Vox Tonelab SE
Vox Tonelab SE
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iamqman 03/17/2011

Vox Tonelab SE : iamqman's user review

« Better than you'd think »

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I traveled to my local guitar center and was looking around for an all-in-one guitar effects processor and the salesman pointed me to this thing. I was a little leery at first with it because I had heard that the all encompassing effects units can lack in many areas and the reason for purchasing would be simply convenience. Well I went ahead an bought it to take home to plug into my Vox Ac30. I played around with it that day and it started to malfunction. There was an issue with the sound output. So I boxed it up and went back to Guitar Center. I got another one came back home and fired it up. This time there wasn't any issue with the sound.

If you have ever used simulation amps or stomp boxes then you know that they don't sound anything like or feel anything like the real thing. Well Vox surprisingly did a much better job at coming closer to those tones. Most likely since they are using a 12ax7 tube to generate those tones, they do sound a lot better. One tube isn't going to cut it but it is very close to the real deal. In a different application....try running it into your computer instead in front of your amp and you will get stunning results. Just check out Kent Carlevi on Youtube and see his VH videos and judge for yourself. He pretty much nails the EVH tone in spades.


This unit is very easy to use and with a few clicks you can dial up some great tones. The wah controllers are great as well. You can assign one to the volume and one to the wah or expression to different effects. I felt that this unit had a step above the Line 6 floor units since it had two foot controllers and used a tube to get that distortion grind found in tube amps.

It is fairly simple operation and the manual was quite clear in their description of the unit. Though I found myself figuring it out as I went more than reading the directions. With processors like this I find it better to go through a try and error process than spend time looking through the text book.


I really enjoyed the tones I was getting from this unit. The tones felt natural and real compared to other units like the Line 6 XT where the stomp boxes sounded very weak. The distortion sounded full and natural and the combination of the effects gave this an easy step up from the POD XT Live.

I used this unit exclusively with my Vox Ac30 and a Strat. I was going to a U2 type sound at that time and I think I came pretty close.

One thing I hated about this unit was it seemed that programming was hard to go back and forth when charging presets. So if you didn't like something and you wanted to go back and correct it, it made you jump through a few hoops to get back the start of the patch. This was frustrating to me that Line 6 was so much better and the speedyness of correction. So I had to be sure I was committed to the present before I went any further. Perhaps I didn't get a good grasp of how it worked but I consider that a negative if it isn't so user friendly. Once you got the tone it was golden though.


Like I said before the correction issue was a big set back and really was the downfall of the unit and eventually the reason I sold it and went to Line 6. I felt the tone was better in the Tonelab but the easy of use was much better in the Line 6. Since I dumped the Vox Ac30 and went with Marshall I didn't need the stomp box characteristics in the TL and just needed the effects for delays and modulation so I was completely fine with my transition.

I would recommend this unit to someone who is wanting to run this with a clean type amp. It was a bit pricey at around $400. If you need just effects to go with a tube amp then I would pass on this unit. Try the Line 6 or TC eletronics stuff.