List of updates / new info. on Vox solid state amps (1967-1972)
Foundation Bass amplifiers: - still no definitive pictures of a serial number below 1141. But trawling through some old images, it turns out that the one immediately below (from ebay, October 2006) is actually serial number 1150, sold recently.
The original (?) shop sticker was evidently removed at some point before the recent sale (third time on ebay.uk), but clearly the same amp (loose threads on grille cloth, rust on vents).
4th August (2)
General pictures of Vox Traveller serial number 1177 are now here. Details are here. The date codes of a number of transistors are "8C" = March 1968. The amp must have been produced therefore around April '68, ie. well into the period during which Jennings Musical Industries was in the hands of the receiver. JMI came to an end in June/July.
Following on from yesterday's entry, a few details from Chris on the transformers that Twickenham and Lemark produced for Vox solid state amplifiers.
The driver transformer, as has been said, is part no. TT3944.
Mains transformers: 30W (Conqueror and Dynamic Bass) = part no. TT3945; 50W (Defiant and Foundation Bass) = TT3946; 100W (Supreme and Super Foundation Bass) = TT3947.
Reverb driver transformers were TT4070:
The reverb driver transformer of a Vox PAR100SS
The mains and output transformers used in the various versions of the PA50SS, PA100SS and Midas amplifiers were NOT made by Twickenham or Lemark, however. Part numbers are ZD231 and ZD232.
Open frame mains transformer in a Vox PAR100SS - part no. ZD231, maker at present unknown.
Some more about George Stow and Stow Electronics, the fore-runner of the "Birch-Stolec" Group, which effectively ran "Vox Sound Limited" from mid 1971 to end of days in early 1973. See the entry for 14th July, below. Notes gathered here and in coming entries will be used to update other pages.
A huge thanks to Chris Burtenshaw, who worked at Twickenham Transformers, then Lemark Electronics, from 1968-1984, for key info - more to follow.
Stow Electronics was effectively the centrepiece of the Stow Group, which was known as "Stolec" from at least 1968. The other satellite companies were Startronic Ltd, Technical Encapsulations Ltd, and Digitizer Techniques.
(ref. "Electronic Components" magazine, no. 8, 1967; "London Gazette", 18th Nov. 1969; "Instrument Practice" magazine, no. 22, 1968).
The main business of the Stow Group was the manufacture of electronic switches.
"Twickenham Transformers" had come to be part of the Group by 1968, though the company was not at that time owned by Stow. Twickenham was based in Haywards Heath, Sussex.
(ref. "Electrical Times", no. 154, 1968; "Instrument Practice" magazine, no. 22, 1968).
Twickenham Transformers became Lemark Electronics in the summer of 1970.
(Information from Chris Burtenshaw, who worked at Twickenham and Lemark from 1968 to 1984. More on Lemark to follow.)
The main Stow Group (Stolec) factory, new in 1967, was on the Ponswood Industrial Estate, Windmill Road, Hastings/St Leonard's on Sea, Sussex.
(ref. "Electrical Times" magazine, no.152, 1967).
It was this factory, under the wing of the "Birch-Stolec" Group from mid 1970, that took on the manufacturing of Vox equipment in mid 1971.
A driver transformer from a "Vox Sound Limited" PA amplifier. These were also used in the guitar and bass amplifiers. As the sticker notes, the transformer was manufactured by Lemark Electronics, part number TT (Twickenham Transformers) 3944. The part codes of other transformers - all with TT numbers - will be listed soon.
Some pictures of Vox Traveller serial number 1177, complete with its original cover, on their way. For the time being, the serial number plate and a detail of the main filter capacitor showing date code "A8" = January 1968. The amp is therefore likely to have been made February/March 1968.
Date code "A8" = January 1968.
The highest serial number for a JMI Traveller to date is 1297, so perhaps around 60-100 were produced in the first third of 1968. One has to allow for the fact that amps produced in late 1967 might have remained in the Vox Works for some time before being given serial number plates prior to despatch.
At least one Traveller - serial number 2001, presented to the son of a Vox contractor - was issued though perhaps not made by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited".
VSEL began its sequence of numbering at 2000 (known from a surviving Dynamic Bass amplifier).
Sold on Gumtree (UK), 2015.
Defiant serial number 1204. Preamp chassis no. 1315; power amp chassis no. 1776. Signal path capacitors are still the yellow Lemcos. The power amp chassis has red CCL caps dating from 1966 and early 1967.
The latest component date codes visible are February 1967.
14th July (2)
Below, thanks also to Lee, a set of stickers for Vox Guitars at the World Expo of 1967. From late 1966, JMI played little or no part in promotions in the States.
Thomas Organ part number 88-5417-1.
Some more on George Stow. Stow, as has been noted on other pages, was important both to "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" and to "Vox Sound Limited". For the former, as owner of "Stow Electronics" and "Twickenham Transformers", he oversaw the supply of various components for the solid state range.
"Twickenham Transformers" was the parent company from which "Lemark Transformers" later sprang.
Lemark driver transformer.
Some early VSEL transformers are still labelled "Twickenham", however, as in the case of Defiant serial number 2032 - pictured below.
Defiant serial number 2032 - power transformer labelled "Twickenham Transformers Ltd.". "Twickenham" were based in Haywards Heath, as was "Lemark" initially. "Lemark" moved to the Ponswood Road Industrial Estate in St Leonard's on Sea, however, some time after VSL production was transferred there in late 1971 (to the Birch Stolec factory). The West Street Works in Erith were given up.
A little way into 1969, one finds the same transformers branded as "Lemark". But the part numbers - prefixed with "TT" (either printed or written) - indicate the lineage.
When VSEL began to crumble in late 1969 / early 1970, George Stow put the better part of his existing electronics businesses into liquidation and formed the "Birch-Stolec" group. Vox was saved and recast as "Vox Sound Limited" with support from "Corinthian Securities" (sometimes and inaccurately called the "Corinthian Bank"), a company with a none-too-stellar reputation in the City. But Vox survived.
George Stow became its managing director:
"Melody Maker" magazine, 14th August 1971.
With the collapse of VSL in early 1973, the story in a sense becomes even more about people. What happened to the employees? Where did they find new work? Reg Clarke, General Sales Manager of JMI and VSEL, had already moved to Dallas Arbiter (in 1970). George Stow, it turns out, joined Reslosound after VSL came to end. Below, a detail from a piece on the Frankfurt Musikmesse of 1975 published in "International Musician", April 1975.
"International Musician", April 1975. I had put the piece from which this detail comes on the updates page of Vox AC100 website a little while ago without really registering the presence of Stow.
Vox in its three incarnations - JMI, VSEL and VSL - had offered Reslo mics in its catalogues for many years. And three of its own mics - the Vox VL1, VL2 and VL3 - were in fact varieties of standard Reslo productions. George Stow will have known the Reslo people long before he joined.
Rick Huxley, mentioned in the "Melody Maker" snippet above as a sales rep., had been the bassist for the Dave Clark Five. Following the collapse of VSL in '73, he opened a music equipment store near the Oval with Doug Jackson, a friend.
A Vox matchbook featuring Dusty Springfield, very scarce these days. Thanks to Lee for the image.
A note on the two printings of the first JMI solid state brochure, one issued around May/June 1967, the other later in the year. A third was produced in the second half of 1968 by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited".
There are several ways to distinguish the various printings:
(1) The first issue has a plain cover. Later ones have a picture in black and blue.
Front cover of the first printing.
(2) Copies of the second issue often have turquoise rather than blue illustrations and legends:
First printing above, second printing below.
First printing above, second printing below.
(3) Perhaps most telling if the catalogue has lost its front cover (as the second of the two above has), is the caption to the Gyrotones. The first issue has "Now with the 'Whirly-Bird' Sound". The second has "Now with 'Wrap-Around' Sound":
First printing above, second printing below.
(4) The third printing has "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" rather than "Jennings Musical Industries" on its back cover.
Also thanks to Pete Kappa, a circuit diagram (schematic) of the JMI Dynamic, Foundation and Super Foundation Bass preamp, drawn from Foundation Bass serial number 1443:
Serial number 1002 is on this page, along with the related "Slave Master" and "Compact 100".
15th June (4)
The picture below is said to have been taken at the Frankfurt Musikmesse (Music Trade Fair), March 1968. This is highly unlikely. There are good reasons for thinking that it is either from the British Musical Instrument Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel, London, in August, or the Frankfurt show of 1969 - notably the presence in the background of the solid state PA amps - the 50SS and 100SS.
These PA amps are described as being new in Gary Hurst's report (in "Beat Instrumental" magazine) of the London show in August. And one can indeed just make out that they are labelled as being "NEW" in the photo.
What follows from Hurst's report is that JMI must have played some part in the design. VSEL came into being in June '68. Two months seems far too short a time for the development of such units.
For JMI in 1968, see this new page - which will be expanded in due course.
A detail from the pic above. Note that on the fascia of the amp on the left there is only "VOX" not "VOX PA50SS".
15th June (3)
"Melody Maker", 13th January, 1968
Charlie Cobbett's brief run-down of the equipment that the Beatles recorded with in late 1967 - the Vox Stylist guitar (?) and McCartney's reported use of a Defiant and T100 speaker cab are surprising, however.
Below, the short bio. on Charlie in "The Beacon", July 1967. For the issue as a whole, see this page.
"The Beacon", Journal of the Royston Group of Companies, July 1967.
15th June (2)
Three further "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Defiants now added: serial numbers: 2174, 2270 and 2285. Number 2270 is the earliest Defiant to have have come to light so far with the revised circuit - no standby, single indicator lamp on the front, six-position MRB.
A set of updates in the offing. For the time being, Foundation Bass serial number 2770 - thanks to Eradj for the pictures.
Further pictures of Conqueror serial no. 2050, early "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", late 1968 / early 1969. All three compartments of the serial number plate are hand-stamped.
Vox solid state amps in the shop of Paul Beuscher, boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris, from this great repository:
The shop, 1969 - note the late JMI AC50, US-style logo, still with its inspection label and black and gold VOX hangtag.
Flyer from 1968-1969.
"New Musical Express" magazine, 9th December, 1967 - end of year poll.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 15th November, 1969, signalling a small demonstration event in Leytonstone at which Vox was to be present.
For a small Vox-only event a couple of years later, see the first entry for 1st May below. Such events were probably far more frequent than "Melody Maker" alone records.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 15th November, 1969.
1st May (2)
A page and a bit from a "Vox Vintage Calendar", printed in Germany in 2000. The amps featured belonged in the main to Reisz Promotions, a hire company. When the business was wound up c. 2012, a large number of its amps and cabs were sold to Guitar Center in the USA. The guitars in the calendar were supplied by Wolfgang Seidel. The better part of his collection is now in the UK.
Advert in "Melody Maker", 3rd June, 1972, placed by Dawsons, which is still in business today, probably in conjunction with Vox. Vox only placed a couple of ads (in "Beat Instrumental" magazine) after this one - then silence. No stand is listed as being present at the Frankfurt Fair in March '73.
3rd June 1972. From left to right: Focus folding PA speakers; a PA100SS on top of a set of organ speakers; SG200 bass and SG200 guitar; two "Hastings" pedals (a wah and a wow-fuzz?); a discotape unit; AC30 with an unidentifiable item on top; and a Supreme in tilt-back stand (as in the ad placed by Vox in February, below).
The panel across the page from the above - a small Northern campaign in the offing.
A great advert in "Melody Maker" magazine, 19th February, 1972 - one of the last, if not the last, to feature an amplifier in the solid state range. Runs of ads placed by Vox later in the year are generally either for guitars or the discotape unit.
19th February 1972
20th April (2)
"Melody Maker" report on the Vox showing at the AMII Music Fair at the Russell Hotel, London, August 1971.
Note that George Stow is Managing Director. Companies owned by Stow had supplied VSEL with various components from 1968. When VSEL collapsed in early 1970, Stow helped save the business, recasting it as VSL.
Reg Clarke, General Sales Manager of JMI (from 1964) and of VSEL (from summer 1968), did not stay on with VSL, leaving to join Dallas Musical Limited (Dallas Arbiter) where he was instrumental, in 1973 and again in 1975, in saving the last of the Vox line - the AC30, AC50, and speaker cabinets.
14th August 1971.
Some adverts from "Melody Maker" magazine, 1971, signalling the addition of three new guitars to the Vox range:
15th May 1971.
26th June 1971.
6th November 1971.
Some notes on the "Queen's Award" wah pedals made for Jennings in the EME factory at Recanati (a little south of Ancona, not near Milan as previously said). They were produced side-by-side with a set of Clyde McCoy "script" or "signature" wahs nominally produced for Thomas Organ but actually only sold locally in Italy.
The two sets of wahs are identical - potted circuit boards, English Arrow wafer switches, same schema of wiring - the only difference being the base plate.
One never finds McCoy script wahs with potted circuit boards in the U.S.A.
Queen's Award symbol (the award made in April 1967) on the base plate, produced in Italy for Jennings. Serial number (provided in England) - 07857. Note the red paint on the inductor to mark it has been inspected/tested.
Wah nominally made for Thomas Organ but sold locally in Italy. Serial number 5992. No red inspection mark on the inductor. This pedal came from Rome.
Four McCoy script wahs have come to light in Italy so far, three with serial numbers in the 5000s - 5628, 5631, 5992 - the fourth unknown. The numbers evidently belong to the main Thomas Organ numbering sequence, which (very) provisionally seems to be:
Beginning of run to c. 2500: Clyde McCoy "picture" wahs - a picture of McCoy on the base plate.
c. 2500 - 23100: Clyde McCoy "script" wahs - base plate as above.
Short run (transitional): same circuit, base plate plain but for an applied detail from one of the Thomas Organ adverts.
The pedals with potted boards, produced for sale in Italy and export to England, therefore appear to be early in the sequence of McCoy script wahs.
Presumably the potting was thought necessary to prevent companies in Italy and England copying the circuit. One has to assume that it would not have been easy to import wahs (with unpotted boards) from the States.
Standard Clyde McCoy "script" wah made in Italy and exported to the USA - unpotted board. Some have tropical fish capacitors, others green Arco.
At least one McCoy script wah in the USA has a circuit diagram in its base, probably drawn in Italy - the writing is European not American. Others are said to have, or at least to have had, the same, though for the moment the photo below is the only firm evidence.
Numbers are given in continental form - angled heads to "1", crossed "7", and so on.
The circuit is given also in the PRELIMINARY SCHEMATIC published by Thomas Organ in April 1967, but expressed in a different form, and with different transistors - 2N3900A rather than the 2N5232A of the drawing above.
Descriptions of parts and component numbers were provided on a separate sheet, also dated April 1967. Service schematics of course would not keep the circuit from prying eyes any more than a screwdriver would.
Quite a lot remains to be done. A good number of venturesome remarks made about early Thomas Organ wah pedals over the years - some still current - need proper testing out.
A further instance of the Jennings advert for the new wah pedal from "Melody Maker", 22nd April, 1967, printed slightly differently from the "Beat Instrumental" version:
"Melody Maker", 22nd April, 1967.
14th April (2)
Thanks to Jim Nugent, further information and material on the Vox Wah Wah pedals in England in 1967. The page on wahs will be updated shortly.
The first things to appear in the UK were a flyer and adverts, the one below from "Beat Instrumental" magazine:
Click as ever for larger images. The advert, first placed in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, May 1967, has the "please send further details" panel, lower right.
Above, a reply to a letter requesting information about a wah-wah tremolo arm, mentioned in "Beat Instrumental" magazine as being in development by JMI. Dated 10th October 1967. Note that the runner at the foot of the letter already names Cyril Windiate as General Manager. Tom Jennings, who to all intents and purposes had been fired in September, is for the sake of dignity, "Consultant to the Board".
Accompanying the letter sent by JMI from Erith was the first version of the US flexi disk, shown below back in place in the printed card from which it was popped out. An example of the second version of the disk still in its card can be seen in the entry below for the 8th April.
Above, the inspection tags of "Vox Sound Limited" Supreme cabs, serial numbers 506 and 528 - the two middle ones in the group shot. Thanks to Paul Johnson for the pictures.
From a different source, cab no. 525. 11th July 1972 was a busy day for inspector "M".
Below, some more pictures of the solid state brochure drawn up by JMI for the Australian market in late 1966:
Above, the basic foot-pedal and the optional extra.
The foot-pedal shown at the British Musical Instrument Industries Trade Fair at the Russell Square in August 1966 is offered, at this stage, as an optional extra. The illustrations show the amps in their pre-production format and with their pre-production names. What was released as the "Virtuoso" is here the "Supreme", and what was released as the "Supreme" is the "Beatle".
The prices (in Australian dollars) of the various production models were later noted in ink:
Supreme/Virtuoso: $505 AU
Conqueror: $965 AU
Defiant: $1035 AU
Beatle/Supreme: $1450 AU
Dynamic Bass: $845 AU
Foundation Bass: $975 AU
Super Foundation Bass: $1170 AU
These equate by and large to the prices given in the JMI pricelist of April 1967.
The text in the lower left-hand panel expands on that of the advert published in "Melody Maker" magazine, 20th August, 1966.
"Melody Maker", 20th August, 1966, lower half of the advert.
The "Watchdog" was one of the elements adopted from the solid state amps issued by Thomas Organ under the Vox name in America. The limiter effectively throttled the volume when the output section neared the point of breakdown distortion. Jack Bruce was not a fan, presumably having tried a Super Beatle or something similiar on Cream's tour of the US in late March / early April 1967:
"Beat Instrumental" no. 51, July 1967.
Fortunately, the JMI engineers decided against the Watchdog, prefering instead full thermal cut-out to protect the output transistors. The dreadful bulldog motif was by and large ditched too, though it was retained for certain accessories.
The bulldog cliche on Vox Precision Guitar Strings.
And continuing the recent run, another very early Dynamic Bass with cab - serial number 1035 (spring 1967).
A new page has been begun on the VSEL Supreme speaker cabinet that came to light recently:.
Wiring and speakers are all original. Below a schema of the circuit.
This schema is likely to have been used throughout the VSEL period: mid 1968 to early 1970. The schema used by JMI - Spring 1967 to Spring 1968 - is slightly different. An outline will be posted soon.
Returning briefly to promotional material for the new wah-wah pedals, early 1967, it turns out that at least three different records were produced:
(1) the version of the plexi disc sent over from California to Jennings in England. As in the case of the version below, the disc came on a card, scored around so that it could be pushed out. Thomas Organ stock no. 08-00110-0
(2) with inset of Phantom guitar. This version, which contains an additional clip, does not seem to have been exported. The copy above was sent to Yeager's Music Store in Baltimore. Below, a copy still on its card. Thomas Organ stock no. 08-00110-0, as above.
One can see the scored outline of the disc on the back of the card.
(3) a disc presumably only issued to US radio stations. Thomas Organ stock no. 08-00132-0
7th April (2)
The page on Vox wah-wah pedals has been updated - see towards the end - with additional info on the "Queen's Award" pedal, produced for Jennings in Italy by E.M.E. in late 1967 and early 1968. A further example has been added to the register. Thanks to Dave for the pics.
One of the striking features of these pedals is that the circuit board is potted with resin to prevent copying, much as in the early wahs produced at Erith. It seems that the Italian factory also potted the boards of certain "Clyde McCoy script wahs" - Clyde's name is presented in large cursive script on the base plate. These were commissioned by Thomas Organ for the American market - but the potted "Clyde McCoy script wahs" seem to have been reserved for sale in Italy. At least three survive there; none have turned up so far in the States. The "script wahs" that survive in the USA - the ones that are readily traceable at any rate - all have unpotted boards.
Aside from the base plate, the only differences between the "Queen's Award" wah and these "Clyde McCoy script wahs" with potted circuits are the types of Arrow switches used (the former has a wafer switch, the latter a sealed Arrow unit) and the pots.
A fantastic collection of Supremes recently found in Australia. Three VSL amp and cab sets, and one VSEL cab. Two of the VSL cabs have their original inspection tags (dated 11th July 1972) and covers. Thanks to Paul for info and pics. Further pics will be posted soon.
One of the VSL cabs contains a bag of feet tacked in with cable clips at the factory:
The Celestion speakers - all purpose T1925 with whizzer cone - have date codes "EF" = May 1972 - ie. produced only a couple of months (if that) before final inspection of the cab.