1965 Vox Clubman Bass

Solid bodied bass guitar

1965 Vox Clubman bass - front view
1965 Vox Clubman bass - reverse view
1963 Vox guitar advertisement including the Clubman bass

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

Model: 1965 Vox Clubman Bass
Body: Early examples laminate, later mahogany. Possibly other hardwoods.
Neck: One-piece sycamore with non adjustable truss-rod. Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays
Scale: 30"
Width at nut: 1 5/8"
Weight: 2.58kg
Hardware: Two British Vox single-coil pickups, pressed metal bridge and open gear tuning keys. Single tone and two volume controls with white plastic control knobs

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.

The Clubman bass had a May 1965 UK price of £23 2s - compared to £28 7s for the Bassmaster, £89 5s for the Phantom bass and £94 10s for the Symphonic.

1965 Vox Clubman bass - body detail
One feature that shows this to be a later period Clubman is the thicker scratchplate with black revealed edge, used from early 1964. For 1962 and most of 1963, the Clubman had a thinner black bakelite scratchplate.
1965 Vox Clubman bass - reverse body detail
The bolt-on neck is attached via four screws. The neck plate size and precise location varied over the years; this is the latest, larger version.
1965 Vox Clubman bass - pickup detail
The Clubman bass was equipped with two Vox chrome covered single coil pickups, part 09-101-0. These Vox pickup casings were often marked with the same Vox logo as on the bridge cover, though not in this instance. The pickups themselves were a fairly simple single-coil design. These are exactly the same pickups as fitted to very many guitar models of the same period; certainly the most widely-used JMI Vox pickup.
1965 Vox Clubman bass - control detail
Unlike the (very similar) Vox Bassmaster, the Clubman has a volume control for each pickup, and one master tone. These white plastic control knobs were fitted to very many UK-produced Vox guitars and basses circa 1962-67. Early Clubman basses and guitars (in fact most of Vox's less expensive models) were fitted with a co-axial input jack, though towards the end of production a regular jack was used on some models, including the Clubman bass. Vox did, however, continue using scratchplates drilled for the coaxial inputs, leaving unused holes, either side of the jack. These were often covered with a white circle of scratchplate plastic. This jack is most likely a replacement; it is not possible to be certain which style jack this bass was originally fitted with.
1965 Vox Clubman bass - Vox headstock logo
1965 Vox Clubman bass - headstock detail: JMI Dartford Kt

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.

1965 Vox Clubman bass - tuning key detail
1965 Vox Clubman bass - serial number
Vox Clubman Bass guitar - from the Vox "precision in sound" catalogue, 1964

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).

1965 Vox Clubman bass - compensating bridge detail
The compensating bridge is a straightforward stamped metal design, with a cover featuring the Vox logo (parts 09-303-0 and 09-304-0 respectively). The bridge is simple but effective, rather like that of an early Fender Precision. It was used widely on low-end solid body Vox basses, including the Bassmaster, (but not on the Symphonic or Phantom models) throughout the period of their production. Effective if a little lightweight.
1965 Vox Clubman bass - heel detail
With the neck removed from the body, the date (Feb 1965) and G (for G-plan, the neck manufacturer) stamps are visible. Codes on the neck base, and within the neck pocket of the body are the simplest way of dating JMI period Vox guitars.
1965 Vox Clubman bass - body routes

The body itself is simple enough - note the rich brown wood (mahogany) of the neck pocket.

1964 Ampeg B15N

Sound Clips

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


Both pickups, volumes and tones all at 10/10. First clip fingerstyle, the second with a pick
Both pickups, volume 10/10, tone 5, played with a pick
Neck pickup only, tone 0/10. Fingerstyle
Bridge pickup, volume 10/10 and tone 3/10. Fingerstyle

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Phil Comment left 6th September 2016 15:03:35 reply
Burn the whole thing but save the pickups - they're wax potted and excellent - the rest is utter shite - no truss rod! Ply body. The only saving grace is that the guitar version was Gary Moore's first guitar - he once commented that the sheer hell and struggle of playing his Clubman made him a better player because it was so difficult to do anything on it. Having owned the guitar version I totally agree.
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 24th January 2017 18:06:02 reply
Bit of a harsh critique Phil :) ... As explained above, some of the later ones had nice mahogany bodies. Yes the lack of an adjustable truss rod isn't ideal, but I find this model pretty playable. A low action right the way up the neck is probably less relevant for a bass player than a guitarist. It is not a Fender (let alone a Gibson) but it does have a charm of it's own.
Mike Comment left 15th August 2015 17:05:27 reply
If you want any parts for your Clubman bass try Alan at projectguitarparts.co.uk he has old and new tuners and most other parts too
Thomas Connarty Comment left 4th August 2015 19:07:25 reply
Hi there, I'm looking to buy, tuners for vox clubman 1960s bass guitar, can u help please....Thanks ...Thomas
Alan Selway Comment left 4th August 2015 12:12:54 reply
I used to have a red Clubman II bass. It was my first bass, I bought it in 1975 but I don't have it now. I seem to remember measuring the scale at 28", maybe I'm mistaken? It had a coaxial connector in the side of the (thin laminate) body and the neck was very bent. I learned to play on that bass and I loved it. I loaned it to a "friend" so he could learn but never got it back.
Neville Taylor Comment left 25th October 2013 21:09:20 reply
Interesting articles and guitars. I happen to aquire a 1960 Clubman bass guitar some 30 years ago. I still have it. It is cherry red and white just like the on in the article.
andrew mckinlay Comment left 30th March 2012 09:09:19 reply
seems an eternity to rebuild old vox cman bass,and now find or should say not find fixd bass bridge,are there any fellow nutters out there that would have accurate dimensions for it,or even sell me bit,id really like to see the end of this bat.
Christian Bird Comment left 14th May 2012 19:07:15 reply
I own one. What dims do you need? Any advise on warped neck (due to no truss rod) would be great!
andrew mckinlay Comment left 12th December 2014 09:09:47 reply
christian,im pretty inept with computers so,thats why i havent contacted you. could you please send me dimensions of bridge,i cant get anywhere.thanks andy.