As a brand, Vox has a special place in the heart of British guitar heritage. Its amps, which provided The Beatles' backline and went on to power the subsequent British Invasion, are its best-known legacy, but Vox was no slouch in the guitar department, either.
"Brian Jones introduced the public to the Mark III's strange 'teardrop' shape"
Brian Jones was a fan early in his Stones career, playing a custom Vox that introduced the public to the Mark III's strange 'teardrop' shape. He made quite an impression - the likes of Tom Petty, Robert Smith of The Cure and Sergio Pizzorno of Kasabian have since been spotted wielding one - and now Vox, in all its wisdom, has reissued the Mark III.
In its soft case, the Mark III looks about the size and shape of a banjo, or possibly some kind of lengthy frying pan. Turn up to a gig with this, and other guitarists will be wondering what you're packing before you even open the case.
When you do, you'll reveal what a man of wealth and taste you truly are. Well, sort of - the Mark III is incredibly well priced, but you catch our drift. It's a striking instrument, and that streamlined body shape and trim 610mm (24-inch) scale length - the same as Fender's Jaguar - mean it looks a hell of a lot smaller than, say, a Strat-style electric, but don't let that put you off. Pick it up, and the first thing you'll notice is that it's really light, and it looks bloody great strapped on. Jonesy knew what he was doing...
Plug in, and you're straight into familiar single-coil territory. The pickups are perfectly capable of replicating S-type tones, but the Mark III seems best suited to playing with the bridge pickup engaged, the treble turned right up and a little bit of gain thrown into the mix.
It just feels... right, somehow, like you're playing at the Crawdaddy Club in 1963. The neck might feel strange at first, owing to its short scale, but once you settle in, it's a comfortable playing area with plenty of high-fret access - another advantage to that quirky body shape.
Vox has clearly spent time nailing that vintage, vibe-y look certain players go for. The little details help complete the picture: the retro tone and volume controls, the white machineheads, the bold headstock shape - it all gives the impression that the guitar was discovered in a dusty Denmark Street basement. Given that, it's a little odd that Vox didn't put more effort into the logo, which looks like it was drawn by a toddler with a felt tip pen.
Logo gripes aside, the Mark III has been well put together, and gets the 60s flavour just right. The teardrop shape won't be for everyone, and it presents some interesting challenges - you can play it sitting down, but we found ourselves adopting a classical-style playing position, with the guitar on the lap and neck in the air…