Vox V261 Delta Owned and Used by Tom Verlaine Solid Body Electric Guitar (1967)

Vox  V261 Delta Owned and Used by Tom Verlaine Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1967)
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Item # 12230
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Vox V261 Delta Owned and Used by Tom Verlaine Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1967), made in Recanati, Italy, serial # 360460, white polyester finish, African mahogany body, laminated maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original grey hard shell case.

This is a really lovely example of one of the rarest (and coolest) 1960s Vox guitars: The V261 Delta with a built-in effects array. This instrument was owned for decades and used by Tom Verlaine as a recording instrument over the course of his post-Television career. A letter of provenance is included and the original case holds both some Vox "candy" and materials related to its history with Verlaine.

In any form the Vox Phantom is an instantly recognizable 1960s classic. This is the final version of the trademark trapezoidal body with many redesigned features introduced in 1967 when it was renamed the "Delta" for no obvious reason. Like most Vox guitars sold in the US it was built at the Eko factory in Recanati, Italy, not England. By 1965, Vox brand owner JMI in Dartford, Kent outsourced the great bulk of instrument production to the Italian firm, distributed in the US by Thomas Organ in Sepulveda, California.

The signature feature of the Delta is the bevy of onboard transistorized effects, pioneered by JMI in England and adapted to the final Italian-made range. The "distortion" circuit is particularly interesting, an onboard fuzzbox adjustable from a sizzly buzz to a white noise maelstrom, and every bit as gnarly sounding as many floor-pedal units from this golden age of Fuzz. The rotary active Treble-Bass boost is also effective, giving a wide range of tones. There is also a "repeater" effect, a cool sounding if fairly primitive electronic trem overlay, and an "E" tuner, which was more important in the pre-electronic tuner days of 1967!

Eko-made Vox guitars are more consistent in style and quality than their English cousins and in some ways better made. These late models from the 1967-8 period are almost entirely Italian creations for the American market; only the basic concept remained English, although some bore a sticker proclaiming "VOX -- the British sound"! This "Electronic guitars" line was introduced in a fanfare of publicity in 1967 but the instruments were fairly expensive for the time (the V261 listed at $348 plus $42 for the case) and are much less common than their earlier Italian-made siblings.

This V261 Delta was the top-line new solidbody model, using the Phantom shape with onboard effects built into the white Polyester finished body. The Delta was the only solidbody offered in this effect-laden layout, the rest were hollowbody designs. It features two single-coil Vox "Ferro Sonic" pickups with a master volume, two tone controls and a three-way switch. These were a great improvement on the original thin-coil Italian Vox units with more power and depth. The neck is 5-piece laminated maple with a bound, dot-inlaid ebony fingerboard. The black-finished "spear" headstock has the later pearly Vox logo and special enclosed tuning machines.

These third generation 1967-68 Eko-made models are some of the nicest of all Vox instruments in terms of build quality. This is a good playing and sounding later '60s instrument with as cool a provenance as can be had. While never Verlaine's primary guitar he kept it for many years and it was used as a recording tool offering a unique sonic palette.
Overall length is 41 1/4 in. (104.8 cm.), 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm.) across at the widest point, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at rib. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This rare Vox remains in very fine condition overall, better than most survivors with some typical minor wear including a couple of old tape spots that could be cleaned up if desired, but are part of its history in TV's arsenal. In general we have left the instrument as Tom used it, with just a bit of cleanup and a few tweaks to ensure continued playability. The all-original finish is very clean with none of the typical Vox checking and only really minimal wear. The original dark tortoise celluloid pickguard has shrunk up considerably (an unfortunately ubiquitous situation on this model) but is fully secured and is not causing any ongoing issues. The screw holes in the forward section of the guard are all split or pulled through with the two top corners missing.

All hardware is original and complete (even the always-lost snap-on bridge cover is present!) and mostly in excellent shape; several of the tuner buttons show heavier corrosion as do a few other metal parts. Amazingly all the onboard effects are still working, which is often not the case nearly 60 years on. There is a tape residue mark on the pickguard and another around the neck by the nut; the ossified piece of masking tape Tom put over the strings behind the nut to mute overtones has fallen off but is still in the case.

The fingerboard binding has shrunken up somewhat exposing the fret ends, but the original frets show only very light wear. The strings are still Tom's; they are pretty crusty (looking like they have been on the guitar for a decade or more) and of course can be changed out as desired. We have elected to leave them in place for the history but the guitar will sound better with a new set!

This Vox resides in the original grey oblong case with a passel of material including the original Vox blue plastic pouch with some original paperwork, plus materials related to Tom Verlaine's use of the guitar. These include a couple of string packets with handwritten notations on the back, a small box of assorted picks and a lovely letter of provenance from Patrick Derivaz (Tom's friend/engineer/bassist) including a copy of a track sheet detailing its use on the track "Sleepwalkin" from the album "Warm and Cool". Not only does this guitar have an amazing provenance with a major artist, it is also easily the finest surviving Delta Model we have seen. Overall Excellent - Condition.