Above the earliest type of XLR mounting plate on large box Vox AC50s - engraved black traffolyte. By serial number 1763, grey mounting panels had been brought in. A number of AC50s with early grey mounting plates have 1/4" jack sockets instead of Cannon XLRs - but the fixing holes for the Cannons are always there.
From around serial numbers 3400-3500, round Amphenol XLR sockets become the norm, though one occasionally finds them earlier on. Amphenols remain standard all the way through to the "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" amps, sold in 1968 and 1969 - see this page.
Note that the VSEL mounting plates (example below) are black rather than grey. One can tell them apart from those in the earliest AC50s, however, by the larger captions and the three fixing holes for the Amphenol connectors.
Detail from VSEL AC50 serial number 1061, sold in late 1968 or early 1969, Amphenols and link connector removed.
Some quick pics of the warranty postcard and other items supplied with Dallas Arbiter-made AC50s in 1975 - on this page.
17th March (2)
Above, the Hayman drum factory at Shoeburyness, owned by Dallas Arbiter. Vox moved into part of this factory in 1973. Photo Mark Goodwin.
A page from the Dallas Arbiter / Vox catalogue of late 1973 or early 1974. Note that the AC30 and AC50 represented have the logos used on "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" amps. See this page.
Quite what Dallas were offering is not clear - perhaps a small stock of unsold VSEL amps. Under "Vox Sound Limited" - the company that Dallas took over - the AC50 was phased out (ie. from 1970 to 1972). No mention is found in any of the VSL catalogues nor in the pricelists published in "Beat Instrumental" magazine. Below, a pricelist from July 1971.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, July 1971. Only two valve amps: the AC30 and V100.
The first we see of the AC50 after 1969/1970 is in 1975 - the new Arbiter-made amps with the "old-fashioned" VOX logo in gold letters. The entry for 13th March, below, indicates the state of things in 1974 - price of the AC50 "To be announced".
Coming soon, pictures of a Dallas-made "Vox Sound Limited" AC50 with its factory-supplied documentation. The address of the company at that point: Elm Road, Vanguard Way, Shoeburyness, Essex. Naturally this was Dallas Arbiter, the address of which is given in trade journals of the time as: DALLAS MUSICAL LTD. Dallas House, Vanguard Way, Shoeburyness, Essex SS3 9QX, Tel 037008-4121/5.
Elm Road and Vanguard Way are here on Google satellite view.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, October 1973, signalling the end of the original incarnation of "Vox Sound Limited". VSL evidently did not put in an appearance at the Associated Musical Instrument Industries (A.M.I.I). show in August of that year. Negotiations were probably in progress with Dallas Arbiter though. Dallas did not take on the solid state amps, however, which had largely come to an end in 1972 in any case.
As far as "Beat Instrumental" is concerned, the first one hears of the Dallas-made AC30 is in May 1974. The AC50 was evidently "in progress" - and still in progress in December '74, as its price then is also "To Be Announced".
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, May 1974.
11th March (4)
An amp with a serial number in the 7000s, exported to Scandinavia, added here.
11th March (3)
An amp with a serial number in the 6000s now registered here. Accompanying is an AC30 cab in an early Super Twin trolley with a basket top.
The amp with chassis no. 2561 is actually serial number 6238 (not 6458 as previously indicated), currently in Sweden. A set of a new pictures here.
11th March (2)
Recently sold in New Zealand, a nice early-ish AC50 mark 2 (large box), serial no. 1735:
Condition looks good. Regrilled with modern cloth. No indication of what sort of voltage selector is present.
Below, a late JMI AC50 from late 1967 / 1968, serial number probably in the high 7000s or 8000s:
Currently on Marktplaats. Note the Servaas shop plate. Servaas was an important Vox dealer in the later 1960s, supplying AC100s, AC50s, 7-series and solid state amps, speaker cabs, and so on. For another Servaas-badged late JMI AC50, see here.
It seems that sizeable numbers of late AC50s went to the Low Countries and Scandinavia at the end of the JMI period.
The amp above is registered here. Scandinavian law required the removal of voltage selectors. Over the hole in the control plate the label: "Europaeisk Musik Import. Ulle Vaerlose. Denmark.". Europæisk Musik Import A/S, on the outskirts of Copenhagen, was owned by Per Ole Larsson. Its main business was in distributing "Max" amps.
The company is listed as a Vox dealer in an advert placed in "Beat Instrumental" magazine in February 1969 - see this page on the Vox Supreme website.
The date code on one of the pots of a two-input AC50 currently in a later large box (probably from a "Vox Sound Limited" amp) is now known to be "GK" = July 1963. Thanks to Rob for the info.
Serial number 7701 and its solid state Foundation Bass cab now registered here. A similar pairing is to be found in serial no. 7722. Both 7701 and 7722 are likely to be from the first third of 1967.
AC50 serial number 8110, still JMI, made in 1968 - the latest '68er being no. 8297 - registered on this page. Thanks to Rich for the pictures. More to follow.
24th February (3)
24th February (2)
"Vox Sound Equipment Limited" AC50 no. 1068 now registered here. Thanks to Timo for the pictures. Interesting that numbers of these amps went to Scandinavia.
Serial number 1068 is in Finland, its import probably handled by the PSO company = "Pohjoismainen Sähkö Oy". PSO was a major Vox dealer from 1967 to 1969 - see this page on the Vox solid state website.
Melody Maker magazine (really a paper), 20th August 1966 - advert placed by Len Stiles - an AC50, probably secondhand, for £45..
11th February (2)
The entry for serial number 3709 now updated. Thanks to Paul for the pictures:
Above, a detail from the preamp, showing blue Hunts caps with date code "YNS" = 7th week of 1965. See this page for further details. From the evidence assembling so far, it looks as though Triumph ordered batches every ten weeks or so, presumably ordering a new one well before its predecessor was too depleted. The batches appear to have contained caps produced in different weeks (as one might expect). Triumph will have known fairly early on how many AC50s could be and were being produced per week.
But one cannot entirely rule out the possibility that new supplies were ordered fairly randomly, on spec. - more admin, more bother, but nonetheless possible.
A nice diamond-input AC50 with basketweave tolex - a little while now on ebay.uk. For similar amps, see this page. Around 250-300 of these were made in the Spring and Summer of 1964. Most were paired with Foundation Bass speaker cabinets; a proportion however were sold for guitar.
Above, Chuck Botfield of the Rocking Berries, pictured in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, no. 28, August 1965. The speaker cabinet is an AC30, as it is in the picture (though not in the description) of the "Royal Guardsman" in the US brochure below - count the number of diamonds across the front: 17 1/2.
The trolley above appears to have parallel bars across the top, so of a newer sort than the one depicted below.
A Thomas Organ brochure from early 1965 - the AC50 as "The Westminster" and "Royal Guardsman" prior to the transferring of the names to amps in the solid state line.
Note, however, that the AC50/Royal Guardsman as described in the blurb is actually a new large box amp (twin channel) with a large box cab (33" wide). The picture is simply an old one re-used.
Below an advert for the AC50 / Royal Guardsman in the Chicago Daily Herald, 26th August 1965 - reduced from $730.00 to $660.00.
Vox dealers in the US were still selling (or rather selling off) English-made valve amps in late 1966 - see this entry below.
The amp below (entry for 15th Jan.) looks to have been assembled to look like the one in the brochure above. Cab and amp are certainly original, but not to each other.
15th January (2)
Notes on date codes in the blue Hunts capacitors used in AC50s have now been gathered together on a page of their own. Further details will be added.
Recently surfaced, a diamond input AC50 mark 1 in a thin-edged box. The trolley is repro and the cab an AC30. A similar amp survives in the UK.
Pictures of an amp, trolley and speaker cabinet set - serial number in the higher 3000s - added here.
14th January (3)
Above, an AC50 currently in Scandinavia, serial number probably in the 7000s: late 1966 or early 1967. Note the hang-tag, supplied by Vox, slipped into the voltage selector slot. Scandinavian legislation had long required selectors to be removed from imported electrical devices. Further pics of the amp, disassembled, are available here.
14th January (2)
Above, pictures of an early AC50 mark 2 in a small box (from the factory), currently on Reverb.com. Also registered here.
The mustard caps have date codes "B4" = second quarter of 1964. One of the Hunts capacitors has the code "HNT" = 27th week of '64 = early August '64. It is likely therefore that the amp was made in late August, possibly September, of that year.
13th January (5)
Pictures of serial no. 3435 (its serial number plate mis-stamped) now posted here.
A SHORT NOTE ON LARGE-BOX SPEAKER CABS
Just to gather together some fairly well known points. The earliest cabs had baffles made from birch ply. Speakers were silver alnico T1088s. See for instance, the cabs accompanying serial numbers 1607 and 2559.
By the time we get to AC50s with serial numbers in the 3000s, a different arrangement prevails. Baffles are made of chipboard (particle board), and Celestions have been set aside in favour of ceramic Fanes. See the many examples on this page. For a very short period however, ceramic Celestion T1217s seem to have been adopted (or at least tried out) - see ser. no. 3604.
A small number of cabs accompanying amps with numbers in the 4000s, however, have unpainted ply baffles - see no. 4061 for instance.
At some point in 1966, corresponding with serial numbers in the lowish 6000s, ply baffles seem to have been reinstated as a matter of course. At much the same time, Goodmans 241 speakers were bought in - see the cab pictured on this page.
Survival rates for early large-box cabs are relatively low - in all likelihood a consequence of the inability of the alnico speakers to stand up to the power put out by the amps. When the speakers failed, one imagines many of the cabs were put aside.
13th January (4)
A Vox AC50 supplied by J. Cumiskey and Sons, Dundalk (County Louth, Ireland). The premises were at 42-43 Clanbrassil Str. - photo below. Never has such a large dealer/supplier plate been so prominently applied. The amp is a VSL model, c. 1975.
13th January (3)
Also repeated from the Vox AC100 website - The Arlington Heights Herald, 17th September 1964 - three weeks or so after JMI had agreed to provide 1.5 million dollar's worth of equipment (£534,000 then) to Thomas Organ. Note "just flown in". AC50s along with a certain number of AC80/100 will have been among the first batches to arrive. The Herald was presumably reporting the arrival at Chicago - see below.
Vox advertisement from The Chicago Tribune, 13th December 1964. The Thomas Organ Studios at the Golf Mill Shopping Center was about 2 miles away from O'Hare International Airport.
Above, a copy of a Thomas Organ service bulletin of December 1964, still circulated as part of the "Vox Amplifiers Service Manual, Volume 1" in 1967 - the subject "Blown Fuses". In the UK, AC50s and AC100s normally had 3A fuses, so no change for the AC50 in the USA.
13th January (2)
Repeated from the AC100 website - The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 23rd August 1966 - Joseph Horne and Co. still offering English amps. The AC100 (Super Beatle) for $869.95 - note the mention of two inputs and "tone circuits for split effects" (not sure what that signifies). The AC50 (Royal Guardsman). AC50 Foundation Bass (Westminster). AC30 SRT (Buckingham Super reverb twin) - note the mention of three channels, six inputs, which might just as well indicate a solid state T. Organ amp, but more likely given the context, a slope sided AC30 SRT, its cab with a split front and closed back ("separate compression type speakers").
Early US brochures, flyers and adverts for Vox amps - including an early dealer pricelist and parts list - are being assembled on this page.
Three amps with serial numbers in the 3000s added: 3051, 3541 and 3709. 3709 is the highest so far still with a white warning plaque. Red plaques have come in by no. 3814. On the boxes of AC100s, the red plaque appears around serial number 740.