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:
Things you need
- Rackmount case
- Mounting hardware
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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