How to Tolex an Amp

Written by kevin caron
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Tolex is a textured vinyl material that is frequently used as a surface covering for musical instrument amplifiers and speaker cabinets, which typically are wooden boxes that contain one or two speakers and are covered by a grille cloth. The sides and any other part of the cabinet that is exposed -- other than the controls -- is covered in Tolex. The material gives amplifiers a nice appearance, but it can rip or tear over time. If the Tolex on the amp is starting to look shabby, consider re-Tolexing the cabinet.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tolex
  • Screwdriver
  • Knife, scissors or razor blade
  • Contact cement

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  1. 1

    Strip the amplifier cabinet down to the bare wood. Remove all of the electronics, the grille cloth and the speaker or speakers with a screwdriver. Peel the old covering away from the cabinet, starting at an available seam or tear. Remove any staples or other protrusions from the exposed wood.

  2. 2

    Measure the amplifier cabinet to determine the length of the needed Tolex strips. Measure the lengths of the two sides and the top, then add six inches for overlap. A separate piece of Tolex is used for the bottom covering of the cabinet. Measure the width of the cabinet, and add another six inches to this measurement. For the bottom piece, measure the length of the cabinet bottom, and use the same width measurement used for the longer piece.

  3. 3

    Cut the two strips of Tolex based on the measurements. Use heavy-duty scissors or a razor blade/sharp knife to cut the Tolex material. Wrap the long Tolex strip around the cabinet to check for fit. The smaller piece should cover the exposed bottom of the cabinet.

  4. 4

    Lay the long strip of Tolex on the floor with the outside facing down. Apply a thin coating of contact cement to a rectangle in the exact centre of the Tolex the width of the cabinet top. Apply an equal layer of the cement to the cabinet top. Let the cement dry so that it is tacky. Apply the Tolex carefully to the top of the amplifier cabinet. Smooth the material down manually, but do not stretch it. Repeat this procedure to cover the sides of the cabinet, leaving the three inches of overlap on each side loose.

  5. 5

    Glue down the smaller piece of Tolex to cover the bottom of the cabinet, and let the cement dry. Trim the Tolex overlap from the larger piece to just a half inch on each side. Cut slits in the width overhang at each corner of the cabinet so that the top, bottom and sides of the cabinet each have a flap of material protruding from the front and back.

  6. 6

    Fold these side flaps of Tolex so that they reach the inside of the cabinet. Glue these in place with the contact cement. Pull the material tightly, and apply cement to both the Tolex and the wood. The inner seams are invisible after reapplying the grille cloth. Glue down the lengthwise flaps of the larger Tolex piece to the smaller piece on the bottom to completely cover the cabinet. The only seams in the Tolex are hidden because they are on the bottom of the amp. Re-assemble the amplifier when the glue is dry.

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