The Vox LG-50 Shadow Guitar (1960-1961)
The Vox Shadow, Stroller and Pacific Kit (1962)

Vox LG-50 Shadow Guitar

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Cliff Richards exploded onto the British music scene with his 1958 hit, "Move On." Along with his back up band, "The Shadows," featuring Hank Marvin on lead guitar, Cliff Richards generated a string of hit records in the UK from 1959 through the late sixties. John Lennon once stated that before Cliff and the Shadows there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.

Hank Marvin and the
Antoria LG-50 Guitar

In their early days (1958 through mid 1959), the Shadows amplified their guitars with Selmer amplifiers. Hank Marvin played an Antoria LG-50 guitar. The Antoria LG-50 guitar was manufactured by Guyatone in Japan and offered in England by James T Coppock, Ltd, a UK importer and distributor of musical instruments based in Leeds.

In 1959, the Shadows replaced their Selmer amplifiers with the first generation Vox AC-15, manufactured by Jennings Musical Instruments (JMI) of Dartford Kent, UK. Landing the Shadows as Vox amplifier endorsees was a major coup for JMI. The Shadows would help to make Vox into a power player in guitar amplification.

1959 Vox AC-15

By 1960, Cliff Richards and Shadows were nearly as big as Elvis in the UK, introducing up and coming UK bands such as the Beatles to Vox amps. Before long, JMI realized that they were missing a tremendous opportunity by not offering Vox guitars to complement their amps.

Even though Hank Marvin had dumped his Antoria LG-50 for a Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster, many fans of the Shadows still associated the Antoria LG-50 guitar with Marvin. This gave Vox an idea how to offer Shadows wannabes both an amplifier and a guitar.

JMI introduced a Vox branded LG-50 "Shadow" guitar from Guyatone sometime between 1960 and 1962. While it is unclear whether the Vox LG-50 was sourced directly from Guyatone in Japan or through the UK distributor, James T Coppock, Ltd, the position markers on the fret board may offer a clue. While the Antoria LG-50 from James T Coppock Ltd. had dot position markers, the Guyatone LG-50 and Vox LG-50 "Shadow" both had rectangular inlays on the fret board. While certainly not conclusive, this evidence provides a reasonable case that JMI may have purchased the their LG-50 guitars directly from Guyatone.

The Vox LG-50 Shadow featured two "gold foil" pickups, a trapeze tailpiece, a pearloid pick guard and binding on the front edge of the guitar. A gold Vox logo was silk screened vertically on the pick guard. The back side of head stock included the factory tag with the model number "LG-50."

It appears that the LG-50 Shadow was not the only guitar produced for Vox by Guyatone in Japan. The early Vox "Ace" guitar shown at left has many similarities to the Vox LG-50 Shadow. I suspect that this early Vox Ace guitar may have been sourced from Guyatone as well.

Both guitars were finished in a ambered transparent finish and both bodies were bound on the front edge only. Both featured a similarly shaped pearloid pick guard with a vertical Vox logo and gold capped, white plastic control knobs. The guitars shared an elongated head stock and "six on a side" tuner keys.

JMI started to offer guitars in their 1962 catalog that were completed at their facilities in Dartford Kent. The bodies and necks for these guitars were fabricated for Vox by Stuart Darkins & Company, a furniture manufacturer located in Shoeburyness, Essex, UK. Vox merely assembled the prefabricated parts. These guitars were student grade instruments at best, having unbound plywood bodies and necks with non adjustable steel rods for reinforcement.

Three models from the 1962 Vox catalog were based on the shape of the LG-50 body. Vox introduced the dual pickup "Shadow" (see photo at right) and the single pickup "Stroller." They also introduced the single pickup "Pacific Kit" which was essentially a build it yourself "Stroller" guitar that Vox claimed could be assembled in one hour. All three of these guitars were offered in either red or white cellulose and had "three on a side" tuner keys, Vox V-1 single coil pickups, a black pick guard and separate volume and tone controls.

My thanks to David Wedgbury for offering the pictures of his Vox LG-50 to the Vox Showroom.


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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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