Ashton Music VP30

An extremely affordable all-valve combo amp from down under

Ashton Music is a diverse manufacturer that enjoys a bigger profile in its native Australia than in the UK, but the brand is trying to make inroads.

This is particularly the case with its amplification line, that includes the all-valve Viper 30 combo on offer here. It's designed in Australia but Chinese-manufactured.

Hands on

At first glance the Viper is a rather unremarkable beast, the styling theme seems to be black, and lots of it.

The cabinet, brushed-metal control surface and metal speaker grate are all a dull black, combining to make the amp look rather bland and a bit 80s.

The only dashes of colour come in the form of the chromed metal control knobs and the blue LED inside the power button.

As the name suggests, the Viper 30 has a power rating of 30 watts that is channelled through a single 1 x 12 speaker.

The controls are as you'd expect with Bass, Mid (with pull switch), Treble, Clean Level, Mean Gain, Mean Volume, Master Volume and Reverb. It also has a rear effects loop.

The aforementioned 'Mean' channel is Ashton's uniquely Aussie take on a distorted second channel.

The reverb is spring controlled and can be activated by a footswitch, which is available separately.

Sounds

The reverb is based on a fairly short spring and the results couldn't really be described as deep and spacious, but it adds a useful touch of ambience that's bright but not metallic.

If you fancy adding any other modulation effects, the rear panel effects loop works fine without any unwanted changes in volume.

The loop also has two switchable gain settings to compensate for any level matching issues.

Switching to the mean channel gives access to plenty more gain for some satisfyingly rich overdriven sounds for solos and power riffing.

The sound really comes alive here, along with the realisation that this is quite a lot of amp for the money.

The mid pull switch is a nice practical facility, scooping out a touch of mid-range for a slightly leaner mix, improving clarity and definition.

Sharing tone controls between the two channels is always going to result in a compromise but there are settings here that will work for both.

Summary

This amp provides a solid entry-level route into true valve amplification, particularly for anyone playing rock or blues.

The Venom is also a practical option for easily transitioning from bedroom practice, to the rehearsal room and gigs.

The range of choices in amplification is wider now than ever, with digital modelling and solid-state amps providing most of the lower cost options.

But there's still a certain cachet to owning an all-valve amp and this provides the opportunity to do just that at a price point that few will find intimidating.

What you're getting here is a true all-valve amp that offers natural organic valve-driven overdrive and responsiveness for a similar price to amps that do solid-state emulations of the valve sound.

If you're on a very tight budget but must have an all-valve amp then the Ashton Viper 30 should be on your radar.

MusicRadar Rating

3.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Compact. Inexpensive for an all-valve amp. Range of overdriven sounds.

Cons

Shared EQ. Footswitch not included. Components not square to chassis.

Verdict

Valve tone at a knock-down price. While it's not for people looking for creamy valve cleans, the distortion tone is great.

Additional Features

Spring reverb (footswitchable), effects loop

Amplifier Type

High voltage all-valve combo amplifier

Audio Output Power

30

Available Controls

Bass Clean Master Volume Mean Gain Mean Level Middle Reverb Treble

Available Inputs

1/4 Inch Jack

Cabinet Material

Premium Ply

Country of Origin

China

Depth (mm)

240

Height (mm)

470

Options

Optional Footswitch FSW200

Weight (kg)

20

Weight (lb)

44

Width (mm)

510

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.