Sunday, 19 May 2013

1960s Vox Phantom VI Special with built-in special effects
Guitarz reader Andrew K writes:

Okay, what we have here is the Vox Phantom VI Special with the onboard effects. This was the full, top-of-the-line, Vox Effects guitar. While the Starstream and other hollowbodies contained the smaller 3 effect unit the special contains ALL the effects. And I do mean all. Reliability notwithstanding these were truly special instruments, they were just about the only special FX guitar ever built that was fully analogue and actually functioned properly, and to top it off they were dead awesome and dead sexy. They are not as specialised as the guitarorgan or as standard as the Starsteam and other hollowbodies, they stand alone and thanks to the fact the company was circling the drain, there are relatively few of them in good nick. The fact they kept breaking may have counted against them in the long run.

And, Ian Curtis played one in Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" video. Enough has been said, but still I will say more.

I am now enclosing an interview done with Bernard Sumner for the excellent book by Pat Graham called Instrument. The instrument being discussed was the self-same Vox Phantom VI Special.
Ian really liked this guitar. The Phantom had tons of effects built into it, as an added bonus. It had a pause unit, and a thing called the 'replat'. when we got the guitar, half the effects didn't work, and we were thinking "what the hell is the replat?" We got the guitar repaired, and it turned out that 'replat' was actually repeat - it was just a misprint. The guitar has a battery in it, and if you press the buttons in the wrong combination it will go into the self-oscillate mode and start to make this strange twittering sound that Ian liked very much. It is a pretty wacky guitar.

Ian didn't' really want to play guitar, but for some reason we wanted him to play it. I can't remember the reason now. It sounded like some of the thinner guitars on the Velvet Underground tracks, clean and jangly. I think Ian used to only play on 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'... no I'm wrong, there was another track too. Maybe, 'Heart and Soul'? I do remember Ian used to play only one chord, which was D. We showed him how to play D and we wrote a song. I wonder if that's why we wrote 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', you could drone a D through it. I think he played it live because I was playing keyboards. On the record, I played guitar, a twelve-string Eko (misspelt 'echo') an Italian guitar that sounded pretty good.

To pick it out, I think we just went to a record shop and said, that one looks cool, get that one and he said, yeah, I like that. I kept the guitar after he died, kept it under my bed in a case and then gave it back to his daughter when she came of age.

We did use it on a couple of New Order recordings. The one I remember is 'Everything's Gone Green'. On the rhythm guitar part on that song, you can hear this guitar. It just plays the D chord. That's a joke...

-Bernard Sumner.
If all of that is not reason enough for a feature, then I have absolutely no clue what is enough justification.

Do as you will.

Andrew K

P.S. if you read the description, It has a neck made by a furniture manufacturer. Quirky enough?

Currently being auctioned on eBay UK with bidding currently at £1,500 and three days left to run at the time of writing

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  1. I JUST watched Ian play this today on YouTube. Get outta my head In fact the same video as you posted. I was thinking to myself that it was odd Ian held the chord though the whole song ( video ) and to me it seemed he wasn't enjoying playing the guitar but ready the post it now makes since.

    1. He seemed to be holding a G-chord in the video.

  2. well... I think he's just muting the E-string.. because the chord has more A in it!?
    I play the introchord like this:
    E-string — g (muted)
    A-string — a
    D-string — e
    G-string — a
    H-string — d
    E-string — g



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