Vox Consort

Solid body UK-produced electric guitar

1963 Vox Consort

Early 1963 Vox Consort (first version) - have a closer look at this guitar

1963 Vox Advertisement for Vox guitars, including the Consort

Vox Consort - Vox Guitars This advertisement comes from a book: the Shadows modern electric guitar tutor. The Shadows were a very well known British band, and guitarist Hank Marvin invented the Tremolo (you can see his signature) on the Phantom and Consort shown here. The text and images are mostly the same as the 1963 catalogue, although the Consort shown here does not have the teardrop headstock.

Carol Elvin poses with a Vox Consort guitar

Carol Elvin poses with a Vox Consort guitar in Vox publicity leaflet 'Vox People' from October 1963 - although by this time the Consort had undergone a redesign (see text)

The Vox Consort was one of the high end electric guitars produced by JMI for the UK guitar market. It was the top of the range model at it's launch - it was first advertised in December 1960, with a price of 75 gns. Other guitars announced at the same time ranged from 21 gns (Soloist) to 65 gns (Escort).

Through the first years of the sixties JMI had been distributing Fender guitars and amplifiers, and they quickly realised it was not hard to build a bolt-on neck solid body guitar. A whole range of Fender-styled copies (aswell as several more original designs) appeared, the Consort drawing heavily from Fender's new Jaguar.

Early examples had complicated electronics, including a number of tone switches not disimilar to those of one of the earliest Phantom designs, the Phantom II. The 1962 Vox 'Choice of the Stars' catalogue describes these switches as follows; This quality guitar has three pickups ensuring that full beauty of tone is captured. There are four tone and volume controls and five switches giving every possible variation of tone from bass to sharp brilliance. The pickups were three metal-covered Vox V1 single coil type.

By the middle of 1963 several Vox models had been upgraded with new pickups and new circuitry. The Consort (like the Phantom) lost the tone switches and associated circuitry, but benefitted from newer Vox V2 pickups and more straightforward pickup selection. A Hank Marvin tremolo replaced the De Luxe tremolo it was originally shipped with, and the scratchplate shape became more Strat and less Jaguar. Finally, the headstock shape, previously unique to the Escort/Consort was brought in line with other Vox guitars, having either the generic Fender-style shape, or the teardrop shape of the Phantom.

Vox Consort electric guitar - from the Vox "precision in sound" catalogue, 1963
Vox Consort electric guitar - from the Vox "precision in sound" catalogue, 1964

This is how the Consort was described in the 1964 Vox catalogue 'Precision in Sound'. (picture right)

A quality guitar with three six-pole adjustable pickups, separate tone and volume controls, flick action tone change switch and special Hank Marvin tremolo unit. Polished sycamore reinforced adjustable neck with rosewood fingerboard. Red or sunburst finish in high lustre polyester.

The image to the far left shows the Consort from the 1963 UK Vox catalogue - note the Phantom-style teardrop headstock - changed to a more Fender-esque style for the 1964 catalogue, right. Both of these guitars have an adjustable neck, with the truss rod adjustment nut at the base of the neck; like a Fender guitar, the neck must be removed to make adjustments effectively. Some necks also had the truss rod nut under a cover at the headstock end of the neck, typically covered with a metal truss rod cover.

Dallas Arbiter 4524 (Vox Consort) from the 1969 catalogue

The Consort and the even-more-expensive Soundcaster were perhaps not distinct enough to warrant the prices at which they were offered - when JMI went out of business it seems there was considerable spare stock. Unsold Consorts were passed on to another UK music dealer, Dallas Arbiter. The JMI price list of April 1967 includes the Consort at £79 17s: The 1969 Dallas Arbiter catalogue lists it as model 4524 with the price slashed to just £42 3s 4d. Unassembled Consort bodies and necks were also sold on to different dealers, and a lot of them were rebuilt - though without decals and serial numbers.

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