The Vox Phantom XII

V221 Vox Phantom 12 Guitar - Made for Vox by Eko, Recanati Italy - 1965

UK Made Vox Phantom XII - 1964-68
Vox recognized the sales potential of the twelve string electric by introducing a twelve string version of the Phantom guitar in the February 1964 JMI Vox full line catalog.

A Brief History of the Vox Phantom
After introducing a series of "Fender inspired" student grade guitars in 1961, Vox started the development of professional grade instruments. Vox determined that "copy cat" guitar designs for their pro models would be unacceptable. Their new upscale guitar models would need to have body designs that were unique and iconic, rendering them immediately recognizable as a Vox instrument. 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 a unique body profile that would be developed into a new pro-quality guitar model. Others claim that the design for this proposed "top of the line" Vox guitar was drafted in-house at JMI. Either way, it was through these efforts that the legendary, "coffin shaped" Vox Phantom I and Phantom II six string guitars and a four string Phantom Bass were introduced in 1962.

The earliest, 1962 versions of the Phantom were assembled in the Vox plant in Dartford Kent. The production of bodies and necks was subcontracted to outside vendors. For the most part, these early Phantom instruments were equipped with the same V.1. pickups, "Standard" tailpieces, bridges and tuner keys as their student grade counterparts.

JMI made a major revision to their guitar line in 1963, largely made possible by their development of vastly improved pickups, bridges and tremolo units. Vox replaced both the Phantom I and II six string guitars with one new second generation model simply named "Phantom" that would take advantage of these new components.

The Phantom was now equipped with three Vox V.2. single coil pickups with white plastic pickup covers and six exposed pole pieces, similar to the pickups Fender installed on a Stratocaster. Vox also equipped the new Phantom with the upgraded "Hank B. Marvin Tremolo Unit," a two piece system that included a Bigsby like roller action tailpiece and a micro adjustable bridge. The tailpiece casting featured the inscribed signature of the legendary UK guitarist Hank B. Marvin.

The JMI Vox Phantom XII "Made in the UK" - 1964-1968
The original Vox Phantom XII guitar was assembled at the JMI facilities in the UK. As was the case with the six string Phantom, the bodies and necks for the twelve string models were produced for Vox by several "outside' subcontractors. The Phantom XII was created by adding a twelve string neck to the body and hardware of the six string Phantom. The headstock paddle included twelve sealed, Vox branded tuners in two rows of six. The UK made Phantom XII was offered in black, white, red, light blue, medium blue and green satin finishes.

The V221 Vox Phantom XII - "Made in Italy by Vox" - 1965-1968
By 1965, the popularity and world wide demand for Vox instruments caused Jennings to enter into a contract with Eko in Italy to supplement UK guitar production, including the Phantom XII. Most of the Vox Phantoms XII guitars sold in America were made by Eko in Italy and included a decal on the back of the head stock with the inscription "Made in Italy by Vox." The Italian made Phantom XII included a snap-on, padded cloth back pad, as shown at the top of this page. The pickups and hardware on Vox guitars produced by Eko were similar but not identical to those used for guitar production at JMI.

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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