Vox AC80/100 (early AC100) serial number 173

VOX AC100 - UPDATES AND NEW INFO

2018, August-September

30th September (2)

A Jennings Musical Industries Hire Purchase form from 1961 / 1962. The form will have been much the same for the following years.

Early pricelists often gave the schedule of terms. Below, JMI's list of Fender guitars from April 1962.

30th September

The front page of a Goodmans brochure for guitar speakers, undated, but probably 1965. The whole thing is on the Vox AC50 website - speakers index page.

Among other things the ideal volumes for speaker cabinets are given. A quick calculation shows that the Vox T60 / 2 x 15" speaker cab is pretty much in line with what Goodmans recommended. The thin-edge boxes for AC80/100 amplifiers were made to match the width of these cabs - ie. a chassis that fitted in a box 19 inches wide was part of the design brief. Later thick-edge boxes overhang the edges of the T60 / 2 x 15" cabs slightly.

28th September (2)

Pages from the 1964 Vox Catalogue are now going up in batches:

28th September

Below, some pics of the Vox catalogue for 1964/65. The printer's runners indicate it was put to press in February '64. The format is a series of bifolia held together in an outer wrapper. The catalogue in its entirety will be posted soon, along with a small trove of catalogues, pricelists and related JMI material from 1961 and 1962.

Above, what is probably the first official mention of the PA amps - the sloping-front "Metal Clads" - "For factory, theatre, club, pop groups, etc.".

Vox PA50, 1965

A second generation MC50 from early 1965. The first generation, as described in the 1964 catalogue, had two inputs.

21st September

The page on 18" bass speakers, used by Vox in Foundation Bass cabs, has been updated with new info. and material from catalogues and pricelists.

The Audiom 91 was new in Spring 1964.

20th September

Below, a note in the Guardian newspaper, 30th January, 1963, signalling the controlling stake taken by Royston Industries in Jennings. Strangely the date does not seem to have been made explicit in the existing literature on Vox.

Guardian newspaper, 30th January, 1963
Guardian newspaper, 30th January, 1963

Above, a list of Royston's holdings as they stood in July 1967 from the house journal: "The Beacon". A complete copy of the edition, which concentrates on JMI's winning of the Queen's Award for Industry, .

As is well known, however, Royston took more money out of JMI than it put back in. Profits from the massive orders won by JMI in the U.S.A. - on which, - were largely dispersed.

By autumn 1967, following a series of mis-judged ventures, Royston found itself in trouble. Where JMI was concerned, things came to a head in September when Tom Jennings was sacked. Many others, Dick Denney included, went soon after. The running of JMI fell to Cyril Windiate, Tom Jennings's secretary.

Below, a purchase order dated 6th February 1968 from JMI to Macari's Musical Exchange for 100 Tonebenders. Macari's had taken over the old Jennings shop, 100 Charing Cross Road, in February 1967.

Purchase Order, February 1968

The signatory for JMI is Cyril Windiate. Note that the Order clearly records that the company was in the hands of the receiver.

Material relating to the transition of the company from JMI to "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in the second quarter of 1968 is being assembled on the Vox Supreme website.

15th September (2)

The page on - The T1022, T1079, T1108 and T1296 - has been updated.

15th September

The full Official Programme of the Richmond Jazz and Blues Festival, August 1965, .

14th September

A mini stack of Vox 12" PA speakers - a pair and a singleton. The pair is probably from 1968 and originally had Celestion T1088s - see half-way down . The single speaker is earlier - its baffle cut-out has a horizontal and vertical bar across it. The later speakers only have a vertical.

These are nicely made units. On their upper backboards, slotted holes so they could be hung on walls by nails. Further pictures to follow.

12th September

The second half of the page on the has now been revised - July to October.

A rare colour picture from the North American tour of August and September shows that the spare AC80/100, often seen by the side of the drum riser, had brown grille cloth:

Beatles, Toronto, 7th September, 1964

Click as ever for a larger image. Toronto, 7th September, 1964.

11th September (2)

The page on the Beatles' AC80/100s is in the process of being updated in reverse order - so far. The kicks off with December 1964.

It was during the Beatles for Sale sessions in early October that the three new amps (seen also on the tour discussed briefly below) arrived.

11th September

Some notes on the Beatles AC80/100s in October and November 1964

Pictures taken on the Beatles' tour of the UK in late 1964 - 9th October to 4th November - show that the group travelled with four thin-edged AC80/100s with black grille cloth.

1) A new amp, delivered to Paul in early October 1964, with a BASS logo.

2) One of the amps given to John and George in early August '64, its logo composed of single letters V O X.

3 & 4) Two new thin-edged amps with conventional logos (bars through the letters).

A fifth amp, the twin of no. 2, does not appear. Its box, however, was used a little later to rehouse Paul's first AC80/100 - see below, entry for 8th September (2).

A series of illustrative details:

Leicester, De Montfort Hall, 10th October 1964. Paul's amp at left (1), and the amp with a single letter logo (2).

Belfast, King's Hall, 2nd November 1964. The amp at left has no bass flag (3). The alignment of the diamonds on its grille cloth is similar to the amp with a BASS flag, but the two are not the same. George's amp is the same as above (2).

Belfast again. The amp used by John (4). Logo of the standard type.

In terms of serial numbers, we have only one definitively fixed point at the moment. The twin of (2), delivered to John and George in August 1964, was serial no. 180.

It seems likely that the three new amps provided for the tour, made up specially with black grille cloth (brown was the norm), had numbers in the low 200s, or possibly 190s (no known survivors at present).

Brighton, 25th October 1964. Picture from the Beatles Book Photo Library. Paul's amp is (1), with a BASS logo at front and central screw on the top edge of the back board.

Brighton again - the amp used by John.

The two earlier amps - (2) and (5) - had no screws on the top edges of their respective back boards. Below, Lennon's amp, Milwaukee, 4th September, 1964:

John Lennon's Vox AC100 SDL, Las Vegas, 20 August, 1964

John Lennon's Vox AC100 SDL, New Orleans, 16 September, 1964

New Orleans, 16 September, 1964. This is (2), above. Note the relationship of the letters to the diagonals of the diamonds. From a picture by Ted Rozumalski.

George Harrison's Vox AC100 SDL, New Orleans, 16 September, 1964

The box of this amp was used to re-house Paul's first AC80/100.

10th September

The page on the has been updated (long overdue anyway) with the new pictures and info posted below over the last few days. Further updates will be slipped in during the course of this week.

9th September (2)

To illustrate the point of amps being used fairly interchangeably by the Beatles, a couple of details. Note the ding on the serial number plate:

Lennon photographed from stage rear in front of the amp he used - serial no. 180 - on 24th June 1965 at Milan.

The plate of the amp used by Paul - serial no. 180 - for the Christmas Show rehearsals, December 1964.

Also worth pointing out that between the end of the Christmas Shows and the European tour in June '65, serial no. 180 in company with the other amp in a thick-edged box and serial no. 150B were given fixings (two screws) on the top edge of their respective backboards.

Milan, June '65. The companion amp in a thick-edged box, used by George. At right, serial no. 150B, used by Paul.

So the timeline insofar as it can be made out at present seems to be:

Early December 1964 (?): Amps back to JMI for refurbishment / reboxing.

Early months of 1965: Amps back to JMI again - screws added to top edges of back boards. Presumably other work too.

These seem to be pre-concert-run checks / repairs. For the NME Pollwinners concert, 11th April, 1965, the Beatles had large-box AC50s on top of their SDL speaker cabinets. It may be that the AC100s were away at JMI at this time.

NME Pollwinners concert, Empire Pool, Wembley, 11th April, 1965. Picture from Getty Images.

9th September

A detail of the serial number plate of the amp used by Paul at the rehearsal for the Christmas concerts, Finsbury Park Astoria, December 1964 - see the entry below, 6th August. Serial number 180:

Click as ever to enlarge. The serial number plate has 9 lines of text and long panels for the details.

Note that the amp's box is a new-style thick-edged one with no corner protectors - a format that had come into being by November 1964. Number 180 should by rights, however, be an amp in a thin-edged box. See .

The mains switch is a small ball-end Arrow. Other pictures show that the amp has a link voltage selector.

What seems to have happened is a sort of musical chairs. Paul's first amp was given the thin-edged box of one of the amps given to John and George in autumn 1964, and the boxless chassis that resulted from this exchange - serial no. 180 - was given a new thick-edged box, along with the chassis of the other amp given to John and George.

In other words, Paul's AC80/100 - serial no. 150B - ended up with an old-style black-fronted box, and John and George's were given new ones. From late 1964, however, the Beatles used their amps fairly interchangeably, so the notion of "owners" rather dissolves away.

The amp used by John at Milan, thick edges to the box, no corner protectors.

The amp used by George at Milan. As above, thick edges to the box, no corner protectors.

8th September (2)

Just to note that Paul's first amp - serial no. 150B - was originally issued in a box with brown grille cloth. In late 1964, in time for the Christmas show, the chassis, along with its back panel, was rehoused in the box of one of the amps originally issued to John and George in the autumn of 1964. These had black grille cloth. 150B was subsequently taken on the Italian and US tours of 1965.

Serial number 150B, at right, photographed from rear of stage at Milan, 24th June, 1965. This picture is sometimes, wrongly, said to be Genoa.

Photographed from front of stage, Milan, 1965. Compare the alignment of the diamonds on the grille cloth with the amp below. The left side is slightly in shadow.

George Harrison's Vox AC100 SDL, New Orleans, 16 September, 1964

From a picture by Ted Rozumalski. The black-fronted amp used by George, New Orleans, 16 Sept. 1964. Paul's old chassis was slipped into this box.

8th September

Some changes now to the page on . It is extremely doubtful that the amp said to be no. 117 is actually 117. There is something odd about its serial number plate (which is presented at a distance), among other things.

The lack of amps with attestable serial numbers under 150 certainly makes sense in relation to the evidence conveyed by the high-res photo posted yesterday - Paul's amp was the first AC80/100 issued, just as John and George had the first AC50s.

6th September

The serial number of Paul McCartney's first AC80/100 - serial no. 150B - seen in a pic taken at the Finsbury Park Astoria, December 1964:

A detail of Paul's amp on stage, Versailles, 14th January 1964. The AC80/100 had been issued to him in late December 1963.

Rehearsals for the Christmas Show, Finsbury Park Astoria, December 1964. Picture courtesy The Beatles Book Photo Archive.

A general detail from the picture above, Paul's first AC80/100 being used by George.

A detail, inverted and slightly enlarged, from the high resolution file - 150 B on the plate.

Paul's amp was the first AC80/100 made. No other amp has come to light with a fuseholder on the back panel, or with white jack plug sockets. Note that the serial number plate is of the early type, and that the designation "B" is also found on the plates of early single channel, two input AC50s that were paired with Foundation Bass cabs. See on the AC50 website.

Evidently the idea, from the start, was to sell some AC80/100s with bass cabs, others with non-bass cabs. John and George's AC100 SDLs did not come along until August '64 though.

The serial number 150B is interesting as the presumption has been that the sequence began at 100 or 101. Intriguingly another amp was also stamped 150 - the amp in Florida, used by Bill Wyman in 1964 and 1965. See the entries below, 31st July and 2nd August.

Quite what this means is difficult to say for sure - possibly a mistake, or perhaps the number 150 recorded/signified that these AC80/100s had been consigned to bands.

28th August

The chassis of 254 now pretty much sorted out. Everything powers up as it should. Still a few things to do, among which the replacement of the dreadful "orange drop" suppressor cap.

There are now a couple of pages on the amp - , and some details taken a couple of months ago in the States, .

27th August (3)

Some shots of 254's box:

The furniture glide (small black foot) rear right (corr.) is original. The other three are replacements.

27th August (2)

Some pics of the back panel of 254, before and after:

The panel as reconfigured in the US, probably in the 1990s. Next to the jack socket on the aluminium plate was a switch to switch between 8 and 16ohms.

The hole for the mains socket was enlarged too much and too irregularly to give anything away about what was in there originally. The Bulgin happened to fit and cover the odd screw holes.

The screw holes above and under the main holes for the speaker sockets show that the amp originally had two Cannon XLR-3-32s. The leftmost hole was widened at some point (see below).

27th August

On the left, the plate of serial number 185 (brown fronted, thin-edged box, green Woden transformers, cathode biased, etc.). On the right, the serial number plate of the amp featured in the Wyman advert (also brown fronted, thin-edged box, green Wodens, cathode biased). Both, along with with no. 221, were stamped by the same person. Westrex-made AC80/100s - from no. 100 to around no. 300 - normally have only three digit serial numbers. Burndept numbers (from the last batch of black panels on through to 1967) are machine stamped.

The amp pictured below was evidently given its plate a good number of months after it and its box had been made. From around no. 220 boxes are thick edged, and from around no. 230 control panels, along with cloth fronts, are black.

20th August

A slow journey from the States, but now here, the JMI AC80/100 testing / promo amp, seen in the advert for Bill Wyman and his new bass (signalled below, 24th June).

Detail from the Vox advert in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, December 1965 - (scroll to the foot of the page).

The amp was never provided with a logo, nor the holes for one. Compare the distinctive diamond pattern of the grille cloth.

The chassis - two fans added in the US. Further pics will be posted in due course.

The amp belonged to JMI until it was sold (presumably in late '65 or '66). It was not used on stage or otherwise by the Stones. But Bill W. certainly stood beside it. Thanks to Tom for picking the amp up in Brooklyn and arranging for the shipping.

19th August (2)

Below, details of John and George's black-fronted amps on stage, New Orleans, 16th September, 1964:

George Harrison's Vox AC100 SDL, New Orleans, 16 September, 1964
John Lennon's Vox AC100 SDL, New Orleans, 16 September, 1964

From a picture by Ted Rozumalski.

John Lennon's Vox AC100 SDL, Las Vegas, 20 August, 1964

The rear of Lennon's amp, Milwaukee, 4th September, 1964.

19th August

Vox dealer photo no. 1, published also in magazines and papers in the UK and States in 1964 and 1965. The "amp" is probably just a box (no chassis inside) - Bill gives the game away, holding it with two fingers. The single letters for the logo were added to the photograph later.

Click for a larger image. A detail showing the wonkiness of the logo - painted on to a large initial print, and then rephotographed.

The whole picture.

18th August

A great detail of the JMI loan AC100 SDL - the amp an AC80/100 in a thin-edged box - used by the Stones in Paris and Belgium, October 1964. Since no colour pic. has so far come to light, it's not possible to be entirely certain of the colour of the amp's grille cloth.

Black, however, seems likely to match the grille cloth of the cab - much as the grille cloth of the Beatles' amps matched the cloth of their speaker cabs.

Amp and cab may have been one of the ones, or perhaps the one, shown at the "British Musical Instrument Industries" Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel, 24th - 29th August 1964. The Beatles were away on tour in the States at this time:

Beat Monthly magazine, October 1964.

15th August

Material from the "Record Mirror", 29th August, 1964, on the Vox showing at the "British Musical Instrument Industries" Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel a few days earlier:

A note on the all-purpose PA amplifier was also published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, . The amp must have been a gargantuan thing with spring reverb and (presumably) tape echo. No surviving examples have so far come to light - and probably none will, as it seems unlikely that the unit was ever put into full production. There is certainly no mention of it in catalogues from 1964 or early 1965.

This advert was also published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, .

14th August

The Rolling Stones at Longleat, 2nd August 1964, with a thin-edged brown-fronted Vox AC80/100 and AC50. The AC80/100 is different from the one discussed in the entries a little way down this page. Note the pattern of diamonds on the grille cloth.

Rolling Stones at Longleat with a Vox AC80/100 and AC50, August 1964
Rolling Stones at Longleat with a Vox AC80/100 and AC50, August 1964
Rolling Stones at Longleat with a Vox AC80/100 and AC50, August 1964

12th August (3)

The Velvet Underground at Andy Warhol's club, New York, early 1966 - on stage, an AC50 Foundation Bass set and an AC100 SDL.

12th August (2)

The four main filter caps from a late AC100 - schematic OS/167 (original drawing dated July 1967). The serial number of the amp is in the high 1900s. The Radiospares date code "YF" = June 1967.

Around 100 chassis were evidently made in the second half of 1967 with cut-outs for the doubled up capacitors. Production of the old and new style chassis will have overlapped initially. Finished units were not slipped into boxes (ready and waiting with serial number plates) in any particular order.

12th August

A further "100W Amplifier" registered - (the plate is indistinct), currently in Japan. The amp has had a copper panel and link voltage selector added to give it an earlier look.

11th August

Freddie and the Dreamers, Longleat, August 1965. The band also had two AC50 Super Twins on the day (one with a basket top trolley). Picture from Lebrecht Images.

10th August

Serial number 498 currently on Reverb. A "100W Amplifier" - fixed bias, but no brimistor - produced summer 1965. For other "100W Amplifiers", .

OLDER BLOG PAGES