Super Beatle: V14, V114, V1141, V1142
Beatle: V1143

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The flagship solid-state Vox Super Beatle was produced by Thomas Organ in the US from 1966 through 1970. It's arrival forced the tube UK made JMI Vox AC-100 out of the American market. The history of the Super Beatle follows.

The JMI Vox AC-100 "Super DeLuxe" - The Original "Beatle" Amp
Jennings Musical Industries (JMI), the company that founded Vox in Dartford, Kent, UK, started to investigate the development of high powered tube amplifier circuits in early 1963. Prior to 1963, the most powerful amplifier made by JMI was the 30 watt AC-30. Most of the major British rock groups, including the Beatles, were using them.

JMI was aware that the maximum audio output of the Beatles' Vox AC-30 amplifiers had become no match to the level of their screaming fans. In response, JMI started development of 50 and 100 watt tube amplifier circuits.

Vox decided that the major selling feature of these new amps should be their abundance of power, not the inclusion of effects or multiple channels. Neither reverb or the complex Vib/Trem circuitry of the AC-30 would be included in these new amps. The only controls would be volume, treble and bass. The new amps would be simple and loud.

The first 100 watt AC-100 and 50 watt AC-50 heads were produced by JMI in late 1963. The Beatles were provided early versions of these new amps. Prior to leaving for Paris and the US in early 1964, Paul McCartney was supplied an AC-100 head with a 2x15" enclosure. John Lennon and George Harrison were each supplied an AC-50 head and an enclosure with two 12" Celestion G12 Alnico speakers and a Goodmans Midax horn. The Beatles used these amps for their February 1964 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and their first US concert at the Washington Colisseum.
JMI Vox AC-100 Mk II
"Super DeLuxe" Amplifier

By mid 1964, the Beatles were performing in arenas to audiences of 10,000 people or more. For their August and September 1964 US tour, JMI provided Vox AC-100 "Super DeLuxe" amplifiers to John Lennon and George Harrison. The 100 watt AC-100 "Super DeLuxe" amplifier featured a speaker enclosure with four 12" Celestion G12 Alnico speakers and two Midax horns. A chrome plated swivel trolley allowed the speaker enclosure to be tilted for maximum dispersion.

While officially called the AC-100 "Super DeLuxe," the amp was also nicknamed "the Beatle amp."

JMI Appoints Thomas Organ as the US Vox Distributor
Despite the success Vox products were enjoying throughout the world, JMI had not developed a channel for US retail distribution through the first half-year of Beatlemania in America. JMI published a full page advertisement in a number of music trade magazines in the summer of 1964, hoping to establish a US distribution relationship for Vox.

After meetings with a number of suitors, JMI appointed the Thomas Organ Company to be the US distributor of Vox in the last week of August 1964. The first shipments of Vox amps, organs and guitars arrived in US retail showrooms in November 1964.

Before long, problems with the distribution agreement between JMI and Thomas Organ surfaced. JMI constantly struggled to produce an adequate supply of goods to satisfy the US market. Additionally, the high costs of importing Vox amps from the UK severely affected profitability.

In mid 1965, Thomas Organ approached JMI with a new proposal. A significant one time payment was offered to JMI in exchange for the licensing rights to manufacture Vox gear in California for the US and Canada markets. After the licensing agreement between JMI and Thomas Organ was finalized, the importation of Vox gear from the UK to the US all but ceased.

The US Super Beatle Replaces the AC-100 Super DeLuxe
Introduced in 1966, the Thomas Organ produced Super Beatle replaced the JMI AC-100 Super DeLuxe in the US and Canadian markets. The Super Beatle featured a trapezoid head cabinet, three channels of 120 watt RMS solid state circuitry, thirteen control knobs and a plethora of foot switchable effects. The Super Beatle and AC-100 Super Deluxe speaker enclosures and trolleys were nearly identical in function and appearance. Both included four Celestion G12 Alnico speakers and two Goodmans Midax horns.

Designing the Solid-State Circuit
Thomas Organ developed a few all tube Vox models for the US and Canadian markets, but Thomas felt that the future of guitar amplification was in transistorization. To that end, Thomas Organ hired a brilliant solid state electronics engineer, Sava Jacobsen, to analyze "what made a Vox sound amp like a Vox amp" and then create solid state circuits that could recreate Vox tone.

Jacobsen started his tone analysis with the AC-30. After his tone analysis was completed, Jacobsen developed a modular three channel solid state preamp for his new Thomas Organ AC-30 clone. This new preamp section included tremolo, reverb, a top boost switch and an MRB (mid range boost) circuit. Jacobsen also developed a 35 watt modular solid state power amp to interconnect with the new preamp. The resultant amp was the Thomas Organ answer to the AC-30TB, the Vox Viscount.

Thomas Organ next developed 60 and 120 watt RMS modular power amp sections that could be combined with the three channel modular preamp from the Viscount. When this three channel modular preamp was merged with the 120 watt RMS power amp section and mounted into a trapezoid head cabinet resembling the JMI AC30SRT, the V-14 Super Beatle head was born.

In 1966 and 1967 the V-14 head went through a number of incremental design revisions, evolving into the V114, the V1141, the V1142, and finally the V1143 "Beatle" amp.

Links to Additional Super Beatle and Beatle Amp Topics in the Vox Showroom

North Coast Music manufactures many replacement and restoration

parts for the Super Beatle under license from Vox. These parts are
available exclusively at North Coast Music. Some are shown below.

Output Power 120 watts RMS, 240 watts peak
Channel One Two inputs,
one volume,
one bass,
one treble.
Channel Two Two inputs,
one volume,
one bass,
one treble.
Channel Three Two inputs,
one volume,
one Tone-X.
Speaker(s) Four Vox Bulldog 12" Heavy Duty speakers
+ two 25w high frequency horns
Size (Head) 9" H x 27" W x 10.5" D
Size (Speaker Cabinet) 40" H x 27" W x 11.5" D
Accessories cover, chrome roller stand, foot pedal.


The VOX Showroom!

Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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