JMI Vox UL 705 Combo Amplifier

The UL705 control panel has a striking resemblance to the US Vox Pathfinder

A black and white image from the 1967 Vox catalog from Germany
showing a "Fender" style chrome plated tilt back leg on the UL705

Features: Vox UL705
Output Power 5 watts
Tube Complement 2-ECC83, 1 EL-84, and 1 EZ80 rectifier.
Channel One Two inputs, Volume, Treble,
Bass, Speed, Depth.
Speaker(s) One 8" VOX speaker by Celestion
Size 16.5" H x 16" W x 7.5" D
Accessories Cover, side stand and foot pedal.
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By late 1965, JMI Vox in the UK realized that the designs of the "AC Series" amps that had popularized their product line in the first half of the 1960s were starting to show their age. It was time for Vox to have a face lift.

Concurrently, Tom Jennings, the president of Vox in the UK, sold the US distribution rights for Vox to the Thomas Organ Company in California. This transfer of US distribution rights to Thomas Organ had an unintended consequence. The distribution contract inked between JMI and Thomas Organ also allowed Thomas to design and produce their own Vox products in the United States.

Unlike the tube based amplifiers that formed the early foundation for the Vox line, Thomas envisioned a Vox amp line that would eventually be transistorized or "solid state." Thomas hoped to retain the unique tonal response of the original British Vox amps but eliminate both the tubes and the costly hand wired circuitry. Thomas also hoped to simplify product development by developing a univeral preamp control module. This preamp could be combined with power amps of different RMS outputs to quickly develop a wide range of products for the US Vox catalog. While most of the Thomas Vox amp designs were solid state, a few of the earliest models from Thomas were based on tubes.

Anxious to validate their new designs, Thomas Organ invited Dick Denney, the lead amplifier engineer for Vox in the UK, to visit their research and development labs in California during the last week of October, 1965. Detailed notes regarding Denney's visit to Thomas Organ may be read in "The Vox Story" by Dick Denney and David Petersen (published by The Bold Strummer) on pages 141 - 146.

Dick Denney carried many new ideas for Vox back to England after his trip to the Thomas Labs in America. Not yet willing to make the jump to a totally transistorized amplifier, Denney conjured a revolutionary new design that would incorporate both solid state and tube circuitry. This led to the development of the first "hybrid" guitar amps by Vox in the UK. These hand wired amps would combine a tube powered output stage with a solid state preamp circuit. This hybrid concept would become the basis for the new Vox "UL (Ultra Linear) Series" amp line introduced in 1966. The UL 400 Series amps would be for bass and the UL 700 Series amps would be for guitar. Fifteen, thirty, sixty, and one hundred twenty watt versions of these hybrid solid state/tube amps would be produced.

Vox would also need a low priced model to replace the aging AC-4. This all tube model would be called the UL705. Dick Denney must have liked the V-1 Vox Pathfinder amp he saw at the Thomas Labs in California as it has many similarities to the UL705 model.

The Pathfinder and the UL705 control panels each featured five controls: Volume, Treble, Bass, Speed and Depth. A rectangular graphic enclosed the name of each control on both amps. Chrome plated control knobs and a red power indicator lamp complemented the black control panel on both the Pathfinder and the UL705. The controls were calibrated with the numerals "0" to "6" on both amps.

A comparison of the electronic schematics for the Pathfinder and UL705 amps reveals even more stunning similarities between the two amps. Each amp has two ECC83 (12AX7), one EL84, and one EZ80 tube. Viewing the schematics side by side, component to component, it becomes obvious that these amps are virtually identical electronically.

Like the Pathfinder, the UL705 had a tremolo circuit with panel mounted speed and depth controls. A single button egg shaped foot switch remotely controlled the effect. The cable for the foot switch was hard wired to the chassis.

The UL705 was equipped with one 10 inch, 15 ohm CT7721 speaker made by Celestion in the UK. The US Vox Pathfinder was equipped with one 8 inch "Gold Bulldog" speaker made by Oxford in Chicago IL.

A chrome plated tubular tilt back leg was offered briefly on the UL705. An image from the 1967 Vox catalog from Germany shows this feature at left.

The UL705, along with all the other UL400 and UL700 Series amplifiers, had trapezoidally shaped injection molded plastic Vox logos with white letters. This is a departure from the gold letters used on Vox amp logos previously.

The JMI 1966 price list addenda indicated that the UL705 amplifier retailed for £38. By comparison, an AC-4 retailed for £26 in 1965, a 33% rise in price.


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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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