NAMM SHOW, ANAHEIM, CA, January 18, 2007 — For five decades, VOX Amplification has been a major force in defining the sound of the electric guitar and other musical instruments. In 2007, VOX Amplification and its worldwide distributors will begin a year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary.
VOX burst onto the music scene in the late “50s with the introduction of its first AC15 combo. Since those early beginnings, the company has created guitar amplifiers that have achieved classic, even cult status. The quintessential VOX AC30 combo made its debut in 1959, and has found favor with countless artists since its inception. VOX dominated the “British Invasion” of the “60s, and today, VOX products are used by countless artists spanning a wide range of musical styles.
To commemorate VOX’s 50th anniversary, a new 40-page VOX Collectors Edition catalog has been created to celebrate the VOX heritage in both music and popular culture. The visually arresting catalog outlines the company’s rich history and features artistic photography showcasing VOX amplifiers at authentic venues like New York’s famed CBGB’s, along with homeland photos around London, England. Throughout 2007, many new products will be unveiled, and VOX will celebrate its 50th anniversary with various events, contests and web features. Keep checking back at www.voxamps.co.uk for frequent updates.
THE VOX CREATION STORY:
Renowned for its innovative products and distinctive style, VOX has provided countless musicians with the ultimate in guitar amplification. VOX became the sonic driving force of the British Invasion bands of the “60s and continues to inspire a new generation of musicians today. From the timeless tones of the AC30 to the groundbreaking digital modeling of the Valvetronix Series, VOX delivers tone, features and style like no other.
I. VOX — THE EARLY HISTORY
Since its beginnings in the “50s, when co-founder Tom Jennings opened up his first musical instrument store and visionary amplifier designer Dick Denney began his quest to find the ultimate sound for the emerging guitar-driven music scene, VOX has become synonymous with guitar amplification.
Co-workers in Kent, England, Jennings and Denney also shared personal interests in music and electronics. Jennings eventually set up a musical instrument shop in Dartford, Kent and began envisioning a new keyboard/organ instrument he would call the Univox (a name he chose from the Latin for “single voice”). Encouraged by its strong sales, Jennings officially formed the Jennings Organ Company in 1952 to produce and distribute the Univox. Soon after, drawn to the new guitar-driven sound of the emerging rock “n” roll scene and seeing no real competition in the U.K., Jennings realized an opportunity to develop his own amplifier line.
Dick Denney was also interested in creating and modifying circuits that would produce new and improved sounds for the electric guitar. One such design was a 2-channel, 15-Watt amplifier Combo with a 12″ speaker, to which he would later add a vibrato circuit. After several incarnations, Denney found a tone he thought worked well with the guitar, giving him a rich new sound. After hearing about Denney’s new amp, Jennings offered him a job as a design engineer for his company, Jennings Musical Industries (JMI), which he founded in 1956. Jennings envisioned producing amplifiers under a name taken from one of his earlier creations, and in 1957, the VOX Amplification brand name was born.
II. THE VOX AC15 — THE FIRST 15 WATTS
By 1958, Denney’s 15-Watt, 2-channel amplifier was ready for production. It was named the AC15. The original — due to its design plus Denney’s use of high-gain circuits and the valves (tubes) he chose — had to be restructured several times to overcome internal noise problems. The new design required the control panel to be placed at the rear of the amp, facing upwards. At first seen as detrimental, it actually turned out to be advantageous at the time, as it was the norm for many musicians to place their amplifiers next to or in front of them onstage.
The AC15 brought a new level of playability to guitarists, providing an all-in-one combination in a compact, yet sturdy package. It was also noted for the fact that when it was cranked to the point of distortion, it would provide a “pleasant” even-order harmonic, without the harsh break-up associated with other amps.
The original AC15s featured a cream colored cabinet finish, black control panel with white lettering, gold VOX logo, and circular, cream-colored control knobs. Subsequent control panel color variations included copper and grey, a few years later.
A key component of the AC15 was the use of Celestion speakers as part of its voicing. At that time, Celestion had relatively no prominence in the industry, and saw VOX as a way to help get its speakers into the music market. They devoted extra research and design toward making speakers specifically for VOX amplifiers — a joint venture that continues today.
Because of the AC15 and subsequent products, Jennings’ shop in the SoHo area of London (near London’s Tin Pan Alley equivalent, Denmark Street) became a popular display/demo area for a constant flow of musicians.
III. THE AC30 TWIN — THE BIGGER BROTHER
About that time, Jennings decided to upgrade the AC15 to a more powerful amp, in response to bands” desires to play louder. Denney started designing a new amplifier with higher power and low voltage levels in a small package. These were characteristics of the EL84 valves he chose to use in VOX amplifiers. He employed a 30-Watt power supply, along with an upgraded 30-Watt mains transformer and a G34 rectifier valve. The new Celestion speaker designed for this amp featured a distinctive round magnet cover with a coat of dark blue cellulose and round VOX sticker, creating what would become known as the VOX “blue” speaker — still a highly sought after feature of VOX amplifiers over 50 years later.
IV. VOX LINE EXTENSION — GUITARS & ORGANS
In 1961, the first VOX guitars were produced. In 1962, when the Phantom Mark III was produced, the original was given to a certain guitarist in “The Stones” whose subsequent use of it helped launch the new Teardrop design as an instantly recognizable symbol of electric guitar — another milestone for VOX.
During this period, Jennings worked on designing and manufacturing everything from organs, to effects devices, to radio microphones. The VOX Continental Organs became a notable success for VOX in the following years.
V. THE AC30 TOP BOOST
By 1962, VOX had made its next significant move involving the AC30. Denney had perfected what was known as the Brilliance unit, a special circuit that gave the AC30 an extra valve stage with its own bass and treble control. Originally sold as an add-on unit, factory installed units were instituted as a result of its popularity, and so the AC30 Top Boost was born.
VI. THE BRITISH INVASION / NEW PRODUCT INVASION
By now, VOX amplifiers could be found everywhere, from the “Fab Four” to other top artists who used VOX exclusively, both on and off stage. Soon, the first head and cab stacks bearing the VOX logo were built. Innovative new transistor designs showed up in the myriad of new models, including AC30 variations (the AC50 and AC100).
Additionally, the “Beatle” cabinet better accentuated the new, more powerful amps being produced (AC50, AC100). It was loaded with four specially designed VOX blue speakers and built-in compression units for enhanced high frequency gain. This was followed by a “Super DeLuxe Beatle-style” 4x12 cabinet loaded with SILVER Celestion speakers. The subsequent solid-state version of this went on to be called the Beatle and later the Super Beatle.
In 1967, VOX introduced the world’s first Wah-Wah Pedal. To this day, it remains an effect emulated and sought after by guitarists throughout the world. The prestigious Queen’s Award for Industry was also awarded to VOX that year, recognizing them as one of the top U.K. exporters.
VII. VALVETRONIX™ SERIES — THE BEGINNING OF THE NEXT GENERATION
One of the most well known modern innovations from VOX is the Valvetronix™ Series of amps. Launched in 2001, this series is the result of a unique fusion of digital and tube amp technologies that superbly recreates every detail of some of the world’s most sought after valve guitar amplifiers.
VIII. AC30 HANDWIRED
In 2002, VOX created a Limited Edition run of handwired AC30 amplifiers. The pristine design that made the AC30 a classic was preserved, while adding several enhancements for the ultimate in top-of-the-line VOX amplification. It was available as a 2 x 12″ combo, as well as a head plus 2 x 12″ speaker cabinet. Both featured completely handwired tag board assembly, all tube design and custom handwound transformers.
IX. MODELING TO GO
In 2003, VOX modeling technology was packed into a portable, desktop box — the ToneLab amp and effect modeler. It was followed in 2004 by the ToneLab SE, a large-format multi-effect modeling pedal board processor.
X. THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA OF VOX
VOX ushered in a new generation of amplification with the 2004 release of the AC30 Custom Classic Series. It combines the best attributes of the renowned original with carefully selected “boutique” features that bring the AC30’s venerable design to a new level of sophistication.
The Custom Classic series sports blendable channels, a tube-driven reverb (with Tone and Level controls and a Dwell switch), a true-bypass effects loop, and a switchable cathode resistor for low-power operation. It also features a variety of configurations, including heads and cabs, plus several combo variations.
Today, the VOX product line has decidedly diverse offerings, from the AC30 Custom Classic, which pays homage to the rich VOX heritage along with modern conveniences, to the edgy look of the AD Series modeling amps, which sport a metal front grill in place of the traditional VOX diamond grill cloth; from the original Wah Wah pedal, to the new Cooltron battery-operated tube stompboxes that combine modern looks with traditional VOX high quality sound.
A new generation of popular bands are discovering and embracing the VOX sound, from The All American Rejects to Fall Out Boy to Coheed and Cambria. The year 2007 will be one of the most exciting yet for VOX.