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.
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:
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.
surprisingly good, especially given the fact that many good tremolo PEDALS cost
more than this amp. Is it as good as a
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.
Got a sleeper amp of your own? Let me
know about it.