Vox Electric Bass Guitars

1960s Bass guitars by Vox

see also: semi acoustic guitars | solid body guitars

Vox Contour bass
Vox Clubman bass V202
Vox Bassmaster bass V204
   1963 Vox Bassmaster
   1965 Vox Bassmaster
   Circuit diagram
   Parts list
Vox Symphonic bass V207
   1963 Vox Symphonic
Vox Phantom bass Mark III
Vox Phantom IV bass V210
Vox Cougar bass V214
Vox Escort bass V216
Vox Mark IV bass V224
Vox Violin bass (solid body) V232
Vox Panther bass V236
Vox Wyman bass V248
Vox Violin bass (hollow body) V250
Vox Hawk IV bass V263
Vox Delta IV bass V264
Vox Apollo IV bass V271
Vox Sidewinder IV bass V272
Vox Astro IV bass V273
Vox Constellation IV bass V274
Vox Saturn IV bass V281
Vox Skybolt IV bass V282
Vox Spyder IV bass V283
Vox Stinger IV bass V284
Vox V.G.4 bass

A brief history - the earliest Vox bass guitars

1965 Vox Clubman bass

Vox produced bass guitars throughout the 1960s, made in several factories for different markets. Initially solid-body guitars were produced in the United Kingdom by Vox parent company JMI, certainly as early as 1961, and perhaps earlier. The Bassmaster and Contour bass were advertised as early as December 1960.

Simple models like the Clubman and the somewhat superior Symphonic bass, were added to the line fairly soon afterwards, soon followed themselves by the Phantom IV and teardrop-shaped Mark IV popularised by Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. The entry level models were all inferior to the better known American basses of the time, having no adjustable truss rods, and initially the basic Vox V1 pickups, but the higher end basses, specifically the Symphonic and Phantom basses were actually pretty respectable.

Vox Escort hollowbody bass

Hollow body Vox basses

Vox were more of an electronics company than guitar builders: their amplifiers were better known than their simple guitars, and they were unable to build more complicated instruments, hollow bodies etc, at least in any volume, at their Dartford, UK factory. But with the rise in popularity of semi-acoustic models in the early 1960s, Vox contracted out some guitar and bass building to an Italian maker Crucianelli, who produced the Cougar and Escort basses with Vox branding, alongside a couple similar six string guitar models, the Challenger and Lynx.

Keeping up with demand

By the mid 1960s Vox were massive, and the combined efforts of JMI and Crucianelli were unable to keep up with demand, especially from the USA, where the Thomas organ company were acting as distributors. With the additional help of Eko, a new production plant was set up; the E.M.E. factory in Recanati, Italy, producing well-built Vox guitars for import into the United States, whilst JMI concentrated on the UK and European markets. There were design similarities between the UK and Italian guitars: both made Phantoms, Teardrops etc, but there were also distinct differences, and the differences between JMI and EME Vox's is quite obvious.

1965 Vox advert for the Vox Mark IV bass, as played by Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones

Bill Wyman was one of the earliest bass players to have his own signature model, with the Vox Wyman bass complementing the teardrop Mark III used by bandmate Brian Jones.

Basses with built-in electronic effects, but based on older JMI designs, such as the violin-shaped Astro (also favoured by Bill Wyman), the teardrop-shaped Constellation and the Phantom-shaped Delta joined simpler models such as the Panther and Hawk, with less unusal body styles.

The end of the decade, and the end of Vox?

As the 1960s drew to a close, Vox were in trouble. Guitar production ceased in the UK, and later Italy; the only new Vox guitars were of Japanese decent, but these were only available for a short period. The VG4 was the last bass produced for several years, whilst Vox limped on only producing amplifiers. Eventually some new Japanese Vox basses were produced a decade later, such as the Vox Standard and White Shadow; although these bore no relation to the models of the 1960s, and although reasonable instruments, are of less interest to vintage Vox collectors.

Latest Vox bass updates

The most recent content posted to this site on vintage Vox bass guitars:

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.
Vox Bassmaster bassThe Vox Bassmaster was one of numerous early Vox guitars styled, at least vaguely, on Fender instruments. As an entry level bass it wasn't bad. It had a very thin neck, and along with it's short, 30" scale, made an ideal students bass. It was British made, but a forerunner to later Italian models. Have a look at a 1963 Vox Bassmaster, and a 1965 Vox Bassmaster, with sound clips.
Vox bass pickups Vox guitar and bass pickups of the 1960s were all of relatively simple single-coil design. The first produced were British-made, and these appeared on all the early British models: The Clubman bass, the Bassmaster, and the Phantom bass. Later models were made in Italy, along with the guitars themselves, and these were largely for the American market, under the distribution of the Thomas Organ company.
1965 Vox Clubman bass1965 Vox Clubman Bass. Vox is better known for it's teardrop and phantom shaped guitars, but in the mid sixties they were also producing a lot of other designs too. The clubman is simple and functional; small and light, with basic electronics and no truss rod. This was completely British-built, assembled at the Vox Dartford factory, and what many bassists cut their teeth on back in the 1960s.
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Earthly Being Comment left 11th May 2013 07:07:21 reply
I have a 1978/9, (I am told), Vox Standard Bass. Black body fretted 40" long and really heavy. I cannot find an reference to it on the Web? Any ideas about its peformance as an instrument and while I am here, how much is it worth? I thank you for your time.



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