Vox AC30s in perspex
Trade Fairs, 1963-1965
JMI's first perspex AC30 was made for the Russell Hotel Trade Fair in late August 1963 and noticed in a series of short comments on the displays, printed in September.
Music trade journal, September 1963.
Its presence is also recalled by Ray Pyman, who worked in JMI's sales team (quoted by Jim Elyea in his book on Vox Amplifiers). At present, no picture is known showing the amp at the Fair. It is possible though that it is the one shown by Dallas in 1973 - see the picture around midway on this page. An overview of the Jennings display in 1963 can be found on this page on the Vox AC100 website.
The two main shows in the mid sixties were the "British Musical Instrument Industries" Fair - the Russell Hotel Fair (annually in late August) - and the "Frankfurt Musikmesse" (annually late February or early March). Material on these shows is being collected on the Vox AC100 website.
Impressive though the perspex amps are externally, it has been said that they sound pretty dreadful. The same is probably true too of the perspex amps that Selmer made for its Trade Fair stands.
Perspex radios and television sets had been a staple of the National Radio Show (at Earls Court) from the early sixties, if not before. JMI doubtless took inspiration from (copied) these, and Selmer copied JMI.
A perspex Thunderbird in the Selmer room at the Russell Hotel Trade Fair, August 1966. The amp is likely to have been made for this show.
Music trade journal, November 1966. The Thunderbird displayed again at the 2nd Dutch Musical Instrument Fair, Hilversum, October 1966.
It should be said that perspex AC30s were the staple of trade fairs even into "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" days (summer 1968 to late 1969). Below, a rough-print picture from a music trade journal of the VSEL display at the Russell Hotel Trade Fair, August 1969. To the right of the pillar of heaven - solid state amps almost to the cornice - a perspex AC30.
Associated Musical Instrument Industries Trade Fair, Russell Hotel, London, August 1969. Further material on the Vox display can be found on this page on the Vox Supreme website.
Vox also produced a perspex Continental organ, exhibited - probably for the first time - at Frankfurt '65. At least one picture of it there survives. It is unlikely however that the cabinet had much effect on the organ's sound.
It is perhaps worth adding that a Super Beatle amplifier - amplifier section and speaker cabinet - was produced in perspex by Thomas Organ in the USA in 1966, emulating JMI. See the pictures below.
Picture taken at the Vox stand, "Association of Public Address Engineers" Trade Fair, Harrow, March 1965. This is NOT 1963, nor is it the Russell Hotel Trade Fair. Underneath the perspex AC30 one can see a copy of the 1964 JMI catalogue.
Detail from the picture above. Images of a 1964 dealer catalogue, a copy of which can be seen clearly on the AC30's podium, are on this page.
The same amp and circular platform were also displayed at the Russell Hotel Trade Fair (late August 1964) and the Frankfurt Musikmesse (February 1965).
For the time being, a single picture perhaps of one of the amps from 1964 - note the blue speakers. But could this be from 1963? Possibly the amp exhibited by Dallas in 1973?
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, October 1973, signalling that Dallas Arbiter had taken over Vox ("Vox Sound Limited" as it was from early 1970 to its collapse in late 1972). Picture taken at the Russell Hotel Trade Fair in August '73. The perspex AC30 is certainly an old one, probably from 1964 - note the cursive "VOX" logo. The small piece of text that is visible on the gaskets of the speakers looks like "T5" = T530 - but perhaps too indistict to be wholly certain.
Russell Hotel Trade Fair, late August 1973. A rough shot showing Vox in a sort of mix and match Dallas display. One can make out a perspex AC30 in the foreground, and production amps further back, along with some pedals.
A modern reconstruction
Partly reconstructed, the replaced parts (unspecified) painted in silver. Copper panel. The speakers are Celestion T1088s - model number visible on the gasket.
The side-stand arrangement of the first of the two perspex AC30s illustrated by Jim Elyea (pictured above) is unfortunately factitious (not of his making). The hand-wheels are later 1960s US-made Thomas Organ parts.
Thomas Organ-made hand-wheel, "VOX" in plain thinly-incised letters.
It is also worth noting that the amp, or at least chassis of the amp above is a Treble model - indicated by the flash of red paint on the preamp upright - and so is from 1964 or later. It has nothing to do with the 1963 Fairs. Nor is it the amp pictured at the London show of autumn 1964 - which leaves, if the chassis (with its copper panel) does indeed belong to the cabinet, the Frankfurt Musikmesse of February 1964 and the NAMM show of June/July as the only events possibly in view for its production. But too many questions remain.
Flash of red paint at right on the chassis indicating a Treble model. For the Burndept paint codes for voicings, see this page.
The preamps of ostensibly original perspex AC30s (below) appear to be fully chromed (both sides of the preamp upright).
At least two perspex amps with grey panels were produced in 1965, both for promotional purposes at Trade Shows.
One of the later amps, sold on ebay in 2007. Grey control panel, new-style "dome" voltage selector. The speakers, presumably T1088s, have been chromed.
The USA, 1966
Owned at one time by Mitch Colby. Both amp and cab have a diamond lattice in or impressed on the perspex.
New production promotion