List of updates / new info. on Vox solid state amps (1967-1972)
2018 - January to May
Melody Maker magazine, 6th January 1968. A Supreme (amplifier only) for £75. Also a Conqueror, presumably second-hand, for 95 guineas = £99 and 15 shillings. Note that the advert mis-states the amp's power output - 70 watts instead of 30 watts. The power *consumption* of the Conqueror, as noted on the serial number plate, is 75 watts - which is perhaps where the advert's mistake arose.
Just to add, the Conqueror can only have been 8 months old at most when put up for sale in January '68. Later in 1968, the retail price of a Supreme amplifier alone was £136. So the one in the ad above will probably have been second-hand too.
Some small ads for Vox Supremes, Melody Maker magazine, 1968
11th May, 1968
11th May, 1968
29th June, 1968. Also a second-hand Conqueror "complete as new", £145.
27th May (3)
A provisional batch of pictures of a Supreme produced in early 1969 and exported to Denmark by Vox Sound Equipment Limited now posted here.
27th May (2)
The Normal/Distortion board from an early Foundation Bass preamp (not the amp below). A stamped roundel above the blue capacitor - "B.60". At least one other early FB has this stamp. Whether the boards of early Dynamic Bass were stamped in this way remains to be seen. Early Super Foundation Bass boards certainly had stamps:
The Bass board of SFB serial number 1090. A better pic will probably reveal the legend inside the roundel. The Normal/Distortion board of this amp is not stamped.
Foundation Bass 1165 just emerged. Brown control panel, first style wooden box with top screws for preamp.
Just to give some context to transistorised amplifiers in the UK, below adverts for the ranges produced by Fal (under the auspices of Dallas Arbiter) and Burns in 1965:
Melody Maker magazine, 6th March 1965
Melody Maker magazine, 10th April 1965
Super Foundation Bass serial number 2559 registered here, its cab designated a "STF Bass" = "Super Twin Foundation Bass".
12th May (2)
Some pictures and brief details on a PA50SS now on this page. Further info to follow.
Upper picture, the rear of the footswitch din socket in an early Supreme shown in the same orientation as the din plug below it. The upper pic is rotated by 90 degrees.
The redrawn schematic of the Virtuoso/Conqueror/Defiant/Supreme footswitch wiring posted on this page, unfortunately contained an error, which has now been rectified.
Made for Vox by Sola Sound, the Tonebender III. First introduced in 1968 and taken up by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", the example above is from 1969. See this page for the later history of the Tonebender.
For other pedals made by Sola Sound (and Coloursound) for Vox, see these pages. The earliest were marked "Erith. Kent. England" or some variant of that, later ones - from late 1971 - "Hastings".
A nice Defiant set currently on ebay. Amplifier serial number 2097, "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", speaker cabinet early "Vox Sound Limited", with VSEL stickered speakers.
A new page, gathering together the info on the three button solid state footswitches given below, is building here. Schematics included.
Further notes on footswitches
A rather untidy group shot.
Above, eleven footswitches / pedals for the solid state guitar amp effects - D = Distortion, R = Reverb and V = Vibrato, which is actually called "Tremolo" on the control panel of the amplifiers themselves.
The body of the units was cast iron coated with a tough silver hammerite finish. Bases were a shaped metal plate covered with ridged rubber. Bases fixed to bodies with a central screw - either 2BA or 4BA.
There were two main types of casting/mould, both used fairly randomly - one with serifs to the letters of V O X, the other without - scroll down this page for details.
Wafer switches, the earliest type (see the entry below), were employed well into the "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" period (mid 1968 to early 1970).
In the "Vox Sound Limited" period enclosed black switches were fitted (again, see below), though it is not wholly clear yet when precisely they came in, nor whether once adopted they were used to the exclusion of wafers.
The footswitch of Conqueror serial number 1017 is indeed a re-purposed 7-series switch. Note the double throw black Arrow switch (six contacts on its underside) for the distortion. Only a single throw was required for the fully solid state amps.
The three-button footswitch is illustrated in the catalogue / brochure of June 1967, but no price is explicity given in the pricelist of April 1967.
5th May (2)
Some more on the three-button footpedals (footswitches) for the guitar amps
The earliest pedals have wafer switches made by Arrow. A small number, perhaps only the first few batches, have an inspection stamp: "INSPECTED No.2" then three letters. The first is indistinct (in two different pedals). The second two are "E. L." These inspection stamps are not common.
Inspection stamp in the pedal of Conqueror 1017. The two images above are from a different example.
Later pedals have sealed black Arrow switches. The solder joints are occasionally daubed in rust red to indicate that they have been checked.
Click as ever for a larger image.
Above, five Vox footpedals for solid state guitar amps, all with original cables (including the last, which is black instead of grey) and din plug ends. The amps that these belong to are:
TOP LEFT: Conqueror serial no. 1017.
TOP CENTRE: Conqueror with a serial number in the 1030s or 1040s.
TOP RIGHT: Supreme serial no. 1094.
LOWER LEFT: Unknown.
LOWER RIGHT: Supreme with a serial number in the 2200s.
A shot to compare the pedal of Conqueror 1017 (left) with that of the Conqueror with a number in the 1030s/1040s. Note that the mould/casting of 1017's is different - serifs at the ends of the letters in V O X. All the other pedals above are like the righthand one. It may be that the early Conqueror pedal was a 7-series pedal re-purposed by Vox.
Just to add, further pictures of the PA50SS signalled in the post below to follow.
A nice clean Vox SS50 Public Address amplifier (PA50SS) - "Vox Sound Limited", serial number 1289. The main power transistors - 2N4347, as in Vox Defiants - have date codes 7001 = 1st week of 1970. The latest visible dateable component is a Sprague capacitor, code 7102 = 2nd week of 1971. The amplifier was probably built in the first third of 1971.
2nd May (2)
Some details from Conqueror serial number 1017 - preamp 1240 and power amp 1079. Note that the preamp is stamped in later format - PRE/AMP T. rather than 30W T. PRE/AMP.
The original RCA 2N3055 power transistors have been replaced, but the 2N3054 driver transistor remains - date code "7A" = January 1967.
Caption to the picture below corrected. Super Foundation Bass 1016 now registered on the main SFB page, which will be updated further shortly.
29th April (2)
A companion page added giving details of the dateable elements in the preamp of the early Conqueror referenced in the entry below.
A detail from the control panel showing the misprinted OFF - MRB at the Top Boost switch. The legend should be OFF - ON.
A new page added with details of the power section of one of the early Conquerors with a misprinted control panel.
The Conqueror in view, with a slightly later Supreme.
28th April (5)
A nice "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Dynamic Bass - serial no. 2219 - with JMI speaker cabinet has recently come up again on ebay.de.
28th April (4)
Pictures of Virtuoso serial number 1019 now added here . Note that an early Conqueror (no. 1017) and Super Foundation Bass (no. 1016) have recently emerged too - see the entry for 27th April, below.
28th April (3)
A "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Super Foundation Bass from 1969 - still the standby circuit (two indicator lamps at front). The cab has been re-clothed and given an old-style logo.
A late-ish "Vox Sound Limited" Super Foundation Bass - from around 1972 - now added here.
28th April (2)
A Defiant listed here. "Vox Sound Limited" amp and cab. The speakers, however, are still "Vox Sound Equipment Limited".
27th April (2)
Conqueror serial number 1017 with footswitch. The amp is on its way to the UK. Further pictures to follow. Note that the designation on the serial number plate is not Conqueror (as on the grille cloth at front) but "ST30R" = Super Twin 30 Reverb. Early Defiants (and cabs) were "ST50R".
Super Foundation Bass serial no. 1016, the earliest to have come to light to date. Superb condition, complete with original covers and chrome amp support. The speaker cab is of the early single 18" driver and port type. The logos have "V O X" alone in silver. Thanks to Larry for the pictures.
Conqueror serial number 2111, "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" (stated on the control panel and the plates of both amp and cab) - likely to have been produced late 1968 / early 1969 - currently on ebay.uk.
8th April (2)
A note on the RCA power transistors in Defiants and Foundation Basses - the two amps have the same power section circuit, the power transistors being arranged in pairs.
The RCA transistors in question are the 2N3442 and 2N4347. Both types were in use from the beginning as the detail from the schematic above and surviving amps show. The 2N4347 is slightly less robust than its counterpart.
Vox Defiant serial no. 1031. The date code of the 2N3442 is "6E" = May 1966.
Vox Defiant serial no. 1583 (still JMI). The date code of the 2N4347 is "7F" = June 1967.
Probably because they were cheaper, 2N4347s are more or less standard in the "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" and "Vox Sound Limited" period.
Vox Foundation Bass serial no. 2813, one of the last made. The date code of the 2N4347 is "2D" = March 1972.
Vox Defiant serial no. 2726 (around 100 or so from end of days). The date code of the 2N4347 is "7050" = 50th week of 1970.
A superb Supreme - serial number 1195 - now registered here. Thanks to Gerry for the photos.
Below, the article in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, August 1968, touching on the beginnings of "Vox Sound Equipment Limited". Click for a larger downloadable pic. The page on VSEL is here.
"Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in the words of Reg Clark, General Sales Manager, was "born at the beginning of June ". The merchant bank that underwrote VSEL was the Corinthian Bank, named a year or so later in connection with the company's collapse. Corinthian's reputation was not good. The Beatles are pictured inset on stage at the Savoy Theatre, London - the promo for "Hello Goodbye". The amps are a UL430 and two Conquerors.
The point of introducing VSEL and June 1968 is the amp below, a late JMI Supreme - apologies for the small general picture:
Date code "8E" = May 1968.
Date code "8J" = September 1968.
This then is a JMI amp that was completed by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in the last quarter of 1968.
Mustard caps in the preamp - date codes "C7N" and "D7N" = third and last quarter of 1967.
6th April (2)
A slightly fizzy detail from "Melody Maker" magazine, 27th May 1972:
The advert is a version of one originally published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine in January '72 (below). The address of the showroom is still 9 Gees Court. See this page for more.
Vox only advertised sporadically in "Melody Maker" in the 60s and early 70s - the magazine was really Selmer's preserve (certainly in the mid and late 60s). "Beat Instrumental" was Vox's favoured vehicle for adverts and notices.
Conqueror serial no. 1093 on the workbench. Thanks to Matt for the pictures - more here.
Also added, a couple of pictures of Conqueror serial no. 2171 with old-style "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" plate.
And a Conqueror with a number somewhere in the high 1300s / low 1400s paired with an early speaker cab (designated "ST30") now without speakers.
3rd April (2)
Picture pages in the making of an early Vox Conqueror set, probably from the first or second batch of amps produced.
31st March (2)
Beat Instrumental Magazine, July 1967, with mention of Pete Quaife and Bill Wyman's Super Foundation Bass amp.
Photos of Bill's amp are common enough, not so Pete's however. But recently the pictures below, taken by Jan Persson in 1969 at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, have emerged in Getty Images:
Click as ever for larger versions
The amp on two 2x15" cabinets. Note the "VOX" logo in plain silver and the two indicator lamps. The runner lower right on the front of the amp is three diamonds long, but what does it say?
The amp above has every chance of being the one Pete mentions in July 1967. It is evidently not a pre-production model. But the legend on the runner, insofar as it can be made out, looks non-standard. Larger versions of the first pic (or at least a detail from it) will probably sort it out.
Unexpectedly, a JMI Supreme and Defiant on stage at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, October 1968 - presumably thanks to the efforts and ingenuity of Reg Clark (General Sales Manager) and his team - see the mini-biographies on these pages. By the time the concert took place, JMI had become "Vox Sound Equipment Limited".
John Lee Hooker and T-Bone Walker. Picture from Getty images.
Muddy Waters and band: the Defiant, which Muddy is using, seen from back of stage.
30th March (2)
"Vigon", Le Royal Show, 1969. A Supreme and Super Foundation Bass in view.
Conqueror serial number 1579, one of the last produced under JMI, complete with covers, footswitch and documentation. Bought new on the 28th June 1968 for £184 16s (£184.80 in decimal). Thanks to Peter for the info and pictures. For other late JMI Conquerors, see this page.
29th March (2)
Above, an advert for reconditioned Vox disco units, "Beat Instrumental" magazine, December 1973.
Above, an illustration from the Vox catalogue of 1971/1972 and a corresponding advert in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, December 1972 (a version had also been placed in August 1971). For more on "Vox Sound Limited", see this page.
The advert for the disco unit was the last one placed by "Vox Sound Limited" in the magazine - sad days.
A new index page for Vox effects pedals, 1967-1973. Further types will be added soon.
Pictures below of a superb Vox Defiant (with original covers) - serial number 1296 - currently offered here.
A small point and short note: the screws for the back panels of the solid state amps' preamps are 4BA 3/8".
Recently on ebay in the States: an early Super Foundation Bass cabinet, port at bottom, single Goodmans Audiom 91 driver, probably from the last third of 1967. The plate on its back at any rate is a "Jennings Musical Industries" plate. The amp is a late "Vox Sound Limited" Super Foundation Bass, c. 1971-1972, serial number 2591.
One of a pair of "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" labelled Celestion Greenback T1217s currently in a Marshall cab. Date codes are FC22 and FC24 = 22nd and 24th of June 1970. They are probably originally from a Multi-Link cab.
Given that "Vox Sound Limited" had come into being by July 1970 - see the report in "Beat Instrumental" magazine on this page - it looks as though VSL initially used VSEL labels.
A new page in building on the Vox Wow Fuzz, the pedal above being the second of three or possibly four iterations. Version 1 was made in early 1970; version 2 between then and autumn 1971; and version three autumn 1972 to 1973. Further pics of the pedal above will be posted when it arrives in the UK.
A new page started on the "Vox Sound Limited" Hastings Wah:
Further pages on other VSEL and VSL Wahs to follow - there are various different types, all interesting and slightly strange. The "Hastings" Wah is a particularly good one - great sound.
26th February (2)
A Foundation Bass, price £199.00, illustrated in a source yet to be identified. Note that the amp is a pre-production unit. The Foundation Bass sold for £199 in 1969 - see the annotation on this brochure.
A couple of late "Vox Sound Limited" Supremes added - serial numbers 2540 and 2543. The control panels of all VSL Supremes give the address of the company as "Erith. Kent. England." even though the factory moved to St-Leonard's-on-Sea (Hastings) in the autumn of 1971. The office followed in autumn 1972.
21st February (2)
The short blurb in Melody Maker (20 Aug. '66) on the Vox / Jennings Musical Industries showing at the BMI Trade Fair.
The text from the advert below - likely to be the first issued by Vox for the solid state range of amplifiers in the UK. The "Watchdog", a limiter designed to stop power transistors tipping into overload ("clipping"), was a feature of American solid state amps ultimately not incorporated in the British range. See the dismissive remarks of Jack Bruce, July 1967, on the volume-restricting "Super Beatle".
"Melody Maker", 20th August 1966 - the advert for the British Musical Instrument (Associated Musical Instrument Industries) Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel, London, 21st - 25th August, 1966.
The report of the Fair published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, October 1966 is available here.
A detail from the advert below, containing very probably the first illustration of amps in the bass range.
"Melody Maker" music paper, 25th February 1967 - the ad. to promote the Vox stand at the Frankfurt Music Fair in March. "Beat Instrumental" magazine did not publish a review of the exhibition unfortunately.
On a more general note, Vox presented some pretty strange adverts - assemblages might be a better description - in the "Melody Maker" in the later sixties. The one for the "Brian Jones" dulcimer is particularly odd.
Above, a so-called "Hastings Wah", manufactured by "Vox Sound Limited", but based on a design by Colorsound. More pictures coming soon. The striking thing about these pedals is the on/off switch - accessed through the top of foot-rest.
A fair number of Colorsound "Fuzz-Wah-Straight" pedals were made with switch-through-top, but relatively few plain Wahs.
Normally one finds it said that "Hastings Wahs" were made in 1975, but they are likely to be earlier than that.
For the very first Jennings Wah-Wah pedals - made in 1967 - see this page.
A so-so image of what is probably the first Vox advert for the solid state line in the UK - "Melody Maker" magazine, 20th August 1966. A better copy will be posted soon. For full-page adverts in "Beat Instrumental" magazine in 1966, see this page.
The text of the ad above:
"SOLID STATE...it's here. Solid State Amplifiers patented and perfected by VOX...Indestructible...reliable circuitry providing built-in top boost...Bass boost...distortion boost...middle-range boost (M.R.B.)...Reverb...Vibrato and the exclusive VOX Watchdog that ensures tonal purity up to maximum output...Full built-in protection against circuit breakdown...reduced maintenance...reduction in weight...SOLID STATE...it had to happen...it has happened because VOX it's what's happening.
Many new VOX Exclusives will be on show amongst the full range of VOX equipment at this year's Trade Fair at the Hotel Russell...21st - 25th August."
The report of the Trade Fair published in the October issue of "Beat Instrumental" magazine is given a little way down this page. Context for the pre-production amps exhibited at the Russell Hotel can be found here..
"Beat Instrumental", normally an early recipient of details from Vox, only managed a general report of the new solid state amps in its August issue (below). "Melody Maker" had the detailed news.
14th February (2)
An advert placed by Vox in Melody Maker magazine, 25th February 1967. Larger image to follow. The units illustrated are, left to right: Supreme, Defiant, Gyrotone, Continental Organ, Super Foundation Bass and Dynamic Bass.
A page from the Dallas Arbiter catalogue of 1971 showing Reg Clark, formerly Sales Director of JMI and later "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", in post as Sound City Marketing Executive.
Reg broke with Vox when VSEL folded in early 1970. On "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", see this page.
10th February (2)
A Conqueror exported to Finland probably early on. "PSO" is the company "Pohjoismainen Sähkö Oy". The company remained a major Vox dealer in 1969 - see this page.
The top panel of the added adhesive cover-plate has the serial number 11xx. The middle two plates give details of the mains power cycle. The long lower panel has VOX CONQUEROR with a backwards "C". The amp is currently advertised here.
Recently surfaced on ebay.uk a pair of "Vox Sound Limited" LS60 (Linesource 60) public address speaker columns. The drivers are Celestion T1252s, date code FC26 = 26th June 1970.
In the Celestion "T" book, 1252s are noted as having been first introduced in May 1966: "Lightweight 12" speaker. 12ohms DC coil. (Jennings). 402 x 5" ceramic magnet. 9 Lbs Poly Grey and Vox label."
Note that the speaker labels have "Vox Sound Equipment Limited". The columns may well have been unsold stock taken over by "Vox Sound Limited" in mid 1970. Quite how this squares with "Serial Number 265" is unclear though.
That LS60s do not figure in the pricelist of August 1970, available on this page, may simply be due to the deliberately limited scope of that list and the accompanying illustrated brochure. But it should be said that neither they nor the LS40 feature in later advertising either.
28th January (2)
Four more Defiants added, two early, two late: serial number 1217, an early amp and cab in France, serial number 2786 (complete with covers), and serial number 2802. Further pics of 2802 may be forthcoming.
Further Conquerors, Foundation Bass and Supremes to come.
Above, a Vox "Slave Driver" (solid state) - marketed from August 1971 by "Vox Sound Limited", which was active as a company from mid 1970 - 1973, superceding "Vox Sound Equipment Limited". The circular wells in the Slave Driver's top are for the feet of other units - other Slave Drivers, speaker cabs, amplifiers, etc.
For related units - the Vox "Slave Master", Vox "Compact 100" - see this page. The market for these things was not great even though the units were well constructed and the rationale good. Vox "old-style" solid state was on the wane. The new solid state whizz-kids were H&H - see Michael Ameson's page on the history (link top left on the landing page). Articles on "Vox Sound Limited" in 1972 are being assembled here.
A largish batch of updates to come soon. For the time being, Defiant serial no. 1108 here.