Vox Ultrasonic V268

Hollow bodied electric guitar with built-in effects

Vox Ultrasonic description | sound clips | Ultrasonic XII

Late sixties sunburst Vox Ultrasonic
From behind. The protective pad that clips to the rear of the body covers the access panel

Front and rear views of a late sixties Vox Ultrasonic. The protective pad that clips to the rear of the body covers the access panel

The Vox Ultrasonic, or V268, was one of Voxs late sixties semi acoustic models sporting built in electronic effects. It was modelled on the thinline semi acoustic models such as the Gibson ES335, but without the set neck (it was a bolt-on), and central maple block (it was completely hollow). This made it more akin to guitars such as the Fender Coronado or Hagstom Viking, but with its own unique features - teardrop headstock, and built in effects. From 1962 the necks of Vox guitars were made by Eko in Italy, and post '62 Voxs have a made in Italy decal.

The original Vox literature describes the Ultrasonic as follows:

A beautiful double cutaway electric acoustic guitar. Has built-in E tuner, distortion booster, treble and bass booster, Wah-Wah, repeat percussion. Has a completely new Vox easy-to-fret fast-neck with the famous Vox double T-bar and adjustable steel rod. Two exclusive Vox Ferro-sonic pickups for wide range high fidelity, Has new positive action adjustable spring tremolo.

They were produced at the E.M.E (Elettronica Musicale Europea) factory in Recanati from 1967. It came in 6 and twelve string versions (the twelve string, Ultrasonic XII V275 had a slightly different shaped headstock, and headstock markings) and in two colours, cherry and sunburst. As a high end model, it featured block inlays, front and back binding and headstock ornamentations not seen on other models.

The built in effects are rather interesting, consisting of an E-tuner (plays a quiet E note), treble/bass boost, distortion (mild overdrive to full blown 60s fuzz), repeater, and palm-operated wah wah pedal. They are powered by a 9V battery accessible through a circular cover under the pad at the rear of the body. An identical model with the exception of having no wah wah was also produced; the V267 Cheetah, and with no tremolo the V289 Viper.

Vox Ultrasonic V268 - A wild new happening from Vox: electronic guitars! One of the first adverts for the Vox built-in guitar effects. This one features the Vox Ultrasonic.
The world's first guitars with built-in distortion, Wah-Wah, E or G tuner, bass and treble boosters; even repeat percussion. Puts everything right at your fingertips. Lets you work free from the amp—away from footswitches. Just flick a switch on the guitar for distortion. Flick another to boost bass or treble. Other switches control Wah-Wah, repeat percussion and the built-in tuner. There's never been anything like Vox electronic guitars. Their necks are super fast. Their Ferro-Sonic pickups lay out incredible sounds. There are bass, six and twelve string models — in a gang of shapes; choice of effects. Vox electronic guitars. At your Vox dealer's now. Take the trip. Play Vox: it's what's happening.

These effects are broadly similar to the Vox effect pedals available in the mid to late sixties, and all can be heard on the Vox Ultrasonic sound clips page. Each has an on/off switch, and all (with the exception of the wah-wah) have a control. This sets the speed for the repeater, level of fuzz for the distortion, and bass/treble response for the boost. When combined, an amazing array of psychedelic sounds can be produced without really playing the guitar at all - just letting it feed back on itself. The least useful of all the effects is the wah wah - not because there is anything wrong with it, just that it is considerably more difficult to operate than a foot pedal (you push the triangluar lever with the palm of your picking hand).

Vox Ultrasonic - treble/bass boost on/off switch and control
Vox Ultrasonic - wah-wah on/off switch and palm control
Vox Ultrasonic - headstock ornamentation
Vox Ultrasonic - Ferro-sonic pickup

Catfish Collins plays a solo on his Vox Ultrasonic with James Brown and Brother Bootsy (in the back row). Live in Paris 1972. Fantastic! Click the central arrow to play the video

The most famous user is Catfish Collins, brother of Bootsy Collins who can be seen getting down with this funky guitar on performances with James Brown - right (live at Olympia, Paris 1972), and shortly afterwards with George Clintons Funkadelic.

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1967 Vox Ultrasonic Sunburst V275 w/ Hard Case

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Lucas Comment left 17th March 2017 04:04:45 reply
Hey, this is a call out to ALL Vox Ultrasonic owners! I am documenting the serial numbers of all known Ultrasonics out there. If you have an Ultrasonic then please post your number here or contact me. So far I have about 24 documented. If your guitar has some idiosyncrasies then please describe them. The idea behind this is to find out how many Ultrasonics are really out here, rumor has it that only around 200 were made but me thinks that number is way too low. Thanks!
JB Comment left 20th February 2017 14:02:31 reply
I'm looking to replace my Ultrasonic neck. The one it came with was not the original neck because the previous owner replaced it with a different vox neck. Finding an original neck has been fruitless for the last 10 years. Can someone point me to somewhere that has a neck that will fit?
Lucas Comment left 17th March 2017 04:04:09 reply
You could ask PorkyPrimeCut over at Offsetguitars if he wants to sell his extra ultrasonic neck. Cheers.
corey Comment left 21st June 2016 06:06:19 reply
I have one of these but am missing the wah triangular palm controller. If someone has one, could the please send me some decent pics of it? I am planning on machining one out of aluminum. Thanks. -C
Tom Mauthe Comment left 5th October 2015 09:09:05 reply
I have a Vox Ultrasonic V268 I bought back in 1967 when I was in 9th grade and in love with music. Today I'm 62 years old and still have the guitar. From over the years I have some electronic problems with the guitar and haven,t fix them. Have played the guitar in many years. I would like to sell my guitar with it's original case as is hoping someone would fix it for themselves and enjoy it as I did. If your interested in buying this Beautiful guitar let me know on my e-mail
Joe H Comment left 24th October 2015 17:05:29 reply
Hi Tom Mauthe- Im interested in your vox hollow body-what is your email? mine is guitarzan2000@aol.com thank you for sharing your post!
gabriel Comment left 4th December 2015 07:07:53 reply
Hi Tom, did you sell your ultrasonic?
Sean smith Comment left 4th August 2015 19:07:20 reply
Is the logo on the vox ultrasonic a decal or is it ingraved ECt I'm looking to reproduce one for my project guitar and I was seeking where I could find one ora direction to get one made thanks so much
Michael Comment left 1st February 2015 22:10:40 reply
I'd played one of these for a while back in the late sixties. I'd forgotten the name, but a little web search led me here. I can tell you one of the possible reasons this instrument didn't stay around long. Playing the wah-wah with the heel of the hand wasn't hard and in some ways it beat having a floor full of pedals. But the little triangular control tended to rotate and would get stuck under the whammy bar--always in the maximum treble position. This in turn would cause a terrible squealing feedback. Audiences (then and now) generally know that if there's a bad sound, it must be the guitarist's fault. I endured many a dirty stare while I tried to get that wah-wah unstuck.
Brian Atkinson Comment left 9th October 2014 07:07:11 reply
Hi any one got info on the THOMAS version of the ulta sonic ? same as the Vox but with the Thomas logo.....
Jason Combs Comment left 25th October 2013 21:09:05 reply
Nice little review. I disagree though, with your assessment of the wah. I loved the wah on my Vox. It was easy, responsive, I could operate it a lot more carefufully than a foot pedal. The e-drone was not quiet. It was loud. A lot of fun. The tuners were great, the neck was perfect, a fine guitar, and what a great deluxe case! Only hitch, the pickups were horrible. Little crappy microphones, you could sing into them. At anythiong like one tenth of stage volume, it fed back horribly. It was only good for recording or practice, so I gave mine up. I could kick myself. My Untrasonic will always be missed. A guitar like it would cost at least $3800 today, but it'd have Filtertrons and would sound much better.
jownzy Comment left 11th December 2012 19:07:01 reply
Anybody have a source for the poppers that screw onto the body and hold the back pad? Doesn't have to be original Vox, just need a working equivalent.
Vox parts wanted Comment left 29th July 2012 21:09:18 reply
Hi I am restoring a late 1960s Vox. It plays, but I need some spare parts. I need an E tuner circuit, a set of the cream control knobs, and the neck plate. Can't wait to gig this. Can anyone help me out?