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.