1969 VSEL AC-30 Control Panel


VSEL Vox AC-30 Amplifier - 1969

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Soon after the UK electronics conglomerate, the Royston
Group, purchased a controlling interest in Jennings Musical Industries (JMI) in 1964, financial problems arose for Vox.

Against the protests of Tom Jennings, Royston sold the US Vox manufacturing and licensing rights to Thomas Organ for a mere one million dollars, denying JMI any future profits from US Vox sales. Additionally, Royston looted the profits earned by Vox to fund the development of the ill-fated "Midas" aviation flight recorder by another Royston subsidiary. A mysterious fire burned down the main Vox manufacturing plant located at Erith, Kent in 1967. Soon after, the Royston Group of companies filed for bankruptcy. Dick Denney quit, Tom Jennings was fired and JMI was broke.


A number of former JMI executives and engineers continued to operate Vox from 1968 through 1969 while Royston was in receivership. As part of a settlement with Tom Jennings, the Jennings Musical Industries (JMI)  name was dropped in favor of "Vox Sound Equipment Limited " or "VSEL." The name was eventually shortened to "Vox Sound Limited" or "VSL." Neither Tom Jennings or Dick Denney were involved in this enterprise.

The Vox VSEL era was short lived. In a little more than a year, VSEL itself slipped into bankruptcy, largely due to undercapitalization and the lack of market acceptance for their new Thomas Organ inspired solid state amplifiers.

VSEL continued to produce a number of hand wired AC-30 and AC-50 amplifiers during its brief existence. The AC-30 Top Boost amplifier shown on this page was produced during this era.

Thomas Organ Influences
While Thomas Organ influences on UK Vox design were most evident in the design of the 1967 solid-state Conqueror, Defiant and Supreme amplifiers, it can also be seen in the VSEL AC-30.




Perhaps the most obvious US influence on the 1969 VSEL AC-30 was the adoption of the US style horizontal Vox nameplate. Other US  influences include black diamond Vox grill, cross braced speaker holes and the use of six slender air vents. Like Thomas amps, the rounded inside radius on the rear
corners was eliminated. The "etched and filled" procedure used to make JMI AC-30 control panels was dropped in favor of a less costly (and less durable) silk screened process.

Eight "two-pin" corners with a Vox logo were installed on the VSEL AC-30 (photo at right).


The cabinet was covered in traditional Vox basket weave vinyl with gold string accents. A silk screened serial plate, somewhat crude in appearance by JMI standards, was mounted to the upper back panel.

Chassis
The chassis and hand wired circuitry of the VSEL AC-30 remained
essentially unchanged from the original JMI design. The circuitry included five ECC83, one ECC82, four EL84 and one GZ34 tubes.

The "Top Boost" controls were mounted on the control panel.

JMI typically used transformers sourced from Albion or Woden. VSEL replaced these with transformers from Lemark. Lemark was owned by Birch- Stolec, a British electronics

conglomerate whose holdings included Eveready batteries. After the collapse of VSEL, Birch-Stolec would take over Vox in 1970.


My thanks to Willie's American Guitars of St Paul Minnesota for allowing the Vox Showroom to photograph this 1969 VSEL AC-30 from their sales floor.




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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music


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