VOX AC100 - UPDATES AND NEW INFO
June - July 2019
Recently sold in Northern Ireland, AC100 serial number 1935, produced mid to late 1966. Square corners to the back panel, double pins on the corner protectors. Thanks to David for the pictures.
Some details from AC100 serial number 241, black panel, unpainted shrouds to the Woden transformers: mains = part no. 72191, output = part no. 72192, and choke = part no. 72193, in other words the set used in the earlier copper panel amps.
Produced very late 1964 or early 1965. Sold and used in England. Converted in the early 1990s to run as an AC50 (2 x EL34) - so needs some putting back to original format.
Certain early serial numbers (all hand-stamped) were prefixed with a "0" - 0185, 0221, 0241, 0254. Most, however, are just the three digit number. Later *machine-stamped* plates almost always have five digit numbers: 00784, 01099, and so on.
Pot date code "JL" = November 1964.
Woden mains transformer, date code "KV" = November 1964.
Gold-coloured TCC 32uf capacitor, date code "VG" = July 1964.
Green TCC "Micromite" 32uf capacitor, date code "VF" = June 1964.
An advert for Egen potentiometers in "Wireless World", July 1952. Vox used Type 115. There is a general page on Egen Electric Limited here, and two further pages on the date codes stamped by Egen on their pots: one probably most relevant at present to the "100W Amplifier" (late summer 1965); and a second for the AC100 mark 2 (late 1965 to 1967).
Below, small images of two pages from the first Thomas Organ Vox Price List - "Effective April 26, 1965" - in other words ten or so days after the competition sponsored by Vox at the 4th Teen Age Fair - see this page. The leaflet has four pages: Front cover, Guitars, Amplifiers and Sound Equipment, Cases and Accessories.
Front cover, and page for Amplifiers and Sound Equipment. Sold on ebay in May 2011 - archived here.
Small though the pictures may be, they are just large enough to make out the text. Note that the amplifiers all have their new American names. Below, a copy (made in "Word") of the page.
Copy of the amplifiers page from Price List dated 26th April 1965. At this point, one could not buy an AC100 amplifier section separately, as one could in England. See the "NOTE" in box.
Below, details from the Thomas Organ Vox catalogue from late summer 1965 - the "King of the Beat" - the first to give the amplifiers illustrated their new designations - ie. the AC100 is the "Super Beatle" and so on. Since the Price List represents an earlier state of affairs, there are discrepancies - there is no "York" below, for instance, and no "Pacemaker", "Cambridge", "Berkeley" or "Essex Bass" above. The number of inputs mentioned serves as a useful means of correlation:
The "Viscount" is still the AC30
In the first illustrated catalogue - the "Million Dollar Sound" catalog - issued by Thomas Organ (in late 1964), items still have English names - see this page. The reference in the title is to the order for $1,000,000 of equipment placed by Thomas Organ in late August 1964.
Below, AC100 SDL serial number 954, with original cover for the amplifier section. Thanks to Michael for the pictures.
The amp is registered here, where there are further pictures.
And of course, the same amp again (as in the catalogues below) in the advert published in "Beat Monthly" magazine, April 1964 - "Vox went the Beatles, USA":
5th July (2)
Below, the thin-edged AC100 pictured in the JMI catalogue of February 1964. The page on which it appears is here.
A detail from the Vox dealer's catalogue, same date as above, showing the same AC100. Thanks to Martin Kelly for the image.
The amp cannot at present be identified in pictures from the period, but as more and more come to light, it may ultimately be possible to spot it in action. JMI initially kept a reasonable number of AC100s to lend out:
NME Poll Winner's concert, 26th April, 1964: two thin-edged AC100s on one of the wheeled platforms on stage.
Below, the well-known publicity picture of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas with an array of Vox equipment as printed in "Vox Teen Beat" magazine, no. 1, late March or early April 1965, though the shot was taken a little while earlier - late 1964 in the United Kingdom. This picture regularly features in Vox catalogues, brochures and so on. One also finds it as a framed print, part of a set supplied to dealers by JMI and Thomas Organ in 1965.
The thin-edged AC80/100 on end is actually the one used by the band (along with Gerry and the Pacemakers) on the T.A.M.I show, 28th-29th October, 1964. See the entry below, for 28th June.
As ever, compare the arrangement of diamonds on the grille cloth.
Pictures of the first edition (1960) of Shirley Douglas' "Easy Guide to Rhythm and Blues for Bass Guitar" now added here.
Along with her partner in music Chas McDevitt, Douglas was a long-standing Vox user and promoter, appearing in various flyers and brochures.
The second edition of the Guide (1963) was updated with newer pictures of bands with Vox amplifiers and guitars. The third edition (1970) preserved substantially the same text, but Vox no longer figured.
This copy was sold at Jim Marshall's shop (Marshall amps) in Hanwell.
Letter from David Turner at Jennings Musical Industries to Eric Easton, manager of the Stones, and the cover and back page of the programme to which it relates:
Programme front cover. The tour ran from 24th September - 17th October, 1965.
Dezo Hoffman photgraphs. Other photos from the session on the right (from 1963) show that the AC30 and T60 cabinets have no speakers in them. The T60 amplifier box is also empty. The advert as a whole was later recycled by Thomas Organ in the USA.
For info on UK package tours, 1959-1967, along with programmes, bills, and flyers, see the indispensable Bradford Timeline site.
Below, a rough print picture from NME, October 16th, 1964 - the Animals performing at the "KYA Swim Party", Cow Palace, San Francisco, 3rd October.
The amp indicated by an arrow is an AC100, perhaps belonging to one of the other bands on the bill, or a spare, as it is evidently not plugged in.
If anyone knows where the original photo is held now, do please let me know.
On the back panel: serial number plate in the centre, white warning plaque low down at left.
The other acts on the bill were: The Beau Brummels, Chuck Berry, Chad and Jeremy, Bobby Freeman, The Coasters, The Hondells, Lou Johnson, Sonny Knight, The Olympics, Roy Orbison, The Shirelles, and The Spearmints.
24th June (2)
Serial number 772 currently on Reverb - one of the nicest Mark 2s and an original set.
Further to the recent posts on thin-edged AC80/100s, details of the amp loaned to the Stones by JMI for the short European junket in October 1964: 18th (Brussels), 19th-20th (Paris). Pictures taken on the 20th at the Olympia Theatre. The first is held by Getty Images.
Photographs of this amp have so far only come to light from Brussels and Paris. Note that the speaker cab has corner protectors.
Paris, Olympia Theatre, 20th October, 1964.
The arrangement of the diamonds on the grille cloth of two of the amps used by the Stones in England in August '64 can be seen in the entry below for 11th June. For Bill Wyman's first amp, used intensively from late March to late July '64 and sporadically thereafter (well into 1965), see the entry for 11th May.
The T.A.M.I Show, 28th-29th October, 1964, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, California. JMI provided an AC100 bass and two AC30s for Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. The Rolling Stones had their own gear.
BASS flag on the speaker cabinet just visible.
The striking thing about the amplifier section is its rather stretched grille cloth, resulting in some bendy diamonds lower right. So far it has not been possible to identify this amp in other pictures or among the survivals (though two have lost their original box, and two have been regrilled). But it may be that further shots will turn up.
Below, a provisional list of numbers of *thin-edged* AC80/100s owned by bands in 1964 (attested in the photographic record), and amps seen to have been provided by JMI for particular concerts. Amps in the second category, however, may have served two or more events and at some point presumably found their way into the hands of groups or into shops.
OWNED BY BANDS
Rolling Stones - 4 - two serial numbers known at present.
Beatles - 5 (perhaps 6) - two serial numbers known at present.
Sounds Incorporated - 1.
Screaming Lord Sutch - 1.
Jonny Milton and the Condors - 1.
Featured in catalogues and adverts - 1.
NME Poll Winners (April '64) - 2.
Swinging Blue Jeans - 1.
"Ready, Steady, Win" competition (September '64) - 1.
Rolling Stones (October '64) - 1.
Arthur Howes/NEMS Package Tour (Oct. and Nov. '64) - 1.
Gerry and the Pacemakers / Dakotas (October '64) - 1.
Taken together these amps go some way to filling the gaps between the amps currently known to survive, the main gaps being: serial numbers 151 to 168, and 186 to 200.
Some better pics of the first sighting of serial number 225 in the States - Vox Teen Beat magazine no. 1, issued in California in late March / early April 1965. The magazine as a whole is available here.
It seems likely that amp and cab were flown to Sepulveda in late '64 or very early '65, perhaps (operative word at the moment) having been loaned out by JMI in England in November and December - see the detail of the photo of The Kinks in yesterday's post.
The picture as printed in the magazine. No header or caption is given.
One also finds this - the original photograph composited with various bits of text, including the Teen Beat header and a highly inventive caption, both of which are here cut away.
A note on serial number 225, a JMI demonstration AC100 SDL (with early cab and basket-top trolley) found in Colorado around twenty years ago by a Korg representative and acquired by Mitch Colby.
Serial number 225 - brown grille cloth, thick edged box, no corner protectors. In some published photos serial no. 169, which does not belong, is shown on top .
Detail of the capacitor network protecting the Midax horns from low frequencies. The same arrangement can be seen in the bottom shelf of one of the Beatles' cabs - photo taken 20th June 1965, Paris.
Over the years, various comments about the AC100 were posted on the the "Plexi Palace" Vox forum (now sadly gone), the most interesting being that the speakers in the cab - Celestion alnico T1088s - had been found (ie. following inspection) to have "November 1964 date codes".
The cab is unlikely therefore to have been ready for use before the second half of November / early December. One suspects that both it and its amp were shipped to Thomas Organ - Sepulveda rather than the branch in Niles (572 Golf Mills Shopping Center) - at some point relatively soon after that.
As far as the amp is concerned, November is perfectly in order in terms of production. AC100s in thick-edged boxes are first seen around this time - photo of 20th November on this page. But one has to temper this with the fact that such boxes were being illustrated as early as September:
"Melody Maker" magazine, 12th September, 1964. The dimensions given are a little peculiar though.
Four cabinets with basket-top trolleys had already been produced in August 1964 and a number presumably followed, September to December, though quite how many is impossible at present to say. Probably only a handful.
Serial number 225
Detail from a picture of the The Kinks from Getty Images - "Top of the Pops", either 5th or 19th November 1964. On stage a loan AC50, an AC100 SDL and AC100 bass. Both amps are thick edged, apparently without corner protectors, and clearly not no. 225. Are the cab and basket-topped trolley those of no. 225? Very close if not.
The four early cabs
"Melody Maker" magazine, 25th July, 1964. "The four loudest amplifiers in the beat world...."
The amps in question were the AC100 SDLs designed for John Lennon and George Harrison. Paul's AC100 bass had been issued to him in late December 1963.
Two were given to the Beatles in the first week of August '64. The other two were evidently retained initially for promotional purposes, being shown at the "British Musical Instrument Industries" Fair (24th-28th August) while the Beatles were on tour (18 August - 20th September).
On the Fair, which took place at the Russell Hotel in London, see this page.
Just to signal that the black panel amp that recently came to light is not serial number 254 but 263.
Serial number 262 was exported to the States early on doubtless by JMI. Serial number 263 has always been in the UK.
A great pic. by John Taylor of Mary Wells and Sounds Incorporated on the Arthur Howes tour, Edinburgh ABC, 19th October, 1964. Top of the bill were the Beatles (one of their amps visible in the background. At least five thin-edged AC80/100s were present on the tour.
Edinburgh ABC, 19th October, 1964. For other pics taken on the tour, see John's site.
A third AC80/100 used by the Stones (Bill Wyman). Its distinctive back panel - with speaker sockets of various types - is known from a shot taken at the Wimbledon Palais, 14th August, 1964.
Wimbledon Palais, 14th August.
It is clear from details below that this was the amp that Bill had at the 4th National Jazz and Blues Festival, Richmond, 7th August:
Part of the amps's distinctive panel glimpsed on the Richmond stage through Keith's AC30 stand.
A sliver of the front of the amp caught in a picture of Mick Jagger.
This amp is clearly not the one seen on stage at Longleat on 2nd August (Bill's second AC80/100) - compare the arrangement of the diamonds on the grille cloth.
Longleat, 2nd August, 1964 - Bill's second AC80/100.
Below, Essen, Grugahalle, 13th September, 1965. Is this Bill's third AC80/100 (as seen at Wimbledon and Richmond, above)? - the white banana plug sockets removed, the serial number plate moved to cover the holes, and the chassis as a whole now in a thick-edged box.
Note far right on the back panel the Bulgin mains connector, a distinctive feature of the Wimbledon/Richmond amp. Bulgins are not common on AC100s.
A quick shot of two Thomas Organ catalogues side by side: "King of the Beat" from late summer 1965, and "The British Sound", from early 1966.
In the "King of the Beat" catalogue the text in the panel reserved for the details of "Your Vox Dealer" reads:
Manufactured by Jennings Musical Industries Ltd, England
Distributed in the United States by the Thomas Organ Co., Sepulveda, California
In the "British Sound" catalogue the text is:
Manufactured expressly for Thomas Organ Co., Sepulveda, California
under license from Jennings Musical Industries Ltd, Dartford, Kent England.
Although the "British Sound" catalogue still contains a good number of items assembled in and shipped from England (the AC50, AC100 and so on), production was clearly in the process of being reformulated - guitars farmed out to Italy, and the new Thomas Organ solid state amplifiers built locally at Sepulveda.
Thomas also came to make its own arrangements for the production of the Treble, Bass and Distortion boosters. The earliest Treble units in the States - as represented in the "King of the Beat" catalogue - were probably English made, however.
English-made boosters always have a hypen: "Treble-Booster". The second generation boosters made in the States have none. Details are being collected on this page.
None figure in the "Million Dollar Sound" catalogue from late 1964 / 1965 - see this page.
Bill Wyman's second AC80/100 - brown grille cloth, V O X in individual letters - pictures from the concerts at Longleat House (2nd August, 1964) and Olympia, Paris (20th October, 1964).
Longleat, the stage apron. The thin-edged AC50 is the PA amp, two microphones feeding into it. Brian and Keith have an AC30 each. The AC80/100, with two Foundation Bass speaker cabs, is Bill's.
A detail of the AC80/100.
At right, the top of the amp, one guitar lead plugged in. Detail of picture from Getty Images.
Paris, Olympia, 20th October, 1964. Detail of picture from Getty Images.
Pictures of Bill's first amp - with BASS runner and moulded VOX logo - can be seen in the entry for 11th May, below, and on this page.