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Vox Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Corbeau, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. Corbeau


    Dec 14, 2011
    Sometimes I go to a local second hand instrument dealer and they have some interesting basses. One bass I saw was a Vox bass. It had a very slim neck - probably the slimmest neck on a bass I had ever seen.

    I also see some Vox basses on ebay.

    Their shapes intrigue me, although I wonder how they actually sound. Does anyone have any experience with them? Are they worth buying?
  2. ad9000

    ad9000 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2004
    Leucadia, CA
    Don't know if this is anything like the Vox basses you've seen, but I have a late '60's Apollo lV one-pickup hollow body. It is one of my favorite basses, though it is definitely a "specialty" instrument - I don't use it every day, but for certain gigs or recordings it is the bomb. I got mine for $700 USD used, about 8 years ago. I was inspired to get an Apollo lV when I heard that Colin Moulding used one on the last couple of XTC albums. If you're not familiar with those recordings, check them out for a good idea of how a hollow body Vox can sound. For lack of a better description, I'd describe it as an ultra-McCartney woofy, bottom-heavy thump, but with lots of presence and punch.
    The "pencil neck" is strange, especially if you're coming from a wide-neck instrument, but it's manageable unless you have really big hands. The Apollo lV has some quirky features - built in distortion (which is pretty ratty), a "G" tuner that actually emits a high "G" tone, and a primitive active circuit with bass or treble boost.
  3. Meddle


    Jul 27, 2009
    The local vintage guitar shop here had a Vox teardrop bass for a while. The neck was like half a pool cue, it was so consistently narrow. Quite fun to play, and definitely a vintage sound.

    The player that comes to my mind most prominently is Lee Jackson of The Nice. I think he sometimes played with finger picks like a banjo player (rolling his fingers). Compare The Nice playing Blue Rondo ala Turka with ELP playing the same piece and you hear Jackson is playing triplets whereas Greg Lake has to do up-down strokes with a regular pick.

    Oh, and Jackson was left handed.


    I am quite interested in Vox's "repeat percussion" effect they installed in some guitars (and maybe basses) in the '60s. These were basically an inverse-sawtooth tremolo with the rate stuck right up. This basically turns the guitar signal into a copy of a quickly decaying sound (such as a snare drum hit). What is interesting is that the effect was triggered by notes being played rather than constantly running off an LFO or something. Not sure if Vox realised they were ahead of the curve given that it took Gibson many decades to consider building effects into guitars.
  4. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Loved the Teardrop. Like the one Ben Orr used to play.
  5. I have a teardrop bass- was told it was a *Bill Wyman* sig when I bought it from *the Vox Room* in Sacramento, probably about 83. It had been hanging on their wall, *NFS* but then the shop went out of business. Has the onboard prehistoric active bass/treb boost, G-tuner & distortion. Short-scale, mandolinesque neck(skinny like a pencil, or Olive Oyl). Sweet basses, kinda twangy IIRC- I haven't had mine out for years. WORST NECK DIVE of all TIME. :D
  6. Tat2dHeart

    Tat2dHeart Only two strings away from an attitude problem.

    I've played a couple of Vox. A friend of mine runs a bass store that specializes in vintage instruments and he had a couple out. I loved the sound of the Teardrop (can't remember the other model), but as bassteban says, the neck dive was horrid.
  7. [​IMG]
    Circa 83- Bad Brains were SUPPOSED to show up, but did not. Cut my right fingers open on the saddle-height screws and bled all over the bass. Left it on: PUNK ROCK, man
    huckleberry1 likes this.
  8. jj4001


    Dec 27, 2010
    Providence, RI
    I owned a Vox Apollo IV for a year. I absolutely loved the tone. It had a real rubbery and bouncy tone on recordings. Whole notes could really sing on that thing.

    Wish I could've kept it but the pencil neck and super tight string spacing was difficult to adjust to. It was hard not to fret notes too early because of the reduced distance between the strings.
  9. Corbeau


    Dec 14, 2011
    Pretty interesting info, thanks!

    I think the Vox bass I saw was the Panther, although I like the look of the Teardrop. I think the Panther is the one with the single, slanted pickup.
  10. I've seen a variety of PU/electronics on Teardrops, as well as the other Vox body styles. It seems they used whatever they had- I've seen much wider/&standard* width/length necks, simplfied controls...
  11. fisticuffs

    fisticuffs Commercial User

    May 3, 2011
    Madison, WI
    They've been re-released as toys with built in amps:
    Had a bass version at the NAMM show. Not sure they've actually shipped one. I played them though. They were cheap. I'd still grab one for nostalgia's sake.
  12. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    The local GC has a modified '60s Vox Hawk IV they want $900 for. I gave it a try and found I really like the pencil neck but I wasn't about to pay their price so I wound up shaving down a project Bronco's neck to the Vox neck dimensions. I replaced the OEM bridge with a stick bridge and tailpiece and the neck feels great and it sounds decent enough to gig with this weekend.
  13. Fly Guitars

    Fly Guitars

    Dec 29, 2008
    I've got a few Vox basses, and i've had, then sold a few more. It's true some have really thin necks, but not all.

    I like the onboard effects, but I find them better in the studio than live - the old electronics are often just a touch too unpredictable, but very unique sounding.

    And the teardrops look great, but so annoying to play sitting down at home
  14. I have one, an apollo iv ... Its interesting. The neck IS strange as hell though!!!! Im actually looking for a buyer :bassist:
  15. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Those basses are so cool always wanted one
  16. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Just wanted to post an update. After two years I'm still gigging my rat-rod DIY Faux-Vox. I used it last night at a 4th of July party and several other recent gigs. I'm still liking the neck dimensions and started searching for a vintage pencil-necked Vox at a reasonable price but I'm not very hopeful, so I've started on my second Faux-Vox this time with a rosewood fingerboard.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  17. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Waaaaay back in my youth during my junior high school years (back in the mid 60's) a friend of mine had a Vox Phantom bass. I think that's what it was...it had that funny, 5 sided shape to it. Anyway, I didn't play back then but I wanted to see what it was like so I strapped it on and talk about instant neck dive!! That's the one thing I remember most about that bass!
  18. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis

    Dec 11, 1999
    Here's a couple of pics of my 1968 Stinger IV. It's also pictured in my avatar. Very cool bass. For the most part, it only see's the light of day once or twice a year. The rest of the year it sleeps in its case.



    Pentatonic likes this.
  19. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

  20. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    The slant-pickup Vox indeed is the Panther, at that time the bottom of the line; and the polygon-shaped body is the Phantom. My second bass ever was the EB-2 style Cougar. I loved that bass and would have kept it forever, except the dead zone (not dead spot) over time became intolerable. Otherwise, I might still be playing short-scales.

    Sometime between 1966 and 1968 Vox had a major spec change that brought on board the skinny necks, on-board effects, and huge headstocks. My Cougar had no neckdive issues whatsoever, and hose 1966 and earlier Vox basses (except the Panther) did not have pencil-thin necks.

    The 1964 - 66 Vox pickups likely were Eko product; do some visual comparisons. For soundclips, the Tommy James "Crimson and Clover" YouTube video features a late 60s Vox bass, as do videos of several obscure 60s one-hit wonder bands (showing some non-Beatle Hofners as well). The video for Sopwith Camel's "Hello Hello" features the similarly pickup'ed Eko violin-bass in an exposed part.

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