I didn't know if this should go in the Gear Customizing thread or here. But this is amp maintenance so I assumed it went here. If I wanted to retolex an amp in a different color, would I have to remove the old Tolex? And how would I remove it?

yes, if theres a place where the tolex is coming up from you can rip it off

you need some type of solvent i believe to take off old adhesive residue from the wood
Fender American Standard Telecaster
Martin DC-16RE Premium

Fender Snakeskin Champ 12
I can't speak about every amp or cabinet but most modern amps have Tolex applied using a white glue derivative (like Elmer's only a bit stronger and more pliable) while many "vintage" amps used "hide" glue (made from animal parts).

You don't use solvent... you can use a heat gun (set on low heat) or a steam iron on the exposed glue after you lift a section. Hide glue will smell worse than the modern white glues). The glue doesn't melt, the heat makes the Tolex softer so it will rip away from the glue easier. What you will be left with is a naked cabinet covered in dried glue

You want to carefully remove the old Tolex without too much stretching or ripping so you can use it as a template to trace onto the back of the new Tolex so you have a idea of the size and shape required

After the old Tolex is removed, then you MUST sand the entire cabinet and fill in any voids then sand it again. This is one of the secrets to getting a perfectly smooth application without bumps and lumps.

The last combo amp I recovered turned out great but it took me the better part of 6-8 hours on a Saturday from start to finish. It is a LOT of hand work to do properly and it will look absolutely beautiful if done correctly and absolutely CRAPPY if you try to scrimp and get it done quickly.

About 3/4 of your time will be Tolex removal, sanding and prep work (sore fingers). Don't try to do this quickly so you can play a gig that evening! I'd give myself a weekend (starting on Friday night) if it was my first one. It isn't rocket science but it can be difficult for people who have no experience working with their hands and no tools or supplies. It is definitely an art and must be approached carefully, fully planned out and not rushed if you are committed to it.

Do a lot of research on the Internet (Google works wonders) and you will save yourself 2-3 hours of grief for every hour you spend doing your homework. You must plan carefully and have all the stuff you might need on hand (Tolex, Sander & pads or a pile of sand paper [coarse through fine grades], brushes, rags, Heatgun/Steam Iron, wood putty, scissors, marking pens, pencil, ruler, notebook, etc.) or it could take you weeks and many trips to the store!

If you amp is older and in less than perfect shape you could also plan to replace all the cabinet hardware so it looks like new. Stewart-MacDonald (www.stewmac.com) carries just about anything you might need. If you can, buy a glue specially formulated for use with amplifier coverings to make the application phase go smoother.

Last edited by pacair at Mar 2, 2009,