The V221 Vox Phantom XII

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 string versions of both the Phantom and Teardrop guitars in 1964.

Here is the history of the Vox Phantom 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 these efforts was the "coffin" shaped V209 Phantom VI guitar.

The V210 Vox Phantom Bass and V221 Vox Phantom 12 String followed the V209 Phantom VI. Vox also incorporated their signature "Phantom" body style into the V246 Stereo Phantom XII and the V251 Guitar Organ.

The earlest verisons of the Phantom guitars and basses were assembled in the Vox plant in Dartford Kent using parts subcontracted from various European suppliers. Some of these Vox Phantom guitars were equipped with the excellent Eko neck that incorporated an aluminum double T bar reinforcing channel in addition to an adjustable truss rod.

Three single coil pickups with individual pole pieces were standard. The Eko (Italian) produced version of the V221 Phantom XII had a padded snap on back cushion, the UK version did not.

The V221 Phantom XII guitar also included a Bigsby style vibrato arm, a very unusual feature on a twelve string guitar.

The Vox Phantom 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 V221 Phantom XII guitar as follows: "Unique Phantom 12-string design; ebony finger board; nickel-silver frets; exclusive 2-way string damper; 6 individual string bridges, true spring action vibrato."

The 1966 US Vox price list indicated that the retail price of the Mark XII guitar was $379.90 USD. Adjusting the 1966 price for inflation, the Phantom XII would retail today for about $2619 USD.

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