The Vox Clubman was a British built Vox solid body guitar - very much an entry level instrument, typically with a flat non-radiused sycamore fretboard, no adjustable truss rod, and for the majority of production, a laminate wood body. It was only one step above Vox's most basic model, the single pickup Vox Stroller. But this guitar isn't one of those! It was still built by JMI in Dartford, Kent, but whilst looking rather similar, and still equipped with the same dual Vox V1 pickup configuration, this guitar, hailing from early 1967 is miles above that Clubman in terms of playability.
And it all comes down to the neck. At the other end of the Vox price range were their finest guitar, the Soundcaster; based on the Fender Stratocaster, but probably overpriced in comparison to the real thing. Despite being a great guitar, it never sold well, and had been dropped from JMI price lists by late 1965. Some of these necks were fitted to examples of the Vox Consort, but even though more popular than the Soundcaster, these didn't sell in large numbers either. By early 1967 (or perhaps late 1966), JMI had started equipping some Clubman guitars with these Soundcaster necks. Now these necks had a much nicer curved rosewood fretboard, and truss rod adjustment, and because of the radiused fretboard the same metal floating bridge as fitted to the Vox Victor (and the occasional Consort, Phantom, and perhaps others). This bridge requirement prevented the combination of these necks with the Vox Standard tremolo models, such as the Shadow and Duotone, which, of course, had a combined bridge / tailpiece designed for flat necks.
Bodies were solid mahogany, and with the vastly superior Soundcaster neck, this batch of late issue Clubman were very nice guitars indeed. They are very light (just a shade over 2kg) and wonderfully resonant. It's not clear whether they sold above the normal Clubman price, but if they did not, they must have have offered exceptional value for money. It would be tempting to think that this upgrade was to be a permanent feature of the Clubman had JMI not stopped producing Vox guitars shortly afterwards, however later 1967 examples shipped with the old-style flat neck, so more likely just an attempt to use up old parts, and offer a better guitar for export to the USA, where expectations were generally higher than in the UK. Both of these examples came up for sale in the UK, however, so they were most likely not all exported. The number of Clubman in this batch was probably quite small: all examples i've found to date have very close serial numbers, and the two examples on this page actually have consecutive serial numbers.
In April 1967, the Clubman guitar was listed at £20 5s 0d - this was no significant increase on previous years and must have represented the price of a standard flat-necked Clubman. If the 'Soundcastered' Clubman were sold at a premium, it was not mentioned in printed price lists of the time.
The actual body shape of these 1967 Clubman, although different to the early 1960s version (check out a 1963 Vox Clubman) had not changed for some years, and neither had the pickup/control layout or scratchplate. But this guitar had a few upgrades beyond the neck fitted: a larger chrome fixed tailpiece, the aforementioned metal floating bridge, and a regular 1/4" output jack. Although floating bridges can be annoying, requiring re-intonating if knocked even slightly, at least near-perfect intonation is guaranteed. The Traffolyte scratchplate is three-ply white / black / white - you can download a tracing of this plate in the Supporting Members Area.
This clip shows a rather atypical Vox Clubman (with rosewood fretboard and adjustable neck), played through a 40w 2x10" silverface Fender Vibrolux. Nice guitar, superb amp! Strung with Gibson bright wires (10-46). Check out the link above for the specs of this unusual variant of the Vox Clubman, and watch the long version of this video in the vintageguitarandbass supporting members area, to hear a bit more of this guitar / amp under different settings.
The Vox Clubman is known as a pretty straightforward guitar, with a flat fretboard and no truss rod adjustment. But this example from 1967 was factory fitted with the same neck as the Vox Consort or Soundcaster: i.e. a curved rosewood fretboard on a fully adjustable neck, with floating metal bridge to match. Combined with a lightweight mahogany body, and Vox's V1 pickups, it makes a pretty respectable, instrument; far better than your typical mid-sixties Vox Clubman. Read the story in the link above. Played here through a 40w 2x10" silverface Fender Vibrolux, it sounds pretty nice! This guitar is strung with Gibson bright wire strings (10-46).
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