Vox Phantom VI Solid Body Electric Guitar (1965)

Vox  Phantom VI Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1965)
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Item # 8680
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Vox Phantom VI Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1965), made in Dartford, Kent, England, serial # 63922, black polyester finish, mahogany body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original grey hard shell case.

The Vox Phantom remains one of the 1960s' most iconic instruments, at least in design and visual impact -- utterly distinctive then and now. Along with the equally striking teardrop-shaped Mark series, the abstract trapezoidal-shaped Phantoms were born at JMI in Dartford, Kent in the early '60s. The Phantom VI guitar introduced in 1962-3 is Vox's most recognizable signature instruments. This Phantom VI dates to early/mid-1965 and is an extremely well-preserved example.

Like most of the company's guitars the design is based on the Fender Stratocaster, but with the body reduced to an angular minimum, visually effective if not particularly ergonomic. JMI served as Fender's UK distributor in the early 1960s and had ample opportunity to dissect and examine the California company's products in detail. The three 6-pole pickups are a case in point; they are nearly identical to 1962 Stratocaster pickups, with a similar but more square-ended white plastic cover. Controls are also a ringer for the Strat: a master volume and two tone knobs, but using a 3-way rotary switch for pickup selection. The Vibrato is closer to the Bigsby design, with an adjustable roller bridge.

The maple neck has a dot-inlaid rosewood fretboard, and is made in one of two very different patterns used in 1964-6. This one was not made by well-known English furniture builder G-Plan, but another sub-contractor. It features the distinctive "Spear" Vox headstock but with a slight backwards angle (not cut flat Fender style) and a truss rod adjustment up by the nut that actually works. The body is made of light African mahogany, finished in black polyester. The pickguard is cut from hard signmaker's plastic, and will not warp and shrink like the Italian versions.

Unlike nearly all production Vox guitars originally sold in the US, this genuine JMI-made example was assembled at the Vox factory in Dartford, Kent. That facility was overstretched even in 1964 supplying Vox product to the UK and world markets; instead of expanding their guitar-making facilities, JMI simply outsourced the bulk of instrument production to the large EKO factory in Recanati, Italy.

The Eko-made Vox guitars are exponentially more common in the US at least and to the connoisseur lack the cachet -- and the sound -- of original JMI-built instruments. Thomas Organ in California controlled US distribution of JMI's products and nearly all the Vox guitars they handled would be of Italian parentage, making this genuine UK-made instrument extremely rare in America. The Phantom VI is a garage rock classic, as well as one of the most visually striking of all 1960s guitars. This is a far better playing (and especially sounding) example than the great bulk of them, as well as a still wicked-looking piece of '60s cool.
 
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) across at the widest point, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This is a very clean and original guitar overall. The finish shows some typical checking -- more on the neck than the body -- but not much play wear, just some light belt buckle marks on the back. The Vox logo on the pickguard (a silver applique) is missing part of the "X", otherwise cosmetically there is no notable loss. The neck has been refretted and plays quite well...virtually all UK-made Vox necks had pretty dubious fretwork originally, so this is almost always a must to have them be playable to a modern standard.

All hardware appears original or at the very least period. The bridge cover and trem arm -- parts nearly always missing today -- are both present and accounted for. The forward pickup selector knob does not match the others perfectly but is a JMI part. Over the years we have seen so much inconsistency in the fittings used on these UK-assembled instruments that it's really impossible to judge what was "correct" originally! This is a far better-preserved example than most of the "real" versions of this ironically badass guitar, in the original classic oblong case. A neat and very rare find, especially here in the US where nearly all Vox Phantoms sold were imported from Italy, not the UK. Excellent Condition.