The story of the 1960s Vox guitars is complicated; JMI were making Vox guitars in the UK, at a factory in Dartford, Kent (See pic), primarily for Shadows fans in the UK. After Beatlemania, Brian Jones' teardrop Mark VI and the British Invasion of 1964, they could not keep up with worldwide demand, especially in the US. JMI outsourced some production to two Italian factories, EKO in Recanati, and Crucianelli, primarily for the American market, and at it's peak had a huge number of models available. Eventually the UK factory ceased guitar production, and the last few Vox guitars available for several years, were the Vox Giant range guitars, made in Japan.
Today, many of these rare guitars are highly collectable, with vintage Vox guitar values on the rise. They are loved for their crazy shapes and for their inbuilt guitar effects. Have a listen to some vintage Vox soundclips.
The various Vox manufacturers
Vox guitars were produced by various manufacturers in the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan; for convenience, you can split 1960s Vox guitars into four main categories. Each had different components, and it is not too difficult to place a guitar in one of these groups, just by looking at controls, pickups etc.
|Two UK-produced Vox Ace guitars from 1962/3|
|Vox Prototype Designer Mick Bennett drills holes for control knobs, of a Vox Mark guitar at the Dartford plant, United Kingdom|
JMI The earliest Vox's were solid-body guitars, assembled in the JMI plant in Dartford, Kent, with components coming from numerous suppliers in the UK. Later necks were imported from Italy, but even with an Italian neck, these are regarded as the British Voxs; models such as the Shadow, Ace, Stroller, Phantom, Mark and Marauder. These were primarily for the British market, though many were exported to the United States in the early/mid 1960s.
Crucianelli At the same time, there was significant demand for hollow-body instruments, something not easily produced in any numbers at the Dartford plant. So Vox imported a range of guitars from Italian manufacturer Crucianelli. These models include the Vox Lynx, Vox Cougar bass, Vox Challenger, and Escort bass. Furthermore, demand for solid body UK models was so high that certain guitars were produced simultaneously in Britain and Italy (primarily by Eko of Recanati). Italian Phantoms from this period have some differing components and constructiom from their British-built counterparts.
EME The third main phase of Vox production is possibly the best known worldwide. These were the Italian built Vox's from the EME factory in Recanati; a joint Venture between Vox UK, Eko in Italy, and Vox's US distributor Thomas Organ. Most of these instruments were bound for the United States, where they were distributed by the Thomas Organ Company.
Although they have distinctive components, most were versions of existing Vox models: primarily the phantom and teardrop shaped guitars, and the more generic 335 hollow bodies.
Vox Sound (Japan) In the late 1960s many things went wrong for Vox. JMI gave way to 'Vox Sound' and guitar manufacture ceased in the UK. The last Vox's produced in the 1960s, (and into the early 70s) were the Japanese Vox Giant guitars. Aimed at the UK/European market, these guitars were just copies of American designs - Les Paul and SG styled solid bodies and Gretsch Country Gent styled semi acoustics - quite nice guitars, but without the uniqueness of earlier models. These did not sell well, and production quickly stopped, leaving Vox to concentrate on Amplifiers for the rest of the 1970s.
Vintage Vox guitars for sale
|See more results on eBay here|
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