Saturday, June 5, 2010
The Vox Super Beatle
A friend of mine was discussing, the one that got away, with me last week, and his was a Vox Super Beatle.
The head was 100 watts of tube power through one channel. The controls were very simple, volume, treble, bass, on/off, and standby. There was also a rotary switch for different European electric standards.
It was a very nice, very loud amplifier, but rather plain. My thoughts are this amp was suited for large halls or stadiums back in the day when you could not hear the band over all the screaming. Many players and/or sound people did not use reverb since the large arenas were so cavernous and subject to echo. This was also during the pre-distortion era.
The initial model featured most of the bells and whistles we would expect on an amplifier of this era such as reverb and tremolo. It also included a distortion effect, based on the popular Vox fuzztone.
The next version included everything except the distortion effect. The third incarnation had it all; reverb, tremolo, distortion, a percussion effect and a "G" tuner that utilized an oscillator to produce a "G" note.
The third model was manufactured using FET's or Field Effect Transistors which were popular at the time. This entire series of The Super Beatle featured a trapezoidal shaped head with a rectangular large speaker cabinet. It came with a chrome trolley manufactured to hold the head at the top, while the cabinet was held in place by large bolts on either side. The head of each bolt was a very large chrome knob that could be twisted to hold the cabinet at different angles. The whole thing was on wheels. The grill cloth was the typical Vox design.
Each of these amps came with three channels. Each channel had differing features.
This was before the days of channel switching. Channel 1 had reverb, tremolo, and fuzz.
Channel two had reverb, tremolo and a unique feature known as the Mid-Range-Boost or MRB which sort of acted as a wah-wah emphasizing the mid-range frequencies.
On the amps backside was the percussion effect and controls for the effects. Musicians that used these amps often turned the heads backwards, so they could easily get to the controls.
The Beatles played through The Super Beatle amplifier during their last few US concerts in 1966.
There is no evidence to show they endorsed the amplifier of use it for recording. The Super Beatle was solely a USA made amplifier geared to USA players.
It should be noted The Who used these amps for the 1967 US tour. Although when the Who played Cincinnati that year, the used rented Fender Dual Showman amps at that concert.
There were other amplifiers in the series that had less power; The Viscount, The Royal Guardsman, and The Beatle all had the same control panel layout and effects features. These went from 30 watts to the 100 watt Super Beatle.
My friend is involved with a local band that runs through Vox Berkley amps.
He tells me these amps are prone to problems and spend a lot of time in the shop. However they are excellent sounding amplifiers; loud and clean that have a great retro-look.