The Vox Virtuoso Amplifier 1967 - 1969

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The Virtuoso was one of the five Vox solid state guitar
amplifiers introduced by Jennings Musical Industries (JMI) in the summer of 1967. The other models in this series included the Supreme, Defiant, Conqueror and Traveller.

Standardization and Modular Design
By the time JMI had introduced their new solid state amp line in 1967, Thomas Organ in America was exerting a major influence over the electronic designs and construction techniques employed on British Vox amplifiers. First and foremost, Thomas was encouraging JMI to phase out hand wired tube amps in favor of solid state circuitry built on printed circuit boards.

Thomas Organ also encouraged JMI to incorporate modular construction and standardization techniques. To this end, JMI designed a pair of preamp and control modules. A standardized guitar preamp and control module, detailed on JMI service schematic OS/136, would be shared by the Virtuoso, Conqueror, Defiant and Supreme solid state guitar amplifiers. JMI would also design and construct a second, standardized preamp and control module that would be used by three models of bass guitar amplifiers.

JMI further facilitated the production of their "new for 1967" solid state line by developing a series of interchangeable power amplifier modules. Following concepts previously implemented by Thomas Organ, JMI developed a univeral chassis that could accommodate the variety of power transformers and circuitry required to build a 20, 30, 50 or 100 watt solid state power amp module.

JMI created seven new solid state amplifiers from a pair of modular preamps and four power amp sections. The Virtuoso included a 20 watt RMS power amp module, detailed on JMI repair schematic OS/132. The Conqueror and Dynamic Bass would include the 30 watt RMS module, the Defiant and Foundation Bass the 50 watt module and the Supreme and Super Foundation the 100 watt RMS module.

The Virtuoso, like the Conqueror, Defiant and Supreme, featured a Normal and a Brilliant channel. Like the larger American Vox amps, reverb was selectable between either channel but tremolo was only offered in the Normal channel. The Normal channel featured a "Top Boost" switch while MRB (Mid Range Boost) and a variable distortion (fuzz) was offered in the Brilliant channel.

A three button foot switch remotely controlled the fuzz, reverb and tremolo effects.

Even though it received no mention Vox catalogs or price lists, JMI also produced a version of the Virtuoso amplifier without reverb. The circuitry for the Virtuoso without reverb was detailed on JMI schematic OS/145. A two button foot switch remotely controlled the fuzz and tremolo effects.

Eliminating the reverb controls from the Virtuoso created a blank area on the rear control panel. JMI filled this unused space with the words "Virtuoso Model" (see photo at right).

Earlier examples of the Virtuoso amplifier used a Thomas Organ style vertical Vox logo. Later production added the words "Solid State" to the bottom of the name plate.

Vox installed a pair of 8 ohm, 10" Celestion 7424 speakers in the Virtuoso. The speakers were wired in series to 16 ohms. A cable terminated with a 1/4" plug connected the speakers to the chassis.

Catalogs and Price Lists
The only appearances of the Virtuoso in factory advertising literature were in the 1967 JMI and 1968 VSEL product catalogs.

The 1967 JMI price list indicated that the Virtuoso had a list price of £110.5.0. In USD, the Virtuoso would have retailed for about $400, about the same as a 1967 era Vox V1081 Berkeley II amp from Thomas Organ.


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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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