How to replace a tolex

Updated February 21, 2017

Tolex is a material that is used to cover amplifiers, instrument cases and a few other products. Over time, the Tolex may become damaged due to wear and tear. Having the material professionally replaced can be costly. With one trip to the hardware store and a little extra time, however, you can replace the Tolex on your equipment by yourself in the comfort of your own home.

Start by peeling off the Tolex that is currently on your equipment. This is as easy as finding an edge and starting to peel the material away. Be careful while peeling the Tolex, because if you get it off in one piece, it will be far easier to cut out a pattern for your new Tolex. You can use a hair blow dryer while peeling the Tolex in an attempt to make it come off easier. This is not necessary, but it may make your job easier.

Measure the Tolex you have peeled off. This will give you a good idea of how much Tolex you will need to purchase to finish the project. Add a few inches to your measurements in case you make mistakes while applying the new Tolex. Once you've measured the pattern, you can buy Tolex from an instrument store. This material can also be purchased online at sites like eBay if you are willing to wait for shipping.

Sand your equipment if necessary. There will often be glue left behind from the Tolex that must be removed in order for the new Tolex to be smooth. An electric sander will make this job easier, but it can be done with a sanding block or sandpaper. You can use wood filler before sanding if there are any dings in your equipment. If you choose to use filler, allow it to dry before sanding.

Lay the old Tolex on top of your new Tolex as a pattern. Use the razor to cut out the pattern. Use a marker to mark around the outsides of the pattern if necessary to ensure accuracy.

Use the putty knife to apply contact cement to your equipment. Only apply it to the areas where the Tolex will be. Do not put it on so thick that it comes out from under the edges when you press the Tolex on it.

Place the Tolex on your equipment once you've applied the contact cement. As you apply the Tolex, try your best to smooth out as many air bubbles as you possibly can. Allow the contact cement to dry. It is best to leave your equipment alone for a few days, as the Tolex will shrink to form within those days.


Do not try to buy the exact measurement of Tolex. Remember to get a few extra inches, or a yard if necessary. This will ensure that if you make a mistake, you can still cut out your pattern. If using a hair blow dryer, do not hold it in one place for too long.

Things You'll Need

  • Tolex
  • Contact cement (neoprene based)
  • Putty knife
  • Razor
  • Electric sander OR
  • Sanding block
  • Wood filler (optional)
  • Hair blow dryer (optional)
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About the Author

Curtis Fease started writing professionally in 2007. He has a dual bachelor's degree in psychology and criminal justice from Augusta State University.