Vox AC30 TV Fronts
mid 1960 to early 1961
Cliff Richard and The Shadows, January 1961, three TV front AC30s in view.
Stylistically the TV front AC30s, produced by Jennings from mid 1960 to early 1961, took their cue from Fender amps of the time - wide surrounds and large valance fronts - as had earlier JMI models (the formative AC10s, AC15s and so on).
Various estimates of numbers made have been ventured. Around 250 is probably close to the mark. So far as one can tell sales of the last TV front amps overlapped with the introduction of the new split-front cabinets. Serial no. 4401 is split front; no. 4414 is still TV front. How many survive today is difficult to gauge. In the mid 2000s a seller popped up on ebay UK with one for sale, saying that he had another in the understairs cupboard where both had been stored for years. A grab of the ebay page will be given below when it comes to hand. But it is unlikely now in 2019 that too many will emerge in such a way.
Pictures of bands with TV front AC30s are being assembled on this page. At present twelve amps are known from these early shots.
In terms of appearance, some boxes were covered in coloured cloth - see the examples lower down this page. The greatest number however will have been sent out into the world in diamond-patterned beige.
Back panels were lightweight. Some are missing - with the effect that serial number plates are lacking.
Printed in "Vintage Guitar" magazine, May 1998, a JMI pricelist, undated but certainly mid 1960 given its correspondence with an advert placed in "Accordion Times" magazine, May 1960 - the same range of prices for amplifiers is given - see this page. The single speaker AC/30 is 79 or 85 guineas, the latter for the BASS model; the new AC30 Twin - ie. the TV Front amp - is 100 guineas.
The pairs of speakers could be: Celestion G12 alnico BO24 drivers, 8 ohms and 15 watts apiece, wired in series to produce a total impedance of 16 ohms; Celestion G12 alnico BO25, 15 ohm, wired in parallel to produce a total impedance of 8 ohms; Celestion G12 T3757 oyster finish units, 15 ohm, 15 watts, wired in parallel for 8 ohms; or Goodmans Audiom 60s, 15 ohms and 15 watts apiece, also wired in parallel to produce a total impedance of 8 ohms. See this page for examples. AC30 output transformers had taps for both 8 and 16 ohms.
A page from a contemporary Celestion speaker brochure (divided into two for convenience). The BO24 was 8 ohms and the BO25 15 ohms.
Comments on the circuit and further historical information will be added in due course, perhaps only to note at this point that chassis are for the most part AC30/4s, that is to say, four inputs, black control panel, tone controls for both "Brilliant" and "Bass" (unlike the later AC30s that most of us know). The principal purpose of this page for the time being is really to collect together reliable photographic evidence.
Just to note for the time being that a late TV Front AC30/4, close to the end of the run, has an original pot with the date code "CI" = March 1961.
Jim Elyea's book, "Vox Amplifiers. The JMI Years" (California, 2009) is a great repository of info on these amps and other AC30s.
If anyone knows of further examples that should be incorporated on this page, do let me know.
Serial number 4218 - currently in the USA
Sold in the USA in 2006. The cabinet at that point housed a later copper panel AC30. The serial number quoted in the blurb - 4218 - is that of the original TV front box, not of the later AC30 from which the chassis was taken. The cabinet now has a black handle and houses a black panel AC30/4.
Serial number 4290 - currently in the USA
Light grey covering. Circuit said to be AC2/30. Note though that the amp has 6 knobs. Illustrated by Jim Elyea. Speakers are Rola Celestion G12 alnico. Note that another serial number 4290 exists - an AC30/4 in a split-front box recovered in red - see this page.
Serial number 4300 - currently in the USA (?)
Existence recorded by Jim Elyea.
Serial number 4322 - currently in the USA
Reproduced in Jim Elyea's book. Speakers are Rola Celestion G12 B024, 8 ohms apiece.
Serial number unknown - currently in the USA
Above, pictures from 2010 when the amp first emerged on ebay. Below a set of pictures of the same chassis and perhaps same box taken in 2013 (also ebay).
Note the presence of the original blue inspection tag; the original control panel (with an added socket for the footswitch); and the top back board with a straight edge. When the amp was sold in 2013 it had two back boards with insets.
One of the pots has the date code "HH" = August 1960, indicating that the amp is likely to have been made in the last quarter of the year. The Goodmans Audiom 61 speakers, perhaps of the same date, may not be original to the cabinet.
Transformers are Haddon and the choke Radiospares. All in all, the chassis is exactly as one would find in an AC30/4 with a "split" front.
The control panel of the amplifier is now a repro - note its shininess and the legend "3A. Fuse". All genuine TV panels have a Greek alpha for the "A" - see the one immediately below. Whether the amplifier chassis is original to the box pictured is a question. Underneath the brown of 2010 (first set of pictures, above) it is hard to see any blue. The serial number plate comes from another source.
Serial number unknown - currently in the UK
Formerly owned by Mike Handley, a great amp with original transformers and preamp in excellent condition - some black WIMA Tropydur capacitors still in place. One of the original Hunts cathode bypass capacitors in the preamp has the date code "IAY" = 39th week of 1960. The case has been recovered - its condition in 2007 can be glimpsed in the pictures below. A number of resistors appear to have been removed on the lower tagboard, however. Note that the speakers, which are original, have different labels, as in the example below.
The amp above as it was in 2007, sold on ebay UK. Note the identifying patterns of wear on the grille cloth. One can just about make out the absence of some of the preamp resistors at this point too.
Serial number unknown - currently in the USA (?)
Two-tone covering in light blue and beige. The original amplifier chassis is present. Reproduced in Jim Elyea's book.
Serial number unknown - currently in the UK (?)
A TV front amp (cabinet recovered) with its original chassis, sold some years back in the UK. The speakers - Celestion T530 alnico "blues" - are later replacments for the originals. The logo is from a late 60s solid state amplifier or speaker cab.
Serial number unknown - currently in Finland
The amp was found in a cellar in 2009 where it had been since 1969. The box, which has sides and bottom of 1/4" ply, is constructed without finger joints. Sides, top and bottom were red, with black over that. The back panel had beige diamond cloth. The front, with its curved corners, is apparently one piece.
The chassis, a black panel AC30/4, was pretty much untouched when it emerged - the original black WIMA Tropydurs capacitors were still in place, along with its Hunts and TCC filter caps. One of the pots in the preamp has the date code "JH" = October 1960, which suggests that the amp was made at Dartford Road in late '60. Transformers are Haddons and the choke Radiospares. The white pointer knobs are certainly English and probably original.
The chassis now has a superb new box, constructed by its owner. Thanks to Valentin for the pictures and info.
Serial number in the high 4300s
Hunts capacitors have the date code "HAY" = 29th week of 1960. One of the pots has the code "CI" = March 1961. Speakers are blue and silver label Goodmans Audiom 60s (15ohms apiece), as in the case of serial number 4414, below. Covering is diamond pattern beige vinyl. Transformers are Haddons; the choke made by Radiospares. The original round metal footswitch survives.
Serial number 4401 - currently in the USA
Serial number 4401 is in a new-style beige split-front cabinet and equipped with Celestion T530 alnico blue speakers. There was evidently some overlap of old and new styles towards the end of the TV front period.
Serial number 4414 - currently in the UK
Sold in 2015. No pictures of the electronics, but the seller noted that components throughout the amp had 1960 date codes. Front grille cloth replaced. Note that the panel still has the Greek alpha in the legend for the fuse. The speakers are Goodmans Audiom 60s, very likely to be the originals. The original round footswitch survives. A white handle for this cabinet rather than black or brown.