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Vox Essex bass amp story...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by drummer5359, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. drummer5359

    drummer5359 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Pittsburgh PA USA
    In the grumpy bassist club thread someone mentioned the Vox Essex bass amp which made me remember a crazy story from my youth.

    This was in the 1970's, I was an innocent victim, so was the Vox Essex bass amp...

    The statute of limitations applies.

    I played in a band as a drummer with my guitarist brother and bassist cousin. (No, we were not the Beach Boys.)

    We had a gig as an opener. During the second song the Vox in question decided that in no longer wished to be an amplifier, and wanted to be a paper weight.( Or at least is wanted to sit there and makes as much noise as a paper weight.)

    The headliner's bassist was gracious and lent the use of his amp to our bassist to make it through our set. We did not think highly of the Vox amplifier company.

    After the gig we had a few adult beverages (although I was not an adult) and then went to breakfast.

    We unloaded our gear at our house. My brother then borrowed my Torino to give our cousin a ride home and drop off the amp. At the time I thought that it was odd that he wanted to use my car.

    Here is a stock photo of an Essex for reference.


    They made a stop on the way to my cousin's house.

    They drove to the center of the Liberty Bridge at four o'clock in the morning (in my car) and threw the Vox amp off of the bridge into the water.

    It's the second bridge in the picture, the high yellow one.


    The moral of the story is that drummers are not always the craziest members of a band. Then again, maybe I was. I let them use my car.
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Let's see...underage drinking, drinking while driving, committing two crimes on a bridge in a borrowed car, throwing away what's now considered a classic amp...

    Man, I miss the good old days!
  3. Wesley R

    Wesley R Supporting Member

    I bought my Essex from the local bass hero of the time. It crapped out on him once, and was "rebuilt" in our electronics class in highschool. I used it for my portable amp for years, leaving it in the back of a 1966 Chevrolet station wagon. The cart hadle conveniantly hooked in the hinges on the folding seat. Best $25 i spent in 1972.
  4. I had one of these, bought it around '74-'75. It was a sexy looking thing but sounded like azz and probably would have done better at the bottom of the river, but honestly I can't remember what became of it. My guess is I sold it to some poor schmuck when I was getting rid of stuff before my move from Michigan to Tucson, AZ in '77.
  5. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I've only played through one once or twice back in the day, but from what I recall it was just as suited to being a buoy as an amplifier.
  6. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    COOL story. Many of those rigs were better to look at than to use, as you briefly discovered. :cool:
  7. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    I have just one question for the OP, when you tossed it off the Liberty Bridge, did it float or quickly sink to the bottom of the river?

    There a few times when I wish we had a large bridge like the Liberty in my city so I could have tossed a few different amps off it over the years at 4:00 am. ;)

    TD :)
  8. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well it looks classic, anyway ;)
  10. b_carville


    Jun 26, 2008
    They were dogdirt!

    The American made solid state Thomas Organ made VOX amps were some of the worst POS' made to sucker punch young musicians.
    I know these amps do have their fans but they were grossly overpriced & broke down on a regular basis.
    I owned an Essex in 1966. Cost me $350 in 1960's dollars. ( that was a lot then. Especially when I worked in a donut shop making $25 a week)Was probably 25 or 30 watts. Was rated at 60 but VOX rated at peak power. Could've got an Ampeg B15 for cheaper but the VOX was sexier looking. Hell,I could of got a B18, which had some real kick, for about the same money.
    The only good thing was I got lucky and got the model with the VOX Celestion made blue speakers. Sold the speakers for $300 to a guitarist who bought them up. If you were unlucky you got crappy Utah's.
  11. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    When I was a guitar player in 1968, our band went all Vox. I used a Buckingham head into a Super Beatle bottom. I loved it. The brilliant channel is still my favorite SS clean tone.

    Our bass player had a Vox Westminster head and bottom. He also had a 100 watt, Vox tube head, and a second bottom. He used both, but preferred the Westminster. He used a Vox bass as well. Typical dull, boomy 60's bass tone. He still plays bass, and uses a fretted and fretless Modulus.
  12. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    my essex was bought in 2000 for an art show, the cart was ox blood and the thing was rewired to have a gain and a master rather than the usual controls, i traded it to pittsburgh guitars along with my old trashed but working bassman 100 for a vox clubmaster short scale bass, the essex was not good with the gibson grabber at all, but it did work alright with my friends strat and his pedals
  13. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Had an Essex back in the late '60s. It never broke down, but it was underpowered and sounded like mush.

    Ditched it for a Fender Dual Showman a couple years later.

    P.S. I don't miss either of 'em. I love the modern gear!
  14. Wow , I have one of those things sitting in a corner of my basement. I had pretty much forgotten about it ( hadn't been used or moved in over 10 years.) The amp part was removed decades ago but if I remember correctly it made a pretty good guitar speaker cab. I remember back in the day (when I could still walk my pet dinosaur)a buddy of mine had one. Totally gutless. My old 50 watt Fender Bassman with the 2 12's could blow it out of the water and heck , I can fart louder these days than that Bassman could get.
  15. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    I would have at least kept the cart. It could have been useful for hauling other gear. :p
  16. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    it actually worked great as a party stereo with my old sony discman, young people probably don't know what that is though
  17. drummer5359

    drummer5359 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Pittsburgh PA USA
    I wasn't there when they tossed it off of the bridge, I was blissfully ignorant of the crime that they were committing with my car.

    They said that it floated for a moment after impact and then went under pretty quick.

    They also said that the sound of the amp striking the water on that quiet night was by far the loudest noise that Vox ever made.