Vox Panther Bass

Solid-body bass guitar

1966 Vox Panther bass 1966 Vox Panther bass

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.

1966 Vox Panther bass
1965 Vox Panther bass catalog image

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.

Vox Panther bass logo
The Vox Panther has the company logo and model designation in the top corner of the pickguard. The guard itself is three-ply, white/black/white. Like many Italian Vox guitars of this period, the guards are prone to shrinkage. In some cases this can lead to broken tips, or warps.
Vox Panther bass control knobs
Standard Vox (Eko) metal control knobs with rubber O-ring (part number 09-2757-0). The controls on the Vox Panther are really very simple: just a single volume and a single tone control.
Vox Panther bass four-pole pickup
The single coil pickup used in the Vox Panther was also fitted to Italian versions of the Mark IV (V224) and the Phantom IV basses. Part number 09-1526-0. Note, it is slanted forwards in this example, though some early basses had the pickup slanted backwards.
Vox Panther bass bridge detail
The bridge is a very simple design, with a pressed-metal base-plate and two screw-adjustable saddles. The whole unit is covered by a 'Vox pat app for' bridge cover.
Vox Panther bass headstock detail
The headstock is black with white Vox logo decal. Note the thin neck with zero fret.
Vox Panther bass reverse headstock detail
The Panther has open gear tuning keys. Note the decal 'made in Italy by Vox' on the reverse of the headstock

Vox Panther finishes

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.

Vox Panther compared to other 1966 basses

ManufacturerModelNeck jointPickupsScale1966 Price
VoxBassmasterBolt-on130"$120 (final 1965 price)
 Panther V236Bolt-on130"$129.90
 Phantom IV V210Bolt-on230"$329.90
 Mark IV V224Bolt-on230"$349.90

1966 Vox Panther bass in original case

Vox Panther bass in original gold/brown lined case.

Vox Panther bass wiring

The Vox Panther was a simple yet effective instrument; the simple nature of it's construction keeping production costs low.

1966 Vox Panther bass body

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.

1966 Vox Panther bass wiring loom

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.

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CarlBrau07 Comment left 3rd August 2012 11:11:53 reply
Can you give an approximate value for the Vox Panther please, i'm about to list one on ebay. Thx
richard Comment left 25th December 2011 15:03:55 reply
Looking for a Vox Panther chrome bridge cover.

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