Tuesday, March 6, 2012

1968 Vox Aristocrat

Cutting an iconic mod image with his white, teardrop shaped English-made Vox guitar, Brian Jones sparked a six string revolution. With the emerging radical styles seen in the hands and on the backs of the British bands, the coolness factor of a Vox branded guitar was and is a perfect match with Chelsea boots, white 501's, shaggy haircut and a striped pullover. Problem was that UK based JMI (Vox' parent company) simply could not keep up with the demand of amplifier and guitar production. In 1965, amps bearing the Vox name were built in southern California, and EKO in Italy was contracted to build more Vox branded guitars (including the legendary MARK series teardrops and the trapezoid like Phantom).

In 1967, Vox (in what can be seen as a last gasp effort) introduced four guitars in this shape which was clearly inspired by Gibson's ES-335. However, these guitars are fully hollow, making them more like an ES-330. The other three models (Cheetah, Ultrasonic and Viper saw the installation of the same built in effects as the Starstream model that I featured a few weeks ago. The Aristocrat, however, had no built in effects and therefore is a much "cleaner" design.

This Aristocrat is fairly unusual, as it features more deluxe fretboard inlays (most had solid blocks without the diagonal hash as seen here) and a plain headstock with only a large VOX logo; this one has the more intricate floral inlay and a smaller VOX logo.

With their microphonic pickups, bolt on maple neck and fully hollow construction, these guitars have a VERY psychedelic, haunting sound. Trivia: Pete Townsend smashed a Cheetah in the famous performance of THE WHO on the Smothers Brothers show in '67.

Images courtesy of the author; c2012 Derek See.

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