The Vox Standard 25 Guitar (Models 3500 and 3501) - 1982-1985
The Vox Custom 25 Guitar (Model 3000) - 1982-1985

Vox Standard 25 Guitar - Model 3501 (L), Model 3500 (R)

The Return of Vox Guitars
After a ten year absence in the market, Vox started offering guitars again in 1982. Here's a brief history.

The first guitars and basses produced by Vox were introduced in the 1962 "Choice of the Stars" catalog. These earliest Vox guitars were assembled in the Vox plant in Dartford Kent from bodies and necks fabricated by several UK furniture companies.

As the demand for guitars grew on the heels of the "British Invasion," Vox reached out to the Italian manufacturers Crucianelli and Eko to expand the range of models offered. Italian made Vox guitars filled the pages of the 1964 through 1968 Vox product catalogs.

As the demand for Vox products waned in 1968, Vox suspended in-house production of stringed instruments. Most of the Italian made Vox models were also dropped in favor of new Japanese models: a six string guitar named the "V.G.6," a twelve string guitar named the "V.G.12" and a bass guitar named the "V.G.4." The body shape of all three instruments resembled the Gretsch Country Gentleman. The result of these changes can be seen in the 1969 "Giant Sounds" guitar catalog.

The 1970 Vox catalog eliminated all of the former Italian made Vox guitars. Three additional Japanese instruments joined the line: a Les Paul clone named the "V.G.2," an SG guitar clone named the "SG 200" and an SG bass clone named the "SG Bass." A "Classic" acoustic guitar was also offered. At the same time, Vox was faltering as a company and put up for sale in 1972.

Upon the 1973 purchase of Vox by Dallas Arbiter all guitar offerings were dropped. For the next six years, Dallas struggled to regain the prior glory of Vox while selling only amps, effects and an occasional Italian made keyboard. Unfortunately, retail sales failed to meet expectations. Dallas Arbiter gave up in 1978. The Vox brand was again put up for sale.

The UK based musical distributor Rose Morris purchased Vox from Dallas Arbiter in 1978. However, the purchase from Dallas Arbiter offered Rose Morris only the European rights for the Vox trademark. Due to a deal struck between JMI and Thomas Organ in 1966, Thomas still retained the exclusive North American trademark and distribution rights for Vox. This thirteen year old agreement blocked the importation of Vox gear from the UK to the US.

Rose Morris successfully negotiated the purchase of the US trademark and distribution rights for Vox from Whirlpool, the parent company of Thomas Organ, in 1979. Vox was again reunified as a single, UK based company. Rose Morris could sell now Vox gear anywhere in the world.

As they were a distributor rather than a manufacturer of musical products, Rose Morris did not have any facilities to build amplifiers or guitars. Prior to the sale to Rose Morris, Dallas Arbiter manufactured Vox amplifiers in their facility in Shoeburyness, Essex, England. As the former Vox facility was still operational, Dallas Arbiter offered to continue Vox amp production for Rose Morris. A deal was struck between Dallas and Rose Morris and Vox amps continued to roll out of the Shoeburyness facility. With amplifiers out of the way, Rose Moris now turned its attention to guitars.

Rose Morris chose Matsumoko, a Japanese private label guitar manufacturer, to build their their new guitar line. Matsumoko produced guitars for Epiphone, Aria Pro and Washburn, among others. Owned by the US based Singer Corporation, Matsumoku also manufactured wooden cabinets for sewing machines and consoles for television sets.

The Vox Standard 25 Guitar (Models 3500 and 3501)
The design of the Vox Standard 25 guitar was obviously influenced by the Fender Stratocaster. The Standard 25 (seen above) featured a maple body with a black polyester finish, three pickups, a three way pickup selector, a balanced tremolo bar system and a bolt-on 22 fret neck.

Although the name of the guitar might seem to suggest a 25" scale length, the scale of the Standard 25 was actually 25½." This 25½" scale was identical to the Fender Stratocaster and enhanced the tonal brilliance of the guitar. The fretboard was available in either rosewood (Model 3501) or maple (model 3500).

The Standard 25 featured three DiMarzio FS-1 pickups. These pickups offered significantly more output and slightly less treble than the standard Stratocaster pickup.

The traditional "paddle" head stock shape of 1960 era Vox guitars was retained in the Standard 25. The head stock included six individual sealed tuners.

The Vox Custom 25 Guitar (Model 3000)
The Vox Custom 25 guitar featured a walnut body with a non-removable maple "neck through body" design (picture at right).

The Vox Custom 25 abandoned the traditional three single coil pickup configuration of the Stratocaster for a pair of DiMarzio X2N humbucking pickups. DiMarzio desctribes the X2N as a "take no prisoners, in your face" humbucker. The DiMarzio website also states that the X2N is their highest output pickup and is designed to push tube amps into "total overdrive."

Master luthier and guitarist Adrian Legg designed the passive electronics used to control these pickups. In addition to a pickup selector and individual volume/tone controls for each pickup, a mode selector switch is also included. The mode selector allows the choice between series, parallel or coil tap wiring for the pickups.

A close comparison of the location of the bridges on the Standard 25 and Custom 25 reveals another important feature of the Custom 25. The bridge on the Custom 25 is located closer to the mid point of the body than on the Standard 25. While both the Standard and Custom 25 guitars offer a 25½" scale, the bridge location on the Custom 25 allows the neck to offer 24 frets, or two complete octaves, of playing range. The Standard 25 has a 22 fret neck.

The balanced tremolo system of the Custom 25 guitar also features a brass bridge for greater sustain.


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Vox Custom 25 Guitar (Model 3000)


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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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