The V216 Vox Escort Bass - 1964 - 1966
Crucianelli Production

The Escort Bass guitar, produced for Vox by Crucianelli in Italy, is shown at left in a light sunburst finish.

Crucianelli produced accordions in northern Italy as early as the 1880s. Their instruments were sold primarily in Europe until the end of World War II. The combination of a surging US economy and the post war "baby boom" opened new opportunities for Crucianelli to sell their accordions in North America. The ten year "golden age" of the Italian built accordion ended in 1957 after a truck driver from Tupelo Mississippi forever changed the face of popular music. After the arrival of Elvis Presley, the guitar replaced the accordion as the musical instrument of choice for a youthful America.

With their popular 1958 release, "That'll Be the Day," Buddy Holly and the Crickets became the prototypical rock combo. The Crickets featured lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Their guitar based line up was soon adopted by the Shadows in England, the Ventures and Beach Boys in America, and even the Beatles among many others. Despite the post-war popularity of the accordion, it found no place in rock and roll.

Accordion sales were seriously on the decline by the end of the fifties. Crucianelli soon learned that if they wished to avoid extinction they would need to produce guitars.

The earliest Crucianelli guitars surfaced in the early 1960s. Crucianelli manufactured and sold guitars under their "Elite" and "Tonemaster" brands. Crucianelli also supplemented their business by producing private labeled guitars for other manufacturers and distributors. One of those manufacturers was Jennings Musical Instruments, the parent company of Vox.

Vox had experience producing solid body guitars but had not mastered the construction techniques required to mass produce hollow bodied semi-acoustic guitars. Furthermore, there was little time for Vox to develop semi-acoustic production capacity. The demand for Vox guitars had become meteoric in the Beatle era and opportunities for sales were being missed. Unable to
to produce guitars quickly and in numbers to satisfy the burgeoning market, JMI turned to the Italian manufacturers Crucianelli and Eko to build semi-acoustic guitars for Vox. Crucianelli produced two semi acoustic guitar models (Lynx and Challenger) and two semi acoustic bass models (Escort Bass and Cougar Bass) for Vox in 1964 and 1965.

The Vox Escort Bass was the bass guitar version of the Vox Challenger guitar. The Vox Escort Bass and Vox Challenger guitars shared the same double bound, semi-acoustic slim line body with dual florentine (pointed) cutaways and two f holes. The Escort Bass was equipped with two "toaster" bass pickups, individual tone and volume controls for each pickup and a three way pickup selector switch. The Escort Bass featured a short, 31" scale length. Basses produced early in production featured the laminated "bat wing" pick guard shown on this page. Later models were equipped with a Gibson style "kidney" shaped pick guard.

The relationship between Vox and Crucianelli was short lived. By 1966, Vox shifed their guitar production away from Crucianelli to Eko, another Italian manufacturer in northern Italy.

The 1966 Jennings Vox catalog described the Escort Bass as follows: "Features include reinforced slim-line neck with adjustable truss-rod; two independent bass-frequency pickups; special micro-adjustment bridge; separate tone and volume controls; adjustable fingerplate and individual, shrouded machines. Indestructable high-gloss polyester finish."

The Vox Escort Bass retailed for £57 s.17 in the September 1964 JMI Vox price list.

Many thanks to noted Vox guitar authority Roger Tessier for allowing me to take photos of his Vox Escort Bass guitar.

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