Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 50

amplifier stages being touted as lighter,
cooler-running, more reliable, and cheaper
to produce. JMI's partnership with Thomas
Organ, in California, helped fulfill the
great American need for Vox products
and confirmed the tech evolution, the U.S.
company having already been wholeheartedly invested in solidstate.
Underpinned by all of this, in '66, JMI
made its first move to new-tech Vox amps
with the hybrid transistor/
tube UL series, a moniker
that stood for Underwriters Laboratory, the
stamp given to electronics
to indicate they achieved
that institution's safety
standards for sale within the U.S. As the big
transistors needed for
powerful output stages
weren't yet fully reliable,
however, JMI opted to
segue toward solidstate
with a transistor preamp fronting a tube
output stage. At the center of the range
stood the UL 730, intended to replace the
legendary AC30; within the UL range, 7
denoted guitar amps while 4 indicated bass
amps (the 430 cab seen here was acquired
because no 730 cab could be found). The
remaining numbers are derived from the
RMS output rating - 30 watts.
This power was still generated by a quartet
of EL84 tubes, as it was in the AC30, but
the preamp, EQ stages, and built-in reverb,
tremolo, and distortion circuits were all
solidstate. In a sense, though, the UL amps
made a mockery of the solidstate premise;

while preamp transistors were indeed light,
cool, and inexpensive, so were preamp tubes,
relatively speaking, while their output tubes
were delicate, produced a lot of heat and
required heavy, expensive transformers.
In addition, Vox's '66 catalog still carried
the all-tube AC30 Top Boost head and 2x12
speaker cab as a set for £169, while the new
UL 730 head and 2x12 cab was listed at
£190. Regardless, JMI head Tom Jennings

The output stage of the hybrid UL 730 uses four
EL84 tubes fed by an ECC83 phase-inverter.

and chief designer Dick Denney had apparently seen the UL amps as transitional,
and if that was the cost of the journey, so be
it. Meanwhile, Denney used his legendary
ear to voice the UL 730 as close as possible
to the AC30 - with help from JMI's Derek
Underdown - and most accounts agree the
amp sounded better than the disappointing solidstate designs that Thomas Organ
was turning out badged (rather misleadingly from a sonic perspective) with the
Vox brand.

VINTAGE GUITAR

50

June 2018

As rich as this history might already be,
there's another draw driving fans of vintageguitar tone to these rare amps... enter this
startlingly pristine example.
"My love story with these amplifiers began
the day I decided to investigate where the
wonderful sound of The Beatles' Revolver
album came from," says Marcel Cavallé, of
Aclam Guitars, Barcelona, Spain, a company
that designs guitar accessories and boutique
amplifiers.
The Beatles had been
tou r i ng w it h t he
larger UL 7120 and
4120 a mps prior to
recording Revolver, and
some tracks might have
been done with those
amps. They appear in
live footage and some
studio and live stills
from the era. But it's
widely believed that
the Fab Four also used
the 730 for some tracks, and again a year
later for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club
Band sessions.
And so, with Cavallé having set his heart
on acquiring a '66 UL 730, and having convinced the heads of Aclam Guitars that it
would be a good idea to add the amp to the
company's gear collection, the rest should
have been easy. After all, how difficult can
it be to track down a half-solidstate Vox in
Europe?
Turns out, very bloody difficult. Of approximately 100 UL 730s manufactured in
'66, a huge number were returned to JMI
the following year once the full-fledged,


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 4
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