Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ed's Amplifier Restoration

My father-in-law Ed recently got a good deal on a used amplifier. The amplifier in question, the Shenandoah Stereo 60, retails for a hefty sum. Ed purchased his amplifier for under one third the price of a new one. The main reason Ed got such a good deal is that the exterior of his used cabinet had taken a beating. Not only was the vinyl torn and peeling, but the amplifier had been exposed to damp conditions and the metal components were showing signs of rust. Long story short, I offered to help restore the amplifier and he accepted!

Here is the amplifier before I started:

The first thing I had to do was remove the vinyl and strip the glue underneath. It was important to remove all of the old glue so that the new glue would have something to adhere to. Removing the vinyl proved to be easy, but the glue was another story. Here is a shot of the evil nasty glue:

At first I tried to sand the glue off, but the sandpaper had no effect- the glue was too gummy and tacky. After trying a number of things I ended up relying on Goo Gone. Goo Gone worked, but you can't let MDF get too wet, so timing was important and things were slow going. Eventually I got most of the glue removed and I was able to sand the remaining residue off.

Next I had to make a slight modification to the cabinet. Ed had chosen tweed over vinyl for the new covering. Tweed was used on many classic amps and it looks damn good. The only problem was that the current design of the cabinet had some curves that vinyl could stretch over but tweed could not. I ended up cutting out the offending section and replacing it. Here you can see the piece I cut out and the new section in place.

After routing the new edge I was ready to cover the box in tweed.

I could probably write a whole post on the tweed recovering. In short, you need 3M Super 77 spray adhesive, a bunch of really sharp razor blades, rollers for pressing the tweed in place, the ability to cut long clean lines, and a lot of patience and attention to detail. Since I was dealing with a spray adhesive, and you really don't want to move too fast, I also spent a fair amount of time masking areas to be sprayed (only to rip the tape off moments later to press tweed into place). Below are a few pics, but I invite you to check out the entire gallery on recovering to get a better idea on the process.

All that was left was to reattach the hardware and install the amplifier. I replaced the rusty washers and screws with stainless steel substitutes and scrubbed the remaining hardware with a scouring pad to remove any surface rust. How does it look now?

I think it looks amazing, and better than stock! Ed hasn't seen it yet in person, I hope he likes it. :)

The following galleries document the whole process:


  1. Brian - I am a friend of your father. Where did you purchase the tweed? I am thinking about making a custom case for one of my electric ukuleles.

  2. Hi Chuck,

    The tweed came from Parts Express. Here is the link. One thing about this stuff, it has a coating on one side. The coating gives it that amber finish and acts as somewhat of a protectant, but it makes the fabric fairly rigid. It won't stretch over any tight curves without having to do something like this.

    Hope this helps,


  3. Damn. I can't believe I missed this post. That's amazing.

  4. Thank you sir! I must say, I was a tad disappointed that none of my friends commented on this post... apparently I just wasn't patient enough. :)