Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

How do the pros do tolex

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by TelZilla, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. TelZilla

    TelZilla Friend of Leo's

    Jan 21, 2007
    Cleveburg, USA
    As I spent last weekend tolexing my newest project, I got to thinking about how the pros (both big manufacturers like FMIC and Booteek outfits like Victoria) do it.

    Is there any automation involved when pros apply tolex? I can't think of how that would work, actually.

    Anybody know how long it takes them to do an average sized combo?
  2. iansmitchell

    iansmitchell Tele-Afflicted

    I think they may heat it to make it more pliable.
    I wouldn't be surprised if they're aided by some other tools than DIYers have access to.
  3. sjhusting

    sjhusting Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 8, 2003
    There was a video on youtube how Soldano does it. A guy with a heat gun.

    Dunno what Fender does.

  4. EdMax

    EdMax Tele-Meister

    Mar 18, 2008
    Northern Illinois
    I was out at a cab manufacture today in Naperville IL.

    Betterbuilt Workshops.

    They have a really nice CNC router for baffles and other complex cutting. A special custom box joint machine that has an array of blades that cut all the fingers at once.
    The usual shop stuff, drill presses, saws, assembly tables. A really nice spraying booth set up for the shellac/poly they use on their tweed orders.

    The most interesting thing to see was the Hyde glue machine. They pre-cut the material, apply the Hyde glue and work it much like conventional contact cement. It can be re-heated and re-positioned when needed.

    During application, the only tools used were a straight edge, Razor, wood seam roller and a heat gun when needed. This works for both tweed and tolex.

    While I was there, one of the guys was applying tweed to a new Victoria Bassman cab, it took him about 40 minutes tops.
    Yes, they build for Victoria as well as many other companies.
  5. ThermionicScott

    ThermionicScott Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 3, 2005
    Anybody else wince a little at that? :lol:

    Sounds like a fun workshop to take though. Building and covering a cab is something I haven't tried yet!

    - Scott
  6. EdMax

    EdMax Tele-Meister

    Mar 18, 2008
    Northern Illinois
    Now that you mention it, it does sound scarey LOL

    Having been in woodworking for nearly 45 years, I could say with a great deal of accuracy that cut all the fingers at once actually could apply from both viewpoints.

    I wish I could type a short winded summary of an accident that happened to a young (and dumb) 16 yr old budding guitar genius (who lied about his age for employment) in our shop in the late 80's.

    The split second that changed/ruined his life is something I will never forget.

    9 blades set at 1.56 spacing + 1 hand = end of carreer.
  7. JCSouthpawtele

    JCSouthpawtele Friend of Leo's

    Apr 28, 2009
    I worked at Soundtech/Randall (Washburn International)when they were in Elkhart,Indiana back in the early 90's.
    Chassis were built up in Chicago (heads like the Century) or overseas(practice amps) but the cabs were made here. The tolex was sprayed with the adhesive and sat under heat lamps like your burgers at McD's to make them more flexible and the rest was just up to how we used a metal straight edge and a stanley knife.

    the carpet covered Soundtech PA cabs were the same way but more flexable to work with and flaws could be hidden with black spray paint.
    I took pride in my job there but wasn't paid much, like $8.00 an hour.
    I remember makeing the "sub" cabs for Dimebag ,the silver bell covered speaker cabs for the Kiss Reunion tour, Its funny how it all coinsided with the endorsment of a Washburn Guitar. Dimes Razor and the post Ibanez Paul Stanley model?
    Oh And C.C Deville's cabs too..A little smaller than stock to make him look taller. Hah.
    Never got to meet any of the Endorsee's.
  8. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 12, 2005
    Fullerton, CA


    My gal and I saw C.C. a few NAMMs ago... not on purpose. What a joke. I totally understand why that awfull band is the butt of many jokes, a VH1 spin off, and the grimace of "authentic" artists of the time. It makes sense that leprechaun relies on a Spinal Tap-ish stonehenge of stacks to make him get onstage.

    On the plus side we saw Lemmy from Motorhead earlier that night. His cabs are probably bigger to make him seem more human and less god-like :)
  9. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 14, 2004
    New England
    And they're laughin' all the way to the bank!!

    We used to cover "Every Rose" back in my hair band days. Back when I had hair. Sort of... :lol:

    We used to do a 45 minute version of "Free Bird", too. Very popular during Bike Week... :lol:

    I'd stick a dime in the juke box at my local pizza parlor and play "Every Rose" between gigs. It was weird on 45 rpm vinyl, it sounded really wimpy and thin compared to our version.
  10. Ivan

    Ivan Tele-Holic

    May 8, 2006
    when i went to the Marshall factory i saw the tolex being done by hand (and some handheld tools). The guys doing it were real pros, VERY fast.

    Can't provide any real insight on how they do it though... I was just walking by.
  11. TelZilla

    TelZilla Friend of Leo's

    Jan 21, 2007
    Cleveburg, USA
  12. SamBooka

    SamBooka Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 19, 2007
    I am sure the guy at one of the local music shop thinks I am nuts.
    After I did my first tweed cab I went to the store and looked at how fender did the cabs. Same for my first blackface.
    I did notice that on my real BF cabs there is a slice at the angle on the front (just below the chassis). On the BF Priceton reissue it isnt there so I figure they using heatshrink tolex?
  13. JCSouthpawtele

    JCSouthpawtele Friend of Leo's

    Apr 28, 2009
    you can tell they heated up a corner if the pattern in the tolex looks stretched -outside corner or squished-inside corner.
  14. crawdad

    crawdad Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2006
    I saw it done at Fullerton in 68. The guy had the tolex pre-cut to the form needed, with the little odd shapes that get tucked in,etc. He had a pot of glue and a big brush. He would brush one surface with the glue, then apply the tolex, tucking in pieces as needed. Then, he would proceed to the next side and do the same thing. In nothing flat, the whole cabinet was completed and looked perfect.

    I don't remember if it the glue was hot or not, but the guy who tolexed the cabs was amazing and very skilled. It seemed like he did a Super Reverb cab in about five minutes.
  15. imsilly

    imsilly Friend of Leo's

    Feb 15, 2009
    Someone posted a video link to youtube of the people at Mesa Boogie doing exactly this stuff.

    From what I can remember the process was very fast, semi-automated and involved nothing as findly as heat/glue guns. It was just a matter of having the right template for the tolex and making sure the cabinet was initially placed correctly.

    They simply cut out one piece of tolex for the whole cabinet from a template using a machine. Then put that piece of tolex through another machine with rollers that added a layer of glue evenly to one side. Next the tolex was layed down on a table and the cabinet was placed on a specific point on the glued side of the tolex. Once the cabinet was in the correct position the tolex was simply wrapped around the cabinet and the air bubbles were pushed out while the glue was still wet. The cabinet was finished by by simply cutting the excess tolex not in contact with the cabinet with a stanley knife.

    Well thought out, one piece of tolex, one seam, one cabinet.
  16. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
  17. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria

    Did you notice that guy using a nice GE Smith-Tele (and a very nice strap) for the final checking of amps/cabs?
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