George Harrison Vox Amp to be Auctioned at Bonhams

Amp Used for Beatles Revolver and Sgt. Pepper Recording Sessions

A rare Vox UL730 amplifier and cabinet used for the Beatles ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’ recording sessions will be one of the highlights of the Entertainment Memorabilia auction on Thursday 15th December 2011 at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, London. The amp, which has only recently been discovered to have been used by the Beatles, is estimated to sell for £50,000-70,000.

Stephen Maycock, Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia consultant, comments, “Very few amps used by the Beatles have come to auction before, and to find one that was used on two such significant albums is truly rare and exciting. Beatles fans all over the world will be eager to own such an important piece of music history.”

Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order borrowed the amp from the current vendor in February 2011, as his guitarist needed a vintage amp for a recording session at Blueprint Studios in Salford. It developed a fault at the end of the session and was taken to a specialist engineer to be fixed. When the amp chassis was removed from its case, the engineer noticed the name of ‘George Harrison’ scratched on the chassis. After further inspection he found a label on the inside of the speaker cabinet. Subsequent research led to a photograph of George and the Beatles in the studio with a UL730, with visible chalk markings similar to those seen in the cabinet offered here. A member of The Merseybeats who used to write the ‘Beatles Gear’ pages for the monthly ‘Beatles Book’ magazine, and who attended many Abbey Road Beatles’ sessions as a guest, has also identified this as George Harrison’s UL730.

Developed by JMI Vox lead amp engineer Dick Denney and introduced in 1966, the UL730 represented a revolutionary new design, incorporating a solid state pre-amp section with a tube output amplifier. The UL (Ultra Linear) was produced for both lead (700 series) and bass guitar (400 series). The initial 7 series models given to the Beatles by the manufacturers were 730s, to replace their Vox AC30 amps, and it is thought about six of these went to the band early in 1966. John and Paul moved to higher-powered models in the series later in the year but George continued using the preferred 730, playing it for both ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’ sessions.

The 730, and all other 7 series models built by Triumph for Vox, were only in the Vox catalogue for less than a year and were virtually withdrawn from commercial sale almost immediately after release as Vox decided to dispense with valve amplifiers altogether and manufacture transistor models exclusively. This decision ultimately proved disastrous for the company. Some 76 UL730s went back to the factory to be destroyed, leaving just 26 that had already been distributed. Most of the other models in the 7 and 4 series suffered the same fate, being destroyed or having speakers removed for use in other cabinets.

Other Beatles items in the sale include an autographed black/gold label pressing of the Beatles’ debut album, ‘Please Please Me’ (1963) estimated for £8,000-10,000, unpublished colour film of the Beatles during production of the film Help! (£7,000-9,000) and a collection of photographs of John Lennon at radio station WFIL, May 1975 (£6,000-8,000).

The original cover artwork for Let it Bleed, the Rolling Stones album which has been described as one of the greatest covers of all times, is another highlight of the sale and is estimated to sell for £30,000-40,000.

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