1963 Vox guitar ad including the Clubman bass. This advert was included in a sheet music book: the Shadows modern electric guitar tutor from late 1962/ early 1963. Just two basses are shown: the Clubman and the new Phantom IV
The Vox clubman bass was a short scale (30"), two-pickup bass, produced in the UK by JMI, primarily for the UK market. It was Vox's least expensive bass model, and sold pretty well to student bassist in the mid 1960s.
The Clubman bass and equivalent Clubman guitar both used exactly the same, wide, body; initially at least. The guitar (but not the bass) took on the Strat-styled Shadow/Stroller shaped body in late 1963. Early versions, as was typical for Vox guitars circa 1962/63, had a laminate wood body, but by the mid sixties, slightly thicker, (and much nicer) solid mahogany bodies were the norm. The neck was sycamore as was the fretboard, typically stained darker brown to resemble rosewood. Dot inlays. Some Vox necks are super-thin (notably the Vox Bassmaster and Vox Panther), though the Clubman far less so. In fact the width at the nut is 1 5/8"; a 1/4" more than the Bassmaster. Dating this instrument is not difficult; the neck heel is stamped with the date Feb 1965. Furthermore, it has a number of later Clubman features, such as the thicker white escutcheon (scratchplate) with wide black revealed edge, and front mounted input jack. Earlier models had a plain black or thinner three-ply (w-b-w) plate, and a side-mounted input.
Typical to early British made Vox's, this bass has the Green Vox logo. The model name and 'JMI Dartford Kt' are on a separate decal - earlier examples had these details combined on one decal. JMI = Jennings Musical Industries, Kt refers to the county of Kent, UK. These decals are never particularly hard wearing, and damaged/incomplete decals are commonplace.
Machine heads are individual open-gear type, with plastic buttons, part number 09-301-0.
The following description comes from the 1964 Vox catalogue 'Precision in Sound'.
A low-priced, fine quality bass guitar, with two VOX pickups for maximum low-frequency response. Separate tone and volume controls, single side machine heads, and natural polished reinforced neck with rosewood fingerboard. Finished in Red or White high gloss polyester.
The Clubman bass had a one-piece sycamore neck made by a British furniture manufacturer, G-plan, with no adjustable truss rod. The guitars were then assembled in Vox's Dartford plant. Simple open-gear tuning keys like these were used widely by Vox in the early days. Another early feature, only seen in the early British Vox's, is the serial number stamped on the reverse of the headstock (just below the 'E' tuning key); this was the standard location for all UK-produced (JMI) Vox guitars up until early 1966, and on a few models, including the Clubman bass, a little beyond.
The Clubman bass is perhaps less of a a Fender copy than many other early Vox's, but is still nothing like the Phantom and Mark (tear-drop) basses that Vox were producing at the time. This is a lightweight instrument, at 2.58kg slightly lighter than the Bassmaster (around 3kg) and significantly less than the Symphonic bass (around 4kg).
The body itself is simple enough - note the rich brown wood (mahogany) of the neck pocket.
The Clubman is a great sounding bass, and despite simple controls (two volumes, and a master tone) it can get a variety of nice tones.
Recorded through a 1964 Ampeg B15N (volume 5/10, treble 5/10, bass 5/10) mic'd with a Shure SM57, into a M-audio mobile pre USB interface