List of updates / new info. on Vox solid state amps (1967-1972).
June to October 2021
A couple of pieces on the early days of "Vox Sound Limited" - the first from February 1970, describing the background to Michael Birch's saving of Vox. The second - a photo of Birch taken at the Frankfurt Fair in late February, published in March. Four members of staff attended (two named in the first piece, two in the second) - John Wyatt, Alan Harding, Michael Birch and Joseph Wright - but the new company did not mount a display of its equipment.
An overview of the early days of "Vox Sound Limited" can be found on this page.
Music trade journal, published February 1970.
Published March 1970.
A good deal was riding on the success of the solid state range in early 1967, and for the first time in the UK, a JMI advert was run on the front cover of a music trade magazine.
The cover embodies the ad first released in September 1966.
"Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Defiant serial number 2162 with cover, footswitch, and original VSEL documentation. The hang tag, however, is a JMI hang tag with "JMI" blanked off.
A couple of pictures of Supreme serial number 1286, thanks to Tobias. The amp was exported to Sweden early on. Serial number 1285 is currently in the Netherlands.
The power amp is sn 1481, the preamp sn 2322. Note in the lower left-hand corner of the pic, the plates attached to the power amp by the importer
Thanks to Wouter, pictures of Super Foundation Bass serial number 1234, first quarter of 1968, one of the last to have been produced by JMI. "Amplifier" alone rather than "Vox Amplifier" at the head of the serial number plate. Sold by Servaas in The Hague.
Some updates to the main amp pages coming shortly. In the meantime, a note on the solid state range published in the local Dartford papers, September 1967.
The piece naturally simplifies the picture somewhat. True, early power transistors (even RCA 2N3055s) could be unreliable, but there is much more to it than that. The 7-series range of amps (transistor preamps, valve power amps) was not produced as a "stop-gap", i.e. as a sort of holding position until the fully solid state amps could be made.
Local Dartford newspaper, September 1967.
A detail of the inspection tag in JMI Supreme serial number 1047. Thanks to Tommy for the picture.
Currently on ebay in the UK a nice "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Supreme set - amp, speaker cabinet, tilt-back trolley, covers, footswitch. Not too many comnplete sets around these days.
One of two pairs of speakers from an early "Vox Sound Limited" Supreme speaker cabinet. They were actually produced for and labelled by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" however, the company that preceded VSL. VSEL came to an end in early January 1970.
Made for VSEL by Goodmans and finished in hammerite blue - code 21171 40 (frame, magnet, and cone) - their impedance is 15ohms. These are excellent heavy-duty speakers, probably good for 25-30 watts each.
On the cork gaskets are the date codes: 69406 and 69623 = 6th April and 23rd June 1969 respectively.
A small detail from a Vox advert released widely in the music trade and professional music press in August 1967 - a wah with the white sticker. Interesting, though not at present particularly revealing.
Published August 1967.
Below, two promotional images for the JMI wah-wah pedal - the first from April 1967, the second from February 1968 - the same pedal in both. Note the non-standard legend on the side.
Over 2000 "grey" wahs were produced at the West Street Works in Erith, beginning at serial number 5000 (or perhaps 5001). For an overview, see this page. Some of the changes that came in during production were probably the result of different work-benches having different sets of components and so on. The "progression" in terms of serial number is not always linear.
Published April and May 1967.
Picture printed February 1968, part of a preview of the JMI stand at the Frankfurt Trade Fair.
In contrast to the wah pictured above, the stickers on production pedals for the most part have a white background, a section bearing the legend "OUPUT" looping underneath the jack socket - as on serial number 5182 pictured below.
Serial number 5182. After June 1967.
But certain pedals with numbers in the 5900s and towards the end of the run - some numbers in the higher 7100s - have stickers with clear backgrounds identical to the one or ones on the promotional pedal. Below, serial number 5984. Number 5985 has the standard white background.
Serial number 5984. After June 1967.
Perhaps all this was simply a consequence of old stock being pressed into use when supplies of the new white design had run out.
A note on the "Queen's Award" wah pedal - the Queen's Award symbol at the top of the base plate, "Jennings Musical Industries" and the company address beneath, and so on. For other examples see the foot of this page.
Base plates aside, one of the signal characteristics of these Queen's Award pedals is that the circuitry is potted to prevent copying, something one also finds in batches of identical pedals with Thomas Organ Clyde "script" base plates made in Italy for sale in Italy. Neither type wah was exported to the USA. Pictures of the "potted" wahs can be found here.
Thanks to Sean, it is now clear that Queen's Award pedal serial number 7857 was not sent to England, but remained in Italy until relatively recently. In fact, very few seem to have made their way to JMI - which is probably to be explained by the financial troubles facing the company in 1968. As indicated below (entry for 1st September), JMI came to an end formally on the 26th of April.
What of the "potted" wahs with Clyde "script" base plates? It seems likely that some were actually produced in the first instance for export to England but not sent, consequently being given Thomas Organ base plates to make them saleable in Italy - simply adding to the batches already earmarked for sale there.
The base plates of these Italian-made wahs are completely interchangeable.
1st September (2)
Below, a letter sent on 7th June to a British music trade journal by R.N. Langdon, the official receiver appointed to oversee JMI following the collapse of Royston Industries (which owned a controlling stake in the company) - printed July 1968, signalling the end of Jennings Musical Industries at close of business, 26th April, 1968 - the cessation of trading. As the letter notes, JMI had been in Langdon's hands since the 8th December 1967. Trading and loans of equipment continued, but expenditure had to be approved and signed off, regular reports submitted, and so on. Cash transactions were (surrepticiously) entered into as circumstances allowed - a means of evading the bureaucracy - but that only took the company so far. April was the limit of navigation.
The report reveals that the company, "Surminster Ltd", mentioned in June '68 in several syndicated newspaper reports without further explanation, was in fact "Vox Sound Equipment Limited". More to come on JMI in 1968.
Below, a snippet from The Aberdeen Daily Express, 12 June 1968. The same report was given in the Birmingham Daily Post, 10th June 1968.
Also currently on Reverb, Supreme serial number 1348 (confirmed). This is the highest number definitively known at present, the amp probably having been sold by VSEL in later 1968. Further info coming shortly on the end of JMI (April '68).
29th August (2)
JMI Super Foundation Bass serial number 1094, last quarter of 1967, in great condition, currently on Reverb.
Below, a report of Dick Denney demonstrating the new JMI wah-wah pedal at the Frankfurt Trade Fair (Musikmesse), 26th February 1967 to 2nd March. For more on the Fair, see this page on the Vox AC100 website.
The main page on the JMI "grey wah" will be updated with further examples shortly.
Published in the music trade press March 1967. The heralded announcement was that Thomas would take over the distribution of its own organs in the UK from JMI. The arrangement for JMI to distribute Thomas was first made in Chicago at the NAMM show of 1963.
22nd August (2)
One of the principal adverts placed by JMI in the music trade press in advance of the Frankfurt Fair of 1967. A version was also placed in "Melody Maker" magazine. The Gyrotone, in some form, had been already been exhibited at the Russell Hotel Trade Fair in August 1966 along with pre-production versions of the solid state amps (Conqueror certainly, perhaps others).
The material encompassed in the entries below will be added to the main pages shortly. There will also be a new page on Frankfurt 1967 in the trade fairs section of the Vox AC100 website.
Some updates coming. In the meantime, a shot of Tom with Sidney Irving MP in the Dartford Road Works, January 1967, a young JMI employee demonstrating the guitar organ. Picture also posted on the Vox AC100 website.
Below, a rather heavy-handed pitch for the new solid state amps printed in the music trade press, December 1966. This is Tom, the old door-to-door salesman, speaking, not Reg Clark, who was a degree more subtle.
In spite of the note about deliveries beginning in Jan/Feb. 1967, the solid state range was still under wraps before the Frankfurt Trade Fair, 27th Feb. - 3rd March, 1967 - more on this shortly.
The earliest note to have come to light so far on the formation of "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" - "Record Retailer" magazine, 17th July, 1968, probably a communication from Reg Clark, who (from 1963) regularly gave the magazine exclusive material. But Reg of course later mentioned that VSEL had been born at the beginning of June - see this page - so the report in "Record Retailer" was a few weeks behind. In September, VSEL acquired further assets from JMI (more particularly things in the West Street Works) at auction.
6th June (2)
Thanks to Rens, pictures of the guarantee and receipt for "vox Sound Equipment Limited" Foundation Bass serial number 2333. The deposit for amp and cab was placed at Harald Abresch's shop in Giessen on 22nd July 1970.
From point of production to point of sale to Ulrico Rocco was around 9 months. It is not known of course how long the amp had been in the shop.
Thanks to Bettina, pictures of Dynamic Bass amplifier section serial number 2145, found in and saved from a rubbish bin:
A further Dynamic Bass added - serial number 1248, also in Germany, and probably exported early on. Pictures of "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" Dynamic Bass serial number 2145, recently found in a bin in Germany, coming shortly. The amp was sold in Germany by Musikhaus Barth, in company with Mufag, one of the three West German distributors.