VOX AC100 - UPDATES AND NEW INFO
Thanks to Martin Kelly, pictures of the Thomas Organ Vox Pocket Reference Guide from late 1965 / early 1966 are now available here.
13th January (2)
Just to signal that there are two AC100s on sale at the moment: - serial number 498, an early "100 Watt Amplifier" (fixed bias), summer 1965; and serial number 813, a Mark 2 (fixed bias with brimistor), last quarter of 1965.
A rough and ready detail from the JMI amplifiers flyer of September 1964. Note that the AC100 is represented in a thick-edged cabinet with corner protectors, as it also is in an advert placed in "Melody Maker", 12th Sept., '64
The date is given in the runner immediately above: "9.64".
"Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 19th February, 1965. A press view at Dartford Road on 9th February in advance of the display at the Frankfurt Fair (Musikmesse), March '65.
Tom Jennings (right) with Ray Pyman (centre), and three other members of JMI staff (to be identified in a later post). An AC100 SDL can be seen far right; centre the Guitar-Organ and Vox Continental.
The article accompanying the photo - there is another piece next to it on Tom Jennings himself.
Below, two pictures of the Vox stand at Frankfurt, March '65. Some sources - both published and on the web - state that the shots are from the show the year before (in March 1964). This is not so. Note the presence of the large box AC50 (mid 1964), and the AC100 SDL, which was new for the Beatles in early August 1964.
Frankfurt, March 1965. The AC100 SDL "The New Beatles Model" at left, the large box AC50 in the centre. Underneath the second guitar from left, one can just make out the meter and some of the controls of one of the new Vox PA amplifiers
"Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 10th December, 1965 - the top floor of the West Street Works (Erith) damaged by fire, equipment on other floors by water. Reg Clark noted that operations were quickly moved to Burndept's Riverside Building (picture below).
"Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 10th December, 1965.
West Street Works ablaze.
The Burndept Riverside Works, temporary home to Vox in early 1966.
The position of the West Street Works indicated by the yellow arrow, the Riverside Building by the white.
"Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 31st July, 1964 - a rough and ready shot (below) of the article giving further details of the Beatles' new amplifiers. The sequence of events in late July:
Week of the 20th - the two new AC80/100s and their accompanying 2x15" speaker cabinets (for John and George) were evidently ready. But they prove too loud to be tested at full in the Dartford Road factory. A disused airfield is envisaged, but one of the Burndept factories in Erith ultimately chosen for the final test.
Monday 27th - the two amplifiers, one serial no. 180, the other 179 or 181(?), and their speaker cabs shipped from Dartford to London.
Tuesday 28th - the amps taken to Stockholm for the two concerts at the Isstadion.
Thursday 30th - return to London.
At some point before the 9th August, the new 4x12" SDL speaker cabinets made ready.
The interesting thing about the piece is the inherent possibility, especially in the statements about testing, that the 2x15" cabs were also (ie. in addition to the amplifier sections) intended for the American tour - the "Hollywood Bowl". If that was indeed the case, then John and George must have expressed dissatisfaction with them, prompting JMI to come up with the new SDLs in the space of around a week.
As noted in yesterday's entry, the AC80/100 amplifier had been around for some time by late July 1964. It was tried and tested, but accompanying speaker cabs for guitar - non-existent up to this point - were not.
Photos taken from rear of stage during the Stockholm concerts show that the amplifier sections used there were indeed the ones taken to America just over a fortnight later.
Below, the front page of the "Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 17th July, 1964, and a short notice near its foot. The amplifiers in question were the new AC100s for John and George, which were consigned, along with specially-made 2x15" speaker cabinets, at some point before the 28th July. See this page.
It may be that the new SDL 4x12" speaker cabinets were also in preparation when the article was printed - the SDLs were the ones taken to America, having been delivered to The Beatles on 9th August. What became of the 2x15" cabs is not known.
"Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 17th July, 1964. The amplifiers delivered "last Christmas" were Paul's AC100 bass, and John and George's AC50s.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 25th July, 1964 - printed three days before the Beatles performed in Stockholm. As AC100 amplifiers had been in production for some time when the article was published, it is clear that the SDL speaker cabinets were the things that really needed testing - or at least the performance of the amps and SDL cabs together in the hands of The Beatles.
27th December (2)
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, November 1965. Bill Wyman talking about his AC100 and twin Foundation Bass speaker cabinet setup, and the need for what we would now call "headroom".
The stage set up at Dayton, Ohio, 13th November, 1964.
Capacitors revisited. Four TCCs, as used by JMI for the Midax horns in AC50 and AC100 speaker cabinets. JMI painted them, or had them painted, black.
The specifications are clear enough: "2 M.F.D." (microfarads), "100 V.D.C. Working". The codes "47E" and "Z.A.26324" are either the TCC - Telegraph Condenser Company - part numbers, or those of the company for whom the capacitors were originally produced: - perhaps JMI, but equally possibly the Royal Corps of Signals (British Army) - ie. these were military surplus acquired by JMI.
"Practical Wireless" magazine, September 1968 - notice of the sale of Jennings (and Burndept Electronics) assets at the West Street Works in Erith - principally guitars and organs, though amplifiers and spare parts are encompassed too.
It seems likely that at least some of the items presented were "bought in" by the new company, "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", which had come into being by this point - see the comments of Reg Clarke in the article in "Beat Instrumental", below.
Given that VSEL took over the rooms formerly occupied by JMI in the West Street Works, it is reasonable to assume that it acquired the furniture too. Again, note what Reg Clarke says: "We have even bought our old factory in Erith, Kent". It is interesting to see that a catalogue of the sale was printed.
Syd Wedeles, a former JMI employee, had already snapped up for his own business, the spare parts stocked in the Jennings shop at 100 Charing Cross. The shop was sold in January 1967 to the Macaris.
Much the same text also appeared in "Radio Constructor" magazine, August 1968.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, August 1968.
A new page begun on JMI at the Association of Public Address Engineers' exhibition, March 1964.
21st December (2)
The page on the Royston Industries / Vox stand at the "Ideal Home Exhibtion" in 1967 has now been updated. Below, some pages from the 1967 catalogue:
Front page of the catalogue for the '67 show.
Royston / Vox had stand 223 in the "Leisure" section of the "Empire Hall" at Olympia.
The original accounts of The Who (in re the entry below) are given in Richard Houghton, "The Who: I was There" (London, 2018), under the dates concerned - 22nd and 27th May '65. In the youtube video of the band's performance of "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" on "Ready Steady Go!", 21st May, the AC100 and 2x15" cabinet used by John Entwistle are fairly prominent on the platform above the stage apron. One only sees the AC100 SDL cab on Pete Townsend's side of the stage fleetingly towards the end of the clip.
For their appearance on "Ready Steady Go!", 21st May, 1965, The Who were provided with at least two AC100s - marked (it is said "stencilled") with the name of the studio, presumably either "RSG" or "Rediffusion". The band subsequently took the AC100s away, and after an unsuccessful attempt in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, on the 22nd, managed to sell one in Worthing on the 27th to a local band for £15. The other or others doubtless eventually ended up as scrap.
The Beatles in Barcelona, 3rd July, 1965: Plaza de Toros Monumental. Despite what was claimed by the local Vox dealer, the photographic record shows that Beatles used their own amps. Below, a detail showing sections of the wiring of the cab used by George on the night - one of two issued by JMI to the group in August 1964. The cabs were fitted with new trolleys in 1965. In the bottom of the cab in view, one can see the large TCC oil can capacitors:
Above, a detail from the early cab with basket-topped trolley accompanying serial number 225, a demonstration amp sent by JMI to the States in early 1965.
Ad placed by the Cadena Musical Alberdi, distributor of Vox in Spain. The Beatles did NOT play instruments provided by the shop, as the text claims. However, Alberdi probably did supply the AC50 Foundation Bass and the small box AC50 seen at stage rear during the Barcelona concert. Unfortunately the story that the shop took the AC100s back and thereafter sold them into private hands is just not true.
Vox Teen Beat newspaper, volume I, issue 2, produced in late 1965 / early 1966, now available here.
A small picture - from this page - of "The Hitmakers", at the Warkhaus, Kansantalo (Finland), 24th September, 1965. Clearly visible, an AC100 SDL cab to the left of the drummer, rear of the stage, and on the floor a few feet in front of it, the amplifier.
Whether this AC100 SDL was part of the batch with black panels exported to Finland in early 1965 - serial numbers 268 and 269 - is unknown at present.
Some updates coming soon. Over the past week work has been proceeding on the new Vox AC30 website - pages will build steadily in a reasonably coherent order - earliest amps first (black and copper panels), then through to the acceleration in production - 1965 and beyond. If you know of any AC30s that should be included, do make contact through the email address on the site.
Serial number 350 sold for $600 in the Boston auction.
Below, pictures from "The Beatles Equipment Stories" published in Japan in 2010 (Shinko Music Entertainment Company Ltd) - AC100 serial number 162, copper panel, brown cloth, BASS flag in place. To judge from the details, the back panel has its original Cannon XLR-3-32 and Cannon LNE-32 sockets.
Definitely a "6" rather than a "5" or "9". Serial number 182 is already known - see this page.
Auctioned yesterday in Boston by Skinner Auctioneers, serial number 350 (00350), doubtless grey panel and cathode biased (conforming to the AC80/100 schematic). Probably one of the many amps exported to the USA in 1965.
23rd November (2)
"Midland Beat" magazine, December 1966, The Move with an AC100.
A slightly enlarged detail of Paul's trolley (see yesterday's entry) along with a shot of a surviving example of an early handwheel.
22nd November (2)
Some fantastic details from pictures taken at Blokker, Holland, 6th June, 1964: the rear of Paul's amp and side of his bass cab, showing the old-style handwheel on the trolley (cursive VOX logo).
Pictures from the Dutch National Picture Archive .
Below, details of two preamps. The first an early AC80/100 (green Woden transformers, etc.), late 1964, refurbished by JMI and reboxed at some point; the second an AC30 Super Reverb Twin, early 1965 (?).
If anyone recognises the significance of "165" written on the aluminium of both, do let me know.
The issue of the Vox Teen Beat magazine from mid 1966 just posted contains a three page Vox advert that had appeared in several issues of "Melody Maker" during the course of 1965.
The first two pages are identical: The Beatles ("Top Pop Stars Feature Vox"); and a page of pictures, a sort of collage, of other Vox users.
The third page is a list of Vox users. The American list is longer by around half again, and contains as one might expect a number of American bands. The only American band to feature in the English list is the Sir Douglas Quintet.
Above, the Thomas Organ "Vox" list in Teen Beat magazine, vol. 1, issue 3, mid 1966. The American bands are: Paul Revere and the Raiders; The Rising Sons; The Monkees; Sir Douglas Quintet; The Gentrys; Dino, Desi and Billy; The Standells; The Palace Guard; Guilloteens; Velvet Underground; W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band; Danny Warner; Gemini VI.
The English "Vox" list, published in "Melody Maker" magazine, 21st August, 1965 (and other issues).
The text below the drawing.
Pictures of Vox Teen Beat magazine, vol. 1, issue 3, from mid 1966, now available here. These will probably be updated in due course. The mention (on page 14) of the film "Fireball 500" being a "smashing boxoffice success" gives a terminus post quem. The film was released in June 1966.
These old newsprint items are extremely fragile, cracking and flaking with repeated handling.
Some early material on the Goodmans Midax horn, the principal applications envisaged naturally being in hi-fi enclosures:
First picture: the Thomas tag and "Vox Rules" badge that came with an organ bought in the US in the late 60s.
Second: the two styles of English tag - the one in cursive script was superceded by the other in mid 1964.
"Wireless World", February 1964: an advert for the new Cannon LNE power connector, developed initially for the BBC. Vox fitted these in relatively short order to John and George's AC50s and to Paul's first AC100 - see the pictures below and on this page.
Detail of a picture of The Beatles rehearsing in Miami, February 1964. Note the red rubber glands on the power cables.
Original power cable from AC100 serial number 392.
Versailles, January 1964: detail showing the backs of George and Paul's amps. The sockets are mounted sideways.
The earliest AC80/100 with an original Cannon power connector (Cannon LNE-32) still in place is serial number 174. Only a very few late-ish small box AC50s (thick-edged box, four inputs in diamond formation) were originally given these connectors - some were "added" later, so beware.
Continuing the Goodmans theme, two pages below from the catalogue of 1966 - the picture of the player with the Hofner President Bass guitar presumably taken in 1964 along with the others in the entry for 10th November.
Some Goodmans promotional material from 1964 /1965. In these years, Vox generally used Goodmans only for horns (the Midax in AC50 and AC100 cabs) and for Foundation Bass speaker cabinets (the Audiom 90, then Audiom 91) - "generally" is of course the operative word.
From 1966, guitar cabs were sometimes fitted with 12" Goodman heavy-frame ceramics.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 21st March, 1964.
A Goodmans catalogue from 1964 / 1965, the same player and Hofner Verithin as above.
A rare picture of The Swinging Blue Jeans on stage, Wimbledon Palais, February-April 1964 (perhaps the advertised date, Saturday 8th Feb.) - the banner of the "National Beat Contest" overhead. Published in "Muziek Parade" magazine, January 1965.
Above, a detail of the bass cab with wood-block (or perhaps perspex) logo.
A provisional note on "Gla-Rev Products Limited", the company that made vast numbers of wooden boxes for Jennings Musical Industries (for amplifiers and speaker cabinets) from 1965.
"G-R" stamped in white on the inner side panel of the box used at one time to house AC100 serial number 323 - but the box probably originally belonged to a slightly later amp.
The company seems to have been formed in the early 1950s, its name an amalgam of those of its founders: Henry Glass and Revel. Glass also traded under his own name, moving his business operations to Ipswich in the early 1970s. Glass made cabinets for Hiwatt, Sound City, and many others.
From early days "Gla-Rev" produced a wide variety of goods - leather luggage, plastic and vulcanised fibre containers, wooden cabinets and boxes, and so on - "enclosures" of all sorts. The factory was first on Selinas Road in Dagenham (East London), then from around 1960 on Fowler Road, Hainault (Essex). Glass was evidently the driving force behind the woodworking side of things.
A cleaner image of the Vox advert on the back cover of the "Glad Rag Ball" programme (20th-21st November, 1964) - see the entry below for 1st November. Colour was used only occasionally in the ads that Vox placed in concert programmes.
A detail from a rough-print picture of Sounds Incorporated, early 1967 - from a Gene Pitney / Troggs tour programme of Feb. '67. Behind the band, an AC50 twin, and an AC100 on a 2x15" cab. Whether these are the amps that the band were photographed with in 1966 is unknown at present.
The country house in the painting on the rear wall? Holkham Hall in Norfolk? An excellent piece of carpet.
Below, rear of stage. c. 1966 (venue in East Anglia at present unknown). At least one of the AC50s pictured has a three-line serial number plate and red warning plaque.
Salient features of the rear of the amp (an early copper-panel AC80/100): twin Cannon XLR sockets; the rounded off corners to the white warning plaque (also on serial number 173); the metal Arrow ball-end mains switch; and the absence of screws on the top edge of the backboard.
4th November (3)
In Appendix 3 of "The Vox Story", Denney's visit to Sepulveda in late October / early November 1965 is documented in some detail. The primary purpose of his trip: to see, hear and assess the new Thomas Organ solid state range, then in its final stages of development. The text of the letter that Stan Cutler, Director of Engineering at Warwick Industries / Thomas Organ, wrote to Tom Jennings following Denney's visit is reproduced below, along with a picture of Stan published in Billboard magazine, 13th July, 1968.
In a sense, these things really belong more on the Vox Supreme website, but it seemed good to place them here too.
To follow, further notes on the things that Denney saw, especially the Treble, Bass and Distortion Boosters, and his comments on speakers.
"Billboard" magazine, 13th July, 1968.
4th November (2)
A rather woolly detail from a picture of the Barron Knights on stage, Palais de Danse, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, 1964 but precise date unknown at present. At the rear of stage a Foundation Bass speaker cabinet on a trolley with ball end casters, an AC50 or AC100 on top.
A detail from a picture published in Denney and Petersen ("The Vox Story", 1993, p. 147) of the Vox stand at the "British Musical Instrument Industries" fair at the Russell Hotel, late August, 1964.
Note on the circular stand underneath the perspex AC30, copies of the colour catalogue printed for Vox earlier in the year:
The catalogue as a whole is available on this page
3rd November (2)
The "Arlington Heights Herald", 25th March, 1965. A slightly earlier advert than the one below. The "Million Dollar Deal" referenced in the strap-line "Million Dollar Sound" was seven months old by March '65.
"The Million Dollar Sound" is of course also the strap-line of the first US Vox catalogue, available on this page.
Below, a page from the "Arlington Heights Herald", 1st April, 1965. The Thomas Organ Studios at the Golf Mill Shopping Center was the first place to receive shipments of Vox equipment from England (17th September 1964) following the forging of the "Million Dollar Deal". The Studios remained an important outlet for Vox in the northern half of the USA throughout the later 1960s.
In the advert, inset pictures of bands, some used in sets of photographs circulated by Thomas to dealers. See also the entries further down this page for 16th and 28th September.
The Golf Mill Center was in Niles, outside Chicago. The Studios were in its North Mall, near the Mill-Run Theatre. Pictures and a map coming soon.
2nd November (2)
Below, an interesting advert for Vox in the Bristol Daily Courier (Pennsylvania), 18th November, 1965, re-using a colour advert originally issued by Jennings in the UK in late 1963 / early 1964 for shop display (the backing mount is cardboard). Note in the newspaper advert there is no mention of Thomas Organ
"Central Melody", Levittown, Pennsylvania.
Cardboard backing for shop display.
A new page started on British bands that toured the USA in 1964 with Vox equipment brought from England - here.
1st November (2)
A Thomas Organ matchbook from the Studios in Cooksville, Mississauga, Ontario. It may be that the book - "Made in Japan" - post-dates Vox. Quite whether the Cooksville store handled Vox equipment in the 1960s is not known at present.
A quick shot of the front and back cover of the programme for the Glad Rag Ball, organised by the Students' Union of London University and staged at the Empire Pool, Wembley, 20-21 November, 1964. Vox provided the equipment.
The drawing is the standard one used by Vox for adverts in package tour programmes and the like, 1964-1965. A photo of Gene Vincent and the Londoners on stage is available on this page.
19th October (2)
Recently on ebay, AC100 serial number 1752, built by Triumph Electronics (rather than at the Burndept / Vox Works), probably in late 1966 or 1967.
A better map detail showing the position of the West Street Works - Ordnance Survey 1971, 1:25000 series:
From summer 1970 to summer 1971 the building was home to "Vox Sound Limited". VSL moved production thereafter to Hastings.
Some pics and notes on the Vox / Burndept Works - the "West Street Works" - in Erith. Burndept Electronics, fellow member of the Royston Group of companies and the building's owner, made space for Vox in late 1964, the "Million Dollar Deal" forged with Thomas Organ in the USA having created a pressing need for new production lines. Burndept retained around half the available space, however, for its own lines.
AC100s were assembled at West Street from February/March 1965 to late 1967.
The Works remained home to Vox in the years following the demise of Jennings Musical Industries. "Vox Sound Equipement Limited" took the building over from summer 1968 to mid 1970, and "Vox Sound Limited" took it on for the first year or so of its existence, moving production thereafter to Hastings (really St-Leonard's-on-Sea).
An aerial view of the Works and its car park.
A detail of the riverside area of Erith - the river stippled at right - from an Ordnance Survey map of 1965. The position of the Works is marked in blue.
A front view, the Works just in picture at left, the Elizabethan Electronics building at right. Elizabethan made consumer radios, gramophones, tape recorders, and so on.
One of the assembly rooms photographed in June 1969, not 1967 as the caption says. Various visible features of the solid state amplifiers being assembled (Vox Defiant and Foundation Bass power sections) give the date away.
A Burndept workroom pictured in 1983.
As above, picture from Grace's Guide. Note in this shot the arrangement of windows, doors and wooden strap work - similar to the room in which the solid state amps in the black and white photo above were assembled.
A new page on the types of packaging adopted by Thomas Organ for Vox amplifiers, guitars and accessories is now in progress here.
Three versions of the picture of Bill Wyman with his new Vox bass and the AC100 Foundation Bass he was using at the time - the original photo taken around August 1965.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, December 1965.
The picture on the left has evidently been retouched - note Bill's hair on the left and the hem of his jacket at right.
Pictures - some colour - show that Bill used the amplifier on various legs of the US tour of 23rd April - 29th May '65. More on this to follow.