VOX AC100 - UPDATES AND NEW INFO
2018 current (August-October)
14th October (2)
The group that convened the Public Address Shows attended by Jennings in 1964, 1965 and presumably subsequent years was the "Association of Public Address Engineers" (APAE). The Journal of the group may give info for 1966-1968. It is likely that Jennings picked up various ideas for its PA amplifiers at these meetings - design and features changed markedly over the years.
Some quick shots of the "Million Dollar Sound" catalogue, produced in the months following the deal made with Thomas Organ in August 1964. It probably dates from September/October.
This copy originally belonged to Zeb Billings Music in Milwaukee. AC80/100 serial no. 430 was one of the amps that came through Billings's store in the 60s.
13th October (4)
A passing illustration of a small trade show that Jennings took part in in the 1960s: the annual exhibition of the Association of Public Address Engineers.
"Wireless World" magazine, March 1964. At this point, the Jennings PA amplifiers were new in its range.
The King's Head Hotel, Harrow, c. 1965
The first generation of Vox PA amplifiers, as described in the catalogue from early 1964 above, had two inputs . The relevant text has been given in black and white for clarity. The page on Vox 100W PA amps has been updated.
"Wireless World", March 1965.
13th October (3)
It seemed best to gather the new pages on Trade Fairs together on a new index page. Further venues to be incorporated.
13th October (2)
Tom Jennings and Dick Denney at the NAMM show, Conrad Hilton, Chicago, 10th - 14th July 1966, demonstrating the Guitar Organ in front of Thomas Organ solid state amplifiers. Other interviews are collected on the NAMM 1966 website.
A syndicated report of the $2 million order won at the show. "The Birmingham Post", 27th July 1966.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, August 1966.
A page now begun on the Moscow Trade Fair, which took place at the Sokolniki Exhibition Centre, 8th - 24th July 1966. As ever, further material to be added, so do check back from time to time.
The rotunda of the Sokolniki Exhibition Centre, pictured in 1961.
The Fair unfortunately provided little return for Jennings - a paltry £1500, by no means the fault of Dave Roberts and Colin Barrett, the Jennings representatives, who proved hugely popular. The Vox stand at the National Association of Music Merchants in Chicago, on the other hand, which took place more or less simultaneously, netted the company $2 million, almost 80 times as much. But the principal customer was, of course, Thomas Organ.
The page on the Frankfurt Music Fair, February/March 1966 has now been updated with ads placed by other companies for their stands at the show. Melody Maker even went so far as to produce a special issue in German for the event. In contrast to previous years, info on the 1966 show is relatively good.
A new page has been started on Vox at the Frankfurt Music Fair, February/March 1966. Further material to come. The adverts issued in advance of the Fair are also to be found a little way down this page.
The Vox stand (not a large one) at some large exhibition venue - the extent of the structure can be glimpsed upper left. Certainly not Frankfurt 1965 (the stand number is not a Frankfurt number), nor the Russell Hotel 1964 or 1965.
Note the prominence given to Royston Industries, and the company address: 24-25 New Bond Street, London, W1.
The Birmingham Post, 3rd September, 1966. Royston is still on New Bond Street. In 1967 the company office was 3 Hill Street.
Melody Maker magazine, advertising a sort of portmanteau exhibition. Whether Vox was at this show remains to be seen.
9th October (3)
A snippet from "Piano Trade Magazine", volume 64, 1967 - Jennings officially breaking its ties with the Thomas Organ Co. But the rot had set in much earlier. Thomas had established its own office in London around a year earlier (in Clerkenwell), and had brought a network of dealers into being by the autumn of '66. The dealers met on 24th August at the Dorchester Hotel, the penultimate day of the British Musical Instrument Industries Trade Fair.
Billboard magazine, 27th August, 1966.
9th October (2)
Just to gather below some of the reports of the orders that Jennings won during the course of 1964 and 1965 - quite staggering figures. The Vox Works at Erith and the old premises on Dartford Road will have been running at full pelt to keep up with demand. These of course are simply the orders reported by the newspapers:
From "Beat Instrumental" magazine no. 18, October 1964. The "Million Dollar" contract, signed at the British Musical Instruments (Association of Musical Instrument Industries) Trade Fair, which took place in late August (24th to 29th) while the Beatles were touring the US.
"The Birmingham Post", 17th November, 1964. A second order - 1.5 million dollars this time (then equivalent to £534,000). This second order is sometimes confused with the first.
The Observer, 22nd November, 1964. Prophetic words.
It seems likely that the "Million Dollar Sound" US Vox catalogue had been drawn up and issued by the end of November '64. A full copy of this catalogue will be posted soon.
Coventry Evening Telegraph, 4th February, 1965.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 13th March 1965, reporting on the Frankfurt Musikmesse, 21st-25th February, 1965.
A further massive order came in during the course of 1965. The extract below is from "The Economist" magazine, volume 216, July 10th, 1965. Click as ever for a larger image.
The upper figure of "$10 million", a good eye-catching number, is echoed in reports published in Billboard magazine.
What underlay the note in the Economist was the deal done at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show at the Conrad Hilton in Chicago, June 27th - July 1st, 1965. The Thomas Organ Co. ordered $2-4 million worth of Vox equipment. "Billboard" magazine records the higher figure.
A schedule of events and partial list of exhibitors is given in Billboard, 26th June, '65, pp. 45-46.
Billboard magazine, 31st July, 1965.
A screen-grab from the Pathe newsreel on the BMI Trade Fair, London, 1965.
A page on the British Musical Instrument Trade Fair, London, Russell Hotel, August 1965 is now online here. Material from "Melody Maker" magazine "Trade Fair Special", 21st August, 1965, will follow. The brief account of the Jennings stand has already been included, however.
8th October (2)
The page on the BMI Fair, August 1964, has also been updated - further contemporary reports of the "Million Dollar Deal", and the even larger order that followed in November 1964 will be added shortly.
Two new pictures added to the page on the Frankfurt Music Fair, 1965, and its date corrected from a contemporary source - 21st-25th February '65.
7th October (2)
Dick Denney at the Frankfurt Music Fair, February 1965, not February 1964 as is sometimes said. Note February, not March.
A page on the Frankfurt Fair, 1965, has been started here. Pages on 1966 and 1967 to follow.
Dick Denney at the British Musical Instrument Industries Trade Fair, the Russell Hotel, London, 24th-28th August 1964.
New sets of pages are in the making on the Vox displays at the two main European fairs for musical instruments in the 1960s - the Frankfurt Musikmesse, which took place annually either in February or March, and the BMI Fair, normally in the penultimate week of August. The page for the BMI Fair, August 1964, is here.
"Beat Instrumental", "Melody Maker", the "Record Mirror" and "Billboard" are generally speaking the most important sources for contemporary reports on the Fairs. Others will be included where relevant. "The Guardian" newspaper has interesting comment for 1964 and 1965, for instance.
3rd October (2)
Below a Vox AC100 cover from mid 1967. Note the outline round "VOX", introduced with the solid state line in Spring of that year.
A Thomas Organ Parts Pricelist for dealers from April 1969. The Vox AC100 is still there. A new power transformer was $34.00 (retail), a cabinet for the amp $44.00, and a cabinet cover $5.00. One could buy parts of the speaker cab separately too. A replacement trolley would be a Super Beatle trolley, the cover also from a Super Beatle, $20.00. The list of electronic components is much reduced from the list issued in 1967, available here (foot of the page).
On the left, the Celestion alnico G12 in a Celestion leaflet from August 1956. A version of this first incarnation of G12 speaker (BO24 and BO25) was used in early AC15s and AC30s - the CT3757, hammertone silver frame. The Celestion blue (T530) and Celestion silver (T1088) were later descendants.
30th September (2)
A Jennings Musical Industries Hire Purchase form from 1961 / 1962. The form will have been much the same for the following years.
Early pricelists often gave the schedule of terms. Below, JMI's list of Fender guitars from April 1962.
The front page of a Goodmans brochure for guitar speakers, undated, but probably 1965. The whole thing is on the Vox AC50 website - speakers index page.
Among other things the ideal volumes for speaker cabinets are given. A quick calculation shows that the Vox T60 / 2 x 15" speaker cab is pretty much in line with what Goodmans recommended. The thin-edge boxes for AC80/100 amplifiers were made to match the width of these cabs - ie. a chassis that fitted in a box 19 inches wide was part of the design brief. Later thick-edge boxes overhang the edges of the T60 / 2 x 15" cabs slightly.
28th September (2)
Pages from the 1964 Vox Catalogue are now going up in batches:
Below, some pics of the Vox catalogue for 1964/65. The printer's runners indicate it was put to press in February '64. The format is a series of bifolia held together in an outer wrapper. The catalogue in its entirety will be posted soon, along with a small trove of catalogues, pricelists and related JMI material from 1961 and 1962.
Above, what is probably the first official mention of the PA amps - the sloping-front "Metal Clads" - "For factory, theatre, club, pop groups, etc.".
A second generation MC50 from early 1965. The first generation, as described in the 1964 catalogue, had two inputs.
The page on Goodmans and Fane 18" bass speakers, used by Vox in Foundation Bass cabs, has been updated with new info. and material from catalogues and pricelists.
The Audiom 91 was new in Spring 1964.
Below, a note in the Guardian newspaper, 30th January, 1963, signalling the controlling stake taken by Royston Industries in Jennings. Strangely the date does not seem to have been made explicit in the existing literature on Vox.
Above, a list of Royston's holdings as they stood in July 1967 from the house journal: "The Beacon". A complete copy of the edition, which concentrates on JMI's winning of the Queen's Award for Industry, is available here.
As is well known, however, Royston took more money out of JMI than it put back in. Profits from the massive orders won by JMI in the U.S.A. - on which, see this page - were largely dispersed.
By autumn 1967, following a series of mis-judged ventures, Royston found itself in trouble. Where JMI was concerned, things came to a head in September when Tom Jennings was sacked. Many others, Dick Denney included, went soon after. The running of JMI fell to Cyril Windiate, Tom Jennings's secretary.
Below, a purchase order dated 6th February 1968 from JMI to Macari's Musical Exchange for 100 Tonebenders. Macari's had taken over the old Jennings shop, 100 Charing Cross Road, in February 1967.
The signatory for JMI is Cyril Windiate. Note that the Order clearly records that the company was in the hands of the receiver.
Material relating to the transition of the company from JMI to "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in the second quarter of 1968 is being assembled on this page on the Vox Supreme website.
15th September (2)
The page on Celestion 18" bass speakers - The T1022, T1079, T1108 and T1296 - has been updated.
The full Official Programme of the Richmond Jazz and Blues Festival, August 1965, is now available here.
A mini stack of Vox 12" PA speakers - a pair and a singleton. The pair is probably from 1968 and originally had Celestion T1088s - see half-way down this page. The single speaker is earlier - its baffle cut-out has a horizontal and vertical bar across it. The later speakers only have a vertical.
These are nicely made units. On their upper backboards, slotted holes so they could be hung on walls by nails. Further pictures to follow.
The second half of the page on the Beatles in 1964 has now been revised - July to October.
A rare colour picture from the North American tour of August and September shows that the spare AC80/100, often seen by the side of the drum riser, had brown grille cloth:
Click as ever for a larger image. Toronto, 7th September, 1964.
11th September (2)
It was during the Beatles for Sale sessions in early October that the three new amps (seen also on the tour discussed briefly below) arrived.
Some notes on the Beatles AC80/100s in October and November 1964
Pictures taken on the Beatles' tour of the UK in late 1964 - 9th October to 4th November - show that the group travelled with four thin-edged AC80/100s with black grille cloth.
1) A new amp, delivered to Paul in early October 1964, with a BASS logo.
2) One of the amps given to John and George in early August '64, its logo composed of single letters V O X.
3 & 4) Two new thin-edged amps with conventional logos (bars through the letters).
A fifth amp, the twin of no. 2, does not appear. Its box, however, was used a little later to rehouse Paul's first AC80/100 - see below, entry for 8th September (2).
A series of illustrative details:
Leicester, De Montfort Hall, 10th October 1964. Paul's amp at left (1), and the amp with a single letter logo (2).
Belfast, King's Hall, 2nd November 1964. The amp at left has no bass flag (3). The alignment of the diamonds on its grille cloth is similar to the amp with a BASS flag, but the two are not the same. George's amp is the same as above (2).
Belfast again. The amp used by John (4). Logo of the standard type.
In terms of serial numbers, we have only one definitively fixed point at the moment. The twin of (2), delivered to John and George in August 1964, was serial no. 180.
It seems likely that the three new amps provided for the tour, made up specially with black grille cloth (brown was the norm), had numbers in the low 200s, or possibly 190s (no known survivors at present).
Brighton, 25th October 1964. Picture from the Beatles Book Photo Library. Paul's amp is (1), with a BASS logo at front and central screw on the top edge of the back board.
Brighton again - the amp used by John.
The two earlier amps - (2) and (5) - had no screws on the top edges of their respective back boards. Below, Lennon's amp, Milwaukee, 4th September, 1964:
New Orleans, 16 September, 1964. This is (2), above. Note the relationship of the letters to the diagonals of the diamonds. From a picture by Ted Rozumalski.
The box of this amp was used to re-house Paul's first AC80/100.
The page on the Beatles' AC100s in 1965 has been updated (long overdue anyway) with the new pictures and info posted below over the last few days. Further updates will be slipped in during the course of this week.
9th September (2)
To illustrate the point of amps being used fairly interchangeably by the Beatles, a couple of details. Note the ding on the serial number plate:
Lennon photographed from stage rear in front of the amp he used - serial no. 180 - on 24th June 1965 at Milan.
The plate of the amp used by Paul - serial no. 180 - for the Christmas Show rehearsals, December 1964.
Also worth pointing out that between the end of the Christmas Shows and the European tour in June '65, serial no. 180 in company with the other amp in a thick-edged box and serial no. 150B were given fixings (two screws) on the top edge of their respective backboards.
Milan, June '65. The companion amp in a thick-edged box, used by George. At right, serial no. 150B, used by Paul.
So the timeline insofar as it can be made out at present seems to be:
Early December 1964 (?): Amps back to JMI for refurbishment / reboxing.
Early months of 1965: Amps back to JMI again - screws added to top edges of back boards. Presumably other work too.
These seem to be pre-concert-run checks / repairs. For the NME Pollwinners concert, 11th April, 1965, the Beatles had large-box AC50s on top of their SDL speaker cabinets. It may be that the AC100s were away at JMI at this time.
NME Pollwinners concert, Empire Pool, Wembley, 11th April, 1965. Picture from Getty Images.
A detail of the serial number plate of the amp used by Paul at the rehearsal for the Christmas concerts, Finsbury Park Astoria, December 1964 - see the entry below, 6th August. Serial number 180:
Click as ever to enlarge. The serial number plate has 9 lines of text and long panels for the details.
Note that the amp's box is a new-style thick-edged one with no corner protectors - a format that had come into being by November 1964. Number 180 should by rights, however, be an amp in a thin-edged box. See this page.
The mains switch is a small ball-end Arrow. Other pictures show that the amp has a link voltage selector.
What seems to have happened is a sort of musical chairs. Paul's first amp was given the thin-edged box of one of the amps given to John and George in autumn 1964, and the boxless chassis that resulted from this exchange - serial no. 180 - was given a new thick-edged box, along with the chassis of the other amp given to John and George.
In other words, Paul's AC80/100 - serial no. 150B - ended up with an old-style black-fronted box, and John and George's were given new ones. From late 1964, however, the Beatles used their amps fairly interchangeably, so the notion of "owners" rather dissolves away.
The amp used by John at Milan, thick edges to the box, no corner protectors.
The amp used by George at Milan. As above, thick edges to the box, no corner protectors.
8th September (2)
Just to note that Paul's first amp - serial no. 150B - was originally issued in a box with brown grille cloth. In late 1964, in time for the Christmas show, the chassis, along with its back panel, was rehoused in the box of one of the amps originally issued to John and George in the autumn of 1964. These had black grille cloth. 150B was subsequently taken on the Italian and US tours of 1965.
Serial number 150B, at right, photographed from rear of stage at Milan, 24th June, 1965. This picture is sometimes, wrongly, said to be Genoa.
Photographed from front of stage, Milan, 1965. Compare the alignment of the diamonds on the grille cloth with the amp below. The left side is slightly in shadow.
From a picture by Ted Rozumalski. The black-fronted amp used by George, New Orleans, 16 Sept. 1964. Paul's old chassis was slipped into this box.
Some changes now to the page on early thin-edged AC80/100s. It is extremely doubtful that the amp said to be no. 117 is actually 117. There is something odd about its serial number plate (which is presented at a distance), among other things.
The lack of amps with attestable serial numbers under 150 certainly makes sense in relation to the evidence conveyed by the high-res photo posted yesterday - Paul's amp was the first AC80/100 issued, just as John and George had the first AC50s.
The serial number of Paul McCartney's first AC80/100 - serial no. 150B - seen in a pic taken at the Finsbury Park Astoria, December 1964:
A detail of Paul's amp on stage, Versailles, 14th January 1964. The AC80/100 had been issued to him in late December 1963.
Rehearsals for the Christmas Show, Finsbury Park Astoria, December 1964. Picture courtesy The Beatles Book Photo Archive.
A general detail from the picture above, Paul's first AC80/100 being used by George.
A detail, inverted and slightly enlarged, from the high resolution file - 150 B on the plate.
Paul's amp was the first AC80/100 made. No other amp has come to light with a fuseholder on the back panel, or with white jack plug sockets. Note that the serial number plate is of the early type, and that the designation "B" is also found on the plates of early single channel, two input AC50s that were paired with Foundation Bass cabs. See this page on the AC50 website.
Evidently the idea, from the start, was to sell some AC80/100s with bass cabs, others with non-bass cabs. John and George's AC100 SDLs did not come along until August '64 though.
The serial number 150B is interesting as the presumption has been that the sequence began at 100 or 101. Intriguingly another amp was also stamped 150 - the amp in Florida, used by Bill Wyman in 1964 and 1965. See the entries below, 31st July and 2nd August.
Quite what this means is difficult to say for sure - possibly a mistake, or perhaps the number 150 recorded/signified that these AC80/100s had been consigned to bands.
The chassis of 254 now pretty much sorted out. Everything powers up as it should. Still a few things to do, among which the replacement of the dreadful "orange drop" suppressor cap.
27th August (3)
Some shots of 254's box:
The furniture glide (small black foot) rear right (corr.) is original. The other three are replacements.
27th August (2)
Some pics of the back panel of 254, before and after:
The panel as reconfigured in the US, probably in the 1990s. Next to the jack socket on the aluminium plate was a switch to switch between 8 and 16ohms.
The hole for the mains socket was enlarged too much and too irregularly to give anything away about what was in there originally. The Bulgin happened to fit and cover the odd screw holes.
The screw holes above and under the main holes for the speaker sockets show that the amp originally had two Cannon XLR-3-32s. The leftmost hole was widened at some point (see below).
On the left, the plate of serial number 185 (brown fronted, thin-edged box, green Woden transformers, cathode biased, etc.). On the right, the serial number plate of the amp featured in the Wyman advert (also brown fronted, thin-edged box, green Wodens, cathode biased). Both, along with with no. 221, were stamped by the same person. Westrex-made AC80/100s - from no. 100 to around no. 300 - normally have only three digit serial numbers. Burndept numbers (from the last batch of black panels on through to 1967) are machine stamped.
The amp pictured below was evidently given its plate a good number of months after it and its box had been made. From around no. 220 boxes are thick edged, and from around no. 230 control panels, along with cloth fronts, are black.
A slow journey from the States, but now here, the JMI AC80/100 testing / promo amp, seen in the advert for Bill Wyman and his new bass (signalled below, 24th June).
Detail from the Vox advert in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, December 1965 - the whole is here (scroll to the foot of the page).
The amp was never provided with a logo, nor the holes for one. Compare the distinctive diamond pattern of the grille cloth.
The chassis - two fans added in the US. Further pics will be posted in due course.
The amp belonged to JMI until it was sold (presumably in late '65 or '66). It was not used on stage or otherwise by the Stones. But Bill W. certainly stood beside it. Thanks to Tom for picking the amp up in Brooklyn and arranging for the shipping.
19th August (2)
Below, details of John and George's black-fronted amps on stage, New Orleans, 16th September, 1964:
From a picture by Ted Rozumalski.
The rear of Lennon's amp, Milwaukee, 4th September, 1964.
Vox dealer photo no. 1, published also in magazines and papers in the UK and States in 1964 and 1965. The "amp" is probably just a box (no chassis inside) - Bill gives the game away, holding it with two fingers. The single letters for the logo were added to the photograph later.
Click for a larger image. A detail showing the wonkiness of the logo - painted on to a large initial print, and then rephotographed.
The whole picture.
A great detail of the JMI loan AC100 SDL - the amp an AC80/100 in a thin-edged box - used by the Stones in Paris and Belgium, October 1964. Since no colour pic. has so far come to light, it's not possible to be entirely certain of the colour of the amp's grille cloth.
Black, however, seems likely to match the grille cloth of the cab - much as the grille cloth of the Beatles' amps matched the cloth of their speaker cabs.
Amp and cab may have been one of the ones, or perhaps the one, shown at the "British Musical Instrument Industries" Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel, 24th - 29th August 1964. The Beatles were away on tour in the States at this time:
Beat Monthly magazine, October 1964.
Material from the "Record Mirror", 29th August, 1964, on the Vox showing at the "British Musical Instrument Industries" Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel a few days earlier:
A note on the all-purpose PA amplifier was also published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, see this page. The amp must have been a gargantuan thing with spring reverb and (presumably) tape echo. No surviving examples have so far come to light - and probably none will, as it seems unlikely that the unit was ever put into full production. There is certainly no mention of it in catalogues from 1964 or early 1965.
This advert was also published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, August 1964 .
The Rolling Stones at Longleat, 2nd August 1964, with a thin-edged brown-fronted Vox AC80/100 and AC50. The AC80/100 is different from the one discussed in the entries a little way down this page. Note the pattern of diamonds on the grille cloth.
12th August (3)
The Velvet Underground at Andy Warhol's club, New York, early 1966 - on stage, an AC50 Foundation Bass set and an AC100 SDL.
12th August (2)
The four main filter caps from a late AC100 - schematic OS/167 (original drawing dated July 1967). The serial number of the amp is in the high 1900s. The Radiospares date code "YF" = June 1967.
Around 100 chassis were evidently made in the second half of 1967 with cut-outs for the doubled up capacitors. Production of the old and new style chassis will have overlapped initially. Finished units were not slipped into boxes (ready and waiting with serial number plates) in any particular order.
A further "100W Amplifier" registered - serial number 708 or 709 (the plate is indistinct), currently in Japan. The amp has had a copper panel and link voltage selector added to give it an earlier look.
Freddie and the Dreamers, Longleat, August 1965. The band also had two AC50 Super Twins on the day (one with a basket top trolley). Picture from Lebrecht Images.
Serial number 498 currently on Reverb. A "100W Amplifier" - fixed bias, but no brimistor - produced summer 1965. For other "100W Amplifiers", see this page.