Vox Phantom XII Stereo V-246 12 String Solid Body Electric Guitar (1966)

Vox  Phantom XII Stereo V-246 12 String Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1966)

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Item # 6462
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Vox Phantom XII Stereo V-246 Model 12 String Solid Body Electric Guitar (1966), made in Recanati, Italy, serial # 257115, black polyester finish, mahogany body, maple neck with ebony fingerboard, black gig bag case.

One of the all-time great "posing" guitars, the vaguely trapezoidal Vox Phantom XII is still utterly distinctive and an instant 1960s classic. This Stereo 12-string is one of the more obscure variations, and certainly unmistakable! Like most Vox-branded instruments sold in the US, this one was built at the Eko factory in Recanati, Italy. Vox's Parent company JMI (Jennings Musical Industries) in Dartford, Kent was already overstretched by 1964 supplying Vox amplifiers to the UK and world markets, so instead of expanding their meagre guitar-making facilities, Jennings outsourced the great bulk of instrument production to the Italian firm.

These Eko-made Vox guitars are more consistent than their English cousins, and in many cases are better-playing instruments. By the time Thomas Organ in California formalized American distribution of JMI's products in 1965, nearly all Vox guitars sold in the US would be of Italian parentage. The Phantom XII was a later addition to the Thomas line, appearing in late 1965 or 1966. By that point virtually all the Vox guitars sold in the US were made in Italy, and Thomas was actually designing their own models, or in this case a variation on an existing JMI design.

The Phantom series -- designed originally in England around 1962 -- already encompassed a full family including 6-string, 12-string, and bass versions. With a wide, comfortable neck and 3 single coil pickups, the Vox 12-strings were already fairly successful in 1965. The reasoning behind a special stereo 12-string (and only the 12-string was marketed) is obscure, but it was quite likely Thomas noticing that Rickenbacker (also in southern California) was months back-ordered on the suddenly popular stereo Model 360-12 and decided to cop some of the action. The regular Phantom XII was already a good seller for the company, so perceiving a deluxe 12-string niche, Thomas jumped in with both feet with this deluxe and (originally) very expensive variation.

The Phantom XII Stereo has one of the most cluttered facades ever offered to guitarists -- it features three special double-coil Vox pickups used only on this model. These are not humbuckers but have a separate half-coil on each side for the treble and bass strings. Each half-pickup is provided with its own tone and volume control, with a standard 3-way selector offering "Stereo-Mono-Off" and a bank of 3 lever switches selecting different modes: stereo, mono, and "reverse" or out-of phase. Whether the world needed this or not, it's an impressive range of tones available. This early model did not have any indication on the pickguard of how the controls were to be operated -- later examples actually spelled it out with engraved legends, hopefully helping the likely baffled users figure out what the guitar was doing!

The Vox 12-strings in general were fairly popular and successful guitars in the mid-'60s, the bright sound of Vox pickups being particularly well-suited to a 12-string application. The Phantom XII Stereo arrived a bit late and is much rarer than the standard model. Helpfully, it also dispensed with the vibrato which did not help earlier the Vox 12's staying in tune. The Phantom XII is generally one of the better-sounding '60s solid-body 12-strings; the stereo model is much more versatile, if also more baffling! Still, the Phantom XII Stereo remains a '60s icon and an eminently posable, playable, and collectible guitar!
Overall length is 42 in. (106.7 cm.), 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm.) across at the widest point, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

Overall a nice and relatively clean example of this most over-the-top Vox creation. The only major alteration is that the pickguard is a reproduction -- the original is included but has suffered a fairly serious case of shrinkage and the guitar was not playable with it installed. All else appears original except the jack, and the hardware is complete except the snap-on bridge cover has (as usual) gone missing.

The finish is very well-preserved with none of the heavy checking and cracking these are often prone to, and only a few small dings. Even the fabric back pad has only light wear to the edges. The frets and fingerboard are in very good shape and the instrument plays quite well, with a broad range of sounds from its fantastically complex wiring scheme. Excellent Condition.