The Vox Symphonic Bass 1962-1967


Vox Symphonic Bass







Vox Symphonic Bass Head Stock

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Prior to the Beatles' meteoric rise to the top of the pop charts, the UK guitar instrumental band "The Shadows" were the leading endorsees and spokesmen for the Vox brand. The Shadows were some of the earliest users of the Vox AC-30 and T.60 amplifiers.

The Shadows also popularized Fender guitars in the UK. At one point, guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch both played red Fender Stratocasters, bassist Jet Harris featured a red Fender Precision Bass.

Vox entered the guitar marketplace in 1962. The designs of many of the first Vox guitars and basses closely resembled familiar Fender instruments. Of particular interest were the Vox Soundcaster, a three pickup guitar similar to the Fender Stratocaster and the Symphonic Bass, modeled after the Fender Precision Bass. Priced far below their Fender counterparts, Vox hoped to sell the Soundcaster and the Symphonic Bass to the legions of local bands that idolized the Shadows.

Like the Fender Precision, the Vox Symphonic Bass was a long (34" or 86.4 cm) scale instrument. Both basses featured a four bolt removable neck with an adjustable truss rod and oversized tuners. The Vox Symphonic Bass neck was 1.7" (43mm) wide at the nut and 2.125" (54mm) wide at the twelfth fret. The Fender Precision was 1.75" (44.5 mm) wide at the nut and 2.25" (57 mm) wide at the twelfth fret.

The Vox Symphonic Bass had two single coil pickups. Each pickup had an individual volume control. The Symphonic Bass also included a single tone control. The Fender Precision Bass was equipped with a single split-coil pickup with a volume and tone control.

The Vox Symphonic Bass was described in the 1964 Vox "King of the Beat" product catalog as follows:

"An attractive and elegant electric bass with smooth, modern styling. Two fine quality adjustable bass pick-ups for maximum low frequency response. Independent tuning bridge built into tailpiece unit. Reinforced neck with rosewood finger board. Adjustable truss rod. All hardware in polished chromium. Available in red, white or sunburst polyester finish."

Unlike the Italiian (Eko and Crucianelli) produced guitars sold by Vox from 1964 through 1973, the Symphonic Bass was made in England. The earliest Symphonic Basses were probably produced under subcontract by Stuart Darkins & Co., a furniture maker in Shoeburyness England. JMI severed ties with Stuart Darkins in 1963 and shifted body and neck production to G-Plan of Hemel Hempstead, another UK based furniture maker. The guitars were then assembled at the JMI facility in the Erith, Kent UK.

The price list that accompanied the UK 1964-65 Vox catalog indicated that the Symphonic Bass retailed for about 94 pounds, or roughly $290 USD. Adjusting this 1965 price for inflation, the Symphonic Bass would retail today for about $2000.

The actual bass shown on this page was featured on numerous recordings made by the Austrian guitar instrumental band "The Hubbubs." It was pictured on the record sleeve for their hit "Hello, Mr. Sir."




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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music


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