Guitar Amp Cabinet Options

fender champ front

If you're about to embark on building a guitar amp, choosing a guitar amp cabinet will be one of the first things you'll need to do. As someone who's been in home construction my entire life, I have a shop, and a wide range of tools to choose from. Most traditional Tube amplifier cabinets are made from plywood with a tolex or tweed covering.

Electric guitar amplifiers that include a speaker are structurally more stable for sonic reasons, than just an amp head. Plywood that is 3/4" seems to be the norm, with seven plys as opposed to five found in some CDX construction plywood, and is readily available at any home center. If you're not comfortable building your own cabinets, they can be purchased in a wide range of places including Ebay, and Weber Speakers.

Though no pioneer I found an interesting substitute in the form of Lexan. Lexan in a polycarbonate plastic that is not to be confused with Plexiglass. Unlike Plexiglass, or acrylic, lexan is very easy to work with as far as drilling and cutting. It doesn't shatter easily like acrylic, is very strong, and provides a great material in my opinion for amplifier construction. My first try with the material was with my champ clone shone above. I was attempting to make a "see through" cabinet, but found I was not proficient in gluing the material together, and that it mars quite easily.

tweed back finished

After realizing that I was going to end up with a pretty banged up amp, I elected to sand the finish to give it a "brushed" look. As you can see at the top of this page it is no thing of beauty, but it's a lightweight, rigid, enclosure that was easy to build.

My next attempt involved covering the Lexan with some tweed fabric, and leather remnants from a local fabric store. The outcome immediately above is much more appealing. I am going to go over the complete process of cutting and assembling Lexan, as well as adhering Tolex, or any fabric or covering for that matter, in pages to come. Thanks for reading, J.B. 3-8-11



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