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Com­pared to the orig­i­nal amPlug range, the amPlug 2 line has been redesigned with a more authentic-looking, left-justified Vox logo and a swivel jack which is bet­ter able to plug into a vari­ety of gui­tars with unique jacks includ­ing Fender Stra­to­cast­ers and Ibanez Jems/Universes, which could be a lit­tle squeezy with the old sys­tem. Each unit fea­tures three lit­tle thumb­wheels: on the gui­tar mod­els these con­trol vol­ume, tone and gain. There’s also an effect but­ton which scrolls between three dif­fer­ent effect pre­sets — in each case there are three mod­u­la­tion, three delay and three reverb pre­sets. There’s also an aux­il­iary input and a head­phone out­put. In the case of the bass model there are con­trols for vol­ume and tone, while the third knob is the level con­trol for nine inbuilt rhythm tracks to jam along with: hold down the lit­tle but­ton on that one while scrolling the wheel and you can adjust the tempo of the track. Very clever.


This amPlug does a great job of cap­tur­ing the essence of the clas­sic Vox AC30tone in a bite-size form. It’s prob­a­bly not going to fool Brian May or Jimmy Page, but it sounds great on its own mer­its with a good range of tones from ring­ing cleans to big fat over­drives. The mod­u­la­tion feels a bit syn­thetic, but the delay and reverb set­tings are really handy, espe­cially since this kind of right-in-your-ear sound really ben­e­fits from a lit­tle ambience.


Designed to recall clas­sic British 100 watt stacks (you know the ones I mean), the Clas­sic Rock amPlug actu­ally has a bit more gain than you might expect of a purely clas­sic rock tone. It’ll take you all the way into 80s hard rock ter­ri­tory and its mid-boost mode is great for solo­ing. The mod­u­la­tion seems like a bet­ter fit here than on the AC30 ver­sion, and again there’s a great range of gain. You could cover all of Van Halen’s ‘Hot For Teacher’ with this bad boy.


The Metal amPlug nails the extended low end and com­pressed gain struc­ture required of metal, but it’s also sur­pris­ingly good for semi-clean tones of the blues-rock vari­ety, espe­cially if you use hum­buck­ers. But its real rea­son to live is to crank out ridicu­lous amounts of gain, and it does that very well. I hit it with high-powered hum­buck­ers and it didn’t break a sweat. It’s very handy for those atmos­pheric Slayer ‘spooky sec­tion’ clean tones as well as more mod­ern met­al­core rhythm crunch.


The bass model is a lit­tle more restrained in its sound-sculpting abil­i­ties since it has no way to adjust the gain: you’re pretty much stuck with a clean sound and a tone con­trol. The tone con­trol has plenty of usable range to dial in every­thing from a deep round sound to a sharp Megade­thian clang, and the nine rhythm tracks cover all sorts of grooves. In that sense it becomes even hand­ier than the gui­tar amPlugs: it feels like you’re actively doing some­thing for your play­ing rather than jam­ming out for fun.

These are all handy lit­tle units and they all cover a sur­pris­ing amount of ter­ri­tory for some­thing so small. The fact that they all use all-analog cir­cuits will appeal to a lot of play­ers who are turned off by the idea of dig­i­tal mod­el­ling units and mod­el­ling apps: every­thing you hear is gen­er­ated the old-fashioned way, and responds accordingly.