Vox AC30 website updates
Thanks to Peter, it is now known that TV Front single speaker AC30 serial number 4158 - the highest so far encountered for the model - still survives. More to come in due course.
Copied over from the AC100 website: American music press, October 1964 - a nice shot of Tom and Joe Benaron, perspex AC30 and Continental in front, at the Russell Hotel Trade Fair, late August 1964. The official "handshake" photo for the "Million Dollar Deal" had already been published in the British music press in September.
The deal was not in actual fact to distribute "all" Vox products, simply an agreed selection. More on Vox in the USA in 1964 and early 1965 to follow soon.
The AC30 Top Boost Reverb in the "Vox Sound Limited" catalogue of late 1971. The type of amp pictured is the Italian-made AC30 TBR, identifiable by the position of the Reverb control - where an input jack socket would normally be.
Thanks to James, a couple of shots of the cabinet of AC30 serial number 4988N (chassis no longer present), probably ready for sale in early 1962. Along with serial numbers 4981, 5002, and perhaps also 4995, the amp has Celestion blues dated 22nd December 1961. The cone codes are "RIC 1DJ" and "RIC 1DO".
Note that whoever stamped the gaskets at Celestion on this day got the letters for year and month reversed. The code should be "22MF". This happened on other occasions too.
A couple of details from the "Vox Sound Limited" catalogue of late 1971, produced to accompany the Russell Hotel Trade Fair of August - the AC30 Top Boost with specifications.
The amps in view correspond to those issued with serial numbers in the 25000s - see this page.
A page has now been set up for material relating to the Vox Continental in America, 1963. There is still a little more to add; and further material will doubtless come to light in due course (as it always does).
June 1963, ad for the Continental published in music papers in the USA and Britain, and probably in Germany too. JMI had attended the Frankfurt Musikmesse for the first time earlier that year. The page on the Continental early on in the UK can be found here.
USA, June 1963.
More from America - August 1963 - a short summary of the Jennings display at the NAMM show. Of particular note is the last sentence.
"Paul and Paula": the first American artists to feature a Vox Continental in their act? Keep your eyes peeled for contemporary photos.
Copied over from the AC100 website - thanks to Nick, a detail from a full-page advert placed by Jennings in a spread of American music trade magazines to coincide with the NAMM show of 1963. The Continental at this time was the big thing - a version of the ad printed in various British and American journals a few months earlier gave the specifications in some detail, picking up from the report placed in February '63 (see yesterday's entry).
The American material from 1963 relating to the Continental will be posted here in its entirety in due course.
Jennings ad for NAMM 1963.
This is the earliest report of the Vox Continental that has so far come to light in American sources - February 1963.
As can be seen, the ad uses the standard promotional image, the text a synopsis of information supplied by Jennings. Later in 1963, Jennings placed full-page ads for the Continental in a spread of American magazines. More on these to follow.
American music trade journal, February 1963.
14th November (2)
Thanks to Eberhard, pictures of Italian-made AC30 serial number 30421 have been added here. The amp is likely to have been ready for sale in the last quarter of 1971.
A clarification and correction in relation to yesterday's entry. The two plates - left and right - have panels of the same length. The image that should have been on the left is this one - Domino plate, earliest type (as used also on AC30s with numbers in the 7400s and low 11000s) - short silver panels:
Plate on an early Domino Normal combo, serial number 1047.
As has long been known, the type of plate illustrated in the previous entry was also used on the Vox Domino range (early on). What is probably not so well known is that a further two types were also used.
Left: Domino Super Reverb, aluminium plate, later type. Right, Domino Reverb combo aluminium plate, later type. [caption corrected]
A couple of instances of runs of non-standard "supply" serial number plates on AC30s (Twins and Super Twins) in 1963 and 1964, "AMPLIFIER" rather than "VOX AMPLIFIER" at their head - the first on amps with serial numbers in the 7400s, the known bounds at present being 7404 to 7474; the second in the low 11000s (but no further than 11166). Serial number 11167 has a new plastic plate. The plastic plates were used through to the 11500s, after which standard aluminium plates were reinstated.
Serial numbers 7431 and 7433.
Serial numbers 11066 and 11077.
Thanks to Josh, a couple of details of the panel of serial number 22563. As can be seen, its right-hand side has an original factory-made overlay (with a new section for "RATINGS") - Jennings or the importer? The green pilot lamp looks to be an English Radiospares part.
The amp is currently on Reverb.
AC30 serial number 22563.
5th November (2)
A batch of panels specially made for AC30s destined for the Scandinavian market? AC30 serial number 22563, no voltage selector, and instead of a heading for "SELECTOR" we have "RATING", and underneath that the details required by Scandinavian electrical legislation. JMI voltage selectors were normally removed by the importer prior to the amp being sent out to a dealer, and the resulting hole covered over with a blank of some description or a ratings plaque. The importer was required by law to provide a note of these ratings and to install further internal fuses for the HT line. But in this case the "ratings" section looks either to be part of the panel, or a very clever overlay. The numbers seem to be stamped rather than printed. A pity that the detail is for the time being a small one.
AC30 serial number 22563.
A good example of the Burndept stamp on the chassis of AC30 Twin serial number 8775B ( correction: speakers dated 17th October and 7th November 1963, not November and December). It is not clear at present what the "9" signifies - building or work bench no. 9 perhaps? Further pics of the amp to come.
AC30 serial number 8775.
Thanks to Tony, a couple of provisional pictures of AC15 Twin serial number 1047N. The original Fane that remains, sprayed Jennings blue at factory (the Fane factory), still has its "Heavy Duty" label.
AC15 Twin serial number 1047N.
An ad placed by Rose-Morris in the music press in December 1967 - R-M now the exclusive West End dealer of Thomas organs. Jennings and Thomas had parted ways in February 1967. Jennings had been Thomas's "exclusive" dealer in the UK up to that point
What probably hastened the parting was the sale by Jennings of its shop in the West End (on Charing Cross Road). The company after that had no direct means of displaying Thomas organs in central London. Rose-Morris presumably signed up with Thomas expressly to fill that gap.
29th October (2)
Thanks to Martin, a shot of an early "diving boot" (superimposed on a plain background) that once belonged to Dick Denney. Its body is silver hammerite, the ridges on the rubber pads on the treadle aligned across the width (as in the early advertising pictures).
A few more dimensions of the "diving boot". When the treadle is depressed at rear to its greatest extent, the top at front is 5" above floor level. The walls of the base are 1/4" thick, those of the treadle 5/16". The base plate is 3/16" thick. The "buttresses" inside the base stop short of its bottom edge by 3/32". It may be that panels of rubber were inset either side of the central base plate.
The top at front is 5" above the floor.
The "buttresses" around the inside stop short of the top by 3/32". None has a fixing hole, however.
Scarce these days, a Vox "diving boot" volume pedal, as issued with the first Vox Continental organs. Designed in late 1957, they remained in the JMI catalogue through to early 1963. This one is serial number 4504, date unknown. The sequence probably began at 4000. The very earliest pedals had black bodies and lighter treadles.
The page on Vox volume pedals 1957-1964 will be updated in due course.
13 1/2" long and 4 1/2" wide at the widest point.
The pedal as advertised in late 1957.
The page on early Burndept-made AC30 chassis, autumn 1962 to early 1963, has now been started here, further details to be added in due course.
Another early Burndept chassis sold recently. Wodens with "LT" date codes = November 1962. The main Hunts filter capacitor in the preamp has "TIH" = 43 week of '62 (late October). One of the Welwyn ceramic resistors has "TJ" = September 1962.
Coming shortly a general overview of the chassis produced by Burndept in the last third of 1962 and early 1963.
Chassis number 0129x.
A further chassis assembled by Burndept in the autumn of 1962 - soon after the contract with JMI had been signed off: Woden transformers with "HT" date codes (August 1962). No other component codes are known at present unfortunately.
Chassis number 01050.
Preamp fairly extensively overhauled.
24th October (2)
Another chassis from later 1962, one step along from the chassis below. Woden transformers with "HT" and "JT" codes = August and September 1962; Hunts capacitors with "HHH" = 22nd week of 1962 (May), and "ITH" = 34th week of 1962 (August). One of the pots has "HJ" = August 1962.
The chassis was sold by a seller who also sold at much the same time a pair of Celestion blues with the date codes: "20JG" and "21JG" = 20th and 21st September 1962.
The note concerning the date code of a Welwyn resistor (added this morning) has been removed. Another chassis is in view - to be illustrated shortly.
Recently sold, a nice AC30 chassis, assembled for JMI by Burndept, last quarter (rather than third) of 1962, serial number originally in the higher 5000s.
Woden transformer date codes: "HT" = August 1962; pot codes ending in "J" = 1962, either "HJ" or "IJ" = August or September 1962.
The later factory Top Boost unit has Mullard mustard caps with "D4N" codes = last quarter of 1964, and pots with "AM" = January 1965.
Chassis number 01053.
Some material on the Dave Clark Five's equipment, principally Mike Smith's Continental organ. As has been mentioned, the band is first seen with a Continental in November 1963. The still below is from a performance on Ready Steady Go on the 8th.
Published 23rd November 1963.
On 16th January 1964 the music press reported that the group had just placed an order for new equipment from Jennings. This was for the residency at the Tottenham Royal, 17th January to 23rd February. One of the concerts was filmed by Pathe News in colour (clips on YouTube). On the face of things, the Continental is classed as part of the new order.
16th January 1964.
Evidently some of the amplifiers - and presumably the organ - did not last long. Below a report from May 1964. So far no pictures of the Swedish concerts have come to light.
30th May 1964.
Below, a new organ, Ed Sullivan show, 22nd May, 1964:
Ed Sullivan Show, 22nd May, 1964. Detail of a pic from Getty Images.
Just to add that over the years various amplifiers and organs have been falsely claimed as having once belonged to the Dave Clark Five. Bogus provenances in the name of Denis Peyton seem to be particularly prevalent.
Thanks to Warren, pictures of AC30 serial number 17405T, late 1964, once owned by Brian Setzer. Further pics can be found here.
AC30 serial number 17405T, assembled by Burndept. The Mullard mustard caps have "D4N" date codes = last quarter of '64.
The Jennings roller-action volume pedal, designed in 1953 and promoted during the course of 1954. Tom was granted a registration (protection) for the design by the Patent Office.
The pedal is at present the earliest Jennings item definitively known to have been badged "VOX". The label can be seen on the top edge of the black panel. It may be, however, that something earlier will eventually materialise. Tom trade marked the name "VOX" in 1951.
A new page has been started on copper panelled chassis with integrated Top Boost controls. All were assembled by Westrex for JMI. Further details will be added shortly - more in particular on component date codes.
A note on Haddon transformers in AC30s with copper panels. From late 1961, when copper panels were first introduced, through to the late summer of 1962, Westrex was JMI's sole contractor for AC30 chassis. At JMI's direction, Westrex used transformers supplied by two manufacturers: Haddon (based in Wealdstone, Middlesex) and Albion (based in Hertfordshire, precise location still unknown). The two types of transformer were rarely - if ever - mixed on a single chassis during this period.
Haddons continued to be used by Westrex through to early 1963, the run coming to an end with the chassis of amps with serial numbers in the 6300s. A small batch is found later in the year, however, on the chassis of amps with numbers in the low 8000s. This more or less ended an association going back a decade. Haddon had been chosen initially by Jennings - really one should say Derek Underdown - for the new line of console organs in 1953.
Also to note that Haddons were selected for the first generation of AC15s (first circuit), late 1957 to 1960, and perhaps the AC2/30. Albion transformers were largely employed for AC15s after that.
Burndept, brought on board as a contractor for AC30s in the late summer of 1962, fitted Woden transformers to its chassis initially, an unbroken run through to early/mid 1964, when Albions and Parmekos were adopted as a stop-gap. Woden was at the time setting in train production of new batches.
The page on AC30 transformers will be re-arranged shortly.
AC30 serial number 5543N, mid 1962. Probably one of the last to be sent out with WIMA Tropydur capacitors (one remains). One of the pots has the date code "CJ" = March 1962. The chassis, assembled for JMI by Westrex, has the phantom cut-out by the rectifier valve.
Further details on AC30 serial number 5676N, a Super Twin from the last third of 1962 now added here.
AC30 serial number 5676N.
Thanks to Steve, pictures of a black panel AC30/4, for the time being exterior only. The cabinet may be the original, but reworked (and recovered) in the 1970s. The speakers are Goodmans Audiom power range, red label, 8 ohms apiece.
Also out and about recently, an AC30/4 chassis in a new cabinet. The mains transformer has been replaced, and some of the original hardware is lacking (pots, fuse holder, voltage selector, knobs, and input jacks), but the Haddon output transformer is still present along with the Radiospares choke and - ununusually - a good spread of the original WIMA Tropydur capacitors. Normally these were the first things to be replaced by servicemen.
12th October (2)
Some updates to the later AC15 pages are in progress. Below, a couple of ads placed by Besson in "Melody Maker" magazine in 1962 - Besson was just a few steps away from the Jennings shop.
In February, a "new-style" AC15 Bass - presumably split-front - and an AC15 Normal, "style" not specified. The prices of both amps were the same as those of the Jennings shop.
In June, Besson's prices were substantially more than Jennings'. One groans at the mention of "matched speakers" in relation to the Twin though.
10th Feb. 1962.
30th June 1962.
Some notes on AC10s. Recently come to light, AC10 serial number 4883, the highest number known at present for a single speaker AC10. The chassis has all the usual things - grey panel, new-style dome (not slot) voltage selector, etc. Chassis of the same type are first encountered on Twins, which were given a sequence of their own in 1964, in the high 1200s (the new sequence having been kicked off at 1000).
Black vents, most if not all made of plastic, first appear on AC10 cabinets in the high 4500s for single speaker amps and somewhere in the range 1000-1100 for Twins. Batches of black vents, some metal, some plastic, first appear on AC30s in the 11000s and 12000s. It should be remembered though that large numbers of repro vents have manufactured and sold over the years, so one has keep an open mind about "dates of adoption" and so on.
Spotting the difference betweeen metal and plastic from photos is often tricky, though flaking paint naturally immediately identifies a vent as being of metal.
The chrome stands supplied with early Vox Continentals were evidently different in a couple of important respects from later ones. The side legs initially were attached to the body of the organ by simple round-headed bolts rather than the more familiar "butterfly bolts" (also called "wing bolts", "thumb screws", and so on), which were introduced at some point in 1964 - probably early to mid. In all cases the bolts screwed into T-nuts set in the wooden sides and back of the organ.
Also different were the chrome brackets that hooked under the underside of the organ. At first these were simple flat metal L-shapes with a hole for the screw. Later, an angled slot was provided so that the butterfly bolts could be screwed in first and the legs slipped onto them - a huge advantage to the person setting the organ up for use.
Standard promotional picture (drawn in late 1962). Simple screws/bolts fix the legs to the organ.
A detail from a picture of The Overlanders with one of the first Continentals.
First version legs on Continental TC1207.
Later style legs on Continental TC2529, angled slots in the brackets and butterfly bolts to fix them to the organ.
A detail from Jim Marshall's shop pricelist published in The "Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush Gazette and Post", 13th December 1962. Based on the Uxbridge Road in Hanwell, Jim had become a Vox dealer in the late summer of '62. His prices are naturally a margin above those advertised by the Jennings shop: AC30 Twin at £115 and 10 shillings, in the Jennings shop 100 guineas (£105).
The first Vox amps Marshall is recorded as selling (in July) were an "AC2/T brand new", an AC/15, and an AC30 Twin. The AC2 had become the AC4 in late 1961, so his unit even though "brand new" must have been a year old.
13th December, 1962.
6th October (2)
Just to note that the page on Vox accessories for the amplification of pianos has been updated, one of the new images being of the control unit, below:
Detail from the Vox amplifiers and accessories flyer, version from late 1959.
However, typically, two further things came to light almost immediately: (i) an earlier image of the unit from the first version of the Vox amplifiers and accessories flyer, spring 1958 (the AC2/30 and G1/10 are the main amps in view), and (ii) a notice in Manchester Evening News, 7th November, 1958, of a piano used in conjunction with a Vox amplifier and "vibrator", presumably "vibrato" or "vibravox". Cranes had been signed up as a dealer by Tom in the mid 1950s.
First version of the flyer and the control unit.
Manchester Evening News, 7th November, 1958.
The page will be updated again in the coming days. The piano pick-up, in a way the primary element of the set-up, remained the same 1958-1960.
This entry picks up from the one below, 3rd October, on the Vox Continental. First, a note of demonstrations of the Continental at the "Musical Exchange" in Wembley. This was in fact Joe and Larry Macari's shop, later "Macari's Musical Exchange". Larry went way back with Tom, having managed the Jennings shop on Charing Cross Road for him from 1956 to 1959.
Later, on 29th June, JMI demonstated the Continental to the "Electronic Organ Constructor's Society" in the (grand) main hall of the Northern Polytechnic on the Holloway Road in London.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 11th May, 1963. "WEM 1970" was the shop's telephone number, "WEM" being the local exchange. The dial of an early 1960s phone can be seen below.
The second pic is at present the earliest firmly dated instance of the Dave Clark Five with a Continental. The picture is probably from the TV performance of "Do You Love Me" and "Glad All Over", Ready Steady Go, 8th November 1963. One can just make out the "VOX" logo (as used on amplifiers) stuck to the front of the organ.
Unfortunately many of the pictures and videos that are assigned on the web to 1963 are no such thing - normally 1964 and 1965. The search for something (definitively) earlier in relation to the Dave Clark Five goes on.
5th October (2)
Thanks to Martin, two extracts from a typescript JMI pricelist from late 1960. The first contains one of the only mentions of the Vox AC1, effectively an AC2, but without the tremolo, and an elliptical speaker instead of circular 10" Elac. In the pricelists published in "Melody Maker" magazine in November 1960 this is presumably the "Vox 4 Watt, 1 input" amplifier listed at 12 guineas.
It is likely that the AC1 was quickly phased out however in favour of a standard AC2 with tremolo and a single input (instead of the more normal two) - see this page for pics of early examples. The page will need updating.
The second extract contains a short explanation of the difference between plain tremolo (vibrato) and JMI's "Vibravox", the latter not to be found in amplifiers produced by any other manufacturer.
A little more on chassis with copper panels, Top Boost controls integrated in the panel:
In all instances where the detail can be made out, the main preamp filter cap of these chassis has the date code "UG" = July 1963. The span is from serial number 10471 through to 3072, a Super Twin.
Detail of serial number 10672.
A chassis now without a box and serial number has a 220K wirewound resistor with "UH" = August 1963. Its cathode resistor, along with those of at least two other amps, is 50R - and its GZ34 rectifier valve is dated 2nd week of November, 1963.
The lowest serial number encountered so far for an amp with Top Boost controls integrated in a copper panel is 10348, which has Haddon rather than Albion transformers (which are standard in other amps). But 10348, as it stands, is unlikely to have been readied for sale before early '64. Still it is certainly possible that a small batch of chassis arrived at Dartford Road in September.
An overview of surviving copper panelled Top Boost chassis, which are distributed among the Twins, Super Twins, and Expanded Frequency AC30s, will be provided shortly.
4th October (2)
October 12th, 1963 - this appears to be the earliest mention in official JMI sources of an AC30 Twin with Top Boost. Super Twins with Boost controls on their back panels had been advertised as far back as September 1961. Was the Top Boost on the Twin listed in the advert below integral to its control panel, or a separate unit on the back?
The former is certainly possible. In late 1964, a Top Boost assembly, bought separately, cost £15 and 15 shillings. The Twin with Top Boost in the shop is pitched, on the face of things, at £26 and 5 shillings more than a plain Twin. This may be a mistake though, simply repeating the price given for the Super Twin.
Whether Westrex, in mid to late September 1963, sent through an advanced batch of AC30s with Top Boost in panel - the panels at this point being copper of course - remains to be determined. Such a lot of monkey business has gone on over the years however in relation to these chassis (the swapping from one cabinet to another) that it is hard to alight on anything that is very certain.
Jim Elyea supposed that (substantially) more than 500 copper-panelled AC30s with integrated Top Boost had been made. This is well over the mark. Certainly there are the Expanded Frequency amps, serial numbers 500-550 [not 550-610 as previously stated (550-610 are grey panel)], but then every sixth or seventh AC30 in the range 10000-13000 and 2500-3100 (Super Twins)? The actual figure is probably somewhere around 300.
12th October, 1963.
The next earliest explicit mention of the AC30 Top Boost is February 1964, an amp again in the Jennings shop (same price as above), and the pricelist issued later in the month, the price in this last being £131 and 15 shillings.
JMI pricelist, February 1964.
May 1960, "Davies Music City Limited" - sometimes "Davis" - in the wilds of Fulham seems to have had some link with JMI, which had recently taken on the distribution of Fender guitars (and amplifiers) in the UK. JMI advertising for Fender regularly states "Exclusive from America", or words to that effect, without ever quite saying that it was the "Exclusive Distributor". At any rate, "Davis Music City Limited" does not seem to have lasted long. There is no further mention of the business after 1960.
27th May, 1960.
Three relatively early notices of Vox Continentals for sale: (1) the Music Centre, Plymouth, in May 1963; (2) Frank Hessy's shop in Liverpool, September 1963; and (3) in John Fry's music shop in Penzance in October 1963. Fry, whose business initially was photographic equipment, had probably been signed up as a Vox dealer in Tom's regional sales drives of 1962. A JMI catalogue from late 1962 survives with the shop stamp.
It may be that the three Continentals were sent out on a "Sale or Return" basis, i.e. return to Jennings if not sold after a specified length of time. It is unlikely that they failed to sell however.
Plymouth, early May 1963.
Liverpool, September 1963.
Penzance, October 1963.
The last page of the Vox catalogue of late 1962 with the Fry shop stamp.
Entries for three late JMI AC30s, all long in Germany, added to this page: serial numbers 22854, 22949, and 22973. The change from standard plates with "VOX AMPLIFIER" at their head to plates simply with "AMPLIFIER" (a result of company's being placed in the hands of the official receiver) evidently came in between serial numbers 22854 and 22949.
Below, a detail from the JMI catalogue printed for the German market in September 1967 to serve into 1968 - "1968" is on the frontispiece (Spitzengeräte aus dem Verkaufsprogramm 1968).
1st October (2)
Coming shortly, a page on the single-speaker AC10, late 1961 to 1964, serial numbers in the range 3500 to 4700. The existing pages on the AC10 - early single speaker amps, Twins, and so on - can be found here.
A new page on later AC4s has been mapped out here - serial numbers 3000 to 4900. The entries will be supplied in batches, taking the picture through to end of production in 1965.
A number of new entries have also been added to the pages on the AC2, the AC4 by its principal early name. A JMI source from late 1960 recently came to light with a further designation for this amp: the "AC1".
Below, the earliest shot that has emerged so far of an AC4 in the USA, the Hal Morris Music Mart, Lansing, Illinois, 23rd March, 1965:
Published on 23rd March, 1965.
The Beatles evidently had an AC4 for use in their dressing room on their second main tour of the States in August 1965 - seen in pics for instance at the Metropolitan Stadium, Minnesota, 21st August. Somewhere there are shots of the band backstage with an AC4 on an earlier UK tour, one showing its back panel reflected in a mirror - to be found (I think in one of "The Beatles Book" issues).