rare thing of beauty.  Plug this little gal into a big box and she can deliver her super sweet tones with enough oomph to keep up with a drummer on a medium stage. Cool.

Vox Pathfinder 15R Jacks

Got a sleeper amp of your own?  Let me know about it. 

emailVaughn     About Vaughn Skow

My outside blog recommendation this week is a quickie version of the Vox history!

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