Marshall vs Vox Amps: Which One Should You Choose?

Marshall and Vox are two British companies that have been competing for over 50 years. Both produce a wide range of amplifiers, from small practice models to huge rigs that can fill an arena. The two brands also both have diehard fans who will insist theirs is the only amplifier worth playing.

The main difference between Marshall and Vox amps is that they both sound unique. Marshall amplifiers have a crunchier sound with more gain, while Vox amps have a cleaner, more vintage tone.

Marshall vs Vox amps, what’s it going to be? This article will discuss these two giants in the world of guitar amplification, and help you decide which one might be right for you.

Marshall vs Vox amps

History of Marshall and Vox Amps

It’s important to take a moment to look at Marshall and Vox’s history before diving into how they compare in terms of tone and output.

Jim Marshall founded the company that bears his name in 1962. When he started his company, there were not a lot of powerful amplifiers available on the market, so he decided to design his own. His first amps were called JTM 45s, and they were an immediate success. 

Shortly after he began selling them, The Who purchased one of these early models and became one of the most famous bands associated with Marshall amps.

Vox had its start a few years earlier than Marshall – they date back to 1957 – but they didn’t gain prominence until 1959 when they released their AC30 amplifier. This amp gained popularity among musicians due to its warm tube tone combined with its ability to handle high volume levels. 

It wasn’t long before this amp found itself used by some of the most influential guitarists of all time, including Brian May from Queen.

Differences Between Marshall vs Vox Amps

So, which one is better? Let’s look at some differences between the two, so you can decide for yourself.

Summary:

  • Marshall amps are more well-known than Vox.
  • The Marshall tone is often described as crunchy and loud, while the Vox sound is known for being clean, jangly, and chimy. 
  • Internally, most Vox amps are not designed with a negative feedback circuit.
  • They both have different looks and aesthetics externally.
  • Both brands offer a wide selection of amps ranging from affordable to expensive. 
  • Solid state and tube models are offered by both brands.

Popularity

Both have made a name for themselves as innovators in the electric guitar amp industry. But it’s far easier to find a Marshall amp than a Vox! You’ll also rarely see a guitarist on stage with anything other than a Marshall.

While Vox was always popular with British guitarists, Marshall gained a lot of traction in the late 1960s when players from both the UK and America started using their amps. Since then, they’ve become practically synonymous with the electric guitar in general.

Signature Sound

The classic Marshall tone is crunchy, beefy, creamy, and loud. This signature sound is most associated with the thick, heavy guitar tones of hard rock and metal players.

The Vox tone is known for being clean, treble-intensive, jangly, and chimy. The amp’s natural overdrive is reactive to the volume control of your guitar’s pickup. This means that when you’re playing at high volume or at a high gain setting, you’ll get more distortion out of the amp. 

Build

Marshall uses their classic circuit that was originally based on the tweed Fender Bassman, and they stuck with it for many years. These days, however, the company makes plenty of smaller tube amps that stand in contrast to the classic high-wattage stack.

Vox amps usually have two channels: normal and brilliant. Most are not designed with a negative feedback circuit. This results in more width from the mid-range frequencies, and enhanced sensitivity to your playing. 

Design and Aesthetic

When it comes to the look of each amp brand, and the tolex and grill cloth options they use, there are some rather large differences.

Marshall amps are generally more modern looking with black tolex, gold control knobs and faceplates. In the early days they did look quite vintage, and to some degree they still do. But they have upgraded their look over the years to be more modern.

This gave them the advantage of appealing to new generations of rockers as well as vintage and classic players. This was a good move on their part as it really did give them the upper edge.

Vox has more of a vintage look and for the most part, always has. This is primarily because it has always been their focus, and the tone of their amps reflects that. They do not have the same level of distortion that a Marshall amp has and so the vintage look is the appeal with Vox.

While both amp brands can pull off the vintage look, only one will provide a modern aesthetic. So depending on what your stage look needs to be, one might work better than the other.

Price Range

Price is, of course, a major factor to consider when you’re shopping for gear. Both brands have amps that range from affordable to extremely expensive. 

An example of an affordable Vox would be the Mini Superbeetle digital modeling mini-stack amp with 50-watt output and a 10-inch speaker. This one sells for around $400. 

This is in direct competition with the Marshall CODE50 digital modeling combo amp, which has a 50-watt output. It also retails at around $400.

Solid State Model Comparison

ModelWattagePrice
Vox Mini Go 1010W$279.99
Marshall MG10G10W$139.99
Marshall MG15G15W $169.99
Vox VT20X20W$279.99
Marshall MG30GFX30W$299.99
Vox VT40X 40W$349.99
Vox Cambridge50W$399.99
Marshall Code 5050W$399.99

Tube Model Comparison

ModelWattagePrice
Marshall DSL5CR5W$799.99
Vox AC10C110W$579.99
Vox AC15C115W $799.99
Marshall ORI20C20W$749.99
Marshall 2525C20W$1,949.99
Vox AC30C230W$1,299.99
Vox AC30C2X30W$1,799.99
Marshall ORI50C50W$899.99

Check out our guide for Best Guitar Amps under $500 here.

Marshall vs Vox Amps: Which One Is Better?

At the end of the day, there are two main things to keep in mind when choosing between these two legendary brands: 

  1. The kind of sound you need 
  2. The type of music you play

Everything else comes second to these primary reasons of why you would select one over the other. While one might better look the part, if it doesn’t sound right for your music style, it will never work.

Why Vox Amps?

Choose Vox amps if you want a cleaner tone. A clean tone sounds better when you want to play a lot of notes. But it can also sound dull if your music demands a powerful, robust tone. If you’re a guitarist who wants to play faster and cleaner music, then the Vox may be the right choice for you. 

A Vox amp would also be the best choice for a guitarist who wants to sound like they’re from the British Invasion. Such a musician might want to emulate the sounds of The Beatles, The Zombies, or The Animals.

Check out the Fender vs Vox comparison we made here.

Why Marshall Amps?

Choose Marshall amps if you want more distorted tones. They are better suited for guitars that need big sounds that are heavier and darker than what the Vox gives you. If you’re looking to play hard rock or metal, then a Marshall is probably your best choice.

For a guitarist who wants to bust out riffs and solos in the style of artists like AC/DC, Metallica, or Guns n’ Roses, then Marshall is the obvious choice.

Check out our Marshall Vs Fender comparison here.

Conclusion

We’ve compared the two amps and looked at all their similarities and differences. In the end, you’ll have to come up with a decision that works for your needs. 

Will you go for the Marshall or Vox? Or maybe something else entirely? It’s up to you, but we hope that we’ve presented you with some valuable information that can aid in those decisions.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!