If you’ve recently bought an electric guitar, your next question might be which amp should I pair it with? Not all amps are built equally. Some of the unbranded amps are pretty terrible and should be avoided at all costs. It doesn’t matter how prestigious your guitar is, if you pair it with a poor quality amp you’ll get poor quality tones. It pays to consider branded amps, even when looking to buy your first practice amp. In this VOX Pathfinder 10 Review we’ll take a look VOX’s offering for the budding bedroom guitarist. Let’s get started.
History of VOX
VOX has been designing amplifiers since the 1950’s. Their first amp, the AC1/15 was introduced in 1958. The AC1/15’s name was later shortened to the AC15, which was the amp used to record the James Bond theme! Next came the AC30, which was received to great acclaim by the rock and roll bands of Britain in the 1960’s. The AC30 was used by The Beatles and featured on their first hit “Love Me Do”. Over the subsequent 60 years VOX has introduced a variety of amplifiers, from 10 watt practice amps all the way through to 150 watt cabinet type amps. VOX also diversified well with their introduction of AMPLUG 2 range, which plugs into your guitar and outputs directly to headphones.
Overview of The VOX Pathfinder 10
This first thing to note about the VOX Pathfinder 10 is it’s looks. This is a very good looking amp with it’s basket weave and leather look echoing a retro theme. Whilst looks may not be top of your list when looking for a practice amp, the pathfinder 10’s styling gives it a distinct advantage over it’s unbranded entry level competitors. As you’d expect it’s compact and portable weighing just 4.8kg, making it easy to carry when you’re on the road.
The Pathfinder 10 is uncomplicated and so it’s easy to plugin and start playing right out of the box. The chicken head knobs make it easy to quickly identify which settings you’re working with. Switch between clean and overdrive by pressing a button, then tweak the Treble, Bass and Gain knobs until you find the perfect tone. There’s a 1/4 inch headphone / line-out jack for “silent” practice. You can also output to a recording device using the headphone / line-out jack too. A power adapter is included, but the amp won’t run on batteries.
How Does The VOX Pathfinder 10 Work
Once out of the box and powered, you’re drawn to the top panel of the amp.
The layout is pretty simple:
- Input: 1/4 inch jack to plug in your guitar
- Gain: Turn up to 10 for a dirtier tone
- Overdrive / Clean Switch: Toggle between clean and distorted tones
- Treble: Controls the high end of the tone
- Bass: Controls the bottom end of the tone
- Volume: This doesn’t go to 11, but it’s still pretty loud!
- Headphone/Line-Out: 1/4 inch jack for headphones / output to recording device
- Power Switch: Turn the amp on and off
There’s also a compartment at the back that enables you to store the power cable. That’s all there is to it. Despite it’s simplicity you’re still able to play a variety of styles. The tonal range enables you to play crystal clear tones as well as warm blues and hard rocking distortion. The output is punching above it’s weight thanks to the 6.5 inch bulldog speaker. Although the Pathfinder 10 is a 10-watt amp, it feels like it squeezes out an extra couple of watts due to it’s power.
The amp is missing the mid range control, but that doesn’t appear to hold back the tonal range to any discernible extent. The overdrive probably isn’t powerful enough if you’re looking to play metal. In that scenario you’d want to pair it with good quality effects. Another criticism is that you can’t plug in an MP3 player, which is a feature of some of the other amps at this price-point, but that’s a minor concern. After all the primary purpose it to play guitar right!
There are no on-board effects, but you can of course output from a multi-effects pedal. Most practice amps that include effects are double the price of the Pathfinder 10, so the absence of effects isn’t that big a deal, especially for those looking for quality without busting their budget.
VOX Pathfinder 10 Pros
- Powerful Output for a 10 Watt Amp
- Great Build Quality
- Beautiful Styling
- Power Adapter Included
VOX Pathfinder 10 Cons
- Can’t Run on Batteries
- Overdrive Isn’t Sufficient for Metal Guitarists
- No Aux Input For Mp3 Player
Final Thoughts on The VOX Pathfinder 10
In this VOX Pathfinder 10 Review we’ve taken a look at the entry level offering from VOX, perhaps the royalty of styling. The Pathfinder 10 doesn’t disappoint in terms of it’s looks, with it’s retro styling. Although the equalizer doesn’t have controls for the mid-range, the Pathfinder 10 is still capable of producing a wide tonal range. From clean and clear to warm and bluesy. Clean rocky tones to hard rocking overdrive. When you need to practice quietly you can hook up a set of headphones using the 1/4 inch headphone jack. When headphones are plugged in the 6.5 inch speaker is muted automatically allowing you to practice in near silence.
The Pathfinder 10 is solidly built to compliment it’s styling and handily comes with the required power adapter, which is missing from other amps in it’s range. You can’t operate it with batteries and there aren’t on-board effects. The Boss Katana Mini is slightly more expensive and allows you to select from a few preset pre-amp settings, such as “Brown”. That may be useful for some guitarists, however I don’t think it’s an essential feature for a practice amp.
Overall, for the price-point you’re getting a beautifully styled, well built and most importantly great sounding amp. If you want to take a look at some other practice amps, including the Boss Katana Mini, I’ve put together a post comparing the best small amps for guitar.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave a comment or to get in touch using my contact page. Please share this post with anyone who you think might find it useful. As usual, happy strumming!
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