The History of Vox Guitars

Jennings Musical Instruments Ltd. began distributing musical instruments in the early  1950s, but by the late 1950s, JMI (which by this time was called Jennings Musical Industries) had decided to market  Vox electric guitars, the first of which were budget model guitars built by Guyatone of Japan(based on their LG-40, Lg-50, and Lg-60 guitars and branded Vox, and then built in the U.K.  by Stuart Darkins & Co.,  factory that produced furniture.

Then in early 1961, Jennings made Vox guitars at the Jennings factory in Dartford, Kent. The first new high-end Vox models were the Escort and Consort.  Jennings also commisioned the asymmetrically  shaped Vox Phantom .

  By early 1964, the British music scene had erupted  with bands like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Dave Clark Five, and the Hollies—all of whom used Vox amplifiers. Jennings started to present Vox guitars to all these groups and this resulted in a huge demand for the instruments. To pace with the request for more Vox guitars, Jennings contracted  with Italian guitar companies such as Welson, Crucianelli, and EKO to make guitars bearing the Vox name.

    Jennings made a U.S. distribution deal with the Thomas Organ Company of California.  EKO  started reproducing copies of the Crucianelli models for Vox, as well as many of the British models. The bulk of these Italian-made Vox guitars were shipped to Thomas Organ for the U.S. market.

British production of Vox guitars continued  on a much lesser scale. British-made Vox guitars have 5 sequential serial numbers stamped on the back of the headstock (and later on the neck plates), while the Italian-made guitars have  6 serial numbers that is  stamped onto the neck plates. The Italian made guitars have a 24 3/4″ scale, and the British made have a 25 1/2″ scale. The British electronics with alnico magnets are far superior to the Italian ceramic pickupsVox most popular model was the Phantom MarkIII(as played by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, which Jennings said was inspired by a lute.  The early Phantom MarkIII have the truss rod adjustment at the heel, and the later ones(then called the “Mark VI”) have their adjustment on the headstock with a distinctive metal truss rod cover.

      Another Stone with a Vox instrument was Bill Wyman. Vox introduced the semi-hollow teardrop Bill Wyman Signature Model bass in 1966. Various versions of the Vox Wyman bass were produced in both the U.K. and in Italy.

     Jennings’  decision to sell a controlling interest in JMI to Royston Industries to raise capital to expand lead to his parting with his Vox Company in late 1967. Production of Vox guitars stopped in the U.K. by late 1967. Italian guitar production, which was controlled by Thomas Organ, continued until late 1969. By the early ’70s, Vox was no longer making guitars, and the remainder of dealer inventories was sold.