Gibson Melody Maker, Harmony H22 bass, Vox Ultrasonic
1969 Gibson Melody Maker guitarHarmony H22 bassVox Ultrasonic guitar, with built-in effects
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Vox Electric Guitars Basses and Amplifiers

Vintage Vox guitars from the 1960s

Vox Phantom and Mark series guitars at the Vox factory in Dartford, circa 1964/65.
Vox content on this site is sorted into categories:

Solid body Vox guitars
solid-bodies
Semi-acoustic Vox guitars
semi-acoustics
Vox basses
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soundclips
The Big Vox Sound - JMI advertisement for Vox from early 1967

Vox was a massive name in 1960s Britain, with guitars and amplifiers widely used by the very biggest names in British music: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Hollies, The Dave Clark Five and the Yardbirds, to name but a few. Soon American acts would join the roster, most notably Paul Revere & the Raiders and James Brown, but also countless less well known bands. For a few short years in the mid 1960s, the Vox name was everywhere.

But the story of the 1960s Vox guitars is complicated, with many different guitars made in different plants worldwide, often quite different from each other. But it started in England; JMI were making Vox guitars 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 have been 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
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
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 'Unity Works' 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. Unable to cope with worldwide demand, a second plant 'West Street' was opened nearby in 1965, but was badly damaged by fire in January 1966. Numerous JMI guitars were produced in the UK, including 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.

Vox Ultrasonic produced in Recanati, Italy
A late sixties Vox Ultrasonic, produced in Recanati, Italy

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, and often built-in electronic effects, most were versions of existing Vox models: primarily the phantom and teardrop shaped guitars, and the more generic Gibson/Gretsch-style single and double cutaway hollow bodies.

From 1966 things started going wrong for Vox, ultimately resulting in the company briefly going out of business, and Vox guitar manufacture ending in the UK. By mid 1968, JMI were in the hands of the receiver. Leftover Vox guitars were distributed unbranded (though potentially still with some Vox markings) by Dallas Arbiter.

Vox Sound (Japan) The last Vox's produced in the 1960s, (and into the early 70s) were the Japanese-made Vox Giant guitars. Aimed at the UK/European market, and first shown at the August 1968 Frankfurt trade fair. These guitars were mainly copies of American designs - Les Paul (and later 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 particularly well, and importation quickly stopped, leaving Vox to concentrate on Amplifiers for the rest of the 1970s.

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Recent updates

Inside the Vox guitar factory 1965/66
Inside the Vox guitar factory 1965/66 A recollection of life inside JMI's two UK Vox factories in Dartford: Dartford Road, and West Street, Erith, circa 1965/66; building Vox solid body guitars; working on special instruments including a highly ornate Vox Soundcaster for the Royal family and a five-string Symphonic bass for the Hollies; plus sharing your sandwiches with Bill Wyman! By Tony Russell.
1963 Vox Symphonic bass guitar
1963 Vox Symphonic bass guitar The Symphonic bass was one of the models produced by JMI in the UK, primarily for the early sixties British market. It was comparatively high priced, still cheaper in the UK than the Fender Precision that it was emulating, but not by much, and actually more expensive in the USA. It only sold in small numbers in Britain and barely at all overseas. No equivalent model was produced in Italy, and although it remained in UK price lists as late as 1967, it is unlikely many instruments were shipped beyond 1965.
1963 Vox Precision in Sound brochure
1963 Vox Precision in Sound brochureThis early Vox brochure comes from summer 1963, still the early days of JMI production, and shortly before the beat boom of the mid 1960s. At this time, Vox guitars were built in the UK, primarily for the British market. The company had refined it's production methods, to some extent, and many of the guitars shown are quite different from those in the Choice of the Stars catalogue from late 1962. Includes primarily Vox solid body guitars, basses and amplifiers. See other Vox catalogue scans here.
1965 Vox Ace electric guitar
1965 Vox Ace electric guitar The Vox Ace was one of the early UK-designed Vox guitars produced by JMI in Dartford, Kent. It had been in production since at least 1962, but was redesigned for late 1963 with a more current look and a higher quality feel. The pickups were upgraded, as was the body; it was now thicker and made of solid wood. Despite this the guitar was now actually lighter in weight, due to a shorter overall length. Have a closer look at a sunburst-finished Vox Ace from 1965.

Older updates here

Vintage Vox guitars for sale


US ebay listings

Vintage Guitar NECK PICKUP Crucianelli Imperial Tonemaster Vox Eko Hollowbody A+

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Vintage 1960's Crucianelli Guitar PICKGUARD w MOUNT Hardware Parts Eko Vox Italy

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Vintage Guitar BRIDGE PICKUP Crucianelli Imperial Tonemaster Vox Eko Hollowbody

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Vintage 1960's Vox Guitar Tuners! Phantom, Teardrop, Spitfire, Hurricane, Meteor

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Vintage 1960's Vox Electric Guitar Pickup Project! Made in Italy, Works!

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1960's Vintage VOX Student Prince Guitar Neck

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RARE 1960's early made in England VOX MANDO GUITAR!!!

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Vintage 1960s Vox Tornado Hollowbody Electric Guitar

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Vintage 1960's Vox Electric Guitar Tremolo System! Super Rare, Original Part!

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UK ebay listings

Vox white Shadow Electric Guitar and Case vgc vintage

Current price: £125.00
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VINTAGE 20 X RS CARBON BRIMISTOR/THERMISTORS.VOX GUITAR AMPLIFIERS/HAM/RADIO

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There are 6 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
Wesley Comment left 10th October 2013 21:09:01
This is a very interesting coverage of the history of BOX. However, in 1966 I purchased my VOX Bulldog which I believe was made in Italy for VOX in Minnesota, USA. It's electronics are rather basic but has a very nice sound. What is unusual about it is the U shaped aluminum reinforcement that surrounds the truss rod in the neck. Evidently this works very well as the guitar has never had a problem with the neck and the tuning is very stable. What impressed me about the Bulldog is the 3-dimensional shape of the body and the excellent binding and finish. I had my choice of Fender, Guild, Gretsch and Gibson guitars but it was the Bulldog that caught my eye and still does. When people see my Bulldog they're amazed and drool over it. I don't see anyone take such notice of a Stratocaster, even here in Brazil.
Al Gibbs Comment left 22nd March 2014 09:09:21
I have a 1967 Vox Apollo electric in perfect condition. Didn't se it mentioned in the article Does anyone know what it is worth?
Ralph Bendel Comment left 7th April 2014 21:09:05
I have a VOX "Harlem" sunburst electric guitar that was made in Italy. My mother bought it for me when I was 17 (about 1966) . A couple of years later i lugged it from Oklahoma to Paris France where i lived for 6 mos. Played it many times sitting on the bank of the Seine at Pont Neuf. It was stolen from my room in the hotel that i lived but got it back after an interesting episode at at paris Police station. Because of that journey it's a little beat up. I rarely play it any more but just yesterday i upgraded my Strat case and placed the VOX in my old strat case. It fit perfectly. What is most unusual about this guitar is that wood between the frets as honed down in the center which makes note bending easier. It makes the neck look a little like a dwarf sitar neck. Not interested in it's value or in selling it...just thought i'd share.
John Bullock Comment left 22nd April 2014 14:02:09
I have a beautiful VOX Folk-12 - and have just lost the crown off the top of one of the bridge pins - obviously making life difficult to change that string. These bridge-pins seem to be over-over-sized and I can't find anywhere that can offer replacements. I'd like to change the entire set as I suspect the problem is one of age. The hole for the bridge pin is 5mm is diameter and the peg section of the bridge pin is 22mm long.
chris Comment left 6th January 2015 06:06:11
Hi I need a vox tornado pickguard? Any help?
Ben Comment left 27th April 2015 02:02:43
I have a VOX HARLEM III. Its from the 60s. 3 pick-up sunburst solid body. Anyone seen one of these. It does not have a scalopped fretboard

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