The Vox Supreme Amplifier 1967 - 1972

JMI Era Vox Supreme Amplifier with Trolley Style Swivel Stand - 1967

The Supreme was one of a series of five new Vox solid-state guitar amplifiers introduced by Jennings Musical Instruments (JMI) in the summer of 1967. Other models in this series of
guitar amps included the Defiant, Conqueror, Virtuoso and Traveller. The new range also included three solid-state bass amplifiers; the Dynamic Bass, Foundation Bass and the Super Foundation Bass.

Modular Design - This new range of JMI Vox solid-state guitar amps incorporated a new modular design philosophy developed by Thomas Organ for Vox amp production in America.

Thomas developed a three-channel solid state preamp module in 1966 for guitar and a second modular two-channel solid-state preamp module for bass guitar. Thomas also designed three solid-state power amp modules rated at 30, 60 or 120 watt RMS. Thomas Organ used combinations of these five modules to create much of the US Vox amp line, including the Super Beatle, Royal Guardsman, Buckingham, Viscount, Westminster and Sovereign.

JMI experienced many problems with their early attempts at building a dependable solid-state amp. Their first solid state model, the Vox T.60, was introduced in 1962. It's 30 watt amplifier stage was powered by germanium output transistors that were subject to repeated and costly failure, making JMI apprehensive to develop additional solid-state amp models. However, the success of the modular, solid-state Vox amps produced by Thomas Organ in 1966 proved to JMI that with proper engineering and by integrating silicon output transistors with large heat sinks, solid-state amps could be just as dependable as those with tubes.

Printed Circuit Board Construction
Unlike the hand-wired solid-state T.60 amp and UL Series preamps that preceded them, the solid-state JMI Vox amps introduced in 1967 utilized printed circuit board construction.

VSEL Era Vox Supreme w/Swivel Stand - 1969
The Vox Supreme
The Vox Supreme amplifier head was the union of the guitar preamp and 100 watt amp modules designed by JMI in November 1966. JMI intended it to replace the Vox 7120 and the Vox AC-100. The preamp features and power output of the Supreme made it similar to the US made Vox Super Beatle. The accompanying Supreme speaker cabinet was nearly identical to the enclosure supplied with the AC-100. Early Vox Supreme cabinets were equipped with four 12" ceramic Celestion speakers and two Goodmans Midax horns. The Supreme endured in the Vox line for six years, appearing in the 1967 - 1968 JMI and VSL catalog, the 1969 VSEL "The Guv'nors" Vox amp flyer, the 1970 Vox "Corinthian era" catalog and the 1972 "Birch-Stolec era" Vox catalog.

Features and Effects
The Vox Supreme shared it's modular preamp and features with the Defiant, Conqueror and Virtuoso amplifiers. The features and effects of the JMI modular preamp and control section were virtually identical to those found in the modular preamp designed a year earlier by Vox in America.

The Vox Supreme control section had two channels, Normal and Brilliant. The Normal channel had two inputs, volume, bass, treble, tremolo depth and speed controls plus a "Top Boost" rocker switch. The Brilliant channel had two inputs, volume, bass, treble, a remotely footswitchable variable distortion effect plus MRB (mid-range boost) with a three-position frequency selector. A second three-position rotary selector allowed spring reverb to be assigned to either channel.

Control Panel
Unlike the costly anodized or etched and filled control panels included in earlier Vox amps, the two-sided control panel of the Vox Supreme amp had simple white silk screened nomenclature on a black background, just like their Thomas Organ counterparts. The horizontal side of the control panel included all of the inputs, volume and tone controls. The effects controls (reverb, tremolo, three way MRB selector, distortion) plus the foot switch connector and pilot lamps were mounted on the vertical side of the panel. The placement of the reverb and distortion controls, three-position MRB selector, foot switch jack and pilot lights on the vertical side of the control panel varied over time for no obvious reason.

Swivel Stands
When introduced in the summer of 1967, the Vox Supreme came equipped with a chrome plated tubular swivel trolley (see photos at the top of the page). This trolley was virtually identical to the stand provided with the AC-100. It allowed the Supreme speaker cabinet to pivot for improved sound dispersion while the head rested securely on the top of the stand. In 1967, the Supreme retailed for about £271, including head, speaker enclosure, trolley, foot switch and covers.

A new swivel stand design for the Vox Supreme debuted in the 1969 VSEL Vox catalog. Rather than surrounding the speaker enclosure, the new Supreme stand ended in a loop just above the cabinet swivel mounts. The loops were formed to angle away from the enclosure, creating a hand hold for transport (see photo above). As the head swiveled with the speaker cabinet, Vox designed a set of restraining clips to secure the head to the speaker cabinet. By 1969, the retail price of a complete Supreme amp had risen to £292.

The swivel stand became an extra cost option for the Supreme in the 1970 VSL price list. A complete Supreme was now priced at £318, including foot switch, covers and the optional swivel stand.

A swivel stand was not listed as an option for 1971 through 1973 Vox Supreme amplifiers.

VSL Era Vox Supreme - 1970-73

Three Button Footswitch
Originally designed by Vox for the UL Series guitar amplifiers, the cast aluminum three button foot switch shown at left was included with the Supreme amplifier. It provided remote operation of the tremolo, reverb, and distortion circuits. While many Supremes utilized the same six-pin DIN foot switch connectors installed on solid-state Vox amps built in America by Thomas Organ, some Supremes used a smaller five-pin foot switch connector.

Head Cabinet
In a break with traditional Vox cabinet design, the control panel faced forward rather than toward the rear. Head cabinets produced by JMI and VSEL (1967-69) were covered in traditional black basketweave vinyl, had front and rear panels covered in black Vox grill cloth, front and rear horizontal Vox name plates, gold cabinet piping, perforated steel grills, two-pin corners, pancake feet and a Vox logo handle. During the VSL era (1970-72), the Supreme head had a vinyl covered back, silver cabinet piping and plastic vent louvers.

Name Plates
The name plates on the earliest versions of the JMI Supreme amplifier were nearly identical to the horizontal and vertical logos designed by Thomas Organ for use on their US produced amps (see photo at right). A "Supreme" model flag (shown at lower right) was installed on the lower right front corner of the head and often on the speaker cabinet as well.

Later versions of the Supreme added the words "Solid State" to both the horizontal and vertical Vox name plates. The horizontal logo was also modified to have rounded corners.


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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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