Review: Bluetone Shadows Jr.

Following in the wake of their very popular Shadows Reverb combo, Finnish boutique makers Bluetone Amps have recently introduced a smaller sibling, called the Shadows Jr.

The Bluetone Shadows Jr. (combo starting at around 1,300 €) is a hand-built, all-valve guitar combo, whose sound is based on the classic Vox AC15. Instead of being a straight, slavish copy, though, the Shadows Jr. incorporates many of the up-to-date features that have made Bluetone such a well-regarded boutique maker.


The Shadows Jr. has the clean and business-like looks that active players truly appreciate. You don’t want to be slowed down on stage by a control panel that’s hard to decipher. The Bluetone is clarity itself.

This is a single-channel all-valve combo running in Class AB mode giving you maximum output power at just over 10 watts.

The Shadows Jr. is designed around a trio of 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of EL84s powering the speaker. The combo’s power valves are cathode-biased, which means that swapping tubes won’t necessitate a trip to your friendly amp technician.

Bluetone is one of the very few amp makers who use torroidal power transformers. These doughnut-shaped devices (the black thing in the upper left corner) are lighter and more dependable than traditional transformer designs, and they offer more exact tolerances. As a valve amp is highly dependable on a stable and electronically quiet power supply for superior tone, Bluetone decided on using torroidal transformers early on, and they’ve never looked back.

The Warehouse Guitar Speakers Green Beret is an excellent choice for a strongly Brit-flavoured combo. Bluetone break in all of the speakers they use with low-frequency sine waves.

Despite being a compact single-channel combo amp (weighing only around 10 kg), the Bluetone Shadows Jr. offers an amazing amount of different clean and gain tones, thanks in no small part to the amp’s PPIMV master volume and the three-step OPC-switch.

PPIMV stands for ”post-power inverter master volume”, which is the preferred way of master volume design at Bluetone Amps, because it eats up the least amount of an amplifier’s tone, when in use. And if you turn the master volume knob all the way up, a PPIMV design makes the master volume ”disappear” electronically, making it completely transparent.

OPC, on the other hand, stands for ”output power control”. On the Shadows Jr. you have a choice of three settings, giving you 0.2, two or the full 10 watts of power, respectively. The magic of the OPC circuit is that it will turn volume levels down very noticeably without changing the tonal character of your settings, while also leaving almost all of the dynamics intact. Many lesser output power designs will turn a clean setting into an overdriven sound when you select a lower output level. The Shadows Jr. will sound almost the same on ten, two or 0.2 watts – the small tonal differences are the result of the speaker being driven differently. With the OPC at the lowest setting you will get approximately 95 percent of the full ”Shadows Jr. experience” at bedroom/apartment block volume levels. That’s fantastic!

The back panel gives you a choice of using the internal speaker or an external 4- or 8-ohm cabinet.

Bluetone have also included their tasty buffered, switchable effects loop with a dedicated volume control. When the loop is not in use, the circuit can also serve as a handy lead boost.


Are you looking for a cool little tone machine with a strong Vox-y flavour, and no-compromise build quality? You should do yourself a favour and try the Bluetone Shadows Jr.

The Shadows Jr. ticks all the right boxes:

You get that classic clean tone with that sweet mid-range ”attitude”. A clean tone that is lively, but never glassy or brittle.

With the front-end volume near the other extreme you’ll get overdrive and distortion that is more gritty and dynamic – think later era Beatles, windmilling Townshend, or multilayered May – than creamy and compressed.

But don’t forget to check out the wide scope of break-up Blues and Rock ’n’ Roll sounds to be had between 11 and 2 o’clock on the volume (gain) control (depending on the guitar used). You’re in for hours of wailing soloing and chunky rhythms without ever needing an overdrive stompbox.

Here’s a Gibson Les Paul Junior on its own:

Demo track number one features two rhythm guitar tracks – a Fender Stratocaster (stereo left) and a Gibson Les Paul Junior (right) – as well as a Hamer USA Studio Custom on lead duty:

The second demo track features a Gibson Les Paul Junior (rhythm left), an Epiphone Casino (rhythm right), and a Fender Telecaster (lead guitar):


The Bluetone Shadows Jr. is a fantastic little tone machine for the Vox-inclined player, who likes warm clean tones, dynamic break-up sounds, and gritty late-Sixties/early-Seventies dirt.

The build quality is miles ahead of any mass-produced guitar amplifier – this is a handcrafted boutique-grade valve amp. Modern additions like the PPIMV master volume, the OPC circuit, and the switchable effects loop, also raise this amp above any vintage-style copies.

For many the crucial question with low-wattage amps is volume. How loud is the Bluetone Shadows Jr?

Let’s just say that if you’ve only ever tried 10-watt tranny combos before you’re in for quite a surprise! These are ten (-plus) watts of British-style valve amp majesty, with every last ounce of loudness wrung out of the power amp and speaker.

With the OPC and the master on full, this little chap will easily get you into trouble with your neighbours in your block of flats on clean tones alone. If you don’t need 100 percent clean tones, the Shadows Jr. will easily get you through many rehearsals and gigs in small venues. And there’s always the option to stick a mic in front of the speaker.

So, don’t expect a Heavy Metal-type volume onslaught, but be prepared for some serious business.

Bluetone Amps Shadows Jr.

Prices starting from 1,300 €

Contact: Bluetone Amps


+ Handmade in Finland

+ Master volume


+ Effects loop

+ Sound

+ Value-for-money*****Save








Review: Vox AC10C1

Vox AC10C1 – with guitar 1

The new Vox AC10C1 combo amp nicely bridges the gap between the Custom Series’ AC4C1 four-watter and the 15-watt AC15C1.


Vox AC10C1 – full front

The Vox AC10C1 (street price in Finland approx. 520 €) isn’t a copy or reissue of any of the AC10 versions from the 1950s or 60s, but rather a modern reinterpretation of the company’s Top Boost-theme in a more compact guise, and made in China, just like the rest of the Custom Series.

This being so, the new AC10C1 amp does away with the old version’s vibrato effect, adding instead such welcome modern features as a quality digital reverb, and separate Gain and (Master) Volume controls.

Vox AC10C1 – front angle 1

Vox’ new combo looks like a smaller version of their legendary AC30 combo, which isn’t a coincidence, I’m sure. It sports lots of black vinyl, white piping, a golden metal rail, and the famous maroon front cloth with the diamond pattern.

The AC10C1 only weighs 12 kilos, which means it’s very easy to carry by its single top handle.

As we are looking at a production line, Chinese valve amp, it would be totally unrealistic to expect hand soldered point-to-point wiring inside this combo. The AC10C1’s electronic components – tubes and all – are mounted on three PCBs. You can have a good looks at this combo’s innards in this picture.

The little Vox’ two EL84 main amplifier valves have been placed just beneath the ventilation grille on the top (next to the handle). The preamp valves – a pair of 12AX7s – get their ventilation via a small slot at the bottom end of the cabinet’s back wall.

Vox AC10C1 – control panel LRG

The control panel sports the classic Vox chicken head knobs.

In addition to Gain and Volume, you will find a two-band EQ section, and the reverb control.

Vox AC10C1 – full back

In practical terms, the Vox AC10C1 is a closed-back combo, despite the small opening for preamp tube ventilation.

A ten-inch Celestion VX10 has been chosen as the combo’s sole speaker.

Vox AC10C1 – back panel

In the EU the new combo is sold with an Eco-feature. When the Eco-switch is set to ”on”, the AC10C1 will power off automatically if the amp isn’t played for two hours.

The AC10C1 can be connected to an external speaker cabinet, as long as the load is kept to 16 Ohms.


Vox AC10C1 – with guitar 2

Let me say something about the Vox AC10C1’s volume first:

This little amp is quite the belter for a combo rated at only 10 Watts! Yes, it does have a master volume control, but I still wouldn’t recommend using this Vox as a living-room amp in an apartment block. The Volume control really has to be set to 10 o’clock, or higher, to make this baby come to life.

The basic character of this Vox combo is rather bright and bitey – I had to take the Treble knob down to below 10 o’clock to find the sounds that I like.

This AC10C1 doesn’t have oodles of clean headroom, still there are some very nice clean tones to be had in the first third of the Gain control’s range, when you use Fender-type single coil pickups (Fender Stratocaster; amp gain at 10 o’clock):

Many valve amp snobs will view a digital reverb circuit as a big no-no, but in my view, the AC10C1’s reverb is one of the very best I’ve ever heard in an amp in this price range. The reverb is a digital version of a spring tank, and has a charming sense of depth. At higher settings you can even get some ”spring splash” by attacking the strings with gusto:

Due to its higher output a P-90-type pickup will require you to adjust the volume knob(s) on the guitar, if you want to achieve genuinely clean sounds. Here’s a clip of an Epiphone Casino (with Göldo P-90s), with the guitar’s volumes turned about halfway down (amp gain at 9 o’clock):

Here’s the same Casino with its volume controls set to 8 (the amp settings stay untouched):

Humbuckers, too, mean you will have to turn the guitar down a bit for clean sounds, otherwise the AC10C1 will start adding some of that famous Top Boost grit. The first clip uses a Hamer USA Studio Custom with its volume controls turned down to 5 (amp gain at 9 o’clock):

Same guitar, same amp settings, but the Hamer’s volumes have been set to 7:

You could sum up the AC10C1’s distorted sounds with one word – classic! This isn’t a high gain combo by no stretch of the imagination. This Vox feels most at home with Pop-, Blues-, and Rock-sounds of the Sixties and Seventies (and their modern descendants). If you want a piece of that classic Vox Top Boost tone (think Beatles, Queen, U2), the AC10C1 has it in spades at manageable volume levels.

Stratocaster; amp gain 3 o’clock:

Casino; amp gain 1 o’clock:

Hamer; amp gain 1 o’clock:

Stratocaster; full amp gain:

Casino; full amp gain:

Hamer; full amp gain:


Vox AC10C1 – front angle 2

In my opinion, the Vox AC10C1 is just the ticket if you’re after genuine Vox tones in a compact, easy-to-handle package.

Clean headroom isn’t to be had in abundance, but luckily this Vox combo reacts extremely well to volume changes on the guitar. The sound cleans up nicely, while the amp retains its full vigour and liveliness.

The Vox AC10C1 is loud enough for most rehearsal situations, and you might even use it in some small venues without a mike.

For studio work, too, I feel Vox’ AC10C1 has a lot to offer, because it enables you to get chunky Vox tones with much less bleed-through into other microphones, like the drum mikes.

Vox AC10C1 – logo


Vox AC10C1

current street price in Finland approximately 520 €

Finnish distribution: EM Nordic

A hearty ”thank you” goes to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review combo!


+ value for money

+ compact size

+ reverb sound

+ amp sound


– limited clean headroom

Testipenkissä: Vox AC10C1

Vox AC10C1 – with guitar 1

Uusi Vox AC10C1 on teholtaan oiva väliaskel firman Custom-sarjassa neliwattisen AC4C1:n ja 15-wattisen AC15C1-kombon välillä.


Vox AC10C1 – full front

Vox AC10C1 (katuhinta noin 520 €) ei ole alkuperäisen (1950 tai 60-luvun) AC10-kombon uusintapainos, vaan uutuuskombo on Kiinassa rakennetun, nykyaikaisen Custom-sarjan jäsen.

Näin ollen AC10C1-vahvistimesta löytyy – alkuperäisen vibratoefektin sijaan – laadukas digikaiku, sekä erilliset Gain- ja (Master) Volume-säätimet.

Vox AC10C1 – front angle 1

Uusi Vox-kombo näyttää pienennetyltä versiolta firman legendaarisesta AC30-mallista – paljon mustaa vinyyliä, kultaiset ja valkoiset koristelistat, sekä vinoneliökuvioilla koristettu, ruskea etukangas.

AC10C1 painaa vain 12 kiloa, minkä ansiosta komboa on helppo kantaa sen ainoasta muovikahvasta.

Koska kyse on kiinalaisesta sarjatuotannosta, ei tässä voi odottaa käsinjuotettua, kallista point-to-point elektroniikka, vaan AC10 on toteutettu kolmella piirilevyllä, joihin myös vahvistimen putkikannat on kiinnitetty. Hyvän kuvan AC10C1:n elektroniikan arkkitehtuurista saa tästä linkistä.

Voxin kaksi EL84 päätevahvistinputkea sijaitsevat kombon kotelossa suoraan kahvan viereisen tuuletusritilän alla. Etuvahvistimen putket (2 x 12AX7) taas löytyvät kombon pohjan läheltä, jossa niille on takaseinässä toinen tuuletusaukko.

Vox AC10C1 – control panel LRG

Myös kombon säädinpaneeli on ulkonäöltään tyypillinen Vox-kombolle.

Paneeli tarjoaa Gain- ja Volume-säätimien lisäksi vielä kaksikaistaisen EQ-osaston, sekä säätimen kaiulle.

Vox AC10C1 – full back

Vox AC10C1 on käytännössä suljetulla takaseinällä varustettu kombovahvistin, vaikka takaseinässä onkin pieni tuuletusreikä.

Kaiuttimeksi on valittu yksi kymppituumainen Celestion VX10.

Vox AC10C1 – back panel

EU:ssa uutuuskomboa myydään uudella Eco-ominaisuudella. Kun Eco-kytkin on päällä-asennossa, AC10C1 menee omatoimisesti pois päältä, jos kombo on kaksi tuntia tyhjäkäynnissä.

AC10C1:n kanssa voi käyttää sellaista lisäkaappia, jolla on 16 ohmin impedanssi.


Vox AC10C1 – with guitar 2

Ensin sana Vox AC10C1:n tehosta:

Tämä vahvistin on 10-wattiseksi komboksi erittäin kovaääninen! Uutuus-Voxi ei mielestäni oikein sovi kerrostaloasunnon olohuonekomboksi, koska tämä AC-kymppi alkaa soida kunnolla vasta, kun Volume-säädin on avattu ainakin ”kello kymmeneen”.

Vox-kombon perusääni on melko kirkas – löysin minua miellyttäviä soundeja vasta, kun Treble-säädin oli kello 10:ssä (tai vielä enemmän kiinni).

Vaikka uutuus-Voxi ei tarjoa valtavia määriä puhdasta headroomia, löytyy Gain-säätimen alkumetreillä kuitenkin kauniita puhtaita soundeja Fender-tyylisillä yksikelaisilla mikrofoneilla varustetun kitaran kanssa (tässä soi Fender Stratocaster, AC10C1:n Gain: kello 10):

Monille putkipuristeille digitaalinen kaiku putkikombossa on kuin punainen vaate, mutta ainakin minun mielestäni Vox AC10C1 tarjoaa yhden parhaista digikaiuista tässä hintaluokassa. Kaikutyyppi on muhkea jousikaiku, joka myös ”pärskii” mukavan autenttisesti isoilla säädöillä ja kovalla atakilla:

Gibson P-90 -yksikelainen vaatii jo – isomman lähtötason takia – kitaran omien volume-namikoiden säätämistä hiukan alaspäin, jos halutaan, että AC10C1 pysyy puhtaana. Ensimmäisessä klipissä soi Epiphone Casino, ja sen omat volume-säätimet ovat puoliksi kiinni (AC10C1:n Gain: kello 9):

Tässä sama Casino, mutta omat volumet säädetty kahdeksaan:

Myös humbuckereilla täytyy säätää kitaran omat volumet alas, muuten Vox AC10:n soundi muuttuu jo hieman rosoiseksi. Tässä kaksi esimerkkiä Hamer USA Studio Custom -kitaralla:

AC10C1:n särösoundien kirjo menee hyvin vahvasti ”klassisen” puolelle. Tämä ei ole mikään high gain -kombo, vaan Voxin luontevin ympäristö ovat 60- ja 70-luvun Pop-, Blues- ja Rock-soundit. Kombo tarjoaa kätevästi tyypilliset (Top Boost) AC30-soundit kompaktissa – ja ei ihan niin kovaäänisessä – formaatissa.

Stratocaster, Gain – kello 3:

Casino, Gain – kello 1:

Hamer, Gain – kello 1:

Stratocaster, Gain täysillä:

Casino, Gain täysillä:

Hamer, Gain täysillä:


Vox AC10C1 – front angle 2

Vox AC10C1 on mielestäni juuri oikea vahvistin, jos etsii aitoa Vox-soundia helposti hallittavassa kokonaisuudessa.

Puhdasta headroomia ei ole tarjolla valtavasti, mutta onneksi tämä Vox reagoi todella hyvin kitaran volume-säätimillä, eikä näin saavutettu clean-soundi muutu elottomaksi tai ponnettomaksi.

Vox AC10C1 on riittävän kovaääninen bändikäyttöön treenikämpässä, ja pienissä keikkapaikoissa jopa livenä ilman mikkiä.

Myös studiokäyttöön Vox AC10C1 on mielestäni hyvä valinta, koska kombosta saa aidon Vox-soundin ratkaisevasti vähemmällä vuotoäänellä.

Vox AC10C1 – logo


Vox AC10C1

katuhinta noin 520 €

Lisätiedot: EM Nordic

Kiitos DLX Musiikille testikombon lainaamisesta!


+ hinta-laatu-suhde

+ kompakti koko

+ kaiun soundi

+ soundi


– puhdas headroom rajallinen

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