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You could buy an AC-30 for the equivalent of about 5. It was an AC-50 in a small cabinet with a 15″ and a 12″ bottom. “But I was the only one interested in this English gear and it caused problems because, like any band, you’re trying to define yourself, your music and direction, and the other guys never knew where I was going.One week I’d show up with a Marshall half-stack and an SG Jr. I can understand now how frustrating it must’ve been for them, not knowing from week to week what I’d show up with or how I’d sound, but at the same time I wanted to know what these things were about.The garage behind Mark Sampson’s Southern California home is a Batcave for vintage tube amp lovers.Dark, dusty storage areas are crammed with ancient tan-colored Vox AC-10 “TV” models from the late ’50s, Super Beatles with chrome stands, original mint-condition Vox sales and promotion banners.Although the 10″ speakers tend not to have the midrange character a Celestion might have…to my ears.” Sampson saw how cultural differences between Americans and Brits influenced their amp designs.
A lot of them were in various stages of disrepair, which kept the prices down. I remember buying a bass rig off one of the guys from Badfinger. I wish I’d kept it.” Sampson’s band was his testing ground.“I worked in a shop where a guy could walk in with an idea in his head, and if he kept his bills current, nine months later drive it away,” he said.Another influence was his father, a TV repairman and tinkerer who handed down the know-how to read a circuit and a voltage meter and, most importantly, a curiosity about how electronic things worked. “I can remember a very detailed plywood collage I made when I was 12,” he remembers.He did 10 years as a professional drag racer on the local circuit, building and modifying street rods, competing in custom car shows.
Much of his interest in design engineering was formed during this period.
An AC-30 and a Marshall JTM-45 sound absolutely nothing alike when they’re clean or breaking up.