The V-14/V114, V1141/V1142 Super Beatle and V1143 Beatle Head

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Thomas Organ introduced three generations of the Super Beatle/Beatle head in the two year period between 1965 and 1967.

V-14 or V114 Super Beatle Heads - Introduced in early 1966, the first generation V-14 and V114 Super Beatle circuits are electronically identical and documented on a single Thomas Organ schematic. The amp head was rated 120 watts RMS, 240 watts peak into the 2 ohm load of a V414 Super Beatle enclosure.

The three channel amplifier featured tremolo in the "Normal
channel, reverb that was selectable to either the "Normal" or "Brilliant" channel and MRB or "Mid Resonant Boost" in the "Brilliant" channel. The "Normal" channel included a "Top Boost" rocker switch while the "Bass" channel featured a sweepable frequency tone control called "Tone-X." The amplifier was housed in a trapezoidally shaped cabinet reminiscent of the JMI Vox AC-30SRT amp head. The plywood cabinet featured eight plastic "one-pin" corners, a Vox logo handle, six plastic air vents with Vox logos, a horizontal Vox name plate in the
upper left corner of the grill and a "Super Reverb Twin" badge in the lower right corner of the grill (see photo at right). The term "Twin", which in Vox parlance implies an amp with two speakers, was somewhat inappropriate for the Super Beatle with four 12" speakers.

A "round top" Amphenol three pin XLR jack was mounted to the rear panel of the V-14, V114, and earlier V1141/42 amplifiers for speaker connection. While using what would normally be considered to be a microphone jack in this application might seem a bit unusual, Thomas Organ was simply following the Jennings (UK) Vox tradition of providing locking XLR speaker cables with heads and cabs. Jennings used these locking speaker cables for an important reason. Many JMI Vox tube amp heads were prone to electronic damage if the speaker cord accidentally pulled out of the amplifier during performance.

Two separate foot switches were provided with the amp. A two button foot switch with a 1/4" TRS (stereo) plug controlled the reverb and tremolo. A second single button "egg" shaped foot switch remotely controlled the MRB feature via an electro-magnetic relay located inside the amp. When the MRB button was depressed on the foot switch, you could actually hear the clicking sound of the relay from inside the amplifier.

V-14 & V114 Reverb/Tremolo Pedal

MRB Pedal

Foot Switch Jacks
on Rear Control Panel

Introduced simultaneously in 1966 in time for the Beatles final US tour, the second generation V1141 and V1142 Super Beatle heads expanded and refined the abilities of the previous V-14 and V114 models. The new amps retained the same three channel design and features as the earlier models. The amp was still rated at 120 watts RMS, 240 watts peak into a 2 ohm load.

Vox V1141 Super Beatle and Beatle Amplifiers - The V1141 Super Beatle added a feature Vox called a "Distortion Booster," or fuzz tone to the prior V14 and V114 models. There was no control panel switch for the distortion effect, it was activated by a new elongated four button foot switch. This foot switch included a red indicator lamp to indicate that the fuzz tone was engaged.
The V1141 head was coupled to the open backed V414 Super Beatle speaker cabinet that featured four 12" Celestion G12M Alnico speakers and two Midax horns. Many V414 cabinets had particle board baffles and plywood sides. For stronger bass response, Thomas Organ offered the optional "V834 - Solid Backs for the Super Beatle Speaker Cabinet" for an additional $59.90. The complete V1141/V414 Super Beatle amplifier was offered in the July 1966 and November 1966 Vox price lists.

Vox V1142 Super Beatle and/Beatle Amplifiers - There were two versions of the Vox V1142 amplifier.
The earlier version of the V1142 Super Beatle was introduced in the July 1966 price list and included the same features found in the prior V114 amp (reverb, tremolo, MRB, Top Boost and Tone X). The Distortion Booster from the V1141 was not included in the V1142. The effects were controlled by a new, single three button foot switch, replacing the two foot pedals required for the prior V14 and V114 Super Beatle models. Like the V1141, this earlier version of the V1142 Super Beatle was also paired with the V414 Super Beatle speaker enclosure.

Vox introduced a second version of the V1142 amplifier, now named the "Beatle," in the June 26, 1967 price list. A Vox service center bulletin indicated that the V1142 Beatle head now included the Distortion booster circuit and a four button foot pedal. The V1142 head also included the "E" Tumer accessory. An updated version of the V414 speaker cabinet, the V4141 Beatle enclosure, shipped with the V1142 Beatle head. The V4141 cabinet featured closed backs and was made completely of particle board. The second generation V1142 amplifier was eliminated in the January 1968 Vox pice list.

Circuit Design and Layout - The V1141 modular preamp section was originally designed for the Viscount/Buckingham series amps by Thomas Organ/Vox engineer Sava Jacobson. The entire V1141/V1142 preamp section was interchangeable with those used in V1151 Viscount, V1121/V1122 Buckingham and the V1131/V1132 Royal Guardsman amps. The preamp section was sealed inside an rectangular steel enclosure that also included the control panel.

The preamp circuitry was designed on three printed circuit boards. One of these three boards included the Distortion Booster circuitry, another was dedicated to the reverb circuit. The third and largest circuit board included individual preamp and tone control circuits for all three channels, along with the components for the Top Boost and MRB switches plus tremolo and Tone X.

The foot switches controlling the V1141 "Fuzz" and "MRB" circuits actuated electro-magnetic relays located inside the preamp chassis that enabled the effects. When the "D" or "M" button was depressed on the four button foot switch, you could actually hear the clicking sound of the relay from inside the amplifier.

On the basis of Super Beatle amps I have recently inspected, I am led to believe that the fuzz tone circuitry was actually present in the V1142 chassis, despite the fact that fuzz tone was not included in the list of features for the V1142 amp. It appears that the only real difference between the V1141 and V1142 Super Beatle amp heads was the foot switch included with the amp. When I connected a Vox four button foot switch (Reverb, Tremolo, MRB and Distortion) into a V1142 amp head and actuated the distortion button, the V1142 proved to have fuzz tone.

The V1142 Super Beatle head did not have a serial number plate specifically produced for the model. Rather, Thomas Organ put a sticker with the number "2" that covered the last "1" on the V1141 serial plate (see serial plate picture above). I believe that this simple method of changing the model number change facilitated the rapid creation of the V1142 on the V1141 production line. Exchanging the four button foot switch normally equipped with a V1141 to the three button version completed the V1142 conversion.

The Further Evolution of the V1141 and V1142 Beatle Amp Heads
Thomas Vox Super Beatle amp heads were still in a period of evolution. Not only had the V-14 and V114 been replaced within months of their introduction with the improved V1141 and V1142 models, even more changes were in the works for the second generation Super Beatle head.
The later production of V1141 and V1142 amp heads witnessed a change in model name from "Super Beatle" to simply "Beatle." During the name transition, a V1141 or V1142 could actually have both names. The serial plate on the back of the amp might identify the amp as a "Beatle" while the escutcheon behind the control panel might say "Super Beatle," or vice versa.

The V-14, V114 and early V1141/42 Super Beatle heads were equipped with "frosted" red and green pilot indicator lenses (see photo, near upper right). These were changed to translucent, or clear lenses in the later production of the V1141/42 amp models (see photo, near lower right).

An "E Tuner" circuit was also added to later production runs of the V1141 and V1142 heads. This circuit provided a reference "E" pitch that would assist in tuning a guitar. This circuit dipped into the Thomas home organ parts bin, using a tunable inductor coil and a transistor in a basic organ oscillator circuit. The "E Tuner" was connected to the volume control of the Bass channel. When initially added to the amps, a rear panel rotary switch activated the reference tone. Later models utilized a slide switch.

Red and Green "Frosted" Pilot Lamp Assemblies
Found in V-14, V114, and earlier V1141/42 models

Red and Green "Clear" Pilot Lamp Assemblies
Found in later V1141/V1142 and all V1143 models

Some of the changes introduced by Thomas Organ to the V1141/42 models were aimed at reducing production costs. The solid aluminum escutcheon at the rear of the control panel of the V-14, V114 and early V1141/42 amps was replaced with a thin aluminum stamping in the later production of the V1141/42. While nearly identical in outward appearance, the stamped part was susceptible to damage when removing the chassis from the cabinet for service. The photo at left shows both the solid and stamped escutcheon and the damage that could occur to the stamped part.

Thomas Organ dropped the use of plywood in their cabinets as a further cost savings measure during the production of the second generation Super Beatle heads. The new cabinets were made of particle board, a cheaper, heavier and far less durable material.
Thomas Organ also replaced the "Super Reverb Twin" badge that had been mounted to the lower right corner of the grill on the V14, V114, and early versions of the V1141/42 heads with a new "Solid State" logo.

The "round top" Amphenol three pin speaker output jack installed on the rear panel of the V-14, V114 and early production of the V1141 and V1142 Super Beatle head was replaced with a similar "flat top" panel mounted jack from Switchcraft (see photo at left).
By mid 1967, the V1143 Beatle amp head replaced the V1141 and V1142 models, completing the two year evolution of the Super Beatle/Beatle head.

Vox V1141 & 1142 Super Beatle Amplifier Schematic - Free Download
Click here to download the original Thomas Organ schematic for the V1141 and V1142 Vox Super Beatle A amplifier, courtesy of the Vox Showroom and North Coast Music.

V1142 Pedal

V1141 Pedal

Foot Switch Jack
on Rear Control Panel

V1143 Beatle Head - Introduced in 1967, the third generation V1143 Beatle head again expanded and refined the abilities of the previous Super Beatle models. The amp was no longer called the "Super Beatle," reportedly at the request of the Beatles themselves. The new amp retained the same three channel design and retained all the features of the V1141. The amp was rated 120 watts RMS, 240 watts peak into a 2 ohm load.

A new, one piece, and in a sense, "universal" preamp circuit board was designed for the third generation three channel guitar amps by Thomas Vox lead engineer Stan Cutler. Given the Thomas Organ part number 25-5373-2, this new single board replaced the trio of preamp and effects circuit boards previously installed in the V-14, V114, V1141 and V1142 amps. The new board was also incorporated into the V1154 Viscount, V1123 Buckingham and the V1133 Royal Guardsman amplifiers.

The 25-5373-2 circuit board housed three channels of preamp circuits, the reverb drive and receive circuits, tremolo, Top Boost and MRB. It also included the channel mixer circuit, the "Watchdog" audio compressor and a new effect for the V1143 Beatle amp called "Repeat Percussion."

The 25-5373-2 circuit used FET signal transistors in the preamp to minimize noise and hiss. New, modern FET switching transistors in the Distortion Booster and MRB circuits replaced the electro-magnetic relays used for effects switching in prior Super Beatle models.

The V1143 added a new feature, "Repeat Percussion." Repeat Percussion was a variation of tremolo. Tremolo pulses the volume of the signal at varying rates of speed. Repeat Percussion takes tremolo to the extreme by turning the signal completely on and off at varying rates of speed, making a "chattering" type of sound. This effect was used on the vocals at the end of "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James and the Shondells.

Not to spoil the fun, but the Repeat Percussion circuit was actually lifted from a Lawrence Welk era Thomas Organ console, where the keyboard effect was called "Banjo." Repeat Percussion was also featured as an onboard effect in the 1967 Vox Phantom Special guitar.

The "E-Tuner" circuit that had been introduced in the later production of the V1141 and V1142 heads continued in the V1143.

The foot switch had now grown to five buttons with four indicator lamps. The V1143 Beatle amp head made a final appearance in the 1970 US Vox catalog. It was not only combined with the traditional AC-100 styled "Beatle" speaker cabinet with a swivel trolley, it also was sold with a pair of 4x12" cabinets as the "Beatle Stak."

V1143 "Five Button" Pedal

Foot Switch Jacks
on Rear Control Panel
What Year Was My Super Beatle or Beatle Head Built?
After looking at hundreds of Thomas amplifier serial numbers, I have come to the conclusion that the first digits appear to provide a clue to the year the amplifier was produced. Serials starting with "9" were from the first full year of production, 1966. Those starting with "I0" or "10" were produced in 1967 while those starting with "I1" or "11" were built in 1968. Following this same pattern, a serial starting "I2" or "12" indicates 1969.

Vox V1143 Beatle Amplifier Schematic - Free Download
Click here to download the original Thomas Organ schematic for the V1143 Vox Beatle Amplifier, courtesy of the Vox Showroom and North Coast Music.

North Coast Music manufactures many replacement and restoration

parts for the Super Beatle under license from Vox. These parts are
available exclusively at North Coast Music. Some are shown below.


The VOX Showroom!

Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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