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VOX
Instruments currently produced in Japan since 2008. Previously produced in England between 1961 and 1964, and in Italy for the U.S. market between the mid-1960s and 1969 or 1970. After Italian production ceased, some solid body models were built in Japan during the 1980s. Distributed in the U.S. by Vox USA/Korg USA in Melville, NY.
The Vox company, perhaps better known for its amplifier design, also built fashionable and functional guitars and basses during the 1960s. While the early guitar models produced tended to be entry level instruments based on popular Fender designs, later models expressed an originality that fit in well with the 1960s British "Pop" music explosion.
Thomas Walter Jennings was born in London, England on February 28, 1917. During World War II he saw action with the English Royal Engineers, and received a medical discharge in 1941. By 1944 Jennings had a part-time business dealing in secondhand accordions and other musical instruments, and by 1946 had set up shop. Along with fellow musical acquaintance Derek Underdown, Jennings produced the Univox organ in 1951 and formed the Jennings Organ Company not long after. Based on the success of his organs for several years, Jennings teamed up with engineer Dick Denney to build amplifiers under the Vox trademark. In mid-1958, Jennings reincorporated the company as Jennings Musical Instruments (JMI). When rock ´n roll hit Britain, Vox amps were there.
The first Vox guitars were built in 1960 and introduced in 1961. Early models like the Stroller or Clubman were entry level instruments based on Fender designs. Quality improved a great deal when Vox brought in necks built by EKO in Recanati, Italy. Tom Jennings then assembled a three engineer design team of Bob Pearson (quality and materials control), Mike Bennett (prototypes), and Ken Wilson (styling design) to develop a more original-looking instrument. The resulting 5-sided Phantom in late 1962 featured a Strat-ish three single coil pickup selection and a Bigsby-derived tremolo. Further Phantom models were developed in 1963, as well as the Mark series ("teardrop" body shapes). When production moved to Italy in 1964, Vox guitars were built by EKO. Vox also offered a 12-string Mandoguitar, and a double cutaway 12-string called the Bouzouki. A number of hollowbody models such as the Lynx, Bobcat, and Cougar were made by Crucianelli in Italy during the mid-1960s.
In order to generate funds for the company, Jennings sold a substantial amount of shares to the Royston group in 1964, and later that same year the entire shareholding was acquired. JMI was officially renamed Vox Sound Ltd. Thomas Organ was already supplying JMI for organs in the British market, and was looking for a reciprocal agreement to import Vox amps to the U.S. market. However, Joe Benaron (president of Thomas Organ) was really into transistors, and began supplementing the British tube models with solid-state amps developed at Thomas laboratories at Sepulveda, California.
The Vox line began the slump that befell other corporate-run music instrument producers during the late 1960s and 1970s. Soon Japanese-built models appeared on the market with Voxton on their headstock, including a Les Paul- derived issued in 1970. Later, the Vox name appeared on a series of original design solid body guitars (24 series, 25 series, White Shadows) during the early to mid-1980s. These were produced by Aria Pro in Japan. Distribution in the U.S. during this time period was through the Pennino Music Company of Westminster, California; and Allstate Music Supply Corporation of Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Vox trademark was later purchased by the Korg company (Korg USA in the American Market). Korg USA distributes Korg synthesizers, Marshall Amplifiers, Parker guitars, and the new line of Vox amplifiers in the U.S. market. In 1998, Korg/Vox debuted 5 "new" electric guitar models which feature designs based on previous Vox models.
In 2008, Vox introduced the Virage Series of semi-hollow electric guitars that are built in Japan.
The Editor wishes to thank Mr. Jim Rhoads of Rhoads Music for his assistance in upgrading this section. For even more information regarding Vox instruments, visit his website at www.voxshowroom.com.

From Blue Book Publications:


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