The V209 Vox Phantom VI (Italian version)

Vox V209 Phantom VI Guitar (Eko produced model shown above)

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Vox entered the guitar market in 1961 with a series of student grade instruments with names such as the "Stroller" and "Clubman." Some of these earliest guitars were built for Vox by Guyatone in Japan. Others featured bodies and necks manufactured for Vox by Stuart Darkins Ltd, a UK furniture maker. Click here to see a JMI magazine ad from 1961 featuring some of these early Vox guitar models.

The body shapes of these early Vox guitars resembled those from Fender in America. They had inexpensive ferrite "bar magnet" pickups and lacked an adjustable neck truss rod. Vox would not be likely to attract the professional musician with these models.

Vox then moved on to develop a professional grade guitar. It was decided that this new professional guitar model should feature a body shape that would be unique, iconic and immdiately recognizable as a Vox instrument. It is reasonable to assume that the popularity of the Fender Stratocaster in the UK would encourage Vox to include "Strat" like features into the design of their new guitar.

In his 1991 book, "The Vox Story," JMI lead engineer Dick Denney reported that JMI entered into a contract with the London Design Centre in 1962 to suggest unique guitar profiles. Some dispute Denney's statement and claim that this design and development work was handled "in house" at JMI.

The result of this development led to the introduction of the Vox Phantom VI, first introduced in late 1962. The earlest verisons of the Phantom were assembled in the Vox plant in Dartford Kent using parts subcontracted from various suppliers.

Like the Stratocaster, the Phantom VI had three single coil pickups with six individual pole pieces, a three way pickup selector switch, a bolt on neck, a vibrato arm, and a contoured back.

Vox also produced a twelve string and a bass guitar version of the Phantom.

The Phantom was accepted by many bands during the British Invasion period, including the Hollies and the Dave Clark Five in the UK and Paul Revere and the Raiders in the US.

By 1965, the popularity and world wide demand for Vox guitars caused Jennings to supplement UK production of the Phantom by using Eko to additionally manufacture the Phantom in Italy. The Italian made Phantoms included a snap-on, padded cloth back pad, as shown at left.

The 1966 US Vox catalog described the V209 Phantom VI Guitar as follows: "Ebony fingerboard; nickel silver frets; 3-position pickup switch; true spring action vibrato; adjustable master bridge channel; 6 individual string bridges; exclusive 2-way string damper; padded cushion on back; popular colors."

The 1966 US Vox price list indicated that the retail price of the Phantom guitar was $299.90 USD. Adjusting the 1966 price for inflation, the Phantom would retail today for about $2075 USD.

My thanks to Roger Tessier for not only allowing me to take photographs of his Vox Phantom VI, 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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