The Vox Panther, or V236, was a descendant of the Vox Bassmaster, and to a lesser extent Clubman basses, replacing them in American market as the entry level instrument in 1965/66. Although the same basic shape and layout, the older basses were completely British built, with Sycamore necks that had no adjustable truss rods. But they had two pickups. The Panther was a slight improvement in that it's neck had an adjustable truss rod, but it had just one four-pole single-coil Vox bass pickup positioned at a forward, or backward slant and just one volume and tone control.
Vox were distributed in the US by the Thomas Organ Company, but UK parent company, JMI, were unable to keep up with the demand. The response was to outsource production to Italian guitar builders Eko. The Panther was one of these outsourced models - JMI continued to produce the Bassmaster for the UK market, whilst Eko built guitars for the USA. The Vox Panther was produced in fairly large numbers at the company's Recanati factory.
The Vox Panther was first included in company literature in 1966. This image comes from a 1966 Thomas Organ publication. Note the backwards slant of the pickup - in contrast to the forward slant of the bass shown on this page.
The following description comes from the Vox Teen Beat publication of late 1965
The all new Vox Panther meets the demand for a fine quality 21 fret, extremely slender neck bass guitar. A four-pole extended range bass pick up is carefully positioned to provide even tone quality in all paint ranges and perfect bass tone response. The graceful body of the Panther is finished in magnificent heat resistant polyester finish, white to pick guard, and rosewood fingerboard. The neck is of natural blond hard maple. Choice woods are used. All metal parts subject to wear are case hardened and heavily plated to retain their original beauty.
The neck is super thin; just like the Bassmaster before it. The width at nut is just 1 3/8" or 35mm. An eighth of an inch narrower than a Fender Jazz bass. This is an entry level instrument, aimed at the student or intermediate guitarist, or musicians with smaller hands. It is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale, with a thin neck for smaller fingers/fast playing. Note the truss rod adjustment nut at the base of the neck - a feature of all late 1960s Italian Vox necks.
1966 Vox Panther in red Image Heritage auctions
The Vox Panther was widely available in Sunburst and Red polyester finishes, with some examples shipped in white, and perhaps other colors too. It would seem that Sunburst was by far the most abundant. Necks were typically black or clear coated maple.
|Manufacturer||Model||Neck joint||Pickups||Scale||1966 Price|
|Vox||Bassmaster||Bolt-on||1||30"||$120 (final 1965 price)|
|Phantom IV V210||Bolt-on||2||30"||$329.90|
|Mark IV V224||Bolt-on||2||30"||$349.90|
Vox Panther bass in original gold/brown lined case.
The Vox Panther was a simple yet effective instrument; the simple nature of it's construction keeping production costs low.
With the scratchplate removed, the simple body route is revealed: effectively two slots, one for the pickup, the other for the controls. This was a very easily produced instrument, with controls assembled remotely from the rest of the bass. An earth wire connects the scratchplate to the underside of the bass' bridge.
The Vox Panther wiring loom is very simple. Just a single pickup, and two Italian-made Lesa brand control pots - 500kΩ volume and 100kΩ tone - all scratchplate mounted, with an earth going to the bridge.
The Vox Panther was widely available in 1966, but was replaced by the similar looking Vox Hawk in 1967.