Vintage-Amp Restoration

For over 20 years, Vintage-Amp Restoration has offered the finest in amplifier cabinet restoration. We have served customers all over the U.S. and the world!
photos by John Southern

First, we don't recommend stripping original covering and grill cloth if it can be avoided. Originality means a lot when it comes time to put a price on a collectable amp. In many cases, a fairly ratty-looking cabinet can be brought up a couple of notches with a thorough cleaning, detailing, and touch-up. See our FAQ for some tips.
But if your amp has already been stripped and recovered, painted, shellacked, flocked, antiqued, fiberglassed, studded, or decoupaged, we can help bring it back to its original glory.

Our specialty is Fender tweed amps, but we stock period-correct materials and parts for several different makes and models of amplifiers and have experience applying them in the original style.

Purple Marshall detail

We've developed methods and materials to make new tweed look more like the original. The fabric available today is somewhat different than was used in the 50s. The factory finish used today has a rough texture and a greenish-yellow cast. In the photo below, a piece of new tweed is laid across a cabinet which is covered in one of two available tweeds. This one has lower contrast between the dark and light threads. Additionally, a light coat of amber colored finish has been applied. Further coats of clear are used to obtain a smoother finish. The cabinet is hand-rubbed between each coat. This more nearly simulates the covering used on some early 50s Fender amps.

Early Fender Tweed

In the example below, you see a different version of the raw tweed on top of a cabinet which has had a bit more of the amber color finish, followed by additional coats of clear. This more nearly matches the covering used on later Fender amps. Over the years, original tweed amps may darken (become more amber, even orange) due to their exposure to light, heat, and smoke. We can keep it light or add more color. Keep in mind that the fabric comes from the factory with some finish on it. We can't make it any lighter than it is.

Late Fender Tweed

What's it cost?
All the old glue and covering, paint, shellac, etc. must be completely removed. If you choose to do this yourself, be careful not to alter the rounded edges or over sand the wood and make it wavy. Marshall and some other manufacturers used solvent based glue which must be chemically stripped. Most recovered cabinets we have seen have used glue which requires chemical stripping. We charge $70 for stripping most cabinets. Marshall speaker cabinets of any size are $100 to strip. There is no strip charge for cabinets with original covering or which have been recovered using hot melt animal glue. It is water soluble and easily removed. Most American-made cabinets used this glue and it is what we use to apply the new covering. See the picture below of the machine in use that melts the glue and applies it to the fabric. 

Most cabinets are about $150 to prep and cover (grills priced separately). Larger ones are a little more, smaller ones, a little less. Some materials are a bit more expensive than others.

The "amber" finish on tweed is an extra $70. You can do this yourself if you are handy and have a good place to work. Check our FAQ for more info if you want to DIYS. On the other hand, why not rely on the years of experience you'll get by having us do the complete job? Having done tweed amp restorations for over 20 years, we've developed materials and techniques to make tweed restorations very convincing.

We're known for our aged or "reliced" tweed restorations. New hardware gets a patina, seams are frayed, miscellaneous stains and abrasions are added, and we can even give them water stains, pine knot bleeds, heat scorching near the tubes, cigarette burns, and drink stains. We can even put some years on a new leather handle. We try to make the cabinet look "right" with the original chassis which may be pitted, scratched, and rusted. You may not care for cig burns or drink stains, but, all these different techniques add visual cues that add up to a restoration that doesn't look like a mere "retweed." We're happy to do our best to re-create the look of a particular tweed cabinet if you want to send us pictures or reference one from one of the several books on our shelf -- "Fender Amps - The First Fifty Years," "The Soul of Tone," etc. Aging runs from $70 to about $100 depending on how far it needs to go.

To install new grill on most amps starts at about $75. Marshall (and some others) grill cloth is more expensive as it is imported. In some cases, we can remove, clean, and re-install original grill material which is in dirty, but otherwise good shape. The price is about the same as replacing it.

We can fabricate new back panels and baffles if they are missing or broken. Back panels start at $25 each. New baffles are $45 and up. Where original particle board baffles have disintigrated, we can use premium plywood or particle board for the replacement.

Appropriate Metal or plastic corners are available for $10 (a set of four) and up. Several styles of handles are in stock for $18 and up. Feet and glides are $8 (set of four) and up. We stock several types of trim for Marshall, VOX, HIWATT, Sound City, and others. Replacement logos (name badges) are available to restore many brands and models. For legal reasons, we cannot and will not install logos on our reproduction cabinets. Thanks for understanding our wanting to stay out of Leavenworth!

How's it done?
ALL the old glue, paint, etc. must come off. Then we go through the cabinet and make sure all the glue joints are in good shape, and reglue where needed. Dents and dings are filled, oversize holes are filled and redrilled, cracks are glued. The inside of the cabinet is cleaned and the stain touched up if needed. Care is taken not to disturb original tube charts or other labels. Missing or broken panels and baffles are fabricated. On original baffles, broken, bent, stripped, or missing speaker mounting studs are replaced, perimeter strips are reglued if needed and new paint or stain applied as necessary. There may be an extra charge for extensive cabinet repairs.

New vinyl or tweed covering is applied using hot melt animal glue in a "Potdevin" machine as has been used for the last half a century or so. I'm not sure if this will make a difference in how an amp sounds but it is the original method and material used on most vintage amps.

Gregg using the glue machine

Grill fabric is hand stretched and stapled to the baffles with great care taken to install it straight and square. The cabinet is re-assembled and hardware is installed.

How long will it take?
We stay very busy. Our reputation for high quality has helped us get, on average, about 12 weeks worth of work ahead of us at all times. Some very specialized and time-consuming jobs may take longer. Occasionally work arrives at a time when we are doing a similar project and we can work it in for a quicker turnaround. We hate to make you wait but want you to get a finished restoration you'll be happy with for a long time to come. No promises are made as to turnaround time, but we guarantee you'll find the job worth waiting for.

I'm convinced, where do I send it?
Be sure we know your amp is being shipped. Package it in a HEAVY DUTY (double corrugated) shipping carton with plenty of shock absorbing packing material. PLEASE NO foam peanuts! We like a couple layers of the thick, large size bubble wrap. We'll use your carton and shipping materials to return your cabinet to you, or replace them (for an extra charge) if we feel they are inadequate for safe shipping. Insure the package for its full value. Unless you specify (and pay for) a higher amount of coverage, UPS and Fedex only insure your package for $100. It's a good idea to put a duplicate shipping label inside the box in addition to the one on the outside. Please include a note with any specific instructions, your name, shipping address, phone number and email address. Our shipping address is below

(Shipping only, not a retail location) -

728 Karlsruhe Pl.
St. Louis, MO 63125
phone 1-314-645-4102

"Fender","Marshall","VOX","HIWATT", "Sound City" and all the amp brand names above are trademarked by the those companies. Vintage-Amp Restoration respects those trademarks and is in no way associated with any amp company.

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