Vox Clubman Bass

Solid-body UK-built (JMI) bass

1963 and 1965 Vox Clubman basses - the \
Two examples of the Vox Clubman bass: a left-handed 1963 with black pickguard and a 1965 Clubman bass with white pickguard.
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

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.

1965 Vox Clubman bass - front view
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 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.

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. 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

Both pickups, volume 10/10, tone 5, played with a pick
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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.

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Gibson Vintage Reissue Electric Guitar Strings

Gibson Vintage Reissue Strings

These Gibson strings are made to the original 1950s specifications - pure nickel with a great tone - the perfect choice for vintage Gibson (and other) guitars

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