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 (and equivalent Clubman guitar) were added to the already flourishing Vox stable of guitars in 1962. They were low priced student grade instruments: functional but nothing fancy. Lightweight, at just a shade under 2.6 kg, in fact lighter than the Bassmaster (around 3kg) and significantly less than the Symphonic bass (around 4kg). The Clubman bass was first included in the 1962 Vox catalog catalog. It was priced £26 5S in February 1964, whilst the other Vox basses cost: Bassmaster £31 10S; Phantom bass £84; Symphonic £94 10S.
Both guitar and bass used the same Vox single-coil pickups and the same, wide body; initially at least. The guitar (but not the bass) actually changed to the Strat-styled Shadow/Stroller shaped body in late 1963, but the bass remained as shown above.
Early versions, as was typical for Vox guitars circa 1962/63, had a thin laminate wood body, just 15/16" deep. By the mid sixties, slightly thicker, (1 1/16") solid mahogany bodies were the norm - these were much nicer bodies, and no heavier than the thinner laminate version. All had the same short 30" scale. The neck was sycamore, with either a dyed sycamore fretboard, or one made from a rosewood/sycamore laminate. It had 20 frets with pearloid 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, and quite playable!
Clubman hardware changed in line with other Vox instruments, most obviously the thicker white escutcheon (scratchplate) with wide black revealed edge, and front mounted input jack. This thicker plate, combined with a slightly deeper body, allowed for a front mounted output jack. Earlier models had a thinner plate: either plain black, white or three-ply (w-b-w). These early examples were just too shallow to accommodate a regular 1/4" jack, so they were typically fitted with a side-mounted co-axial output.
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 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. It remained in the Vox line right through to 1967 when Vox ceased guitar production in the UK, with a final 1967 list price of £23 8S 6D.
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. Check out more sound clips here.
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