How to Change My Amp Into a Rackmount Head

Written by jeff o'kelley
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How to Change My Amp Into a Rackmount Head
Some manufacturers offer popular amp models in a rackmount configuration. (live music image by maxthewildcat from

Guitar amplifiers come in a wide range of designs and configurations, manufactured to meet nearly any musical need. Some models have become synonymous with a particular sound or genre and are in constant demand. While a traditional guitar amplifier is useful in many situations, converting one to a rackmount head may offer many advantages. Rackmount heads take up less space and weigh less for transportation purposes, thus making them perfect for touring situations. Additionally, rackmount heads are often more practical for studio or other recording work.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Amplifier
  • Rackmount case
  • Mounting hardware
  • Handtools

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  1. 1

    Choose the amplifier components to be reused. Measure the amount of space needed to accommodate the components, as well as any case clearances needed for circulation or cooling.

    How to Change My Amp Into a Rackmount Head
    Allow enough clearance to prevent vacuum tubes from overheating. (old vacuum tubes image by Dmitry Rukhlenko from
  2. 2

    Purchase an rackmount case. Standard rackmount cases are available in widths of 19 or 23 inches. Height is measured in Rack Units (RU or U), which are 1.75 inches high. Depth of rackmount cases can vary, depending on use, manufacturer and design. Pick a case manufactured to conform with ATA flight requirements or to reduce shock or impact if you expect to travel with your rackmount amplifier.

    How to Change My Amp Into a Rackmount Head
    Accessories such as shelves, drawers and power supplies are available for rackmount cases. (rackmount server farm datacenter image by Adryn from
  3. 3

    Disconnect the speakers and remove any mounting screws or hardware from your amplifier. Consult the amplifier owner's manual or manufacturer for more information. Take care to remove the entire amplifier component intact, so that it will work properly upon installation in the rackmount case. Don't forget to remove amplifier effects such as a spring reverb or echo chamber.

    How to Change My Amp Into a Rackmount Head
    Components of older amps may include more wiring than modern amps assembled with circuit boards. (electric scheme image by Sergey Galushko from
  4. 4

    Mount the amplifier components and any other circuitry in the rackmount case, using mounting hardware from the amp manufacturer or standard rackmount hardware. For heavier components, consider mounting a strap from the rear of the amp to the case, to relieve some of the excess weight from the front mounting hardware. Be sure to secure the power cord and other cables within the rackmount case to prevent damage.

    How to Change My Amp Into a Rackmount Head
    Rackmount effects can also be mounted in the same case as the amp. (equaliser image by Gudellaphoto from
  5. 5

    Test the rackmount amp to confirm proper installation and operation. Be sure to check for proper cooling and ventilation to prevent damage to the amp.

    How to Change My Amp Into a Rackmount Head
    Rackmount cooling fans can help reduce excess heating during amp operation. (Computer Cooling Fans image by cdbdi from
  6. 6

    Attach rackmount case lids to ensure proper fit and operation. Be sure that all lids lock into place and do not cause damage to the amp.

    How to Change My Amp Into a Rackmount Head
    Adding casters to a rackmount case can make transportation easier. (Single furniture caster wheel shot in black and white image by Steve Johnson from

Tips and warnings

  • Tube amps should be mounted in shock-resistant rackmount cases, to prevent damage during transportation.
  • Remove vacuum tubes to prevent damage during conversion.
  • Consult manufacturer about conversion kits for your amp.
  • Consider space for accessories when purchasing a rackmount case.
  • Disconnect power before beginning conversion project.
  • Never operate a amp with the rackmount case lids attached.

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