The Vox Conqueror Amplifier 1967 - 1969

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The Conqueror amplifier was one of a series of five new
Vox solid state guitar amplifiers introduced by Jennings Musical Instruments in the summer of 1967. Other models in this series of guitar amps included the Supreme, Defiant, Virtuoso and Traveller. Three solid state bass amplifiers were also introduced: the Dynamic Bass, Foundation Bass and the Super Foundation Bass.

The two channel Conqueror head was rated at 30 watts RMS. It replaced the UL 730 "hybrid" amp introduced by Vox just one year earlier. I suspect that Vox also intended the Conqueror to eventually replace the tube AC-30 amp, but the demand for the AC-30 was adequate to continue production.

It isn't difficult to see how much influence Thomas Organ in America was exerting on amplifier design by 1967. The control panel graphical layout, onboard effects, logos, modular solid state design, multi button foot switch and even the shape of the Conqueror's control knobs were inspired by Thomas.

The Conqueror was the most popular of the solid state amps introduced by Vox in 1967 and was very similar to the "Buckingham" amplifier sold by Thomas Vox in America.

The Conqueror survived two bankruptcies at Vox. The first was in 1967 - 68 under the ownership of Royston Industries and the second was in 1969 under Vox Sound Equipment Limited. The Conqueror was featured in the 1967 - 68 Vox catalog and the 1969 Vox catalog.

The two channel modular preamp used in the Conqueror was identical to the preamp found in the Supreme, Defiant and Virtuoso amps and very similar to the design and features of the US Vox Buckingham. The Normal channel on the Conqueror had Volume, Treble, Bass, Tremolo Speed and Tremolo Depth controls along with a "Top Boost" switch. The Brilliant channel had Volume, Treble, Bass, MRB Effects and Distortion Sustain controls along with an "MRB" switch. Like the Buckingham, reverb was assignable to either channel.

Unlike the Buckingham which was powered by two DT-110 germanium power transistors, the modular 30 watt Conqueror power amp used two 2N3055 silicon power transistors and one 2N3054 silicon predriver transistor. JMI refrained from using germanium output transistors in this series due to the faliures they had suffered several years earlier with the T.60 and LW30 amplifiers.

Following the designs of Thomas Organ engineer Sava Jacobsen, JMI included an interstage transformer to isolate the Conqueror power amp from electronic surges or faults originating in the preamp.

The earliest versions of the Conqueror used two 12" Celestion silver alnico loud speakers. Due to escalating costs, the silver alnicos were phased out in favor of ceramic magnet speakers sourced from Fane or Celestion.

The Conqueror abandoned the full AC-30 Super Twin style swivel trolley for a new style of swivel side stand. The upper end of these new side stands were formed to create a hand hold.

As the amp head no longer sat on top of a trolley and the head would slide and fall when tilting the speaker, Vox devised a locking mechanism to secure the head to the speaker cabinet. Two removable thumb screws fastened retaining clips to the top of the speaker enclosure. These clips slipped through brackets on the bottom of the head to lock the head in place (see a photo of these brackets in photo at left).

The cabinet for the Conqueror head was slightly smaller than the Defiant or Supreme amps. There is no explanation why this was the case as the modular preamp and power amp chassis for all three of these amps were identical in size. The tops of the earliest versions of Conqueror head cabinets were 3/4" baltic birch while the sides and bottom were 1/2" baltic birch. The cabs were covered in traditional Vox basket weave vinyl with gold tadpole piping accents. Vox grill was displayed on both the front and rear panels of the amp head. The heads also featured eight two pin corners, plastic Rean pancake style feet and one Vox logo handle. Early versions of this amp used two perforated steel vent grills finished in gray paint. Later versions replaced the steel vents with rectangular plastic vents.

The name plates on the earliest versions of the JMI Conqueror amplifier were nearly identical to the horizontal and vertical logos designed by Thomas Organ for use on their US produced amps. Both the UK and US versions of this name plate were fastened to the cabinet by two plastic pins that were molded to the back of the logo. After these plastic pins went through mounting holes drilled in the cabinet, a soldering iron was used to "mushroom" the ends to the pins to secure the name plate.

Later versions of the Conqueror added the words "Solid State" to both the horizontal and vertical Vox name plates. The horizontal logo was also modified to have rounded corners. Vox amps from Thomas Organ installed a separate "Solid State" logo in the lower right corner of their transistorized amp heads. JMI could not install such a separate Thomas style "Solid State" logo in this location as a "Conqueror" model flag was fastened there instead. This model flag was also added to the lower right corner of some Conqueror speaker cabinets.

A cast aluminum three button foot switch was included with the Conqueror, Defiant and Supreme amplifiers along with the earliest version of the Virtuoso. It allowed for the remote operation of the tremolo, reverb, and distortion circuits.

Jennings originally developed the housing for this foot switch for the 700 series amplifiers. It is important to note that the foot switch wiring scheme for the 700 series amplifiers is not compatible with the solid state amplifiers.

The Hello Goodbye Video
Forty years later, a debate rages on regarding the amps standing behind the Beatles at the Saville Theater for the Hello, Goodbye video. I offer my opinion.

Paul is probably standing in front of a 400 series bass head. The face plate along with the number of controls supports this. The speaker cabs standing behind Paul, George and John are probably either UL 730 or UL 430 cabinets. See the white letters on the Vox logos on those cabs? Only the UL Series logos had these white letters.

It is really quite difficult to know for certain if the heads behind George and John are Conquerors or Defiants. I have heard as many arguments for one as the other. Perhaps someday someone will unearth a photo that will clearly show the model "flag" on the amp head. Until then, it's still a guess.

It is my understanding that these amps were brought from the Abbey Road studio to act as props. And after all, the Beatles weren't actually playing the amps in the video anyway.



The VOX Showroom!

Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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