Thats when we volunteered to deliver the AC30 to Jeff Bakos and make it the subject of this review.
Jeff was able to diagnose and fix the AC30 in a couple of hours (merely a few bad caps and resistors in the vibrato circuit and tone stack), but the amp's origins remained a mystery.
Our attempts to date the amp by the pot codes were unsuccessful because all of the originals had been replaced with CTS pots dating to the early '90s, so we contacted Mitch Colby at Korg (Vox and Marshall USA) and sent him images of the amp with a request for help in dating it.
Mitch replied that it appeared to be a "Vox Sound Ltd." AC30 built in England by Dallas Arbiter, the company famous for the original Fuzz Face and Sound City amps made in England. The Celestion G12 speakers dating to 1979 had been reconed some time ago with the correct Celestion kit, all of the preamp tubes had been updated with JAN GEs, and while not a Jennings, this amp fully earned the vaunted status of vintage AC30 in every regard -- punchy, fat, rich in midrange tones where the guitar really lives, with solid bass response and sweet, soaring top end.
Mitch also added that the Dallas Arbiter AC30s were very nice amps, having been built in the early '70s, immediately following the end of the JMI era. Contrary to information on the AC30s built at the Dallas Arbiter factory that we found at the cabinet of our amp is built with solid wood throughout -- not particle board. Should you decide to explore the full potential of an AC30, you have a number of very good choices.
The cabinet was in excellent, original condition and displayed all the classic marks of vintage British Vox construction, but there was no "Jennings Musical Industries" metal serial number tag on the back panel -- only the heads of four brass upholstery nails that had once held a missing plastic ID tag.
The gray control panel also lacked the typical Vox "JMI" stenciled logo, yet the amp was clearly built with the correct, hand-wired turret board construction, transformers, and Vox circuit.