List of updates / new info. on Vox solid state amps (1967-1972)
As an adjunct to the entry below (6th December), some shots of four RCA 2N3054 transistors in their original boxes. 2N3054s were mainly used as driver transistors in the solid state range. The four pictured all have the date code "8D" = April 1968.
They are likely to have been part of a retail set, or perhaps a set sold at discount to a repairman. Vox will have received bulk (wholesale) boxes direct from RCA - yet to be determined precisely where in the USA (possibly the facility at Harrison, New Jersey) - at a much lower price.
A reminder that the solid state amplifiers at the beginning of the "Vox Sound Limited" period - that is to say, 1970 - could be extremely colourful things. Coloured counters were sometimes fitted in the recesses on top of the control knobs.
VSL PAR100 (PA 100 Reverb), serial number 1132. This is the earliest VSL PAR100 to have come to light so far. Further VSEL and VSL PA amps can be found on this page.
Picking up from the entry below (25th Nov,), further pictures of a set of five RCA 2N3055 transistors. The "Mounting Kit" is the transparent insulating pad for the units. The last picture is of an original RCA five unit carton.
The transparent mount for the transistor.
A set of five RCA 2N5955 transistors (a type not used by Vox) in their original carton, along with a sixth:
Below, the entry for "Vox Sound Limited" in "Who's Who in Music", 6th edition, 1972, section on "Manufacturers". The entries in this section give: Name, Date Founded, Address, and other relevant contact details. JMI featured in "Who's Who" from at least 1962.
The Virtuoso with original cover mentioned below, entry for 30th October, is serial number 1168. Thanks to Albrecht for the info. The Celestion T7724 drivers have the date code "21JM" = 21st September 1967. The amp is therefore likely to have been made in the last quarter of '67. Other Virtuosos can be found on this page.
Note the "splitter" socket, probably added early on, on the connector plugged into the amplifier section's speaker socket.
Below, provisional pictures (better ones to follow) of RCA 2N3055 transistors in their original packaging. This was probably a set of five - two pairs and a spare - supplied by RCA for purchase by repairmen (or other individuals). RCA-branded valves, EL34s for instance, came in sets of five too.
The date codes of the 2N3055s, presumably matched in terms of electrical characteristics, are "7E", "8G" and "8H" = May 1967, and August and September 1968.
2N3055s were the main power transistors in Virtuosos, Conquerors, Supremes, Dynamic Basses, and Super Foundation Basses.
Bulk packs for businesses probably contained multiples of these smaller boxes. JMI evidently placed several successive orders. Quality could sometimes be variable. Even in the early 1970s it was the job of a member of staff at the Erith works to test new transistors with a curve tracer. Certain flaws in production could lead to "secondary breakdown" - hotspots resulting in the catastrophic failure of the transistor.
Some more coming soon on short-lived / rejected designs from summer 1967 - early 1968, a humber of which had evidently reached pre-production form, but never made it formally to market however. In 1968 most, being surplus to requirements, were either given away or sold in main liquidation sales. The notice of the sale at the Erith works (September 1968) is below. "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" bought back only the things that it regarded as being useful or marketable. There were similar sales at Dartford Road in 1968.
The Continental below, illustrated on the Combo Organ Heaven website, has black sharps and white flats (as a standard piano keyboard) instead of the black flats and white sharps of standard production models. Its first owner stated: "It came from the Erith factory. My brother worked there at the time, and they were clearing out redundant equipment and I was able to purchase it".
Whether the organ was a true prototype or simply a member of a small run of pre-production units for a new version of the Continental (ultimately not brought to market) is not clear. In some quarters it is the fashion to cry "prototype!" whenever anything unfamiliar appears. Circumspection is always advisable.
Practical Wireless" magazine, September 1968. Much the same text appeared in "Radio Constructor" magazine, August 1968. Further context can be found on this page.
A further JMI grey Wah-Wah pedal - serial number 6065 - added on this page. Further pics of other pedals coming soon.
Below, the Vox ("Vox Sound Limited") pricelist for the German market, 1971. Apologies for the watermark, but this will have to be the pattern for the time being. An operative in the States has been quietly taking whole catalogues from the site (and the Vox AC100 site) - not just the odd image, but whole sets - and degrading them in Photoshop to disguise their origins. Not good.
Anyway, the 1971 pricelist apparently circulated alone, no illustrated catalogue accompanying (info kindly supplied by contacts in Germany). Perhaps the key thing about it is the presence of the Compact and Slave range of amplifiers, which were made in reasonable numbers but not given a huge push in the UK. There are incidental photos in the catalogue of 1972, but no explicit mention of any of the models available. John Wyatt, general sales manager, and his team presumably felt that some equipment would be better directed abroad. To judge from the reports of sales in the early 1970s, the European market was livelier than the UK's.
A fold-out catalogue/brochure - "de grösste von Vox (Supreme)" - produced for the German market by JMI in early 1968. The Traveller and Virtuoso are still encompassed along with the JMI grey wah-wah pedal. Pictures of the whole will be posted soon.
The Daily Express "Record Star Show", Empire Pool, Wembley, 16th April - the first public sighting of the new Vox solid state range in the UK. Below, the well-known picture of "Cream" on stage, Eric Clapton with a Supreme and Jack Bruce with a Super Foundation Bass set. Pics also of the programme (which is fairly scarce these days).
In addition to the solid state amps, Vox supplied an AC100 (just visible to the right of the Supreme) and various other pieces of equipment that most bands used. Vox had supplied equipment for major musical events at the Empire Pool since 1962.
Although these shows were perhaps not as important from a commercial standpoint as the annual Trade Fairs in Frankfurt and London (April and August), they were nonetheless extremely useful for trialing and showcasing particular things in the public arena. At the "Record Star Show" of 1966, Vox had provided two new UL7120 amps some days before the Beatles received theirs - see the picture on the Vox AC50 website updates page, entry for 11th November.
Thanks to Peter, pictures of Defiant serial number 1012, the lowest number currently known. "ST50R" = "Super Twin 50 Reverb" was the designation of the Defiant on early amplifier serial number plates; "ST50" for speaker cabinets.
A copy of a two fold fold-out brochure issued by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in Germany during the course of 1969 "der Sound macht's". In terms of content, it encompasses fewer items than the catalogue of March 1969 - no guitars, fewer organs, fewer microphones - but the range of solid state amplifiers remains the same.
Outer three pages.
Inner three pages
The catalogue issued by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in Germany in 1969, probably for the Frankfurt Trade Fair in March is now available here in its entirety (a series of linked pages). The introductory notes will need to be expanded.
Two Travellers issued by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" - serial number 2001, presented by VSEL to the son of the director of Holmes Plating Limited, which plated and passivated chassis for JMI; and serial number 1026, inspected and sold in October 1968.
Serial number 1026 not only survives with its original cover, but inspection tag, guarantee card, and information sheet. The page on Travellers has been updated.
Serial number 2001 - "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" on its serial number plate. Thanks to Jonathan for the pictures.
Serial number 1026, assembled by JMI, sold by VSEL in October 1968. Thanks to Tom for the pictures.
1st November (2)
Pics of Foundation Bass serial number 1223 (or perhaps 1225) also now added.
1st November (2)
Coming shortly, pics of two Foundation Basses - serial number 1420 (JMI), and number 2438 (VSL/VSEL).
A Virtuoso without Reverb from late 1967, still with its original cover. The amp was sold, probably at some point in 1968, by a branch of Musik Hofmann.
The JMI catalogue and pricelist for the Frankfurt Fair, March 1968, are now up in the their entirety - first set of pages here.
The "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" catalogue and pricelist for the Frankfurt Fair of 1969 will be coming soon. A couple of pages are below the advert.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, no. 70. February 1969
A couple of pages from a copy of the JMI German catalogue of March 1968 - for the Frankfurt Trade Fair. The items on "Seite E" (E/68) correspond with those listed in the pricelist posted in yesterday's entry.
Note that the Virtuoso, pictured in the catalogue, is said in the pricelist to be unavailable. The same is stated of the Lynx and Challenger guitars.
24th October (2)
The pricelist from March 1968, beneath the advert below, was drawn up to accompany the "'68 VOX" catalogue, prepared by JMI for the Frankfurt Trade Fair of that year, one of the last shows that JMI attended.
The catalogue and pricelist of March 1968 superceded the one drawn up in August 1967, which was signalled on its inner page as being "Spitzengerate aus dem Verkaufsprogramm 1968" - available here.
"Melody Maker", 2nd March, 1968. Jennings Musical Industries stand in Hall 11, the venue reserved for the Musikmesse - ie. where Arbiter, WEM, Selmer and other British manufacturers also exhibited.
JMI pricelist for the German market, March 1968. "Seite C" and so on, links up with the illustrated pages in the catalogue, all assigned letters of the alphabet.
Below, a detail of the "Vox Sound Limited" pricelist printed for the German market in April 1971. Still available: the Conqueror and Dynamic Bass, which had both been omitted from the catalogue printed for the UK market in August 1970 - available here.
The drive, from 1970, was to manage sales in a tighter fashion - no point trying to push amplifiers that were not doing well in the UK. But the European marketplaces were still promising in 1970 and 1971.
Detail of the "Vox Sound Limited" pricelist printed for the German market in April 1971.
A detail from a copy of the "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" PA brochure, early 1969 - "The Communicators" - showing the new PA50 and PA100 (in their pre-production form), the six-channel mixer unit, and two wall-mounted speakers (10" and 12").
Below, a surviving pair of 12" wall-mounted speakers (original Celestion T1088s removed by a previous owner), and details from two pricelists - JMI April 1967 and VSEL February 1969.
Note the style of the logo, also used on solid state amplifier speaker cabinets. When mounted in the correct orientation - ie. with the logos the right way up - the front of one speaker slopes upwards, the other downwards.
JMI, April 1967.
VSEL, Feb. 1969.
20th October (2)
Just arrived, some copies of catalogues and pricelists printed for the German market, 1968-1971. Thanks to Michael. During this period in Germany, "Vox" is simply "Vox", not "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" or "Vox Sound Limited". Perhaps most interesting is the pricelist from 1971 (applicable from 1st April), which lists the Compact and Slave amplifiers as well as the V100. For the Compact and Slave units see the pages linked here.
Note that the heading "Vox-Rohrenverstarker" (Vox Valve Amplifiers) is only accurate for the V100. The othes are fully solid state. From January 1970, Vox was recast as "Vox Sound Limited". The V100 also appears for the first time in the British press in April 1971.
A new page has been created with pictures of a Vox Discotape unit from 1972. The "Discotape" was initially released by "Vox Sound Limited" as the "Discotheque" at the British Musical Instrument Industries Fair in London in August 1971, the design having been worked out originally by JMI in late 1967 - see this page.
19th October (2)
Also registered now, VSEL Super Foundation Bass serial number 2058 - a couple more pictures here.
"Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Super Foundation Bass serial number 2013, late 1968 or early 1969, now added here. Further updates coming shortly.
Below, a JMI Supreme cab - see the identification plate - that turned up in Germany a while ago. The interesting thing is its red label Goodmans Power Range Audiom 12-P speakers.
Normally when Goodmans were to be used, JMI (and VSEL later on) fitted an earlier version of the Power Range Audiom 12 with a large rim on the dustcap and a smaller recessed centre for the label. See the example below on a blue background.
The Goodmans Power Range speakers bought in by VSL in the early 1970s generally had green labels.
One of the difficulties with Goodmans is sorting out the variants, which are considerable - different weights of frame and magnet and varying cone types. Very often all one has to go on is the general format and the stickers giving the part number for re-ordering.
A great pic by Harry Taylor of the Bournemouth Times - "Transit Sound" on Bournemouth beach in August 1970 - a Supreme amp and speaker cab at right, and left, a Super Foundation Bass amp on top of two 7120 / 4120 cabs.
"Transit Sound", Bournemouth beach, August 1970.
The Vox Gyrotone 100, introduced in late 1970, probably shown first at the Russell Hotel Trade Fair in August. The unit is effectively a Gyrotone 3 with a Midas amplifier incorporated. Gyrotone 100s are incredibly heavy.
Detail from the Hessy's catalogue (below).
Gyrotone 100 serial number 1010 (the sequence began at 1000), the Midas amplifier nestling at foot.
12th October (2)
Pictures of a "Vox Sound Limited" Dynamic Bass speaker cabinet with a "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" labelled 15 inch Goodmans speaker, side handles, and wells in its top for the feet of the amplifier.
For a Foundation Bass with side handles and wells, see the first entry yesterday (below). Dynamic and Foundation Bass speaker cabs with these fittings are relatively uncommon.
Below page 81 and front cover of a catalogue published by Hessy's, Liverpool, in the early 1970s. Vox is "Vox Sound Limited". Text and images are much as in the ads published in Melody Maker magazine in late 1970 - see this page - though the range of equipment represented by Hessy's is necessarily smaller.
11th October (3)
A JMI speaker identification plate, stamped with large non-standard hand-stamps: "CONQ", "16 OHM", number "231".
The plate came up for sale on its own some time ago.
The stamping is likely to have been done, for whatever reason, long after JMI had folded. JMI speaker cabinets were not given numbers. The normal figure for impedance throughout the 60s and early 70s is "15 OHMS", not "16".
Numbering of solid state speaker cabs first came in with "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in the autumn of 1968, the sequence beginning for all models at 001. The format as below:
VSEL Conqueror speaker cabinet 089 accompanies amplifier serial number 2111.
The page on Conquereror speaker cabinets is here.
11th October (2)
Below, "Vox Sound Limited" Foundation Bass speaker cabinet number 586 - a further example of a FB cab with wells on the top for the feet of the amplifier. This one also has handles (with "VOX" on the lower lip) inset in the back panel along the lines of the Multi-Link speaker cabinets.
Below, the identification plate of Defiant speaker cabinet number 801, the highest to have come to light so far. The page on Defiant cabs has been updated.
The numbering system began at 001 in autumn 1968 (started by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" and continued by "Vox Sound Limited". JMI did not number its speaker cabs.
The German catalogue of 1967 / 1968 is now available here. Further literature printed by JMI for the German market will be posted towards the end of this month. At least one price-list encompasses the "Compact" and "Slave-Driver" range of amplifiers, made from 1971-1972 - see the pages here.
Coming shortly, a set of images of the catalogue printed for the German market in 1968 - 1968 is specified on the inner front page, though the print date is given as "IX/67", ie. September 1967.
It turns out that several issues of "Music Maker" magazine, late 1966 to early 1967 and fairly difficult to get hold of these days, carried adverts for the JMI solid state line. They were with one notable exception the same as those that appeared in "Beat Instrumental" magazine.
Whether these ads also appeared in "Music Maker" (Australia), a magazine with a pedigree as long as that of "Melody Maker" in the UK, is unknown at present. Australian "Music Maker" magazines from 1966 and 1967 are not easy to come by either.
"Music Maker" magazine (UK), September 1966. Versions of the image of the Beatles appeared on the JMI catalogue of August 1966 and in various US sources (magazines and catalogues) of much the same date.
A note on "Heslop and Co. Limited", the company that made some - perhaps the majority - of cabinets for JMI solid state amplifier sections in 1967. Heslop was a member of the Royston Group of Companies (from at least 1961), along with JMI (from January 1963).
Now Jim Elyea noted in his book that "Timber Techniques Limited", a company that produced a certain number of cabinets for JMI from April 1964, was taken over by Heslop. Two things followed: Timber Techniques Ltd went into liquidation in June 1965; and the "Gladlyn Works" in Rayleigh, Essex, became Heslop's chief premises. The interior of the Works is pictured in the 1966 issue of "The Beacon", Royston's house magazine.
"Daily Mirror", 27th June, 1964. A poor reproduction, but the company's name and address is legible.
A detail of Ordnance Survey sheet TQ89. The Works are a little to the north east of Down Hall.
As well as making cabinets for JMI, Timber Techniques Ltd and Heslop both made "Gladlyn Ware" - Danish-style teak furniture, the name presumably stemming from that of the Works.
Danish slat furniture was extremely popular in Britain in the mid sixties.
Later, in 1967, JMI and Heslop exhibited together rather incongruously in the Royston stand at the Ideal Home Exhibition (7th March - 1st April). On show were an AC100, an AC50 Foundation Bass, a Riviera organ, and two guitars, demonstrated by Dave Roberts of JMI - and of course, Heslop's "Gladlyn Ware".
Detail of the "Ideal Home Exhibition" catalogue.
A screengrab from coverage of the 1967 show.
To pick up one of the loose threads from the post below (31st Aug.) on circuit boards, the Brilliant channel board in standard production treble amplifiers is Part No. 86020 - so the sequence ran from 86020-86024 inclusive. Notes on the preamp boards in bass and pre-production units will follow soon.
Thanks to Scott, pictures of Virtuoso serial number 1059 have now been added to this page. Certain elements on the page had to be arranged. It turned out that a Virtuoso sold no fewer than four times in the 2010s gained a serial number plate along the way that had been cloned in some way from Scott's amp (presumably some photographic process) but artificially "aged" to match the condition of the amp to which it was fixed.
Also thanks to Scott, further pictures of Conqueror serial number 1065 are here