Vox Pathfinder 10 Review (2021) – Good Budget Combo Amp?

Updated on by Ross McLeod | There may be affiliate links on this page.

The Vox Pathfinder 10 is a compact combo amp that produces the familiar, warm British tone made famous by this legendary manufacturer.

Despite its modest size, this 10-watt combo is impressively loud. It’s ideal for practicing at home, intimate live performances, and is a useful tool in the recording studio.

The Pathfinder 10 is perfect for guitarists who perhaps don’t have space for a large, bulky tube amp, but still, require high-quality amplification and adjustable parameters for creating their desired tone. 

Vox Pathfinder 10 - Overview

The Pathfinder 10 includes the following components:

  • Solid-state design
  • 2-band EQ
  • 5-inch speaker
  • Headphone output
  • 2 channels
  • Compact and mobile
  • Classic British tone
  • Overdriven and clean channels
  • Several adjustable controls
  • Not suitable for performing in medium or large venues

Sound & Tone

The legendary “British Invasion” tone that Vox was responsible for creating in the golden age of rock n’ roll continues to be highly sought after over half a century later.

Original Vox amplifiers, like the iconic AC15, used a selection of preamp and power tubes to produce the gritty, warm tones. The Pathfinder 10 is an attempt to recreate those tones using solid-state technology.

Generally speaking, there’s a noticeable difference between authentic tube amps and solid-state versions. Indeed, the tone is subjective, and many guitarists have gravitated towards solid-state for several reasons.

With the Pathfinder 10 combo amp, Vox has managed to condense the qualities of their sizable tube amps into this compact solid-state model.

Impressively, the classic, warm tone of their tube amplifiers is present in the Pathfinder 10. The 10-watt output is surprisingly powerful and retains its sonic clarity even when pushed to the upper limits of its volume capabilities.

It’s impossible to completely recreate the natural tube overdrive that amps like the AC15 boast using solid-state designs. But Vox has come very close with the Pathfinder 10.

This is largely down to the clean/overdrive switch installed on the amp’s top panel. By pressing this switch, you go from clear and smooth clean tones to the classic crunchy sounds that Vox is famous for.

The 6.5-inch speaker included with the Pathfinder 10 reaches substantial volumes, especially considering its size.

Connectivity

Due to the compact size of the Pathfinder 10, Vox had to be economical when designing the input/output section.

Although it lacks the extensive connectivity options that you’d likely find on a full-sized tube amp, the Pathfinder 10 provides pretty much everything  you'll need for rehearsing and recording.

Located on the top of the amplifier is a single ¼ inch input. You can plug your guitar directly into this jack input, or send the output from your effects signal chain into the amp.

Also included on the Pathfinder 10 is a useful headphone/line output. This is also located on the top later of the amp. It is a ¼ inch output that you can plug your headphones into directly.

The advantage of having a headphone/line output is that it accommodates silent rehearsing. If you live in a busy area where practicing at loud volumes is not an option, you’ll find the headphone output to be a useful solution.

Alternatively, you can use this output for recording. By taking a line out from the amplifier, and connecting it to the input on your audio interface or mixer, you can enjoy clean recordings of the Pathfinder 10’s tone.

Additional Features

The Pathfinder 10 boasts the impressive ability to produce powerful clean and overdriven tones while remaining compact and lightweight.

To complement the warm, versatile sound of the amp, Vox has installed some useful additional features and controls. These allow you to tailor the various aspects of the amp’s tone to suit your preferences.

Firstly, there’s a 2-band EQ in the form of two rotary controls installed on the top of the amp. Labeled “bass” and “treble”, these knobs allow you to quickly add or remove the presence of the frequency band of your choice.

The EQ unit works similar to the tone pots on your guitar. By experimenting with different settings, you can create a surprisingly wide range of tones with this compact combo amplifier.

Then there’s the clean/overdrive switch. This is perhaps the standout feature of the Pathfinder 10 and is one of the advantages of using solid-state over tube designs.

By engaging the switch, you can instantly transform the tone of the Pathfinder 10 from smooth, clean and sparkling, to dirty, rough, and crunchy.

If you’re considering adding a distortion or overdrive pedal to your guitar rig, you might find that the clean/overdrive switch on the Pathfinder 10 mostly removes the need for such a pedal.

Manufacturer

There are very few amplifier manufacturers who can claim to have as big an influence on popular music as Vox.

When British bands made their way across the continent to America in the 1960s, the vast majority of them were using Vox tube amplifiers to create their new and refreshing guitar tones.

In addition to their long list of high-end amplifiers, Vox branched out into the world of effects pedals too. Jimi Hendrix was often seen using the Vox wah-wah pedal in the studio and live performances.

After suffering a lull in popularity in the 1990s, Vox has re-established itself as one of the leading amplifier manufacturers in the world.


Conclusion

Choosing the best budget combo amp can be tricky. With so many options on the market, it’s difficult to pinpoint the amplifier that offers the best performance and value for money.

The Pathfinder 10 is a fantastic, compact amp that is perfect for guitarists of all abilities. It may not possess the power required for playing at large venues, but for rehearsing and recording, it’s hard to beat.

If you’re looking for a capable amplifier that produces authentic tones, you should strongly consider the Pathfinder 10. It combines the classic Vox design with a blend of immersive clean and overdriven tones to suit all styles.

About Ross McLeod

Ross McLeod is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. His most recent project is named Gold Jacket, and he is the frontman and bassist of the garage rock band The Blue Dawns with whom he has released 4 EPs and toured extensively.

Leave a Comment