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Vox at 60

1. A rare EL-34 powered Vox AC100 head with black, not brown, cloth and copper control plate. Early examples had a thin edge to the cabinet

2. The battered AC30 used by Vox’s own R&D team as the template for a newseries of ultra-authentic reissues. Review next issue


3. The hybrid UL760, made from 1965 to 67, featured a solid-state preamp but a KT-88 powered power stage as Vox transitioned to the solid-state era

4. The ‘Long Tom’ Echo Deluxe MKII tape delay unit was most famously used by Hank Marvin, running a 22-inch loop of ¼-inch tape




looked nothing like their competitors. Job done. Yet, it was a brave manifesto given the collective shrug that had greeted the Gibson Flying V and Explorer just a few years before. Vox guitars caught the attention of teenage US Anglophiles who traded the reverb-drenched sound of the surf music of Dick Dale for the repackaged electric blues of The Stones, The Yardbirds and The Animals. The garage rock uniform of Chelsea boots, polo necks and Brian Jones haircuts was sonically backed up with the angry-sounding swarm of fuzz guitar. When Keef played that riff on (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction every kid within earshot felt a


Guitarist october 2017

psychotic reaction. The Human Riff used a Gibson Maestro stompbox on Satisfaction, a unit that had been languishing on shelves and in stock rooms since 1962. That changed thanks to Keef. Tom Jennings would always say to Dick Denney “we need new noises”, hence the creation of treble boosters and wah pedals. One of their smartest moves was to source Sola Sound fuzz boxes [built by engineer Gary Hurst] from Music Exchange in London’s Charing Road, which were then rebadged as the Vox Tone Bender. So, Vox became legendary for the sound of fuzz tone thanks to a pedal it didn’t design or build. The Maestro faded into obscurity.

Given the cultural impact of its amps and guitars, not to mention the ‘new noises’ emanating from its stompboxes, Vox appeared unstoppable. Yet trouble was brewing. 1967 may have played host to The Summer Of Love but there was little love lost between Tom Jennings and the board at Royston Industries that year. “The situation was that Vox was making more money than the rest of the group,” explains John Oram. “Obviously, it’s annoying when you’re pulling all this money in and it’s all going into this bottomless pit that’s paying all these people and propping up weaker companies. Tom liked to think he was in control of his own