The ups and downs of the Thomas Organ Vox Amps of the 1960''s.
OK, I admit it. I like the way the old ‘60s Thomas Organ Vox amplifiers sound. True, they are not tube amps like the AC30, but they have a sound of their own that is distinctive and ear-pleasing. Even today they have a dedicated following.
Except for some bad guesses on Thomas Organ’s part, the American Vox amps might have been much more popular and stayed popular for a longer period than they were. There were some ground-breaking technical items inside the Thomas Vox amps that deserve more notice than they got. Among these are:
A distortion channel inside the amp
There may have been earlier amplifiers with internal distortion channels, but I have not found them. The Beatle, Royal Guardsman, and Viscount/Buckingham amps all had a built-in distortion that was essentially a silicon Fuzz Face. It’s a decent sounding distortion, which suffered from only being available as a footswitch option and having no external controls.
The nasal MRB sound was built into the amp, and again only accessible from the footswitch. It’s a neat British-invasion kind of sound that was the forerunner to the wah circuit, also introduced by Vox.
Tremolo and Reverb
The Thomas Organ Vox tremolo and reverb have incredible depth when set up properly and not suffering from aging capacitors. The tremolo has no detectable thumping; the reverb is one of the surfiest I’ve ever heard.
A "remote pedalboard"
This gave the guitarist the ability to control the effects from a five-switch foot-pedal.
A soft-clipping power amplifier
A little-noticed feature of the bigger Thomas Vox amps is the soft limiter ahead of the power amp circuit. The amps with the limiter circuit have an overdriven sound somewhere between solid state and tube amp overdrive.
This limiter soft-clips before the power amp. As a result, you hear the soft-clipper, never the harsh clipping of the power amp, under any overdrive conditions. This removes most of the harsh sound we have come to expect from solid state amps. Soft clipping has become a feature of some highly regarded super-hi-fi amps in the decades since the ‘60s, but this is the earliest instance of it I’ve seen.
I am certain that the designers put the limiter in to protect the power amp from failure by being overdriven, but in doing so they made the sound much better than it would otherwise have been.
Trolleys for moving the amps Thomas Organ followed the lead of the British AC100 and AC30 head-and-cabinet model in making a steel tubing trolley for moving their amps. This was not only a nice styling touch; the speaker cab for the Royal Guardsman and Beatle could be back-breakingly heavy. Some means of moving these things around easily were almost mandatory.
A few of Thomas Organ’s bad guesses:
Trolleys instead of more-portable amps Despite being a great idea, the trolleys weren’t implemented very well, and weren’t built to stand up to road use. As a practical matter, the trolleys were usually discarded.
Although it seems odd from today’s perspective, The Beatle, Royal Guardsman, Buckingham and Viscount all have multiple input channels, intended for two guitars and a bass if the labels are to be believed. They thought a band would buy one amp, and everyone would run a cable to the same amplifier.
This led to some strange design ideas, like the reverb being assignable to one of three channels instead of something that applied across the whole amp. If you view this in the light of being a primitive mixer design halfway implemented, it makes some sense. But people stopped sharing amps very quickly in the ‘60s, so the design was outmoded pretty much before it got started.
Designs only an accountant could love
The Thomas Vox line carries the imprint of a heavy business hand. The very first Thomas Organ Vox amps were tube based, but they quickly revamped them into solid state with an obviously advertising-oriented lineup. There is a nice gradation of both physical size and number of features as you progress from the smaller, simpler and less expensive amps to the Super Beatle. However, the internal designs are only adequate in terms of heat removal, wire routing, general reliability and serviceability.
That last item is what has made Thomas Vox amplifiers so rare today. Amp techs had to charge so much money to repair these things that owners got disgusted and just tossed them into the landfill. That’s a shame, because in many ways the mixing of guitar amp with organ technology produced many things that have come to be standard today – remote foot switching of multiple effects, a distortion channel, a midrange boost, and a soft-clipping output stage that is only now being recognized for what it was.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.