2017-03-11

GENERAL REMARKS ON:

Early Virtuosos, Conquerors, Defiants and Supremes

Above, two pages from the Vox solid state catalogue of July 1967.

Below a series of short sections on external elements that changed during the production of JMI solid state amps: principally, serial number plates and control panels. Further details along with numerous pictures can be found on the individual Traveller, Conqueror, Defiant and Supreme pages.

Also below, notes on "time-frame" markers, eg. The Rolling Stones photographed on stage on 27th March 1967 with standard production Supremes and a Super Foundation Bass.

For the date codes of components inside Vox solid state amps, now see this page.

1) Serial Numbers (general)

Sequences for the various models of amp began at 1001 and ran through to different end points in the JMI period (1967).

After JMI folded and the company became first Vox Sound Equipment Ltd, then Vox Sound Ltd, the sequences began afresh at 2001. Amps made in the Vox Sound Ltd period are readily distinguishable by having one indicator lamp on the front rather than two; and silver string rather than gold around the cabs.

Simply for reference: VSEL and VSL plates: Supreme 2199, and Supreme 2525.

2) Serial Numbers and Model Names of the very earliest amps


The earliest amps are not designated "Conqueror" or "Defiant" on the serial number plate, but rather "ST30R" and "ST50R" = Super Twin 30 reverb, and Super Twin 50 reverb, and so on. Super Twin indicated that amp and cab were separate units.

The serial number itself is given at first in plain form: ie. "1019". Cabs accompanying the amps are similarly named:

Conqueror (ST30R) no. 1019; Defiant (ST50R) no. 1031; and the cab that was probably issued with the latter.

3) Serial Numbers and Model Names of the next earliest runs of amps


After the first forty or fifty amps had been produced, the decision was made to stamp the model name (eg. Conqueror, Defiant, Supreme), rather than the format of the amp, in the upper panel of the serial number plate.

Serial numbers now take the form ST--xxxx. Even the Supreme was regarded as being a "Super twin". That its precursor, the AC100, was similarly regarded seems unlikely.

Supreme no. 1058

4) Later JMI amps (late 1967)

At various points in the runs of amps, the "ST" prefix was dropped. Towards the end of the JMI period, two line plates make an appearance.

Defiant 1587 (still JMI, but note that the plate is headed "AMPLIFIER").

5) Control panels

a) The first batch of control panels for the Virtuoso, Conqueror and Defiant were black.

On the left, Conqueror 1037; on the right, Defiant 1031

b) At some point soon after, a variant batch appears, but with a mistake: the legend for the Top Boost switch is not OFF-ON, but OFF-MRB. This has only been found so far on Conquerors, but it may turn up on Virtuosos and Defiants too.

On the left, Conqueror 1046; on the right, an early Conq. lacking its plate.

c) The third batch of panels, which came in at around Conqueror no. 1055 and Defiant no. 1100, either was, or has gone, brown.

On the left, Conqueror 1055; on the right, Defiant 1102.



d) The earliest surviving Supremes have brown panels. But that is not to say the very first - i.e. amps with serial numbers lower than ST.1050 say - did not have black.

Supreme no. 1058.

The scarcity of early Supremes is interesting. Perhaps circumstantial reports that early batches of power transistors were unreliable is correct. Alternatively, it could be that JMI ran them far too hot. The power boards of early amps are often amazingly scorched.

6) Dates and Quantities


a) The Stones were already on stage with standard production Supremes and a Super Foundation Bass set-up on 27th March 1967.

Orebro, Sweden, 27th March 1967 with new Vox solid state equipment - image originally posted here by a fan who attended the concert.


Above, Mick Jagger standing behind Brian Jones's amp at Warsaw on 13th April 1967. The speakers in the cab are the same type as the ones centre and right - Celestion T1279s.

b) Defiant no. 1102 has hang-tags dated 24 and 26 April 1967; so evidently one hundred units had already been produced by that date.

Defiant 1102: hang-tags for amp and cab.

7) Not "did the Beatles have Conquerors or Defiants?"
- - they had Conquerors. But when did they get them?


See Frank Carvalho's great page, here, for the Savoy Theatre 10th November 1967, and later.


The first photographic evidence of the Beatles with a Conqueror comes, however, from 25th June 1967: the All You Need is Love world broadcast.

The amp is also seen alongside a Vox UL430 in photos of the rehearsals on preceding days. There is nothing to indicate when this amp was consigned to The Beatles by JMI - it could, for all we know, have been months earlier.

For the recording of the promo video for "Hello Goodbye" at the Savoy Theatre on 10th November 1967, the band had two (on top of Vox UL710 or Conqueror cabs with Celestion ceramic speakers). As ever, click the pic. for a larger version.

One can tell from the length of the runner lower right on the grille cloth that they are indeed Conquerors, not Defiants as is sometimes claimed.

vox conqueror

A detail of John's amp. Note there is no "Solid State" in the logo - see below.

A detail of one of the amps at the Savoy Theatre during rehearsals. Note the two metal vents. Defiants had four. The larger version of the pic. will pop up when clicked.