Vox Echo Unit
Found in a Spanish time capsule this British echo box is 34-years-old but still brand new and resting in its box, as Roger Newell discovered
Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction and the amazing story of this Vox echo unit proves the point nicely. In the 1960s a company was performing a buy and sell operation from a warehouse in Spain where their goods were stored. This was during the period when President Franco was still in control of the country and for some long lost reason the operation was closed down and the building was sealed. And so it remained for some 30 years until political restrictions were lifted and this veritable time capsule was opened.
Amongst the estimated ten million items, ranging from washing machines, electrical goods and food items, were a bunch of echo boxes. In fact the full itinery reads: two Vox Echo Deluxes, three Meazzi Echomatics, 14 Binsons (model 1 and 2 Echorecs) and a Klemt Echolette. All were brand spanking new and many still in their original boxes! Magitec Ltd; from Rochester in Kent, heard through a contact in Spain of the booty and quickly purchased several of these much revered tape echoes. The Vox units are particularly interesting. Made in Britain by Jennings Musical Industries, only 270 were ever built and have become particularly scarce over the years. Jennings were riding high in the 60s, initially with their Vox AC15 amplifiers and the much more versatile AC30. The Shadows used Meazzi units with a revolving drum on their early tracks and Vox simply rebadged these models at first.
Jennings electronics man, Dick Denney was often called out to important gigs or recording sessions to stick new recording tape on the drum. These were soon replaced by a tape loop with the oxide (recording) surface on the outside so that only the heads came into contact with it, thus reducing unwanted wear from the drive mechanism.
This was the unit that inspired Vox to produce their own multi-headed wonder as seen here, but a hum from the transformer necessitated a longer box to separate it from the main circuitry. This led to the nick-name of Long Tom using Tom Jennings name.
The official designation is the Vox Echo Deluxe and naturally like the other units of the time it was an all-valve design and featured a Record/Erase head and a bank of six Replay heads. Ideal for those multi-tap delays, so popular with European players. Four pre-set buttons for Echo, Hallo, Reverb and Repeat all introduced a particular slant to the sound. They also produced a slightly cheaper version known as the Domino, which was more in the style of the now famous Watkins Copicat. The two newly discovered units are finished in black basketweave Tolex as opposed to the original smooth finish and are from around 1965.
They really are a magnificent blast from the past, so its hardly surprising to learn that both units have already been sold. Magitec are now producing their own all-valve tape echo. Called the Echo-Matic, its designed to produce all those classic sounds combined with a bit of modern-day expertise. A prototype was made and the company was encouraged to put them into production by Phil Kelly, the lead guitarist with Shadows clone band Shadoogie.