Rory Gallagher’s Vox AC30 Amp

access_time First seen circa 1963

Rory first got his hands on a Vox AC30 way back in the early sixties, when he was playing in a showband called Fontana. This was around the same time when he acquired his first Fender Stratocaster – so 1963.

When I joined the showband, after a few months I got a Strat. It took me four years to pay it off on HP. I`d borrowed a Hofner Colorama for a while, which wasn’t bad. Anyhow, I sold the Solid Seven when I got the Fender and borrowed a Vox AC30 from the bass player in the band.

…RORY GALLAGHER talks to NICK ROBERTSHAW

Short after Rory acquired his own Vox AC30, and used it exclusively up until the mid-70s – when he started adding more amps to the chain.

Embed from Getty Images

In an interview from New Musical Express on November 9, 1974, it is stated that at that point Rory was using a combination of a Fender Bassman and a Fender Twin, with his old VOX AC30 sitting on the side. Rory also explained why he preferred combo amps over stacks.

They are the most reliable amp … really, very loud, and solid – although they do need a little bit of something … like a treble booster, I reckon. […] I don’t like big amps. I like built-in amps, 30 to 50 watts, then you know where the sound is coming from and the whole thing is right. These old amps had standard speakers, you see – good old valves in them – and the important thing was they were made by cabinetmakers, and the wood was good.

…RORY GALLAGHER talks to NICK ROBERTSHAW

In another interview published a year later, Rory states that his “little amplifier” burst into flames on stage.

I turned around and realized that my amplifier had gone on fire. The flames were shooting out from it. There was a cooling fan at the back and that only helped spread the fire. I didn’t know what to do so I just stayed calm, hoped for the best and played on. The Towering Inferno wasn’t in it. The roadies came running onto the stage with extinguishers to try and put the fire out, and they managed to plug me into a spare amplifier.

Seeing my little amplifier on fire nearly broke my heart. The amp is about 20 years old, a real collector’s item. I insisted on having it repaired.

December 20, 1975 issue of Melody Maker

Based on his description, one would think that this is the Vox AC30, but apparently, it was the Twin Reverb – at least according to Robin Sylvester. Also based on the description, it appears that he was only using the Twin Reverb at that time (even though it is said that he used it in a combination with a Bassman).

At one point he also got a nice old tan Fender Twin – which burst into flames on stage one night.

Rory Days: An Interview with Robin Sylvester

During the 80s, the Vox AC30 seems to have come in the spotlight once again. Based on Rory’s statement, he was using it together with a Marshall 50W combo in the early 1980s.

At the moment, I’m using an AC30 and a Marshall 50 watt combo together. I plug the guitar into a junction box because a splitter lead or a V chord tends to put the amps out of phase with each other so you can never be sure of the sound you’re getting.

The amp in question was most likely a Marshall 2104 JMP MKII 50-watt Combo – which can be seen on a few shots in the video below.

Towards the late 80s, he also began using a Marshall bass head, and a 50w Vox combo.

When it comes to amps I tend to vary things about every six months. I started with a Vox AC30 combo, and that model is still in my set-up, but I go through different phases when it comes to the other amps I use. At the moment, though, I’m still using my Vox AC30 with a Vox 50-watt combo as my third amp. My second amp is a 4 x 12 Marshall speaker cabinet with a converted 100-watt bass amp, on loan from Gerry McAvoy (Rory’s longstanding bass player). I really only use the Marshall to give my sound some body because I usually hear myself through the Vox for the most part.

POWER TOOLS SOUND ADVISE PURE GENIUS… by Phil Alexander

I still use an AC30 with a treble booster, plug into the Normal channel, I also have a 100W Marshall with 4 by 12 and a 50W Marshall combo. The Vox counteracts the harshness of the Marshall sound.

John Perry for International Musician & Recording World – February 1989

All in all, it seems that the Vox AC30 was more or less a constant, while other amps came and went. There’s probably a lot more amps that weren’t mentioned here, that Rory did use, but they seem to always have been just a supplement to the Vox.

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access_time 1981

Marshall 100-watt Bass Head

This amp was used by Rory during the 80s, usually in combination with a Marshall 50W combo, and Rory’s trusty Vox AC30. Embed from Getty Images The amp wasn’t actually Rory’s but was borrowed from Gerry McAvoy. When it comes to amps I tend to vary things about every six months. I started with a Vox AC30 combo, and that model is still in my set-up, but I go through […]

access_time 1974

1950s Fender Twin Tweed

Rory used this amp around 1974/75 together with a Fender Bassman. Embed from Getty Images Around 1975, the amp caught fire on stage. From Rory’s words, it sounds like he ended up repairing, but it is unknown whether this exact amp was ever used again. Do note that he did probably own more than just one Twin Tweed. I turned around and realized that my amplifier had gone on fire. […]

access_time 1974

1954 Fender Bassman

Rory first started using a Fender Bassman combo amp sometime in 1974. On most photos from that year, and from 1975, there seems to be a Bassman sitting right behind Rory on stage, and a small Tweed Twin sitting to the right of it. Embed from Getty Images For me, it’s a battle between the Vox AC30 and the 4×10 Fender Bassman. The warmth of the Fenders and the character […]

access_time 1980

Marshall 2104 JMP MKII 50-watt Combo

This amp was used by Rory during the early 80s, together with Rory’s Vox AC30. At the moment, I’m using an AC30 and a Marshall 50 watt combo together. I plug the guitar into a junction box because a splitter lead or a V chord tends to put the amps out of phase with each other so you can never be sure of the sound you’re getting. However, the setup […]

access_time 1959

Selmer Little Giant Amplifier

This was the first amplifier that Rory got, purchased together with his first electric guitar – a Rosetti Solid 7. I played along on the acoustic guitar for a couple of years, and about the age of 12 I got an electric guitar – a Rosetti Solid Seven with a Little Giant Selmer. New Musical Express November 9, 1974 The amp, unfortunately, wasn’t for too long with Rory, as he […]

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