AC100 serial no. 101 - Paul McCartney's amp

In all probability Paul's first AC80/100 - brown-fronted, thin-edged box - arrived in company with John and George's new thin-edged AC50s in late December 1963, in time for the Christmas concerts at the Finsbury Park Astoria.

Below a shot of one of those concerts, John's AC50 turned back to front on the step:


It is clear from pictures recently emerged (autumn 2015), that the amp remained in use not only throughout most of 1964, but most of 1965 too, having been revamped with a new thin edged box (one from August 1964 with V O X in individual letters) and a new grey control panel.

Indeed, the return of the Beatles first AC80/100s to JMI for refitting - it is clear from pictures taken in Italy in 1965 that John and George's went back too - may be a reason why AC50s were used at the Pollwinner's concert of April in that year.

It is also clear from the pictures that Paul's amp had a special fuseholder mounted on its back panel.

Our first clear shots of the AC80/100 come from early 1964 - Paris and Versailles (January), and February (Washington).

Left, backstage at Versailles in January 1964. Centre, Washington Coliseum, 11th February. Right, Australia, late June.

Note that the AC50s and the AC80/100 both have similar connectors on the back panel. A round Cannon XLR for the speaker, and a rectangular Cannon LNE-32, turned sideways, for the mains.

Schemas of the back panels of the AC50s and AC80/100.

The speaker connector on Paul's amp may very well have had a latching mechanism, as the Cannon above.

It is possible that Paul's amp was perhaps one of a small initial batch made by Triumph Electronics, who were the contractors/prototypers for Vox - or perhaps it was the only one made there. Main production of AC80/100s was handled by Westrex, another contractor.

Photos taken at the concert at Blokker in Holland show better than the Versailles pic. higher up on this page, that there was something directly underneath the mains connector.

Above, Blokker (Holland), 6th June 1964.

A photo of the back of the amp taken at the Christmas Show rehearsals, December 1964, shows that the "something" below the mains connector was in fact a Belling Lee fuse-holder - presumably for the fuse normally on the board inside the amp.

The serial plate is the early style eight-line plate (with short silvered panels for the amplifier type and serial number. The speaker connector has been changed from round to rectangular Cannon.

Note that even though George is using the amp at the Christmas Show, its settings are the same as Paul used at Blokker: volume is at 12 o' clock, treble is right down, and bass is at about 12 o' clock. In early AC80/100s the bass control often works back-to-front - clockwise turns bass down, anti-clockwise turns it up. The input sockets are white; Paul is plugged into the second (low-gain) of the two.

Also worth pointing out is the long metal ON/OFF switch. Normally early AC80/100s have small ball-ended switches.

As an aside, it is interesting to see the amp (fleetingly) in the theatre scene of "A Hard Days' Night":

On 29th July '64 at Stockholm (below), the amp was still in evidence alongside John and George's new AC80/100s, which sat atop large AC50 cabinets:

Stockholm, Johanneshovs Isstadion, 29th July 1964.

Whether the AC80/100 was used at Bournemouth on 2nd August is not known for certain at present. But a photo recently published shows the curtain just opening, and on stage behind it, tantalisingly, at least two cabs in swivel trolleys.

Bournemouth, 2nd August, 1964. Picture from "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. The Beatles and Bournemouth", by Nick Churchill (Christchurch, Dorset, 2011), p. 95.

At Scarborough on the 9th, however, it clearly was:

Backstage at Scarborough, 9th August 1964, with Cherry Rowlands.

A second AC80/100

By the American tour in late August 1964, Paul had a new amp, still brown-fronted, but with a BASS flag and a back panel identical to those of John and George's amps.

Las Vegas, 20th August 1964: one shot of the front showing the BASS flag; and two shots from rear of stage, the second showing the back panel of the new amp.

Schema of the back panel of Paul's second AC80/100 - the same arrangement as John and George's.


At various points on the European and American tour, one sees Paul's first amp in a thin-edged box with black cloth and a logo made up of individual letters - V O X. The box clearly is one of those that formerly housed the amps given to John and George in August 1964.

The white jack plug sockets (which can be seen in aerial shots below) and the position of the mains connector are highly distinctive:

The picture is a portion taken, and lightened, from the first of the four below, taken at Genoa on 26th June 1965.

Above, further pictures from Genoa.


A shot from above shows that the amp still had its white input jacks. It is clear too that the control panels of all three amps on stage are grey. They are certainly not black, or copper (which comes out very dark in black and white).

On the left, a copper-panelled amp; on the right, grey panel.

Stepping back a little in time, ten days earlier at Paris (16th June), George had the amp:

Left, view from back stage during the Paris concert, 16th June. Centre, view from front. Right, a detail of a shot from above, showing the white inputs.

And stepping back again, the amp probably features too, albeit briefly, in the film "Help!", in particular the scenes shot at Twickenham Studios in March/April 1965:

"Help!", Twickenham Studios. In the second shot, one can just about see the connectors.

Interesting to note in the pics above is the thin-edged brown-fronted AC50 sitting on Paul's bass cab, evidently brought out of retirement for the film.

And stepping forward now, the same thin-edged black-fronted AC80/100 - Paul's first amp revamped - is seen later at Shea, 16 August 1965, where John has it:

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