The VSL (or VSEL) Vox AC-30 Top Boost Amplifier
1968 - 1970
A Look "Under the Hood"

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The hand wired VSEL era Vox AC-30 amplifier was produced in 1968 and 1969.

Vox Sound Equipment Limited
VSEL, or "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" owned the Vox brand in 1968 and 1969. The corporate name was eventually shortened from Vox Sound Equipment Limited to "Vox Sound Limited" or "VSL." Neither JMI (Jennings Musical Industries) founder Tom Jennings or head engineer Dick Denney were involved in VSEL.

The prior owner of Vox, Royston Industries, filed for bankruptcy in late 1967. English Vox products and repair parts disappeared from the marketplace for a number of months in early 1968 due to the bankruptcy. A number of former Vox executives and engineers from the Royston era struck a deal with the receiver in June 1968 to purchase Vox. VSEL was born and Vox production resumed.

Undercapitalized and lacking the leadership of Tom Jennings and Dick Denney, VSEL attained only a fraction of the former glory and prestige of Vox. Limited cash flow forced VSEL to trim the number of products offered, retaining only the items that would bring easy and immediate sales. VSEL further lacked the creative genius and engineering prowess to develop innovative new products. The circuits included in VSEL Vox amps were largely carried over from prior JMI designs. Seemingly doomed from the start, VSEL filed for bankruptcy in 1969. Vox was sold later that year to Corinthian Securities.

Chassis and Circuit Design
The basic design of the two piece, steel and aluminum JMI Vox AC-30 chassis remained unchanged in VSEL production. The chassis was mounted to a baltic birch slider board, again like JMI.

The original circuit design and hand wired tag strip construction techniques from the JMI era "top boost in panel" AC-30 were also carried over to the VSEL model. VSEL added spring loaded tube retainers to secure the EL84 output tubes.

Absent were the high quality WIMA Tropyfol capacitors found in earlier JMI Vox production. The durable "etched and filled" JMI gray control panel was replaced by a cheaper silk screened part. VSEL now purchased their AC-30 transformers and chokes from Lemark, dropping their relationship with former JMI suppliers Woden and Haddon. Lemark was owned by the UK electronics conglomerate Birch-Stolec. Soon after the demise of VSEL, Birch-Stolec purchased Vox from Corinthian Securities.

The VSEL AC-30 Top Boost cabinet was constructed from lock jointed 13 ply, 3/4" baltic birch plywood. Aside from increasing the number of "slim" air vents on the top of the cabinet from three to six and the switch to a horizontal "Thomas" style Vox logo, the VSEL cabinet was largely unchanged from JMI era AC-30 amps.

The cabinet was covered in traditional black basket weave vinyl with gold piping accents. The front panel featured black diamond Vox grill. By this time brown Vox grill had been discontinued.

A "Top Boost 30" model logo was affixed to the lower right corner of the grill. A rather crude looking silk screened serial plate was mounted to the upper rear panel.

Foot Switch
A single button Vox "egg" foot switch remotely enabled the vibrato and tremolo effect. The pedal cable was hard wired to the chassis.

The VSEL era AC-30 Top Boost amplifier was equipped with a pair of Celestion G12 12" Silver Alnico speakers. A gold foil Vox sticker sticker, still bearing the "JMI" logo, was applied to the magnet covers.

My thanks to Willie's American Guitars of St Paul Minnesota for allowing the Vox Showroom to photograph this 1969 VSEL AC-30 from their sales floor.


The VOX Showroom!

Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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