1963 Vox Clubman II

Solid-body two pickup electric guitar

Vox solid body guitars | Vox Clubman main page | 1963 Vox Clubman II

1963 Vox Clubman II
Model: 1963 Vox Clubman II
Pickups: Two single-coil Vox V1 pickups.
Scale: 25 3/16"
Body: Laminate body. 17 1/2" long, 13" wide, 15/16" thick.
Neck: Sycamore bolt-on neck. Stained (sycamore?) fingerboard. No adjustable truss rod. 19 frets. Width at nut 1 11/16"
Hardware: 2 volume and 1 tone control, white plastic knobs. Co-axial input. Open gear individual tuning keys.
Weight: 2.60 kg

The Vox Clubman, or V203, was one of the brand's earliest UK-built solid body models, after the Shadow and Stroller, probably debuting in 1962. They were assembled in Vox's Dartford plant, using parts produced by Vox and other British manufacturers. There were actually two models initially, the Clubman II as shown here and the Clubman I with only a single pickup in the bridge position. It went through a lot of changes early on including a complete body/neck redesign in the first half of 1963. Despite this, some early 'old-design' examples were still shipping throughout 1963, and possibly into 1964 alongside the new design, using up old stock. This instrument, judging by the serial number, would have been one of the very last old-style Clubman guitars that shipped, most likely very late 1963; some time after it was manufactured. It has a number of features by then largely phased out of Vox guitars in general: black bakelite scratchplate, L-shaped nut and combined Vox/model designation decal. Find out about other variations of the Clubman here.

The following description comes from the 1962 Vox catalogue, the only one to include the older design Clubman

1962 Vox catalogue Clubman I A fine quality single pickup solid electric guitar, distinctive styling in red or white cellulose finish. Polished neck with shaped head. Vox strings and pickup
Clubman II An advanced version of the Clubman I but with additional tone switch providing greater variety of tone. For solo or rhythm. A superior guitar at a very moderate price.

The Clubman was certainly an entry level instrument: lightweight and stripped of all but the most basic features, but perfectly acceptable for beginning guitarists. Over the few years of it's production it improved markedly, gaining superior woods, and hardware, but at this early stage the body was a very thin multi-layered laminate, whilst the un-radiused fretboard was (perhaps?) sycamore - but stained brown to resemble rosewood. It was fitted with a very simple bridge and floating tailpiece, but at least had two pickups.

Vox Clubman V1 pickups
The Clubman, in all it's incarnations had two single-coil Vox V1 pickups with chrome covers. In this case both are engraved with the Vox logo.
Vox Clubman floating bridge and tailpiece
The bridge was a very simple floating wood design, with no adjustability beyond it's location. Later Clubman had two-piece bridges that were at least height adjustable.
Vox Clubman tailpiece, detailed view
The tailpiece is incredibly simple, lightweight, and cheap to produce: just a piece of pressed metal plate with string holes - also used on the Vox Stroller and earliest examples of the Shadow.
Vox Clubman coaxial input, and tone and volume controls
The catalogue description above suggests a circuit of two tone and one volume control, however this example has two volume and a master tone. The input is not a standard jack, but a TV-aerial style coaxial socket on the guitar side.
Vox Clubman with Vox standard tremolo
Knobs are typical JMI white plastic type, very widely fitted to Vox guitars at this time. Controls and pickups are mounted to the black bakelite single-ply pickguard.
Vox Clubman neck joint and neck plate
Vox did use some rather nice woods on it's mid-upper level guitars, however the Clubman fretboard is not rosewood, rather a lighter coloured wood (maybe sycamore) stained dark brown.
Vox Clubman II headstock decal
Vox Clubman headstock
The Clubman headstock was the same elongated style as the early Ace, Soloist and Duotone models; and with a strong resemblance to other guitars by another early UK guitar maker Fenton-Weill. It is conceivable that both brands used necks produced by a common supplier.
Vox Clubman reverse heastock
Reverse headstock detail. The Clubman had a one-piece sycamore neck, and was fitted with individual open gear tuning keys.
Vox Clubman tuning key detail
Note the serial number to the left of the low-E tuning key (admittedly somewhat difficult to read). UK-produced Vox guitars had a five digit serial stamped into the wood, though some later examples held it on the neckplate.
Vox Clubman neckplate
This Clubman has the smaller imperial-sized Vox neckplate (2 3/13" x 1 5/8") with no markings. The neck is held in place with four 1 3/8" screws. From early 1966 the neckplate of some UK-produced Vox guitars and most Italian examples held the serial number.
Vox Clubman reverse body view
Reverse body and bolt-on neck detail. With the exception of the Clubman bass, no other Vox guitar used the same shaped body.
Vox Clubman nut
Vox Clubman nut. Vox employed several different nut's in the early 1960s; this L-shaped plastic version was fitted to various early Shadow, Stroller, Clubman guitars and Clubman basses with zero frets in 1963.

The Clubman circuitry was really very simple: just two volume controls and one master tone. Volume potentiometers are unbranded with no date codes, but values 1 MΩ logarithmic taper. The tone pot is 250KΩ linear taper. The capacitor is rated at .05 µF, and, as is common in UK Vox guitars, manufactured by Hunts.

The Clubman, and Clubman bass not only had the same body shape, they actually used the same bodies, scratchplates, pickups and wiring. A guitar could become a bass, and vice versa by exchanging the bridge and neck. When the Clubman guitar was assigned a new body style, the bass remained unchanged, preventing potential wastage of surplus bodies - although most later Clubman bass guitars were actually given a thicker solid wood (typically mahogany) body fairly soon after this point.

Vox Clubman
Vox Clubman wiring - a look under the scratchplate
Vox Clubman body, without hardware

Note the mahogany shim in the neck pocket of this guitar. This were routinely added to Vox guitars when setting up before leaving the Vox factory.

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pleximax Comment left 8th January 2017 21:09:21 reply
I have a very similar Vox Clubman guitar - how do you determine the body wood? You suggest it may be laminate or mahogany
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 8th January 2017 21:09:48 reply
There are several ways - typically the mahogany bodies are thicker - but the surest way is to look at the unpainted area in the neck pocket (take the neck off) - mahogany is a rich mid brown colour - the laminate wood will typically be a much paler colour. In many instruments the laminations may even show through the finish on the guitars edges. Finally, the laminate bodies tended to be used on the early sixties guitars - if yours is mid or late sixties it will most likely not have a laminate body (although there are most likely exceptions)