Hillman Guitar No. 6
Vox Tempest XII V230
Electric 12-String
  Serial No.  300068

Vox Tempest 12-String Guitar
I had been a great fan of music from England since the '50s. Some of the first albums I had laboured over in my quest to unravel the mysteries of guitar were Lonnie Donegan recordings. In fact this was were I had learned my first blues riffs. Donegan was the leading exponent of British Skiffle music to which most of the musicians of the "British Invasion" period - including the Beatles - acknowledge as a major influence in getting them interested in playing in bands. Donegan had, in turn, developed his style by playing banjo in Chris Barber's trad (dixieland) jazz band through which he gradually spun off a solo career singing American black folk and blues songs. He pored over all the old American records he could find. adapting the material to his style, and soon found himself in the forefront of the Skiffle craze.

While tracking down all the Lonnie Donegan records I could find, either in obscure record shops or through importing, I soon came in contact with records by Cliff Richard and the Shadows. My earliest influences then, included blues and folk via an English skiffle group, and guitar instrumentals via the backup band to England's Elvis. I was primed and ready then for the '60s invasion of the Beatles, Stones, Animals, et al.

This in turn, led to a fascination with Vox amps and guitars as they always seemed present whenever these bands made TV or photo appearances. The first Vox purchase I made was a Wah Wah Pedal which I added to my chain of effects devices. My second experience with Vox followed soon after when I used a borrowed Vox amp for a teen dance at the Shilo Army base. I wasn't too impressed with this particular model as it overheated so much I was afraid it would blow up. It made me appreciate my trusty Fender Twin Reverb all the more. I was still intrigued with the very unusual Vox guitars, however.

The Brandon Musical Store in downtown Brandon had always been a favourite place to visit. They sold guitars and amps and records: my first LP, ELVIS, came from there as well as my second amp, a Harmony. Sadly, all good things come to an end, and it was while perusing their stock during their sell-out sale that I came across a Vox electric 12-string complete with tremolo bar and string damper (mmm... why? on a 12-string). The fact that I had never played a 12 string made this red beauty all the more desirable . . . despite the fact that it was in one of their more conservative Strat-style shapes.

Even though Sue-On and I were on a tight college student enforced budget, after reporting the finding of this must-have treasure to my beloved Nanny, she agreed that it was something I HAD to have in my steadily growing collection of guitars. Despite the predictions I had made that this instrument would be invaluable on stage, we found it of limited use in our trio. It played well but it proved to be too much of a hassle to take along and keep tuned for just a few featured numbers on the crowed pub stages.

The Vox Tempest XII then, has remained a bit of a curiosity piece, and has spent most of its life hanging on the wall of our music studio, to be brought down for the occasional special occasion. Its last sojourn from the hook was when it guested on a few tracks of The Global Trucking Company's second CD.


12-string contoured body; 
6 individual string bridges; 
quick-flick  3-position pickup switch; 
adjustable master bridge channel; 
ebony fingerboard; 
sunburst or popular colours.
2-way string damper.

"Made in Italy by Vox"

Text and picture reproduced from 1967 Vox Catalogue

Vox is one of the most complex and mis-understood manufacturers in musical  instrument history - and the story still continues today. Vox, at one time was one of the largest musical instrument companies in the world and their products were utilized by almost every major music group during the nineteen sixties and on to the present. From The Shadows to Lawrence Welk, The Beatles to U2, Vox is the "voice" of generations of musicians worldwide.

The first Vox guitars were produced in 1961 and it did not  take long for Vox to make its mark in guitar history. In late 1962, Vox introduced what seemed at the time to be a totally unconventional instrument, the Vox Phantom Guitar. With its unusual offset trapezoid  body, the Phantom soon became the chosen instrument of many groups of the era, including the Hollies and the Dave Clark Five.

Soon after, a guitar that was originally called the Phantom mkIII was introduced, but  because of its rounder “lute” like shape, it and later variants were often referred to as the Teardrop.

The most famous user of this guitar was Rolling Stones  founder, Brain Jones who made use of it on many recordings  sessions and shows in the mid 1960’s. Never afraid of  innovation, Vox then went on to produce the Mando guitar, a  short scale 12 string model used by George Harrison.

These guitars made music history, but there is no need to invent time travel to own one. They are available today, hand crafted and built in the USA, made from North American hardwoods with maple necks and rosewood fretboards. The pickups have alnico magnets for a unique vintage sound. The pickup covers, pickup rings, knobs, and switch  plates, have been remanufactured for the original look of the highly-collectable Vox guitars but with many improvements.

Official Vox Website

Vox Chronicles - The story of Vox
Ref: Official Vox Website
Vox has a heritage that no other music company can boast. Throughout the  1960’s it was one of the greatest innovators of music technology and the name  Vox was associated with many top and new artists of the decade such as The  Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Shadows. Forty years later, after six  changes of ownership, it is still surviving in what has become one of the worlds  most competitive markets. Now there is a whole new  generation of Vox users,  many because of their aspirations and respect for the many artists who rely on  Vox for their sound. So here is a brief overview of the history of Vox and how it  became one of the best-know amplifier brand.

 CHAPTER ONE - The Begining and the AC30

 February 28th 1917 - Thomas Walter Jennings was born in Hackney, London.

 1941 - Tom Jennings receives a medical discharge from the Royal Engineers during  World War II and takes a job with a munitions plant, Vickers in Kent. Here he meets Dick  Denney, another amateur musician who played guitar and also had keen interest in radio  and electronics.

 1944 - An accomplished accordion player, Tom Jennings opens up a part-time business  trading in second hand instruments, mainly accordions.

 1945 - At the end of the war Jennings and Denney went their separate ways and  Jennings made his business a full-time occupation.

 1946 - Tom Jennings acquired his first commercial premises and an office at 119  Dartford Road, Dartford, Kent. The business started to import accordions for sale along side other musical items.

 Late 1940's - Jennings produces an electronic single voice keyboard\organ type  instrument called the Univox. This eventually went on to sell well and provided funds for  Jennings to expand.

 1951 - Tom Jennings forms The Jennings Organ Company.

 1956 - With the Rock-n-Roll revolution underway, Jennings started to modify the amplifier  section from his electronic organs for the electric guitar. But with limited success, the  project was shelved.

 Meanwhile, convalescing after a serious illness, Dick Denney had continued to  experiment with guitars and amplification and had made a 15-watt unit with a 12-inch  speaker. This had an effective sound for guitar and later a tremolo unit was added.

 After building a couple of these amplifiers, a colleague took one into Tom Jennings’ shop  and days later Tom Jennings was offering Dick Denney a job.

 1957 - After Dick Denney took up the position of chief engineer, Jennings Musical  Instruments (JMI) was incorporated with Tom Jennings and his wife as directors.

 Jan 1958 - JMI produce a 15-watt guitar amplifier under the brand name VOX. It was  called the AC15 as is was an amplifier and speaker combined with 15 watts output.

 1958 - Tom Jennings leased shop premises at 100 Charing Cross Road, London with a  view to sell Fender guitars and eventually Vox amplifiers. With the Rock-n-Roll scene  becoming stronger, Cliff Richard’s backing band, The Shadows, acquire AC15s and  people started to notice the clean guitar sound. Soon, other new artists were using the  Vox AC15, Bert Weedon, The checkmates with singer Emile Ford, The Migil Five and  the Joe Loss Band.

 Late 1958 - Vox produce the AC4 and the AC10. The AC4 was a 4-watt practice  amplifier with an 8-inch speaker. The AC10 was a 10-watt cut down AC15 with a 10-inch  speaker.

 With the arrival of the 60-Watt Fender Twin amplifier from the USA and bigger venues  being used for performances, there was now a need for a louder Vox amplifier. Reluctant  to use two AC15s in tandem, it was suggested to "twin" an AC15. Finding that the EL84  valve used in the AC15 gave superior result to the more powerful EL34 valve, it was  decided to use four EL84 valves instead of just two EL34s which was more usual for  amplifiers with around a 50 Watt output. The mains transformer and rectifier valve were  upgraded in the power supply and a bigger 30 watt output transformer used. A single  Goodmans Audiom 80 speaker was fitted. The results were not ideal for the guitar and  reluctantly the size of the amplifier was increased to accommodate two 15 watt  Goodmans speakers. The earlier problems were now gone and the AC30 was born.  Officially the AC30/4 because it had four inputs, two for the normal channel and two for  the Vib/Trem channel or “Vibravox” channel, as it was known.

 Late 1959 - The Shadows take delivery of three AC30s. Not totally satisfied with the  results of either the Goodmans Audiom or Celestion G12 speakers, a new speaker was  developed by Celestion using an alnico magnet and painted blue, it became known as  the Vox "Blue" speaker and became instrumental in the Vox sound and its success.

 July 1960 - The Shadows reach number one with their first instrumental, Apache. With  the sound of the AC30 clearly noticeable, Vox's name was soon to become known as the  best of British amplifiers.

 Late 1960 - The AC30 was revised. By using the more reliable ECC83 (12AX7) valve in  the pre-amp stage a third channel was added. This was the “Brilliant” channel and had its  own pair of inputs increasing the total number of inputs to six. This new model was  renamed the AC30/6. There was a slight difference in sound noticed by some players  who felt that the AC30/6 did not have the same clarity, so in 1961 a extra piece of  circuitry that could be added to an AC30 was offered by Vox as an option to new and  existing AC30s. This unit was the “Brilliance” unit and was in the Vox catalogue as the  “Top Boost” unit. It added an extra panel on the back with a bass and treble control for  the Brilliance channel.

CHAPTER TWO - The 60's and 70's

 1961- The first Vox guitar were now on sale. The Stroller and the Clubman. These were low cost budget models made for Vox by a furniture maker, and were comparable to  other similar models available at the time.

 1962 - Not content with making low cost guitars that looked like American imports, Tom  Jennings decided that a more original design of higher quality was needed. After  teaming up with Italian guitar maker, EKO to provide the necks, one of Vox’ most famous  guitars appeared in late 1962. With a trapezoid shaped body it was named the  Vox  Phantom. Also in 1962, AC30’s started to be made covered in black vinyl as well as the  usual blonde vinyl and the Beatles start a long a prosperous association with Vox taking delivery of some new AC30s.

 1963 - The Phantom was now very successful and used by many top artist of the era  including the Dave Clark Five and the Hollies.

 Late 1963 - Vox produce the Phantom Mk III guitar. Completely different in shape to the  early Phantom guitar, this rounder, lute shaped instrument went on to become Vox’s  most famous guitar shape. Soon it was simply known as the “Teardrop” guitar. The very  first hand built example was used and made famous by Rolling Stones founder member  Brian Jones. Semi-acoustic guitars were also very fashionable and the Vox Victor was  made in the style of a Hofner and the Vox Verithin that was more like a Gibson 335. The  black coloured AC30s were now very popular and soon the blonde coloured ones were  phased out and a new Vox amplifier arrives, the AC50.

1964 - The success of the Vox guitars meant that the range would expand. And soon  there were not only 6-string lead and 4-string bass version of the Phantom and Teardrop but 12-string versions. Also by 1964 Vox were  making a short scale 12-string guitar know as the “Mando” guitar because of its mandolin style attributes.

 A major part of the Jennings Musical Industries business at the time was still electronic  organs. Earlier in 1962 the Continental I organ was launched but because of the strong  Vox name it was marketed as the Vox Continental I organ. The technology from this  organ led to one of Vox’s really true innovations of the time. The Vox Guitar Organ was a  guitar that contained the oscillator circuits from the Vox continental organ. By holding  down the strings, the organ tone would sound and could be combined with the sound of the guitar.

 Dick Denny continued to be creative and soon the Vox catalogue contained the Vox  Echo machine, Vox Radio Microphone and the first Vox transistor amplifier, the T60. Also, the Top Boost add-on for AC30’s was now integrated into the design and construction of the AC30, and it became known as the AC30 Top Boost.

 The sound of the Vox Continental found more success with The Animals reaching  number one with “The House of the Rising Sun”. Also at the same time is could be heard on Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” and the Zombies’ “She’s Not There”.

 Other Vox models of note to appear in 1964 were the Foundation bass speaker cabinet  and the AC100 head that was designed to be used with the new Beatle speaker cabinet.

 In need of further financial investment and also with a fear that the golden age of pop  maybe short lived, Tom Jennings looked for perspective buyers for his business. During 1964 the Royston Group acquired a substantial shareholding.

 With the success of the Beatles in the U.S. and subsequent demand for Vox products by U.S. importers, a deal was made with the Thomas Organ Company to import Vox into the USA. More premises were now needed and manufacturing works in West Street,  Erith were made available with the help of the Royston Group.

 1965 - The Thomas Organ Company began to supplement the imported Vox valve amplifiers from the UK with their own U.S. made transistor models design by their laboratories at La Sepulvenda. The Super Beatle amplifier appears with a host of features including built-in tuning tones and a Hammond licensed reverb effect.

 The Thomas Organ Company pay a large licensing fee to the Royston Group and Jennings loses control of Vox in the U.S. All U.S. amplifier models soon become transistors based.

 1966 - The Thomas Organ company expanded the range and the 4 and 7 series amplifiers were added to the catalogue.

 1967 - With Dick Denney’s help a range of UK solid-state amplifier were soon on sale in the UK. The Conqueror (30 watts), Defiant (50 watts) and Supreme (100 watts) were three lead guitar models that had unique, at the time, features like distortion, tremolo and a Vox reverb. Also, three bass model were added, The Dynamic (30 watts), Foundation  (50 watts) and Super Foundation (100 watts).

1967 - Due the cost of the Alnico magnets, the Vox Blue speaker was phased out and replaced by cheaper ceramic magnet speakers. With a complete catalogue of transistor amplifiers, the great valve Vs transistor debate started amongst guitarist and with most favouring valves, Vox started to loose some reputation for sound quality. Not helped by the advent of Hard Rock with legends such as Hendrix and Cream favouring amplifier made by the competition.

 The Wah-Wah made its first appearance. Designed to emulate the sound of a muted trumpet the Vox Wah-Wah pedal was one of Vox’s most innovative and successful products.

 With the Royston Groups take over of Vox and the Thomas Organ Company’s control of Vox’s U.S. operation, Tom Jennings resigns.

1968 - The Bill Wyman bass arrives and the Royston Group invest heavily in other areas outside the music industry, but these investments did not pay off and some major contracts were lost.

 1969 - Royston Industries go into liquidation and are put into the hand of the receiver. After nine mouths of uncertainty the Corinthian Bank becomes the new owner of Vox. The name changes to Vox Sound Ltd.

 1970 - Vox Sound Ltd is sold to a consortium comprising of John Birch and George Stowe of Stolec Electronics and the Schroder Bank. Manufacturing was moved to Hastings where a few organs and the AC30 were made. The AC30 now included reverb and was manufactured using a printed circuit board (PCB). The valve rectifier was also removed and replaced by a solid state device.

 1972 - CBS Arbiter, the UK Fender importer make an offer to buy Vox Sound Ltd. Accepted by George Stowe, Vox has a new owner for the forth time. Production moved to the Dallas Arbiter factory in Shoeburyness where their own version of the AC30 was made. In a cost cutting exercise some features were change much to the annoyance of AC30 fans. The cabinet was now made out of particleboard as opposed to plywood making it heavier and weaker.

 In 1972 Vox had the good fortune to team up with Brian May of the group Queen. Combining multiple AC30 with a unique playing style, the image of Brian May backed by a stack of AC30s provided excellent and much needed promotion for Vox.

 Arbiter reintroduces the Vox organs with the re-issue of the Continental I and Continental 300. A new version of the AC50 was made and a new amp the V100 was made but short-lived.

 A mini AC30 was made that had a 2.5-watt output and was battery powered. Soon a mains option was added and the Vox mains/Battery amplifier was named the Escort.

 1975 - The Vox Escort 30 appears a 30 watt transistor amplifier cosmetically styled like an AC30. By now a Solid State version of the AC30 was available, the AC30SS and although it did not sound like a real valve AC30 at the time it was good valve for money.

 1978 - CBS-Arbiter had by now had a fair attempt at reviving the Vox brand, and new models like the AC120 amp, Italian made pedals including a Wah-Wah and the tone bender had appeared. But with live music declining and strong competition from other music companies a decision was made to sell Vox Sound Ltd.


 1979 - Rose Morris had been the distributor of Marshall amplifiers throughout the 1970s but it became apparent that Marshall wished to do the job themselves and so Rose Morris started looking for another amplification line to run. Rose Morris soon became the new owner of Vox Sound Ltd, which became simply Vox Ltd. The first great achievement that Rose Morris made was to buy back the rights to Vox from the Thomas Organ Company. Rose Morris had no manufacturing facilities so it acquired the exclusive use of the Arbiter plant at Shoeburyness.

 1980 - Much work was needed to be done to revive the Vox name and there were many manufacturing difficulties to overcome, but at the 1980 British Music Fair the Vox V125 was launched. This was basically a modified AC120 in the form of a head driving open back two by twelve-inch speaker cabinets. Soon other models appeared, a V125 Bass model, A V15 valve combo and transistor Escort 50 Lead and Escort 50 Bass. Utilising a modified V125 chassis a combo known as the Climax was made.

 1982 - Vox recommence production of guitars. Made in the Far East the “Custom” and “Standard” guitar ranges provide some of the best quality guitars to bear the Vox name. Later in 1985 the Korean built White Shadow guitar made and appearance and replaced the Standard and Custom range.

 1984 - With the help of outside contracted design and manufacture, the Vox Venue series started production. The Venue series soon comprised of 50 and 100 Watt combo amps for guitar and bass and keyboards. Also a GT100 model with a high frequency horn for the acoustic guitar was made. A short-lived P.A. venue based design was introduced giving two models, the Venue PA 120 and PA 200. The Venue range was well  received and used by groups of the 1980s including the Style Council and the Smiths.

 1985 - The AC30 underwent a re-design in order to reduce it production costs. With out this there was a strong feeling that it should be dropped from the catalogue. The design was made using one PCB and a reduced gain design was employed to overcome problems with lack of good quality valves and the hum problems associated with a single PCB design. The contractors Audio Factor who also made the Venue range carried out manufacture.

 1986 - The venue range had the Dual 100 added which employed a twin switched channel to compete with the successful sessionette amps that were a strong competitor at the time. A new valve model was introduced the Concert 501 and the Concert 100 head and 4 x12 inch speaker cabs which sold well in the export market and retained some of the Vox looks.

 1988 - Rose Morris decided that the way forward was to acquire its own manufacturing facility and started looking at a company called Precision Electronics who soon designed and built a new transistor range for Vox called the Q-Series and take over the manufacturing of the AC30.

 1989 - Rose Morris buy a large section of the P.E plant and hire a small team to make Vox amplifiers.

 1990 - The AC30 underwent some change but this time for the better. An attempt was made to get it back to sound like an original early 60s AC30 and a limited production run of 1000 were made and branded the AC30 Limited Edition. Each had a brass plate on the back with the unit’s number. The Limited Edition was even endorsed by Dick Denney who for the first time in 23 years had some association with Vox.

 1991 - Because of the success of the AC30 Ltd Edition a new model AC30 based on the same design was introduced but with Reverb and also available as an AC30 Head. This model was known as the AC30 Vintage. Both the Limited Edition and the Vintage were fitted as standard with G12M Celestion speakers but as an option, a Vox Blue speaker model was available. But Celestion did not make this Blue speaker and although it was a good attempt at recreating the oriental Vox speaker there were noticeable differences when compared to the Original Celestion built Blue speakers.

 1992 - Time for change again and the recession of the late 1980’s and slow economic recovery in the early 1990 had left Rose Morris’s directors looking for a buyer for Rose Morris. At the time Rose Morris distributed many prestigious lines including the successful Korg keyboard range and in the summer of 1992 Rose Morris chairman, Peter Clark announced that the business had been transferred to the ownership of Korg inc.

 The name Rose Morris soon disappears and the new company becomes Korg UK LTD. The only reference to the name Rose Morris that still exists is in the name of a music shop in Denmark Street, London. The last of a chain of music retail outlets once owned by Rose Morris, the shop was sold soon after Korg UK LTD came into existence but retained the Rose Morris name as it was always a well known music landmark in London's West End.

 1993 - Vox effectively was under the new ownership of Korg UK LTD and with the backing of Korg inc in Japan and Korg USA, things started to look better for Vox. For financial reasons the small Vox manufacturing facility at Wellingborough was shut as there was now an opportunity for a local company to manufacture the AC30. Realising that it was the original AC30 that guitarists wanted, the AC30 was put back to as near as an original design as could be achieved within today’s manufacturing costs. Two major factors to obtaining the sound of the 1960’s AC30 were put back into the design. The GZ34 valve rectifier, not used since the late 1960’s was reintroduced and although a primitive component by today’s standard it plays a major part in obtaining the real AC30 sound. Second, the original Blue Alnico speakers were reintroduce and built for Vox once more by Celestion. It was not only the sound of the original AC30 that was achieved, but cosmetically this new AC30 looked much like the original model with the reintroduction of the basketweave vinyl and vintage fawn colour diamond fret cloth. The result is the AC30 that you can buy today, with little change from the original, this amplifier proves that Tom Jennings and Dick Denney were right first time.

 1993 also saw the reintroduction of the classic Vox Wah-Wah pedal made to the original specification. This was shortly followed by a limited production run of the Vox Tone Bender germanium transistor fuzz box.

 1996 - The new AC15 arrives. A new version of the AC15 is made available, based on the original AC15 but with more practical features for the modern user like reverb, master volume and tone controls.

 1997 - The AC1 desktop battery amplifier is made. A 1-watt, twin 2-inch speaker, mini amplifier in the style of an AC30.

 1998 - Two new pedal arrive, the Valve-Tone and the Distortion-Booster.

 1999 - The Vox Pathfinder 15 practice amplifier makes is debuted and is well received at the Frankfurt Musik Messe. The Vox Cambridge range is developed for release in late 1999.

 2000 - The new Vox Cambridge 30 Reverb & Cambridge 30 Reverb Twin amplifiers arrive featuring a two channel valve driven preamp. Frankfurt Musik Messe sees the launch of the new Vox T-25 bass guitar combo.

 The Future - Wait and see!

VOXVox 1965 King of the Beat Catalog
Vox 1968 32 Page Catalog
Vox Wah on the set of a mid-'60s TV Show
Vox Wah on TV set
Vox Combo Organ
Vox Wah WahVox AC30 Combo Amplifier with Vox Blue Speakers
Aerosmith - The Beatles - The Dave Clark Five - Paul Revere and the Raiders - The Disturbed - The Animals - Jerry and the Pacemakers - Peter and Gordon - Freddy and the Dreamers - Crowded House - The Walker Brothers - The Doors - Manfred Man - Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas - The Yardbirds - The Kinks - Dino, Desi and Billy - The Searchers - The Standells - The Hollies - Dusty Springfield - Long John Baldry - Status Quo - Sir Douglas Quintet - Donavon - Hermans Hermits - P.J. Proby - Petula Clark - Plastics Hi-Fi - Roy Orbison - The Rising Suns - The Rolling Stones - Danny Warner & His Band - Stone Temple Pilots - The Palace Guard - The Guilloteens - The Fortune - Brian Adams - The Velvet Underground - The Gentrys - James Brown & the Flames - Ike & Tine Turner - R.E.M. - The Five Americans - Led Zeppelin - Bob Kuban - The T-Bones - The Monkees - The Moody Blues - Sounds Incorpoarted - Bill Haley & The Comets - The Rising Sons - Swinging Blue Jeans - The Zombies - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - The Pretty Things - Wayne Fontana - The Mersey Beats - The Wispers - Jimmy Page - The Movement - Queen - U2 - The Shadows - The Tornados - The Echoes - The Roulettes - Gene Vincent - The Who - Brian May - Laurence Welk 

Vox at Phantom Guitars
New Vox Guitars
Official Vox Website
Vintage Guitar Articles
Vox Showroom

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