Vox AC30s - chassis assembled in Italy
1968 to 1972: serial numbers in the 2000s, 5000s, 6000s, 30000s
This page picks up the story from the page on AC30s with serial numbers in the 22000s. The amps pictured and discussed below were sold by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" (1968-1969), the company that took the "VOX" name over when JMI finally ceased trading in late spring 1968; and "Vox Sound Limited" (1970-73), which succeeded VSEL following its collapse in late December 1969.
Key to understanding AC30s in the period in view - 1969-1972 - is the type of serial number plate used. The amplifiers assembled on this page all have a plate lacking the line (which is always present up to this point) "Manufactured in England":
Plate of AC30 serial number 6013.
Plates of this type were used for four serial number ranges : 2000s, 5000s, 6000s and 30000s. The amplifiers to which these plates were fixed contain chassis that were made in Italy, 1968-1972.
The 2000s and 5000s are AC30 Top Boosts, 1968-1970. 6000s and 30000s are Top Boost Reverbs, 1970-1972.
Below, a blueprint of the plate, dated 11th August 1969 (not November as previously stated). "EME" is " Elettronica Musicale Europea", a huge musical instrument facility at Recanati, near Monte Cassino in northern Italy. EME was a joint venture, set in motion in late 1966, by Jennings Musical Industries, the Thomas Organ Company, and Eko, an Italian manufacturer best-known perhaps for its futuristic guitar designs though.
The pictures above are from Jim Elyea's book.
Italian-made chassis have eyelet tagboards; Procond and Ducati capacitors; LESA potentiometers; and from the second half of 1969, transformers encapsulated in square black cases, the mains transformer mounted under the chassis, rather than on top (see serial number 30346 below, for a good picture). Early units (1969, serial numbers in the 2000s) sometimes have Albion transformers, however, left-overs from JMI days.
A detail of serial number 5709, mid 1970: - eyelet tagboard; Procond, Ducati and Phillips capacitors; LESA potentiometers.
Black encapulated transformers - output (upper two pictures) and mains (lower two) - from an Italian-made AC30, late 1969-1971. These are currently on ebay.de.
Jack input sockets are still plastic (white and black); and voltage selectors are of the type introduced by JMI in late 64 - a dome cover bearing the Vox name. Control panels have, far right, the legend "A Vox Product".
The reason for manufacture in Italy was two-fold. When Royston Industries collapsed in late 1967, JMI and Burndept Electronics, both members of the Royston Group, soon followed. Burndept had been JMI's principal chassis maker (under contract) since mid 1965. For "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", which had come into being in late summer 1968, Burndept was therefore no longer an option.
Having taken over a good deal of JMI's unsold stock in late 1968, VSEL evidently had enough AC30s to keep going. Numbers of amps containing components with late 1967 and early 1968 date codes - see this page - are likely to have been sold by VSEL. Production of solid state amps continued. But clearly in 1968, VSEL had to find a new means of producing AC30s - and so EME was chosen. Initially only Top Boost AC30s were made - see the detail from the pricelist of February 1969, below. Quite what the terms were is unknown at present, though they can hardly have been too different from the general terms of Burndept's contract.
The manufacture of a wide variety of Vox organs and guitars had of course long been contracted out to Italian factories (a process begining in 1965).
Detail from the VSEL pricelist of February 1969, the AC30 "Treble and Bass" (= Top Boost) only. Later, at some point before April 1971, the Top Boost Reverb was introduced.
A detail from the pricelist drawn up for the German market, April 1971. Now the AC30 Top Boost, and AC30 Top Boost Reverb ("mit Hall") are available.
Chassis were sent to the Vox Works in Erith in batches. There, they were given cabinets and speakers, and final testing performed.
AC30s from 1968 to early 1970 generally have Celestion T1088s with "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" labels - "Vox Sound Limited" (which came into being in January 1970) having taken over a good amount of stock from its predecessor.
The earliest speaker date codes known at present occur in AC30s with serial numbers in the 5000 range (5536 and 5616) - "EB19" = 19th May 1969; and "EB22" = 22nd May '69. By serial number 5709, we find speakers with 1970 date codes and "Vox Sound Limited" labels.
"Vox Sound Equipment Limited" and "Vox Sound Limited" circuit diagrams for the AC30TB can be found on this page.
AC30s manufactured in England by "Vox Sound Limited" - initially at Erith, then later in the Birch-Stolec factory at Hastings/St Leonard's-on-Sea - will be presented on a separate page (forthcoming). It may ultimately be necessary to divide that page and this one into parts, but for the time being this one can stay as it is.
If anyone knows of further amps that should be incorporated on this page, do let me know.
1968-1969 - serial numbers in the 2000s
AC30 Top Boost only. Cabinets have a single row of vents. Speakers have VSEL labels. Old JMI Albion transformers are sometimes found. It may be that this numerical sequence began at 2500. Serial numbers are also stamped in white inside the cabinet between the speakers.
Serial number 2539
Serial number 2621
Serial number 2730
1969-1971 - serial numbers in the 5000s
AC30 Top Boost only. Cabinets initially have a single row of vents, then later on double. Speakers have VSEL labels. Encapsulated black transformers mounted under chassis appear in mid 1969. Serial numbers are printed on a slip glued in the cabinet between the speakers, and the number is also stamped large on the preamp.
Serial number 5536
Sold by Oldenburg Vintage Guitars a little while ago. The Celestion speaker in view has the date code "EB19" = 19th May 1969. Note the black transformers mounted under the amplifier chassis and protruding into the speaker compartment.
Serial number 5616
Superb condition. The Celestion T1088 has the date code "EB22" = 22nd May 1969.
Serial number 5690
Cabinet, sticker, and serial number plate, only. The chassis is now a JMI copper panel AC30.
VOX SOUND LIMITED
During the course of 1970 cabinets with double rows of vents are introduced.
Serial number 5709
Superb condition. The Celestion T1088 has the date code "GC20" = 20th July 1970. Note the black transformers mounted under the amplifier chassis and protruding into the speaker compartment. Currently (April 2021) on Reverb.
Serial number 5770
Another one in excellent condition. Celestion date codes are "GC20" = 20th July 1970. Currently on ebay in Germany.
Serial number 5898
1970-1971 - serial numbers in the 6000s
"Vox Sound Limited" AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Cabinets with double rows of vents. "Vox Sound Limited" speaker labels. The 6000 range was a short run, quickly superceded by the range begining at 30000.
Serial number 6013
An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Note the control in place of what would normally be the first input jack socket of the Brilliant channel. Currently (April 2021) on Reverb.
1971-1972 - serial numbers in the 30000s
"Vox Sound Limited" AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Cabinets with double rows of vents. "Vox Sound Limited" speaker labels. Note that a new style of tagboard is apparent in serial number 30346, part printed (ie. with traces on the underside). This may have been introduced much earlier - i.e. in the 5000s. In 1972 ceramic Fane drivers were sometimes fitted instead of Celestion T1088s. Also in 1972, AC30 Top Boost Reverbs were supplied with a two-button footswitch, its casing a version of the one used for Vox solid state amps.
Serial number 30124
An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Currently (April 2021) on ebay in Germany.
Serial number 30346
An AC30 Top Boost. The speaker has the date code "GD7" = 7th July 1971. The tagboard bears the date "7 71" = July 1971.
Serial number 30561
Serial number 30865
The tagboard is stamped "6 72" = June 1972. The speakers are Fane ceramics.
Serial number 30972