Here's the next big trend in the music business. Vox Ampliphonic will go like guitars. It may even be bigger.

Vox Ampliphonic is an exclusive new line of electronically equipped band instruments, electronic pickups, stereo Multi-Voice tone divider and sound accessories. They're from the leader in electronic music - Vox. Only Vox could have come up with a system so accurate and so dependable.

Vox Ampliphonic lets the musician duplicate any recording studio sound - anywhere. It gives the horn player a place in the new-beat combos. It lets the musician play relaxed, without being drowned out - yet still come through with the natural sound of the instrument. It puts an unheard-of variety of new sounds at the player's fingertips.

-Excerpted from a Vox advertisement published in a musical trade (dealer) magazine in 1967


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Riding the crest of the wave of the British Invasion, Vox manufactured the amplifiers, guitars, organs and portable PA systems that were desired, if not lusted after, by most rock and roll musicians of the mid 1960's. Thomas Organ, the manufacturer and distributor of Vox equipment for the US market, recognized the marketing powerhouse that the Vox brand had become. They understood that not only would they need to capitalize on the strength of the brand by developing new and innovative products but they would also need to seek new, untapped markets to retain long term dominance in the marketplace.

To this end, Thomas Organ started looking for new markets for their "rock and roll" sound equipment. In 1966, many marketing dollars were directed towards introducing the Vox brand to the country and western music marketplace. Up to that time, the country market had been dominated by Fender amps and guitars, and Vox hoped to reverse that trend.

But Thomas Organ had a far bolder plan for Vox. Thomas wanted to develop a unique line of "state of the art" signal processing and audio amplification products aimed specifically at the band and orchestra marketplace. Under the direction and encouragement of Thomas Organ president Joe Benaron, the research and development team at Thomas Organ began work on a line of products that would come to be known as "Vox Ampliphonic." This new Vox product line would debut at the Chicago NAMM show in July 1967.

Thomas Organ sourced an entire line of band and orchestra instruments for the Ampliphonic product introduction. In an Ampliphonic price list dated February 1, 1968, Vox offered a total of 69 different models of brass, woodwind, and string instruments. Included were Vox branded trumpets, trombones, tubas, french horns, clarinets, saxophones, violins, violas, cellos and double basses. Many of these instruments included a "port" in the mouthpiece area for attaching an Ampliphonic "pickup." This pickup allowed the instrument to be amplified. It also allowed the instrument to be connected to an Vox Ampliphonic Octavoice I or II signal processor.

The Vox Octavoice was about the size of a pack of cigarettes and came in two models, "Clarinet" and "Brass." It accepted the input from an intrument equipped with the Ampliphonic pickup.


The Octavoice I and II provided the ability to drop the electronically amplified pitch of the instrument up to several octaves. This would allow a trumpet to sound like a trombone or even a tuba when played through an external amplifier. It also allowed a tenor sax to sound like a alto or a bari sax.

The Vox Ampliphonic Stereo Multi-Voice further expanded on the capabilities of the Octavoice. It had eleven preset tabs that would allow the musician to select the octaves or voices desired. A four button foot switch could be tapped to combine or change octaves and voices during a performance. Vox claimed in their Ampliphonic product literature that the Stereo Multi-Voice would allow a sax to sound like a clarinet or make one instrument sound like a section of musicians playing together.

The Vox Ampliphonic Music Stand came in three models, the Satellite, the Galaxie, and the Orbiter. These trapezoidally shaped music stands also included an amplifier and speaker and were designed to amplify a woodwind or brass instrument fitted with a Vox pickup.

Vox also offered a small amplifier called the "Ampliphonic Nova." This amp was offered as a lower priced alternative to the Ampliphonic Music Stands. The Ampliphonic Nova amp was the same size as the Vox Pathfinder amp from the guitar amp division of Vox.

Many don't realize that the Vox Wah Wah pedal was originally a part of the Ampliphonic line. Big band star Clyde McCoy was famous for his use of a "high hat" mute with his trumpet and Vox designed the wah pedal to create this effect electronically. The earliest versions of the Vox V846 Vox Wah Wah pedal were actually called the "Clyde McCoy Wah Pedal."



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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music


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