The Vox Soundcaster Guitar 1962 - 1965

JMI Vox Soundcaster Guitar

Fender Stratocaster

While JMI Vox developed the unique and iconic "Phantom" and "Teardrop" guitar body shapes in 1962, the demand for "American style" dual cutaway guitars remained strong in the UK.

This demand was largely driven by the success of the Shadows, a guitar instrumental group that also served as the back-up band for the British crooner, Cliff Richards. Cliff Richards and the Shadows dominated the British pop charts in the early sixties prior to the arrival of the Beatles. The Shadows featured Vox amplifiers but preferred Fender Stratocaster guitars and the Fender Precision Bass over the stringed instruments produced by JMI Vox.

The popularity of Shadows guitarist Hank Marvin and bassist Jet Harris sent many young and aspiring musicians to the music stores on Denmark Street in London looking for their own Fender guitar or bass. Unfortunately, Fender guitars were out of reach to the average consumer due to the high costs of importation. JMI Vox addressed this issue in 1962 by introducing two UK made Vox instruments designed to resemble the Stratocaster guitar and the Precision Bass. JMI named these the Soundcaster guitar and the Symphonic Bass. JMI also introduced a Fender Telecaster knockoff, the New Escort, in 1965.

While many Vox guitars were produced by in Italy by Crucianelli or Eko, the Soundcaster was built in England at JMI.

While the dual cutaway Vox Soundcaster offset body resembled the Fender Stratocaster, the Soundcaster had an elongated lower bout. The Soundcaster body also had the same front and rear "comfort contours" as the Stratocaster. Neither of these contours were depicted in the Soundcaster catalog image shown above.

The Vox Soundcaster featured three Vox VII single coil pickups. The bridge pickup on the Stratocaster and Soundcaster guitars were similarly angled to enhance treble response. Both guitars featured a three way pickup selector switch, a volume control and two tone controls. Both guitars featured a spring loaded, balanced vibrato arm system. The Soundcaster also included a lever actuated string mute system. Vox suggested that this mute could be used to create banjo effects on the Soundcaster.

The 1964 Vox catalog stated that the Soundcaster guitar had a slim sycamore neck with an adjustable truss rod. Like the Strat, the Soundcaster neck was topped with a rose wood fret board.

The Soundcaster guitar retailed for £89.5 in 1964. This was roughly half the £173.5 price in the UK of a sunburst Fender Stratocaster in 1964.


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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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