1964 Vox Shadow

Solid-body three pickup electric guitar

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1964 Vox Shadow1964 Vox Shadow (3 pickup)
Model: 1964 Vox Shadow
Pickups: Three single-coil Vox V1 pickups.
Scale: 25 1/2"
Body: Mahogany body. 16 3/4" long, 12 1/4" wide, 1 1/8" thick.
Neck: Sycamore bolt-on neck. No adjustable truss rod. 19 frets. Width at nut 1 5/8"
Hardware: 1 volume and 2 tone controls, black plastic control knobs. Three-way pickup selector switch. Co-axial input. Vox standard tremolo

In the early 1960s, JMI were the UK distributors of Fender guitars and amplifiers. These were well regarded by the British guitar buying public, but largely out of their price range at the time. So it is no wonder that they applied many Fender characteristics to their own Vox brand of instruments. Before the Beatles, the biggest Vox endorsees were the Shadows - a very popular UK band at the time, with guitarist Hank Marvin famously playing his red Fender Stratocaster.

So Vox's answer was a series of Stratocaster-shaped guitars; usually in red, with two or three single coil pickups, and often called the Vox Shadow. It is actually a lot more confusing than that; the Shadow was initially a very simple single-cutaway guitar, which was not produced for very long. When the Stratocaster-style models came in, the two pickup version was branded the Vox Shadow, whilst the three pickup version was the Vox Dominator. By early 1964, the three pickup version was renamed the Vox Shadow, and the two pickup the Vox Duotone.

Controls are simple enough. There are three settings on the pickup selector switch; one for each pickup. There is no way to activate two or more pickups simultaneously. The neck and middle pickups have a tone control. The bridge pickup does not. There is also a master volume.

1965 "King of the Beat" catalogue

From the 1965 Vox catalogue

A very complete guitar at a most competitive price. Three slimline pick-ups and roller-bearing smooth-action tremolo unit, separate tone and volume controls and flick-action pick-up selection switch. Polished neck reinforced with two embedded steel rods, with rosewood fingerboard. Finished in red or white high gloss polyester.

Like many early Vox guitars, this 1964 Vox Shadow has a co-axial, tv-type input. It has a thin (just 1 1/8") body, made of mahogany and a sycamore neck; both UK-made. Higher end Vox guitars of this period had British bodies and superior Italian-made necks (with adjustable truss rod) i.e. the Phantom and Mark series.

Vox Shadow with three V1 single coil pickups
This Vox Shadow has three single-coil Vox V1 pickups
Vox standard tremolo for unradiused fingerboards
The Vox standard tremolo, marked "Vox Pat. App For"
Three-way pickup selector switch
Unlike the Fender Stratocaster that influenced this model, the pickup selector switch has just three positions, one for each pickup.
Vox Shadow controls with black plastic JMI knobs
Black control knobs were fitted as standard on three-pickup Shadows (also the Super Ace and Apache). Most knobs (of this style) fitted on other early Vox models were white
Vox Shadow headstock detail, front
Vox Shadow headstock detail
Vox Shadow headstock detail, reverse
Vox Shadow reverse headstock detail
Vox Shadow reverse body detail with neckplate
Vox Shadow reverse. Neck plate.
Vox decal on headstock
Early 1960s green Vox decal on the headstock
Vox Shadow model designation decal on headstock
The decal with model designation is somewhat worn, despite the otherwise fine condition of this guitar. This underlines the fragility of Vox decal logos

The Vox guitars of the early 1960s, regardless of how many pickups they actually had, were always routed for three pickups: the Vox Stroller, Vox Shadow/Duotone and Vox Dominator/Shadow. This allowed easy assembly in the Vox factory (these bodies were made by G-plan, a UK furniture manufacturer) and the chance to produce more or less of each model depending on orders.

Shown also below is the original Vox UK case in which many of these guitars were sold.

The Vox Shadow body without scratchplate
Vox Shadow in original softboard case

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Luke Comment left 29th July 2012 21:09:40 reply
My shadow has a different pickup switch to this, but i've seen similar on other Vox guitars so I think it could still be an original part. It still has that great Vox tone. What would be a reasonable price if I were to sell?