Finished wood or Tolex?

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by RatBug, Aug 28, 2019.

Finished wood cabinet or Tolex Covered?

  1. Finished Wood

    15 vote(s)
    37.5%
  2. Tolex

    17 vote(s)
    42.5%
  3. I like turtles.

    8 vote(s)
    20.0%
  1. RatBug

    RatBug Tele-Meister

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    I was set on making a Finished Pine cabinet for a Princeton I'm building but recently I have see some very nice Tolex covered cabinets here that have me second guessing myself.

    I need to decide before making it so I can make allowance for the Tolex in the sizing if I go that way or to buy prettier wood if I go that way.

    Watcha think?
     
  2. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    if This is going to be an amp that sees travel usage and you don’t have a road case, I say cover it in Tolex....or leather. Leo realized early on that pine cabs take a beatingj....any bare wood does. When durable tolex became available, amp makers left the linen/tweed covering behind as well for the same reason....durability.
    If this is going to be a stay at home amp, then bare wood can be more attractive. I bought some beautiful flamey pine one day just because I had not seen flamed pine. When I think of building cabs out of it, I consider the usage.
     
  3. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    A tongue and groove hardwood cabinet can look like a piece of furniture if beautifully finished. A screwed together pine box needs to be covered with tolex to hide the sins. It's that vast middle ground where it's hard to decide. I remember back in the day when my son "needed":rolleyes: a subwoofer in his Mitsubishi 3000GT behind the vestigial back seat. Screws, glue, and particle board with a covering intended to look like carpet did the job. The highlights were the metal speaker grille that let the JBL speaker show through and the brushed aluminum ports. I don't see a right or wrong here. I'd think about whether I need a piece of furniture or something that can be thrown in the back of the SUV with the rest of the gear.
     
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  4. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have a Woody Pro Junior and I take it out of the house every couple of weeks to play. Ash cabinet with blonde finish.

    I will say that worrying about it gets old. I probably need to get something else more durable, as Wally says, because I'm starting not to care, and that is when something bad is gonna happen.
     
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  5. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree with Wally, whether the amp leaves the house or not would be my top consideration as well.
     
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  6. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongue_and_groove

    I am thinking you are meaning to say dovetail joined or finger joins, right? Tongue and groove as shown in the link is a totally different thing. fender used finger joints. Some Gibson amps have stronger dovetail joints that stand up better over time than do the 8nger joints in Fenders.
    And actually, cabs done in other than dovetail joints can be attractive...as were The first Fender ‘woody’ amps from the 1940’s.

    upload_2019-8-28_15-14-39.jpeg

    These amps had some ugly metal internal reinforcements....but wooden reinforcements would work. My 1964 Ric B9A has a cab that is built like the proverbial brick outhouse.....it will outlast any Gibson or Fender can I have seen. No expense spared....solid copper chassis with the OEM Jensen C12Q being pushed by a mighty single 6V6 output. It makes a Champ or Vibrochamp sound like a toy. Leo wouldn’t turn loose of enough coins to put a C12Q in a 25 watt BFDR!
     
  7. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    Interestingly, on all the Woody "re-issues", Fender decided to go dovetail and radius the edges. You can barely make it out in this photo along the top horizontal edge of the side closest to the camera.


    DSC07299.JPG
     
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  8. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I am sure that the modern buyer would not abide black iron L brackets reinforcing the cab as at least some of the Original woody amps had, right?
     
  9. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    Probably so (unless someone decided that "the tone" lived in those angle irons; then all bets would be off. :D). It ain't the most elegant solution from a cabinetry perspective, but I'm sure it was strong.

    Here are a couple of shots from that same Reverb listing that the image you posted above came from:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. TeleFunk Man

    TeleFunk Man Tele-Afflicted

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    Tolex is better for some interesting amp colours.

    68' CDR in Electric Blue:

    IMG_3456.jpg
     
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  11. jsnwhite619

    jsnwhite619 Friend of Leo's

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    I'm 50/50. I love working with nice wood and getting nice finishes out of them. I've gotten pretty decent at tolex, but not much room for artistic expression there.

    The home/travel thing is important, but I traveled (by vehicle only) with a pine Pro Jr cab I built and finished and it never got any damage that a sanding and fresh coat didn't fix after a few years. That's only with a natural or oil finish though -- touching up a stained cab is a nightmare to match. I always made sure I loaded it in & out, throw a towel or tshirt between it and whatever was beside it, and that was it. I suggest satin top coat to help with fingerprints & scratches, etc., if it's going to be traveled with very much.

    I just finished this poplar cabinet. I don't expect it to be a road warrior, but an at-home cab that gets displayed as much as used. But, for that, I'd rather look at this than tolex and day.

    IMG_20190827_113220.jpg

    IMG_20190827_113232.jpg

    IMG_20190827_113244.jpg
     
  12. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I’m voting for the finished wood!
     
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  13. Speedfish

    Speedfish Tele-Meister

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    Tolex for durability. Throw some snake skin or alligator hide on it!
     
  14. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Meister

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    Pine - Very soft and will nick and gouge, split and splinter, almost by looking at it. If you use pine, my advice would be to either tolex or tweed it. If you want bare wood, go with a hard wood. Either way, dovetail the joints for strength, because no doubt you or someone else will sit on it eventually, and titebond the joints.

    Personally, I'm not a very big fan of wood finished amps. I love tweed mostly. BUT, I also love the color combo's of some of the 50's amps. Tolex gives you freedom to be as creative as you want to be, from a color perspective anyway, and also offers superior cab protection. And a nice lacquered tweed gives the classic early look with it's honey brown color. I'm seriously thinking of stripping my champ XD and doing one or the other in fact...
     
  15. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    Another consideration would be the possible difference in sound. I think @jsnwhite619 has mentioned his bare wood builds sounding brighter than cabs covered with tweed or tolex. I've only built a couple of bare wood cabs and they aren't anything I could do an apples to apples comparison with but the idea of bare wood sounding brighter seems plausible to me.
     
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  16. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The type of wood used in a cab is very influential on the amount of resonance that the wood will yield. Denser woods will yield a more articulate and focused Sonic while a lighter, softer wood will yield the opposite....some would say warmer. The extreme of the dense thing is when a composite is used. This type of cab will yield the purest representation of what the amp circuit and speaker are doing. This is why high end high fidelity speaker cabs are built the way they are. I once read an article on speaker cab materials...in a high fidelity type mag. The article’s author stated that the ideal speaker enclosure for accurate reproduction of sound would be a steel rod reinforced concrete box.
    Here is the experiment....maybe Jason will undertake it during a cab build??? Solid pine as in old Fenders. Outfit the cab with speakers before doing any covering or finish application...bare wood. Note the Sonics.....maybe record so as to have a confirmation of personal tonal memory. Then, finish or cover the cab. Any difference?
    I would think so, with heavy tolex having the more damping effect. How much difference....I have no idea. There might be some difference between bare wood and finished wood. I like that Mesa doesn’t go for heavy, thick finishes on their upscale wood cabs.
     
  17. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Is that HD/Lowes poplar?
     
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  18. pelle31

    pelle31 TDPRI Member

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    I like both looks,but if I was to pick just one I would prefer the look of wood.I also like guitars with natural finishes than painted.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Finished wood scratches and gouges if you look at it the wrong way. Finished wood cabinet only for home use.
    As Wally says, tone can be material dependent, but don't mistake that what is used in hi fi cabs is necessarily good for guitar, or that a cab that produces a "pure" signal is what you want. All the pieces in a guitar setup add to the end result. The pine Fender cab is obviously a result that many people wanted. A tube amp is not a very pure tone producer either, but again, it's what people want often.
     
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  20. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire

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    @Wally is right on the money. I built a little EL84 head for taking out to jam nights and that sort of thing. It’s finished in maple veneer. It looks great but it wouldn’t last a week if I was a working musician. If that was the case, I’d go tweed or tolex.

    B02A2C8F-F864-41F2-A565-F1616C9ADF9A.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
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