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 . 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 later by "Vox Sound Limited" (1970-73), which succeeded VSEL. VSEL collapsed 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":

Serial number plate of Vox AC30 number 6013, Italian, made in northern Italy, 1971

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 and Montecassiano {not Monte Cassino as some sources say} in the Marche region of 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.

Italian made Vox AC30, blueprint for the serial number plate
Italian made Vox AC30, blueprint for the serial number plate

Italian made Vox AC30, blueprint for the serial number plate

The pictures above are from Jim Elyea's book.

E.M.E. also acted in 1969 as distributor in Italy of the solid state range of amplifiers produced by "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" - the Conqueror, Defiant, Supreme and so on. E.M.E's address was 62010 Sambucheto di Montecassiano.

The circuit diagram for Italian-made AC30s

The information panel.

The sheet as a whole.

Above, the circuit diagram for the AC30 drawn up in Italy by E.M.E - thanks to Michael. The date of the drawing is given as "17/11/68", On 28th Feb. 1972, the sheet was stamped and signed off. The circuit encompassed is the AC30 Top Boost.

Some notes on the implementation of the Top Boost network in the Italian-made amplifiers .

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.

Vox AC30 made in Italy, 1970, serial number 5709

A detail of serial number 5709, mid 1970: - eyelet tagboard; Procond, Ducati and Phillips capacitors; LESA potentiometers.

Vox AC30 output transformer, c. 1969-1972, black encapsulated, made in Italy
Vox AC30 output transformer, c. 1969-1972, black encapsulated, made in Italy
Vox AC30 power transformer, c. 1969-1972, black encapsulated, made in Italy
Vox AC30 power transformer, c. 1969-1972, black encapsulated, made in Italy

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 - - 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).

Vox AC30 pricelist, February 1969

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 .

In July 1972, shortly before the Russell Hotel Trade Fair, the last major show attended by the original incarnation of "Vox Sound Limited", the music trade press reported the moving of the "Vox Sound Limited" offices (and showroom) to Beaconsfield Road in Hastings marked the beginning of the end.

The comment at the end of the piece is especially relevant here: the end of Italian-made AC30s. Some were still being assembled there in the summer of '72 - examples towards the end of this page.

July 1972.

A couple of shots of the "Vox Sound Limited" showroom in central London taken in late 1971 can be seen on the updates page of the . In the window one can just make out a perspex AC30.

Material relating to the 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 - .

If anyone knows of further amps that should be incorporated on this page, .

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 2702

Currently in Italy. In good order externally.

Serial number 2730

Serial number 2773

The speakers are dated May 1969. Final inspection (before sale / despatch) was 27th May, 1970.

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 5499

Thanks to Enzo for the pictures.

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 5575

Original speakers present, but the date code is just too indistinct to make out in the photographs.

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. "Vox Sound Limited" (rather than "Vox Sound Equipment Limited"} labels are used on the speakers.

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) .

Serial number 5770

Another one in excellent condition. Celestion date codes are "GC20" = 20th July 1970. Currently on .

Serial number 5898

.

Serial number 5913

A nice example, grille cloth renewed along with a few capacitors in the preamp, but otherwise original. The footswitch can be seen in the last pic. The Celestion T1088s, apparently not provided with a label (no glue residue on the bells), have the date code "KC5" = 5th September 1970. Thanks to Walter for the pictures.

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) .

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. The EL84s fitted at factory were generally Philips-branded. Preamps valves may have been Philips too.

Reverb in these amps, and presumably also in those with serial numbers in the 6000s, was solid state:

The reverb board (date stamped "7 71" = July 1971) of serial number 30182, below.

Serial number 30124

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Currently (April 2021) on .

NEW

Serial number 30182

In the preamp, mustard capacitors with date codes D/70 and ?/71 - last quarter of 1970 and some point in 1971. The preamp and reverb boards have the the stamp "7 71" = July 1971. The Celestion T1088s have the date codes "CD25" and "DD14", respectively 25th March and 14th April 1971 for their manufacture. Thanks to Ilpo for the pictures.

Serial number 30202 - currently in Germany

Excellent condition, and complete with original two-button footswitch for the tremolo and reverb. The tagboard bears the date 7.71 = July 1971 (as serial number 30346, below). At least one of the Mullard mustard capacitors has the date code "CO" = third quarter of 1970. The Celestion T1088s have "DD7" = 7th April 1971, and a "71" inspection stamp. Thanks to Volker for the pictures.

Serial number 30346

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. The speaker has the date code "GD7" = 7th July 1971. The tagboard bears the date "7 71" = July 1971.

Serial number 30395

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Date codes: mustard capacitors with "C/70", "C0" = third quarter of 1970 for their manufacture, and "DO" = fourth quarter of 1970. The tagboard has the ink-stamped date "7 71" = July 1971; Celestion T1088s with "GD8" and "GD19" = 8th and 19th August, 1971. The original two-button footswitch survives.

Serial number 30399

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Date codes: mustard capacitors with "C/70" and "C0" = third quarter of 1970 for their manufacture; tagboard with ink-stamped date "7 71" = July 1971; Celestion T1088s with GD19 = 19th August, 1971. The Philips-branded EL84s are likely to be the originals. The original two-button footswitch survives.

Serial number 30421

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Excellent cosmetic and electronic order. Preamp tagboard dated "7 71" = July 1971. The Celestion T1088s have the date code "GD 8" = 8th August 1971. Thanks to Eberhard for the pictures.

Serial number 30483

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Excellent cosmetic and electronic order. The Celestion T1088s have the date code "GD 8" = 8th August 1971.

Serial number 30508

AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Exterior shots at present only.

Serial number 30561

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb.

Serial number 30652 - currently in the UK

Originally an AC30 Top Boost Reverb. In fair cosmetic condition. Speakers replaced, and a replacement footswitch. At least one of the Mullard mustard capacitors has the dated code "D0" = last quarter of 1970. The preamp tagboard is dated "3.72" however = March 1972, so the amp is unlikely to have been ready for sale until a few months after this point.

Serial number 30702

Thanks to Aleksandar.

Serial number 30705 - currently in Europe

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. Good condition. In these pictures lacking one of its speakers. The original footswitch is present though.

Serial number 30748

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. The grille cloth and speakers both renewed, the latter replaced at some point with Celestion T1871s, date code "LK9" - 9th November 1877. The labels of the original Celestions were transferred to their dust covers. On the preamp circuit board, the ink stampded date "3 72" = March 1972, so the amp will have been ready for sale not too long after that. The next batch of boards was evidently produced in June - dated "6 72". The EL84s are Philips, as in the case of many amps on this page. 30748's original footswitch is still present and correct. Thanks to Fausto for the pictures.

Serial number 30865

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. The tagboard is stamped "6 72" = June 1972. The speakers are Italian RCF. Thanks to Gerhard for identifying the speakers.

Serial number 30924

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. The tagboard is stamped "6 72" = June 1972. Speakers are Celestion T1088s, date codes "GD" = August 1971, day date unreadable.

Serial number 30972

An AC30 Top Boost Reverb. The Celestion T1088s have the date code "CD31" = 31st March 1971.

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