One of the most well-known versions of the Tone Bender MKII, built by Sola Sound, is the one that was supplied to Vox. According to original owners’ testimonies, Vox was already selling Sola Sound-built Tone Bender fuzz boxes by early 1966, although at this time, these pedals weren’t formally branded as Vox products yet [see: Tone Bender ‘MK1.5’].

By early 1967, Sola Sound had stopped printing their own brand name on the Tone Bender Professional MKII, and started selling the pedals as Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII’s instead. It’s possible that this is connected to the Macaris’ takeover of the Jennings/Vox shop at 100 Charing Cross Road, which was also reported in early 1967.1

1967 Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII
1967 Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII
early production Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII

The transition from Sola Sound to Vox was purely a branding/business decision, and the Tone Bender MKII remained functionally the same. The earliest known Vox-branded Tone Bender MKII’s have actually had the ‘Sola Sound’ name crudely obscured from the silkscreened graphics with a black bar, and replaced with ‘Vox’. (Photo credit: G. Sheard)

Sola Sound would continue to supply Vox with the Tone Bender MKII until 1968, at which point the MKII circuit was discontinued, and the fuzz boxes manufactured for Vox (as well as for the other companies with which Sola Sound had similar dealings) would feature the newer circuits that Sola Sound went on to develop over the years.

1967 Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII

Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII’s were painted in silver Hammerite, and instead of the Bulgin ‘chickenhead’ knobs, these pedals now featured tall silver-topped knobs (similar to the current Cliff K5 knob) that Sola Sound would continue to use on all of their stompboxes until well into the 1970s.

Earlier examples of this version of the Vox MKII feature a triplet of Mullard OC75 transistors, while late-production examples, circa 1968, feature OC81D transistors.

This statement shows Vox confirming an order of 100 Tone Benders from Sola Sound. The agreement to supply Vox with their own, formally-branded, Vox Tone Bender MKII lasted from approximately early 1967 until mid 1968, and based on the relatively high number of surviving examples, it is likely that many orders like this one were filled for Vox, and that many hundreds of Vox Tone Bender MKII’s were built. (Credit:
Circuit board inside a 1967 Vox Tone Bender MKII
The Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII was built by Sola Sound, with the same electronics that the company was using in pedals being supplied to other companies at the time.
  1. Beat Instrumental, February 1967, p. 25

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*). Your email address will be kept strictly private.