1965 VOX V257 Mando Guitar

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In the Fall of 1965 George Harrison was presented with an early example of a VOX V257 Mando-Guitar.  The electric 12-string instrument had a short scale neck with 20 frets, however the guitars strings were tuned like a twelve string guitar with the lower four courses doubled an octave apart and the top two strings doubled in unison.  This provided a unique sound like a 12-string guitar capo'd at the twelfth fret.
British musical instrument manufacturer, Jennings Musical Instruments (JMI), created a number of innovative musical instruments during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. They marketed their instruments under the iconic VOX brand.
At the end of World War II, Thomas Walter Jennings founded the Jennings Organ Company in Dartford, Kent, U.K. Jennings' first successful product was the Univox, an early self-powered electronic keyboard similar to the Clavioline. In 1956, Jennings was shown a prototype guitar amplifier made by Dick Denney, a big band guitarist and an old colleague from WWII. The company, renamed Jennings Musical Industries (JMI), launched their 15-watt AC15 amplifier in 1958 under the VOX brand name. Soon, other models would follow and VOX amps would come to define the sound of the British invasion.
In 1962, Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, secured an endorsement deal with Jennings for the group to use VOX gear exclusively in their backline. Soon, the band started using a combination of VOX AC15 and AC30 amps. Throughout their live performance career, and the majority of studio recordings, VOX would supply a variety of different amps and equipment to the group. With their continual need for more volume and headroom, the Beatles pushed VOX engineers to expand the boundaries of their designs. The era of innovation was in full swing.
Just a few months earlier, VOX had presented John Lennon and Paul McCartney with the VOX Phantom V251 Guitar Organ, one of the most complicated and innovative products designed by Denney. It was intended to revolutionize music, but was so difficult to operate that a Beatles endorsement was not forthcoming.
Now, VOX thought they would try to gain Harrison’s endorsement of their new V257 Mando-Guitar. Although Harrison did not take to the instrument, a British advert stated that he played one. Over time, some erroneously believe that Harrison used the V257 on the song "Words of Love" in 1964, but that is not possible since the Mando-Guitar would not be created until a year later. VOX also gave another early example of the V257 to Brian Jones, of The Rolling Stones, who seemed to really like it. 
In the Spring of 1965, VOX had been struggling to keep pace with the huge demand for their products coming from America. Their solution was to set up a second factory, with Italian maker EKO in Recanati, Italy, to produce guitars for the U.S. market. By the summer of 1965, most VOX guitars entering the U.S. were made in Italy. The first of these Italian guitars were exclusively re-named versions of U.K. models, but by 1966, original designs started to appear. Production of guitars at U.K. factories in both Dartford and Erith still continued until January of 1968.
VOX had created the early model V257 “prototypes” at the Dartford Road factory, however, the regular production run, which commenced in 1966, was made at both the British and Italian factories. There are a number of differences between the U.K. and Italian models. The early U.K. ones had a very unique metal pick guard that had an integrated bridge and tailpiece, plastic tuner buttons, black pick up covers, familiar VOX knobs, and a neck end at the last fret shaped with a curve. The later British and Italian production models had white pick guards, a different style bridge, metal tuner buttons, white pick up covers, similar but different style knobs, and the neck end was straight without a curve. The Italian ones were stamped Made in Italy on the neck plate.
Ultimately, the V257 was not a big hit for VOX and it did not catch on with guitarists.
We are delighted to present a very rare early model VOX V257 Mando-Guitar in our collection. It is just like the one given to George Harrison.
Two different British Adverts showing the VOX V257 Mando-Guitar. Note the use of George Harrison's name in the ad's.

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