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Pete’s Gear: Vox AC-100 amplifiers

Vox AC-100 amplifiers

1965

Ca. 1965, with Vox AC100 and Rose, Morris, Co., LTD., Rickenbacker 1993.

From late spring/early summer 1965 until November 1965, John Entwistle and Pete Townshend switched to using Vox gear on stage, John with two Vox T-60 amplifiers and cabinets, and Pete with two Vox AC-100 Super DeLuxe 100-watt amplifiers and open-backed cabinets with Midax horns. Continuing the practice started with the early Marshall 4x12 stacks, Pete fitted the Union Jack flag on the grillecloth of the amp.

The AC-100, the first 100-watt amplifier, used four EL34 valves and was originally designed for John Lennon and George Harrison of the Beatles, who began using them on stage in mid-1964.

The amps, though rated at 100 watts, were not well suited to the Who’s volume, and reliability — with heads catching on fire — was questionable.

Max the Mod (offline):

I distinctly remember the occasion when Pete first used his VOX A.C.100 on stage. It literally self-destructed during the second number and real ozone started to smoke from the back. Pete nonchalantly disconnected the head and chucked the smoking missile in the direction of the band room and proceeded to set up his old stack while the rest of the band kept playing. In keeping with tradition, the show must go on!

So, unsatisfied with the sound and reliability (and following their van being stolen on 2 September 1965; after which they leased Vox gear until November, when they unceremoniously dumped it back at the hire company), they returned to Marshall, with the debut of the Marshall 8x12 stacks and 100-watt amplifiers in early November 1965.

(For more information, see Max The Mod’s great description [offline].)

In 1967, they would return to using rented Vox equipment for the early U.S. shows, with a later incarnation of the AC-100, the U.S.-manufactured U.S. Thomas Organ (VOX) “Super Beatle” 120w amplifiers and 4x12 (w/two horns) cabinets.

AC-15

Pete’s first use of Vox amps came in 1963, when he joined the Detours, sharing Roger’s Vox AC-15, which he had acquired from Detours rhythm guitarist Roy East, who had drowned whilst on holiday.

AC-30

In 1965, Pete is occasionally seen using Vox AC-30 combo amps, often paired with the Fender Bassman. These may have been borrowed/hired, such as for television performances.

Selected quotes

All quotes and references are copyright their original owners and are included for reference only.

Guitar Player, November 1975, interview with John Entwistle

When we first started calling ourselves the Who I used a Marshall 50 watt amp with a 4-12 cabinet. I had the first 4-12 cabinet that Marshall made. We more or less forced them to make 100 watt amps by changing to Vox, who already had one out.

AC-100 Specification

  • Speakers: Four Vox Celestion Alnico 12 speakers and two Midax HF horns.
  • Valves: ECC83, two 12AU7, four EL34
  • Controls: Two inputs, volume, bass, treble
  • Chrome roller stand

AC-15

Detours, ca. 1962 or 1963.

Ca. 1962 or 1963, as the Detours. Pete playing a Levin Goliath LM-26 sunburst acoustic with pickup in soundhole, and to the right of Roger, who is playing the Epiphone Wilshire that he would eventually give to Pete, what appears to be a TV-front Vox AC-15, with cabinet corners.

AC-30

2 June 1965, with Fender Bassman top and 2x15 cabinet.

2 June 1965, Club au Golf Droutou, Paris, with Vox AC-30, left, and Fender Bassman top and 2x15 cabinet.

2 June 1965, with Fender Bassman top and 2x15 cabinet.

2 June 1965, Club au Golf Droutou, Paris, with two Vox AC-30s, left and far right, surrounding a Fender Bassman top and 2x15 cabinet.

Ca. 1966, television appearance with a Vox AC-30. Guitar is the Grimshaw.

Ca. December 1965 or January 1966, television appearance with a Vox AC-30. Guitar is the Grimshaw.

AC-100

August 1965

August 1965, with four AC-100 amps.

With Danelectro Guitarlin

25 September, 1965, driving a Danelectro Guitarlin into the Vox AC-100 amp.

Generic Vox AC100

Photos of a generic 1965 Vox AC100 Mk II (with fixed bias, vs. cathode bias of MkI), courtesy Dominic. Click to view larger versions.

Click to view larger version. Generic Vox AC100
Click to view larger version. Generic Vox AC100
Click to view larger version. Generic Vox AC100
Click to view larger version. Generic Vox AC100
Click to view larger version. Generic Vox AC100
Click to view larger version. Generic Vox AC100

Resources and Information

Manufacturer

Vox information