Finish advice for walnut guitar amp head

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mickthetree

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Hi all
After some advice on finish for this amp head I've made for my uncle. He gigs in pubs quite a bit so its going to need to be robust. I've seen some online that are covered in thick varnish that just make it look like plastic which I think would be a shame. Maybe several layers of danish oil be up to the job?
I need to decide on panel for the front. A maple kumiko panel would looks great, but I've not really got the time to invest in that now.
I plan on adding some rubber feet and a leather handle too.
 

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That's a tough ask of a finish for a piece that's going to receive endless abuse, and whatever you apply will inevitably get damaged along with dents and scrapes to the wood. Danish oil would be too soft, so discount that. An interior oil based varnish would be as good a choice as any other, unless you have the ability to apply one of the tough spray finishes. Slainte.

PS. Those hand cut(?) dovetails and the material choice are really far too nice for something that's likely to only get dog's abuse in its working life, ha, ha.
 
Hi Richard

Thanks for your thoughts on the finish. I'm going to pop to the hardware store at lunchtime and see what they've got.

Its been a project in mind for several years now with my uncle. He makes and mods amps, so it might become something we do more often, but this is the first.
Yes hand cut. I was going to go with thinner pins so its more obviously handmade, but thats just vanity for something that really needed to be more robust. Marked everything out with knife lines and worked to those.
Rather annoyingly I nicked the side at the front when using a roundover bit in the router :mad: should have stuck with the block plane and sandpaper. Also had some breakout using the coping saw. I think a deeper knifeline next time.
 
Rather annoyingly I nicked the side at the front when using a roundover bit in the router :mad: should have stuck with the block plane and sandpaper.
Spotted that divot in your second photo in the sequence. Did wonder what had happened and why you hadn't made more effort to 'lose' it.

I'd say that for future amp heads, whatever their purpose may be, just bang 'em together with some veneered chipboard, or similar. The darned things are going to get abused, (they're musical creatives and 'nice' wooden stuff is of no interest to them) and whoever's using the item will want it modified in some way after it's been made, so the guts will be ripped out, new bits added and a new 'cabinet' will be needed. Cheap and cheerful cabinetry, boxes, etc, will almost certainly be more than good enough because all that matters to musicians is the sound. Slainte.
 
On the theme of walnut finishes and musical instruments, like many others I opted for Tru-Oil applied with wet and dry sandpaper and achieved a very good result (in my opinion):
IMG_0861.jpeg


It is a very tedious (or therapeutic) process. In my case 20+ coats.
IMG_0754.jpeg


You can get it to a very shiny finish if you want (not what I aimed for).
IMG_0733.jpeg


Tru-oil is marketed as a gunstock finish/protection for guns that will be out in the wild on hunting. It worked for me. I am finishing now my second guitar using the same process.
Good luck.

Edit:
The best investment will be a thick and well fitted cloth/canvas/plastic cover. Amps get most abuse on transport to and from gigs.
 
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lots of options for finishing this, it's beautiful, really nicely done, I would go with rustins plastic coating for something ridiculously bomb proof, it was good enough for brian may on his red special.
 
The best investment will be a thick and well fitted cloth/canvas/plastic cover. Amps get most abuse on transport to and from gigs.
Thats a great shout! That Tru Oil finish looks really great!

Cheers Richard. This has been a project in the making for some time as my uncle makes custom amps and mods and we wanted to do something special together so it was definitely worth the decent timber and effort.

@thetyreman thanks, I've not used that product before, but grabbed some danish oil on my way home last night and got a coat on. I figured, I used it on my old kitchen worktops which got masses of abuse and were fine, so this should be ok.

The grain really pops! Managed to get a coat on last night and another thius morning. Should get several more on over the weekend then finish it with some wax.

Will take some proper photos when its finished.

amp head 4.jpg


amp head 5.jpg
 
Laddo above is right about getting a cover. I ordered one for my Roland VS recorder a few weeks ago, and I was so pleased with the result I've ordered another for a different Roland, together with one for my Tech21 Trademark 60 combo amp.
These are all made to measure, and can have logo's or personal script on front/top/side...whatever you want.
Realistically priced, and currently the company have got some kind of a reduction thing going on, so well worth a look... https://www.coversandall.co.uk/custom-covers

IMG_20240524_234102062.jpg
 
Laddo above is right about getting a cover. I ordered one for my Roland VS recorder a few weeks ago, and I was so pleased with the result I've ordered another for a different Roland, together with one for my Tech21 Trademark 60 combo amp.
These are all made to measure, and can have logo's or personal script on front/top/side...whatever you want.
Realistically priced, and currently the company have got some kind of a reduction thing going on, so well worth a look... https://www.coversandall.co.uk/custom-covers

View attachment 181775
Be careful where you leave it in winter if it has a cover. I have a few (cough, don't tell the wife) amplifiers and some of my beloved ones were left over winter with custom covers in a storage shed, and ended up with mould all over the Tolex.
And yes if they were that beloved why wasn't I using them? Because I have even more loved ones who get all the fuss now. I will be pruning down the collection.....
NSP do great custom flight cases for a reasonable rate https://theflightcasecompany.com/
 
Be careful where you leave it in winter if it has a cover. I have a few (cough, don't tell the wife) amplifiers and some of my beloved ones were left over winter with custom covers in a storage shed, and ended up with mould all over the Tolex.
And yes if they were that beloved why wasn't I using them? Because I have even more loved ones who get all the fuss now. I will be pruning down the collection.....
NSP do great custom flight cases for a reasonable rate https://theflightcasecompany.com/

(My bold)

Ha ha hahahahhahahhahhahhaha...
Yes, yes, yes.....we've heard it all before!

A good few years ago, I decided that I'd team up with a singer guitarist and gig as a duo instead of/as well as my band.
In readiness, I splashed out on a brand new Marshall AS50D from Andertons.... just before the whole idea went cold.
Consequently, in my front room, I have a pristine acoustic amp.
I can genuinely say "never gigged".
In fact, I can go even further.
I can't truly remember whether it's ever actually been switched on...

But sell it?
Nah.... :cool:
 
After reading the posts from Cozzer and GuitardoctorW7, maybe I'm wrong, and some musicians do care about something other than the noise they can generate through their instruments, their amplifiers plus additional noise enhancing electronic gizmos ... and the cabinets that house them are actually cared for, and even perhaps, er, cherished sometimes, ha, ha. Slainte..
 
After reading the posts from Cozzer and GuitardoctorW7, maybe I'm wrong, and some musicians do care about something other than the noise they can generate through their instruments, their amplifiers plus additional noise enhancing electronic gizmos ... and the cabinets that house them are actually cared for, and even perhaps, er, cherished sometimes, ha, ha. Slainte..

'Tis true...attachments are made.
Ony this morning have I been on my knees trying to sort out my favourite of favourites, my DeVille 2x12. Old now, and some of the plastic components are beginning to dry/shatter/shear. In this case, the power amp in socket has sheared off, and bear in mind the bit could've landed anywhere, where's it gone?
Yes...into the socket.

IMG_20240525_172433817.jpg


So far I've tried the hoover, blutack, double-sided tape, paper clip, medical tweezers.....it's going to take hours.
The silly thing is that I haven't used the amp in anger for years - it's so bloody heavy, and actually too loud.

As regards the things you plug in, I had my old Gordon-Smith renovated/rescued a few months ago as well. Not far off £500 by the time I'd finished...and do I use it? No. It's back in its box. But it's lovely, and I love it....
 
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'Tis true...attachments are made.
Ony this morning have I been on my knees trying to sort out my favourite of favourites, my DeVille 2x12. Old now, and some of the plastic components are beginning to dry/shatter/shear. In this case, the power amp in socket has sheared off, and bear in mind the bit could've landed anywhere, where's it gone?
Yes...into the socket.

View attachment 181809

So far I've tried the hoover, blutack, double-sided tape, paper clip, medical tweezers.....it's going to take hours.
The silly thing is that I haven't used the amp in anger for years - it's so bloody heavy, and actually too loud.

As regards the things you plug in, I had my old Gordon-Smith renovated/rescued a few months ago as well. Not far off £500 by the time I'd finished...and do I use it? No. It's back in its box. But it's lovely, and I love it....
It should be OK as you haven't played it in a while, but be careful if you open it up. There can be some nasty charges left on the smoothing caps, even when unplugged, and fingers/tweezers can get a nasty surprise. Ask me how I know 😂
 
If you want a good finish for that head, get yourself some rustins plastic coating. It's tough as old boots. I finished an SG guitar I made about 50 years ago and it held up really well. You could also get it in smaller quantities. Hopefully they haven't changed the recipe. Rustins also do a floor version which is probably tougher, I used it on my sisters floor and it seemed hold up well. The next best laquer I would reckon would be an acid catalyst floor finish. I would really like to know what the secret of rustins plastic coating is ? (anyone?) I would also recommend some protective corners as if that amps going to get some gigging it's going to get hammered. A good cover would be useful, shame you can't get transparent Tolex. Nice amp by the way and the guitar looks pretty good too.
Cheers
Andrew

I've just noticed Tyreman has also posted on Rustins plastic coating (y)(y) I'm not deleting this post as it took too long to type.!!
 
If you want a good finish for that head, get yourself some rustins plastic coating. It's tough as old boots. I finished an SG guitar I made about 50 years ago and it held up really well. You could also get it in smaller quantities. Hopefully they haven't changed the recipe. Rustins also do a floor version which is probably tougher, I used it on my sisters floor and it seemed hold up well. The next best laquer I would reckon would be an acid catalyst floor finish. I would really like to know what the secret of rustins plastic coating is ? (anyone?) I would also recommend some protective corners as if that amps going to get some gigging it's going to get hammered. A good cover would be useful, shame you can't get transparent Tolex. Nice amp by the way and the guitar looks pretty good too.
Cheers
Andrew

I've just noticed Tyreman has also posted on Rustins plastic coating (y)(y) I'm not deleting this post as it took too long to type.!!

The only thing I know for definite about Rustin's Plastic Coating...
1) Open the window. Open every window.
2) Open the window wider. All of 'em.
3) Open the door.
4) Open the door even wider.
5) If possible, open your ceiling up.
6) If possible, remove the house roof.
It IS pungent, heady stuff!

I tolexed my Mustang amp a few years ago, but went for the "tweed" look. Worked out well, methinks...

IMG_20240526_142527273.jpg
 
It should be OK as you haven't played it in a while, but be careful if you open it up. There can be some nasty charges left on the smoothing caps, even when unplugged, and fingers/tweezers can get a nasty surprise. Ask me how I know 😂

I decided to mess about with the bias a few years ago...and had the presence of mind (for once!) to read up first!
4 x 350v and a couple at 500v....
Sweat just thinking about it!
 
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