List of updates / new info. on Vox solid state amps (1967-1972)
"Vox Sound Limited" - an advert in "Melody Maker" magazine, 23rd October, 1971, for the showroom at 9 Gees Court. See this page for the various moves of office/showroom and factory in 1971. Unfortunately the mains power consumption of the guitar and bass amps is given rather than the music output - the Defiant and Foundation Bass are 50W amps; 100W (noted on the serial number plate) is what they consume from the mains.
A great new Supreme has just come to light, "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" serial number 2043, complete with covers, tilt-back stand, and footswitch. Thanks to Dario for the pictures.
A nice Conqueror and cab (with fittings) currently on ebay.uk. The latter also has its original Celestion T1088s.
"Midland Beat" newspaper ran from 1964 to 1967, charting the music scene, in the main, at a local level in the midlands of England. From '64-67 there are no Jennings adverts - some pictures of groups with Vox amplifiers - but no great sales push. The Midlands were the preserve of Marshall and Park (some great early ads for those companies, especially Marshall). Then in 1967, with the advent of the solid state line, two huge Jennings ads appear:
March 1967. The illustrations are of the pre-production amps, the footswitch socket further over to the left and indicator lamps on top of the control panel. Some key comments from Tom Jennings - development of the range took some 80,000 man hours; Colin Barrett, the rep. for JMI, has been besieged with requests for the new range when travelling abroad; the Vox stand at Frankfurt Fair, one of the most important events in the calendar for Jennings, is likely to generate great interest; also on show, the new Gyrotone range.
Detail from above. The Super Foundation Bass cab is in its "production" form. In February 1967 it was illustrated in a form that was considerably wider.
The "Daily Express", 1st February, 1975. The end of Dallas, which had taken on the production of a small selection of Vox items, and another end for Vox.
21st October (2)
Rory Gallagher with "Taste", Isle of Wight Festival, 28th August, 1970. Note the Supremes in the background. A larger image shows that there are VSEL labels on the speakers. Photo by Barry Wentzell.
A nice Dynamic bass set - amp, cab and chrome support. Not so many of these around. Thanks to Brad for the picture. The amp is registered on this page.
Vox Wah Wah no. 5985. Condition is excellent, electronics untouched. Pictures to be posted soon along with the others signalled below.
A largish batch of updates of amps and cabs will be coming shortly.
Vox Wah Wah no. 6251, complete with original box - a fantastic thing. Further pics will be put up on this page this weekend. Thanks to Raphael. Pics of three other pedals will be added too - 6330, 6988 and 5985, currently en route to the UK.
JMI wahs first came to market in Spring 1967. There is not a shred of evidence at present to show that any were produced in 1966.
30th September (2)
"Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Conqueror serial number 2377, distributed in Denmark by "Alfred Christensen". Thanks to Erik for the pictures.
For the Danish market, VSEL designated the Dynamic Bass "C2", Conqueror "C1", Foundation Bass "B2", Defiant "B1", Super Foundation Bass "A2", and Supreme "A1".
The main agent in Denmark was "European Musik Import A/S. Kirke Vaerlosevej 261, Lille Vaerlose, a little to the north of Copenhagen. See this page.
The paragraphs below, from this page:
Midt i 1960erne blev MAX produkterne distribueret til det danske marked af en virksomhed i Lille Værløse (forstad til København) med navnet Europæisk Musik Import A/S. Dele af fabrikationen foregik i Lille Værløse, andre dele muligvis (der er delte meninger om sagen) i England. Indehaveren af det senere SuperSound, den navnkundige hr. Larsson, der på samme tid boede i Lille Værløse, var hjernen bag E.M.I. (ikke at forveksle med det engelske pladeselskab med samme initialer).
Larsson, som importerede Vox, havde fundet ud af, at han kunne undgå diverse skatter og afgifter på komponenter (rør, trafoer m.m.) ved at importere løsdelene separat og derefter samle dem her i landet. Det gav ideen til et nyt navn indenfor dansk produktion af forstærkere: MAX.
In the mid-1960s, MAX products [amplifiers, speakers, and so on] were distributed to the Danish market by a company in Lille Værløse (suburb of Copenhagen) called European Music Import A / S. Parts of fabrication took place in Lille Værløse, other parts possibly (there are shared opinions on the matter) in England. The proprietor of the company that was to become "SuperSound", the renowned Mr. Larsson, who lived at Lille Værløse at the same time, was the brain behind E.M.I. (not to be confused with the English record label with the same initials).
Larsson, who imported Vox, had found out that he could avoid various taxes and duties on components (pipes, trams, etc.) by importing the loose parts separately and then assembling them here in the country. It gave the idea of a new name in Danish production of amplifiers: MAX.
A Goodmans speaker brochure from the 1970s (to judge by the graphics), probably from a year or two after the end of "Vox Sound Limited" (1973). Note the different varieties of the Audiom 12-P. The particular type was only marked on later Goodmans red labels.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 8th February, 1969. In a section on the Frankfurt Music Fair, a page by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" on solid state amps. The standby circuit is still in place. Controls, circuit boards, and other elements in the drawings are numbered and described in the accompanying text. Click as ever for larger images.
Given that many will only have seen the Vox solid state range in catalogues, shops, and pictures, the piece is likely to have furnished useful info - clearly and concisely.
Super Foundation Bass no. 2380 recently sold in Germany, registered here. In company with other early "Vox Sound Limited" amps, the control panel has "Vox Sound Equipment Ltd".
With its original speaker cabinet.
Below, currently on ebay.uk, Supreme no. 2033, "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", late 1968 or early 1969.
Serial number plate hand stamped (as is normal at this point in production). For other early VSEL Supremes, see this page.
29th August (2)
The full page ad in "Melody Maker", 16th Aug., 1969. A version had appeared in "Beat Instrumental" a month earlier - see this page.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 16th August, 1969, review of the "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" stand at the AMII Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel. Note that the PA amps - the SS50PA and SS100PA - are said to be new for 1969, along with the Multi-Link cabinets (4x12" and 2x15" + 2x12"). All had been introduced earlier in the year. The column speakers have been redesigned. The Midas organ amplifier is soon to appear. Links to the various items mentioned can be found on this page.
Dynamic Bass serial number 2024, early "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", produced late 1968 or early 1969, now registered here. Thanks to Peter for the pictures.
Just to register the existence of Supreme no. 1099 (ST.1099) and its cab. Thanks to Alex. Further details may be forthcoming. New pictures of Defiant no. 1026, bought new in Holland (presumably in 1967), and currently in Germany, will be posted soon.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 19th August, 1967 - piece on the Vox showing at the "British Musical Instrument Industries" Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel, 20th - 24th August '67.
Advert placed by Vox in the same issue. A version of this ad. was also published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, August 1967 - see this page .
Chuck Berry backed by the Roy Young Band on stage at the Locarno Ballroom, Coventry, 3rd February 1972, with two Supremes. It's not immediately clear which he's plugged into though. The song recorded on the evening is here:
Photo by Barry Wentzell.
Pictures of the Locarno from here.
4th August (3)
A new page on the Vox Discotheque / Discotape has been begun. The Discotheque was protoyped by JMI in 1967 but not put into production until 1971 by "Vox Sound Limited".
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, 3rd August 1971 - the first major advert for the unit.
4th August (2)
Currently on ebay, Defiant no. 2004, early "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", late 1968 / early 1969.
3rd August (2)
Just for interest, a good-ish large detail of John Lennon's Vox Conqueror on the stage of the Savoy Theatre during the filming of the "Hello Goodbye" video. Slightly indistict though the runner on the front may be, I'll eat my hat if it says "Defiant" rather than "Conqueror".
A detail of the same amp showing its two metal vents. Defiants had four.
Defiant no. 2748, complete with side stands, footswitch, covers, original drivers... - a rare thing. Thanks to Scott for the pictures.
Further batches of updates to follow shortly.
No. 2316, in company with 2236, survives with a full set of original covers. Covers for amp sections are scarce but not hugely rare; but full sets are very uncommon - so too covers that have escaped from their original cabs. Of the latter, only two are known at present - one in London, one in the USA. But there may of course be others hiding away.
An old pic of an assembled Supreme set. Amp, amp cover and footswitch belong together. The cab came from another source and the cab cover from another again.
A late "Super Foundation Bass" speaker cabinet - from late 1972 or perhaps early 1973. The number of diamonds on the grille cloth: 21 x 16.5. Speaker complement: two 15" ceramic Goodmans Power Range, 8 ohms each, for a total of 15/16. Earlier SFB cabs had 2 x 18". In common with end of run Foundation Bass cabs, there are wells on top for the feet of the amp to sit in. Thanks to Dave for the pictures.
Above, Foundation Bass serial no. 2774, showing how the feet locate. Further pictures are here.
30th June (3)
"Melody Maker" magazine, 18th May 1968. In August '68 retail price of a new Dynamic Bass amplifier section was £92.
30th June (2)
Relating to the entry below, the output socket to a Gyrotone on the rear panel of a Vox Midas all purpose PA amplifer. Links to pages on the Midas are here.
The input socket on the cabinet
Bulgin octal cable of the sort required by the Midas and Gyrotone. These cables were also employed by British hi-fi manufacturers - Leak being one.
The page on Vox Gyrotones has now been updated. Below, the advert placed by Macaris in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, March 1968, just over a year after they had taken over the 100 Charing Cross Road shop from Jennings. The shop remained the chief London outlet for Vox into the early 1970s.
"Gyrovox" was the early pre-production name for the Gyrotone units. See this page.
The other thing to mention is that Tom Jennings and Dick Denney, having been dismissed from Vox in late 1967, went on - through their new company "Jennings Electronic Industries" - to sell rotating speaker units and PA amplifiers that were pretty much identical to ones designed and indeed sent to market by JMI. Some sort of working accommodation is likely to have been reached: that Jennings and Denney could re-use certain designs that they had been instrumental in creating.
The JEI "P.O.1 Pulsation Unit", first noted in the literature in late 1969, but probably earlier, was little more than the Vox Gyrotone II with JEI cloth..
Above, a detail from the JEI brochure of 1969. In late 1971 / early 1972 the P.O.1 cost £157.00. The Vox Gyrotone II cost £155 in late 1970.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 10th June 1967, the earliest shop advert for an amp in the new Vox solid state range - a Conqueror in this case - that has come to light to date. £170 scrapes under list price by 2 shillings.
Currently on Reverb - "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Supreme serial no. 2106. Produced in the second quarter of 1969.
Below, pics of the Orange shop, 3 New Compton Street, set up in September 1968. Inside, a Supreme just visible. Pics from this page.
Immediately prior to Orange, the shop was the home of "Better Books", which gave space to the "London Film Makers Cooperative" (to mid 1967).
One of the floors of the building, probably the shop again, was apparently once leased by JMI - see this page - based on interviews with Gary Hurst and others. It was vacated c. 1964. Jennings's move out probably coincided with Better Books' move in, mentioned here.
Inside, one can just see a Supreme on its trolley middle left.
A new page has been started on "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" at the "Associated Musical Instrument Industries" Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel, London, 18-25th August, 1968 - click here.
Below, part of the Vox stand at the Trade Fair the year before, 20th-24th August, 1967:
Note the Discotheque Unit in the background. This was probably the one signalled in the ad in the entry immediately below. The lights, just slightly back from it in the pic above, may well be the ones mentioned in the ad too.
Small ads, Melody Maker magazine, 20th July 1968. Note the "VOX PROTOTYPE DISCOTHEQUE UNIT". Evidently the idea to build a disco unit arose either in late JMI days or early "Vox Sound Equipment Limited". In July 1968, the new company, VSEL, was little more than a month old. The seller was in Erith where the Vox Works were.
The earliest advert for the "Discotheque", the idea presumably having been revived under "Vox Sound Limited", is August 1971:
Full page advert, Beat Instrumental, August 1971. The disco scene. Note the new office/showroom: 9 Gees Court.
Paper sticker for the bass range. The legend reads:
DYNAMIC 30W BASS SPEAKER 15" 15ohms - 30W
FOUNDATION 50W BASS SPEAKER 18" 15ohms - 50W
SUPER FOUNDATION 100W BASS SPEAKER 18" 15ohms - 100W
DYNAMIC 30, FOUNDATION 50, SUPER FOUNDATION 100, BASS SPEAKER WIRING.
For the stickers in Conqueror and Defiant cabs - there was none for the Supreme - see below, 9th June (1).
9th June (2)
A great pic of "The Hykells" playing on the pitch of Birmingham City Football ground, 1968 - two Supremes with tilt-back stands.
Below, the wiring schemas pasted inside early Conqueror and Defiant speaker cabinets. None seems to have been provided for the Supreme, however.
The three different formats of preamp stamping in the JMI solid state bass range (Dynamic, Foundation and Super Foundation):
JMI format 1
30W.B PREAMP SER No. 01001 - Dynamic Bass, the first preamp section made, or stamped at least - from Dynamic Bass no. 1135. Even though the preamps for the three models in the bass range were identical, the type of amp envisaged was specified (30W = Dynamic Bass).
It seems likely that only the first hundred preamps (and perhaps fewer) were stamped in this way. The changeover for Conquerors - from "30W.T PREAMP SER No. 0xxxx" to "PRE / AMP.T SER No. 0xxxx" - had taken place by preamp no. 01113.
JMI format 2
PRE / AMP.B SER No. 01530. From a preamp that survives with a box but no power section. The absence of a wattage designation in the format meant the section could go in any member of the bass range - a simplification of the sorting and assembly processes.
The lowest known number in this format is 01180, the preamp in question belonging to a Foundation Bass. In view of the fact that a third format had come in by 01782 (below), around 600 bass amps must have been assembled in this "middle period".
JMI format 3
B.S / No. 01782. Foundation Bass serial no. 1328 - "Solid State" in the logo. It is not clear at present how high preamp numbers in this format go.
What seems to have happened at first is that batches of preamp chassis were formed on the metal-bending and punching machines, stamped with numbers, and stacked in piles. They were then taken, presumably more or less at random, to the work benches, populated with components (wired up), and put back on shelves in groups: "30W.B PREAMP" sections for the Dynamic Bass, "50W.T PREAMP" for the Defiant, and so on. A similar process will have been operating for power sections (assembled on different work benches) in parallel. When it came to making up a Dynamic Bass for sale, a "30W" preamp would be taken, again at random, from the shelves along with a "30W" power amp, and the two units fitted into a waiting box (with its serial number plate).
Clearly at times, production of preamp and power amp sections ran well ahead of boxing up, ie. final assembly of the amp for sale. In some months, however, as production slowed things seem to be more in step.
The key drive at the moment, however, is the collecting of details (so far as is possible), not the forming of blanket "rules" to make it all conveniently simple (or conveniently inscrutable).
Above, a picture said to be April 1967, but actually April 1969. Note that on all the boxes something under "Vox Sound Equipment" has been taped over. From pictures indisputably taken during the JMI period, we know that what has been covered over is the legend "Jennings Musical Industries Ltd" (see below). So the shot above must be from the "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" period - and if it is indeed April, then it will be April 1969, not earlier.
Detail of Jack Jennings from "The Beacon" journal, July 1967 - a definitive date, "Jennings Musical Industries Ltd" on the boxes
Indeed, April 1969 accords pretty well with the serial numbers of the Defiants pictured - 2155 to 2159. It would be great if one of those amps pops up. For the "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Defiants currently known, see this page.
Just to note that one of the original red CCL capacitors in the preamp of Defiant no. 2032 is dated December 1968.
At any rate, it's clear that amps were shipped out by serial number. So the significance of those numbers at least is assured.
Pictures of Foundation Bass serial no. 1165 (from July/August 1967) now added here.
2nd June (2)
A new page begun on adverts for Vox solid state amplifiers and speaker cabinets in Melody Maker magazine, 1968 - click here.
Melody Maker magazine, 27th July 1968. A vast (17.5 x 13 inches) full-page ad placed by the new company "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in advance of the Associated Musical Instrument Industries Fair at the Russell Hotel in August.
1st June (2)
A new Supreme in "Modern Sound" on Charing Cross Rd, advertised in Melody Maker magazine, 13th January 1968.
128 Charing Cross Road (green overdoor) is a couple of doors north of the turn into Denmark Street. Photo from Google Street.
Melody Maker magazine, 2nd March 1968. Vox - still Jennings Musical Industries - advert for the Frankfurt Fair, March 3rd-7th, 1968. A version of this ad had already been published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, Feb. 1968 - see this page.
The advance report of the Fair in "Beat Instrumental", March 1968, has a short section on Vox: "VOX SOLID STATE. Jennings Musical Industries promise introductions to their 'Vox' range, but will be featuring their solid-state amplifiers and also their organs, for both home and group use, including the full 'Continental' range."
Frankfurt Messe, photo taken in the 1970s. Trade Hall 11 is at the rear of the complex.
The complex as it is today. Many older buildings have been replaced, but Hall 11 still exists.