Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Applying a Vintage Finish to our Tweed amp

Now we proceed to the finishing area.

On my Vibrolux clone, I had also purchased the cabinet from Mojotone.  But being a bit new to the tweed amp business, I didn't want to ruin my beautiful new cabinet, so I had Mojo lacquer it.  It looks great, but it doesn't quite have that 'vintage' tone that tweeds get over time.

This go-round, I decided to go for broke (how else do we learn, after all?) and finish the 'bare' cabinet myself.

Now, dear reader, if you search the interweb for finishing tweed amp cabinets, you will find quite a few different approaches and suggestions.  I read all of the ideas I could find, gathered up some materials, took a deep breath, and went for it.  This is how I approached the task, it's not meant to be a guide so much as it is an illustration. 

The most common finish is amber shellac, which is readily available in a can on your local hardware shelf, most commonly made by Bull's Eye.  This is great stuff to work with.  However, some folks find it a bit too 'orangey' looking. 

Enter popular finish #2, namely Minwax Polyshades satin finish stain, in the Honey Pine hue.  I tested both that and the shellac and started out with the poly for a couple of reasons.  One, I saw some cabinets finished with this stuff and they looked good.  Two, poly is super durable and I figured a tough finish would be a good thing.  Three, I could always put shellac over it if I wanted to.

That is exactly what I wound up doing.  In the very first pic here, I'm putting on the first coat of Honey Pine poly.  Use a good brush so you don't get random bristles in your nice stain!  I also put nails into the bottom screw holes for the cabinet's feet.  That way I could just flip it over and work on the top. 

After three coats, the amp looked real nice.  Then I got the bright idea of holding one of the panels next to my original 1956 Princeton.  It was way too yellow.  My Princeton has that slightly yellow, slightly orange, slightly amber glow to it.  So what to do?

I mixed up a jar of 50% amber shellac, 50% denatured alcohol and then a couple shots of clear shellac as an amber 'tint.'  Oh boy.  Two coats of that did the trick.  Looks almost exactly like my old one.  (Pictures will be coming).

After the cabinet dried for a few days, I lightly sanded it with wet 400 grit sandpaper.  I was trying to knock down the 'shiny' new finish a bit, but not sand through it.  The satin I used was satin, but the shellac put a bit of shine on it.  I think over time it will flatten a bit, but original Fenders had (and some still have) a shine to them. 

After that, we just put it back together.  Here's the newly finished cabinet on the workbench.  Compare the color to the original 'bare' tweed in the last post.  The amp now has a real neat vintage vibe, I think.

Now the real fun starts - wiring up the chassis.


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