The V223 Vox Mark XII "Teardrop"

Vox V223 Mark XII Guitar

George Harrison innovated and popularized the use of the 12 string electric guitar on such Beatle hits as "You Can't Do That," "I Call Your Name," and "A Hard Day's Night." George played a Rickenbacker 360/12.

Vox recognized the sales potential of the twelve string electric and introduced twelve strings versions of both the Phantom and Teardrop guitars in 1965.

Here is the history of the Vox Teardrop guitar.

After introducing a series of student grade guitars in 1961, Vox started the development of professional grade instruments. Vox determined that "copy cat" guitar designs for their professional models would be unacceptable. Their new professional guitar models would need to have body designs that were unique and iconic, rendering them immediately recognizable as a Vox instrument. To help accomplish this styling goal, Vox entered into a contract with the London Design Centre in 1962 to propose unconventional yet attractive guitar body shapes for the new Vox professional series guitars. The result of this initial effort was the "coffin" shaped Phantom VI guitar.

On the heels of the introduction of the Phantom VI, a new solid body six string "teardrop" shaped guitar was developed. Vox originally named this new teardrop model the "Phantom Mark VI" guitar when it was introduced in 1963. Before long, the name was shortened to simply "Mark VI." By 1965, a twelve string "Mark XII," and a nine string "Mark IX" were also introduced.

The V223 Vox Mark XII guitar had a 25" scale. The neck was reinforced with the classic Eko "Double T" aluminum extrusion (see illustration below and at left). The neck also had an adjustable truss rod and a zero fret. The neck was 1¾" wide at the nut and 2" wide at the 12th fret.

Three single coil pickups with individual pole pieces were standard.

The V223 Mark XII guitar also included a vibrato arm, a very unusual feature on a twelve string guitar.

The Vox Mark XII guitar was first offered to the US market in the 1966 "Vox, It's Whats Happening - Beatles Cover" catalog. A black and white reprint of this catalog is available from North Coast Music.

The 1966 US Vox catalog described the V223 Mark XII guitar as follows: "Continental tear-drop 12 string; padded cushion on back; ebony finger board; nickel-silver frets; exclusive 2-way string damper; vibrato, adjustable master bridge channel; sunburst and popular colors."

The 1966 US Vox price list indicated that the retail price of the Mark XII guitar was $399.90 USD. Adjusting the 1966 price for inflation, the Mark XII would retail today for about $2750 USD.

My thanks to Roger Tessier for not only allowing me to take photographs of his Vox Mark XII, but also for sharing his great wealth of knowledge about Vox guitars with the Vox Showroom.


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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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