TONY TROUGHTON and EARLY VASE HISTORY

Tony Troughton - VASE founder Tony Troughton - BBC

In order to tell the story of Victory Audiophonic Sound Equipment (VASE) one must also tell the story of company founder and pioneer, Tony Troughton.

Tony Troughton was born in Lancaster, England in 1914 and quickly developed a passion for music and craftsmanship. A wood turner by trade, Tony did not serve in the Armed Forces during the Second World War as he was working in an industry crucial to the war effort. Being a skilled guitarist, Tony chose to combine his talents and began hand making instruments - best displayed in his personal lap steel guitar with immaculate inlays and timber work. He began actively performing in an Hawaiian dance group under the name of 'Andy Tau and his Hawaiians" and started to work for the BBC. His performances were broadcast on BBC radio from 1937 through to when he left England in 1950.

Tony and his family, including his 2 young sons David and Gerard, moved to Brisbane, Australia in 1950. After a brief period of driving a taxi cab, Tony saw the opportunity to begin repairing and servicing guitar and bass amplifiers in Brisbane.

Early VASE Amplifiers

Although much of this work was done either free of charge or at extremely reasonable prices, this experience led Tony and his sons into the creation of VASE and the manufacturing of quality amplifiers. VASE grew in popularity quite quickly among Brisbane bands and there are many photos and videos of bands performing with a full suite of VASE amplifiers from the late 50's and 60's.

Throughout this period, Tony continued to perform in an Hawaiian group with performances this time broadcast by the ABC. Tony never had any formal training in electronics and customers were often amazed by the relative complexity of the circuitry in VASE amplifiers. He was never one to write procedures or standards on paper and would keep a lot of his knowledge and techniques in his head - much to the frustration of his sons and other VASE employees. During the 1960's VASE amplifiers continued to sell well - particularly the bass amps which were very much prized by local musicians.

Normie Rowe and the Playboys

During this era in Australia's manufacturing community, Queensland was separated from the rest of the country by a cultural divide with companies finding it very difficult to sell product south of the border. Tony worked hard to combat this prejudice by diligently supplying and setting up VASE amps as backline in classic Brisbane venues such as Festival Hall.

Tony retired from amplifier manufacturing in the late 1970's and passed away in April, 1983. VASE amplifiers were not built for the next 25 years...

VASE Reborn

The story of the modern VASE team is one that also requires its context to fully understand.

Harry Lloyd-Williams has worked in the professional audio industry since 1971 and is the founder of Acoustic Technologies, a high-end Australian manufacturer of professional audio products. Harry worked in Ipswich during the early 1970s as a guitar teacher and salesman. He had been employed in a local music shop as a teacher and salesman and became well acquainted in Tony and his products as the store was a VASE amplification dealer,  making regular excuses to go to his factory to pick up stock and hang out with Tony and his team for a while.

As a musician in Brisbane and regularly short of cash, Harry convinced Tony to just sell him a head so that he could build the speaker box himself. Tony was very accommodating of Harry's interest in the early days and even gave him the correct vinyl and badges to finish the job off.

Over 30 years later, as an accomplished manufacturer in the audio industry and with a wealth of experience in building speaker cabinets, electronics and amplifiers, Harry acquired the VASE business name, applied for a trademark and proceeded to rebuild the company.

The VASE of today is the result of collaborations with Brisbane manufacturers, original VASE employees and amplifier enthusiasts. Although still in its infant stages, the team have replicated the sound of original VASE amplifiers and have gone to great lengths to source the original vinyl rollers and badge templates and have amassed a huge collection of vintage VASE amplifiers as a 'reference' library.

The modern incarnation of VASE continues to build amplifiers that represent that classic VASE tone much loved by guitarists and bass players throughout Australia and the rest of the world.

VASE products continue to be hand-built in Brisbane, Australia.