FelixR

Electromatic
Feb 3, 2022
16
New York
My first real job out of high school in 1970 was at one of the many traditional stores cashing in on the electric guitar market. although just an eighteen year old I had been working steadily as a musician and had been playing guitar for six years so I was always trying out every new product that came into the store.
we had all major brands and just about every model on display, including Vox. So, I tried them all and have to say they were awkward to play, sounded thin and had so many gadgets that they were only bought by people who had seen
“ Paul Revere and the Raiders play on TV”. The latest Vox guitars do look well made..
 

Xochi2

Gretschie
Oct 5, 2020
378
Wisconsin
Many years back, I lived in Golders Green in London, England. My next door neighbor was one of the Hollies and we quickly became good friends. Really, really, really good guy. He knew I wanted to learn to play the guitar so he gave me a Gibson J160E. Actually, he probably meant to lend it to me because one day he came over with a Vox Country Western Electric guitar in his hand and asked to trade for the Gibson, which he said some guy in Germany had offered him 3000 GBP for. So I felt goofy, but OK, I traded “my” Gibson (yes, it wasn’t mine, really, I know that now, but I was 17 years old at the time). I still have the Vox today. It was used on Midas In Reverse recordings and pictured on the sleeve. Anyway, what’s interesting about the old Vox guitars is that they (at least some) were made in Italy by Eko. I’ve never shared that story - ever - before now.
Was Tony Hicks your neighbor? It's a wonderful story! Gadzooks!...traded your/his Gibson J160E for the VOX Country Western. 🙃
 

Xochi2

Gretschie
Oct 5, 2020
378
Wisconsin
Grreat story,I assume the member of the Hollies was Tony Hicks who was noted for playing a Phantom 12,which he was persuaded to swap for a Rickenbacker 12, was he did not like as much.
I own a Phantom 12 Special,very rare,reputedly only around 7 were ever made.i've never even seen a photo of another,although 6 string Specials
can be found (see Joy Division).I think mine may have been assembled from parts sold off when Vox stopped making guitars.I had to change the body
for an original supplied by Brandoni,but the whole scratchplate,pickups,wiring,tremolo etc are original save for a couple of minor parts (trem arm,2 pushbuttons,bridge cover,trem rollers),Apart from the balance when sitting it's a great and effective guitar,stays in tune,good action and an individual
sound.I own electrics by Fender,Gibson,Heritage,Gretsch,Yamaha,Burns etc.so can make effective comparisons.Also in the collection is a Phantom 6 by
Phantom Guitarworks,also good but not an exact copy.
Thanks for sharing the wonderful images!
 

Xochi2

Gretschie
Oct 5, 2020
378
Wisconsin
The fuzz in particular in the Italian guitars, but also the repeater, are to me some of the greatest effects ever made. This is something I've known since 1990 when I bought my Starstream.

This fact is now understood, as the models with the effects have gone up in price considerably in recent years. I lost my Starstream (teardrop) in a confluence of financial forces against me, but luckily managed to replace it with a Viper, which is the 335 body shape just under the top of the line Ultrasonic so it doesn't have the fancy inlay or the near useless palm wah wah.

There is a guy here in the UK that makes as a pedal effect the British built in effects, which differ from Italian. I bought it and it's super cool. The MRB (mid range boost) is like the amps the Beatles used on Birthday where you hear that phasing effect at the end--that's the knob on the amp being switched.

The Italian effects can also be had from Acid Fuzz. I recommend these highly as they are better, in my view, than the guitars themselves.
Did you Starstream have a "backpad" on it? Just curious.
 

Xochi2

Gretschie
Oct 5, 2020
378
Wisconsin
I have one of the only good Thomas organ amps sitting in America that I have to get over here - an early Pacemaker that is near mint. A friend says the Mullards in it are so clean they are his benchmark NOS reference.

Dick Denney is reported to have worked on the designs of this model so it has British Vox similarities.
It's powered by EL84s but the Thomas amps after a year or so were switched to horrid solid state--which I think is the period you are referencing. There is a pretty decent article about that--the major thing it gets wrong is that the Pacemaker (with tubes) was model V-2, not V-3, which also as the article notes, was the Cambridge Reverb. The closing part of the article is the best part--I was one of those guys but in my own time (the 80s) as I didn't know any better either.

Great article!
 

ToneM1

Gretschie
Mar 10, 2009
259
Oxnard/Ventura County Calif.
I've owned a few old Vox Guitars from the `60's. John Hawkins who originally owned North Coast Music gave me a Red Brian Jones Phantom for hooking them up with Tom Petty and the Heatbreakers. It was a really great guitar that I wish I'd kept. I was friends with Howie and I use to work on his gear.
AC-50's weigh about 40 lbs. I've owned 3 AC-30's(down to one now), an AC-50, a AC-100, a "Student Model" amp, a T-60 cab and two Domino Bass amps, besides some new stuff; Handwired AC-15 HW, a AC30-HW, An original Cambridge Reverb, Berkeley II & Berkeley III, a couple of Super Beatle heads, etc
 

knavel

Country Gent
Dec 26, 2009
1,108
London, England
Have not made my mind up about changing the color, but that is one way to hide the hole. I have painted my archtop with guitar re-ranch lacquer and it came out great, and that was a 3 color sunburst. I have a local hardwood dealer that I can take the guitar to to see if it is maple or spruce and get some patch wood, and I don't think matching the arch will be a problem. Make a kidney shaped cover out of the same wood, and I might still have some amber burst spray.
You already picked up on a point I would have made about laminate.

If the objective is conceal the added access hole, consider just refinishing the back black then? One thing I would mention is nothing that might be done will increase the value any more than its current worth, only the description of the issue will change, from someone unprofessionally cut a piece of the back out to make an access hole to refinished [back] with access panel added.

Vox hollow body basses are a great value for something that the market today doesn't do well--hollow bodies that are light and easy to play. That's why I can't bring myself to sell mine.
 

JHunter

Electromatic
Nov 13, 2013
17
Nevada
Painting the back black is a great idea, if it was wood I would. Ordered some pickguard material and will have enough left to make a nice kidney shaped cover. I was reall surprised to find out it was not all wood!
 

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SledDawg

Electromatic
Jun 5, 2008
20
New Jersey
Always a fun topic...

I have a 3 Thomas Organ Vox amps:
tube Pacemaker - as described previously this is a killer amp. It's my regular stage amp. Stock except for a Celestion. It is pretty loud, and dead quiet. This is from the early Thomas period when they were copying British circuits. It's like an AC-10, but a little more powerful. I would not sell it. I do wish I had a Thomas Cambridge Reverb though, but they are very expensive these days and rightly so. Like a British-sound Princeton Reverb. The 90s Cambridge Reverb Twin amp is pretty cool, but not the same.

transistor Berkeley II - this is the solid state version of the Cambridge Reverb, but in a piggyback setup, with a 2 x 10 cab (Oxfords) like you see in my avatar. (That's not it in the pic: that head is a '72 AC-30 with a different Berk cab with 2 Celestions). It has the foot-switchable MRB effect, which is like a notched wah-wah sound. This amp is very loud and sounds great, not "solid-statey" at all. Also dead quiet. Plus it looks impossibly cool. Back in the day I had the tube version of this amp and it is, IMHO, one of the best amps ever. They are rare and pricey these days. Here's one: https://reverb.com/item/48033002-vox-berkeley-super-reverb-amp-1964-black

If you ever see any of the above amps in a store, give them a try and you will see.

Viscount - this is the 2-12 combo version of the solid state Super Beatle-style amps. 3 channels, assignable reverb, trem, MRB, built in fuzz, even has a built-in E-tuner. So it's like a solid state AC-30. Weighs more than a Twin. It's very loud. People slag these amps, but they have a sound of their own. Supposedly the first Petty album uses these amps, as does the first Velvet Underground record. They are notoriously hard to work on and maintain, which is true. I was lucky enough to stumble on an ex-Bell Labs engineer (who worked on the original transistor dev team) who took a shine to these amps and rebuilt it for me. Most techs refuse to work on them. Not sure what I'll do with this amp. It's kind of a boat anchor at this point.

I have only owned one Vox guitar - a Panther bass like this:
https://reverb.com/item/43327553-vox-panther-1960s-sunburst
It's in that catalog.
I now regret selling it. It's a short scale, 3/4 bass, very easy to play and sounded great with its odd, angled pickup. Very big reggae sound for such a small guitar. Great for recording and for guitar-player hands.
Every other Vox guitar I've ever played was kind of a cool looking piece of junk. Probably could be set up to play well but...

Fun fact: James Brown's band played all Thomas Vox for a while in the late 60s. Many photos of those guys on stage with Vox guitars, basses amps and even the weird drums. They sounded, uh, pretty damn good.
 

ombudsman

Electromatic
Mar 19, 2022
69
Cincinnati OH
Viscount - this is the 2-12 combo version of the solid state Super Beatle-style amps. 3 channels, assignable reverb, trem, MRB, built in fuzz, even has a built-in E-tuner. So it's like a solid state AC-30. Weighs more than a Twin. It's very loud. People slag these amps, but they have a sound of their own. Supposedly the first Petty album uses these amps, as does the first Velvet Underground record.

I don't think that's right about the VU. They were often photographed (too bad they weren't recorded as much). The evidence is that they didn't have much equipment in the early days and didn't play live in '64, were pretty busy in the summer of '65 doing mostly experimental film related music, and met Warhol in December after which their profile started to rise. Up until sometime in early '66 you generally see Lou with the Country Gentleman and a brown Deluxe, John with a P bass and I think an Ampeg combo, and Sterling with and SG or the cheap Kent guitar (also used by Lou at times) and a Silvertone amp.

They got some type of endorsement/free gear deal with JMI/Vox UK sometime in '66. There are some pics of the first album sessions at Scepter but none with amps that I can find, so they may or may not have had Vox gear by that point; but they were photographed with that gear on the road or at the Factory many times that year and after. The gear definitely consisted of an AC 100 head/cab, and AC50 head/Foundation cab for bass, a Jaguar organ, a Phantom Bass and guitar, and possibly one or more Tone Benders (presumably the Italian made version). I have not seen any pics of the VU with Thomas Organ USA Vox gear nor any Vox solid state amps.

Here's a great clear shot of the AC100 rig. People (even those who should know better like Jimmy Page) sometimes confuse these with Super Beatles because of the size.

 

Xochi2

Gretschie
Oct 5, 2020
378
Wisconsin
I always loved the big VOX logo pincut into the headstock. I bought this '66 Super Lynx Deluxe as a companion to my '67 Vox Berkeley II amp. The Vox pickups are kind of wimpy compared to Gretsch, Gibson, etc., but the Lynx plays nicely and is pretty fun overall. It came in the original rounded case. I've since found various pieces of Vox case candy to put into the pocket, including the blue tool pouch, leather strap and large polishing cloth.
Nice!
 

Xochi2

Gretschie
Oct 5, 2020
378
Wisconsin
I don't think that's right about the VU. They were often photographed (too bad they weren't recorded as much). The evidence is that they didn't have much equipment in the early days and didn't play live in '64, were pretty busy in the summer of '65 doing mostly experimental film related music, and met Warhol in December after which their profile started to rise. Up until sometime in early '66 you generally see Lou with the Country Gentleman and a brown Deluxe, John with a P bass and I think an Ampeg combo, and Sterling with and SG or the cheap Kent guitar (also used by Lou at times) and a Silvertone amp.

They got some type of endorsement/free gear deal with JMI/Vox UK sometime in '66. There are some pics of the first album sessions at Scepter but none with amps that I can find, so they may or may not have had Vox gear by that point; but they were photographed with that gear on the road or at the Factory many times that year and after. The gear definitely consisted of an AC 100 head/cab, and AC50 head/Foundation cab for bass, a Jaguar organ, a Phantom Bass and guitar, and possibly one or more Tone Benders (presumably the Italian made version). I have not seen any pics of the VU with Thomas Organ USA Vox gear nor any Vox solid state amps.

Here's a great clear shot of the AC100 rig. People (even those who should know better like Jimmy Page) sometimes confuse these with Super Beatles because of the size.

Enjoyed this read, thanks!
 


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