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can I wash new Ampeg SVT/blue grill cloth before instaling?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by anderbass, May 15, 2011.

  1. anderbass


    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    I've got some brand new Ampeg SVT-blue grill cloth from fliptops, but I prefer the looks of it after its been riotously aged by being gigged 20 years in smokey bars.

    Has anyone ever ran their grill cloth through the washer/dryer a few cycles to 'break it in' first (kinda like a new pair of Levis) before installing it?

    Will this shrink/ruin it?

    Any other tricks to achieving these results?

    I was thinking an overnight soak in stale beer and cigarette butts would probably give me the semi-aged look I'm going for here ;) But something tells me that might not be such a good Idea.
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    it will ruin it to put it in the dryer. it'll melt and shrink. if it were me, i'd spill coffee on it or rub used coffee grounds onto it, let it sit a while, then rinse it off with a hose.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
  4. Only one?
  5. BillyIVbass


    Sep 24, 2008
    Gear Reviews Guitar World Online
    Never cleaned an Ampeg, but I had one dirty dirty Bassman cab.

    I took a carpet cleaner with the hand tool and sprayed/vac'd it with just really hot water first. Round 2 I did some dish soap, then Round 3 just hot water again.

    It didn't look brand spankin new, but it took plenty of dirt out. Also I did all the cleaning on a breezy sunny day so that help it to dry quicker.
  6. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Good call Mr. M.
    Old school painters add black coffee to light colored paint to make it look more amber / older. I suppose you could also emmulate aging by leaving the material in baking hot sun and rub some dirt into it.
  7. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    If you put it in the washer, the edges are going to fray.

    When installing the grille cloth, you staple it, pulled as tight as you can, and then apply heat from a hair drier, oven, or heat lamp to shrink it tight over the wood frame. It will only shrink to so much. Be careful not to over shrink it as part of the aging process.

    In general, there are different types of grille cloth. The oldest amps used a cotton/rayon based cloth. These dye easily. Newer ones like Ampeg are mostly made with synthetic materials and don't stain as easily.

    The original Ampeg cloths are not faded evenly. The different materials that are woven together to make the cloth fade differently. The blue is the first color to go.

    When staining, the effect is minimal with black coffee or tea but it will darken it a bit and this might give you what you are looking for. For more effective coloring, you can use a solvent based wood or shoe dyes. You can dilute the dye as much as you want with the solvent. You wipe it on, let it sit a bit, then remove it with a solvent.

    Whatever you do to age it, test it on some small sample squares first to come up with the procedure to give you the results that you want.

    If you google, you'll find places that sell pre-aged grille cloth. Perhaps they will dye the cloth for you. It would be expensive though.
  8. Energy


    Jun 20, 2006
    You're exactly right. Nothing emulates 20 years of nicotine stain better than - nicotine! My favourite custom bass cab manufacturer did exactly what you describe above when he had to replace torn grill cloth on old cabs. The new grill cloth would have looked out of place on a 35 year old Fender cab, so he aged it using the contents of his ash tray and some water.
  9. anderbass


    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    Cool, thanks Jimmy!

    I think your the biggest freakin, smart-a** 'Ampeg-bashing' dork on T/B. Your so dam closed minded you cant seem to grasp the fact that not all bassists want/need stage gear that sounds and looks just like you happen to prefer... :rolleyes:

    Whats your problem man? Yeah your funny sometimes but maybe you just dont realise that you also tend to be very insulting!!!

    (you musta been a jealous middle-sibling or something just like one of my a-hole brothers... I'd just bet you were one of those Bully/Jocks that used to pick on little kids and snap their a**'s with a wet towel back in the gym-class shower rooms)

    Thanks for the tips man, I appreciated it but I dont think you read/understood my OP very well.

    10-4 to that good buddy, thanks man!

    Hey thanks beans, I was hoping you'd chime-in here. I'll take your advice and look into your solvent based wood or shoe dyes idea.

    Any particular colors you'd recommend? (maybe some shade of grey possibly?)

    Thanks, I like it when people say I'm 'exactly right'.

    Any chance I could talk you into giving my wife a few lessons about doing this more often than just the way she usually disagrees with most all my wacky freakin Idea's ? :cool:
  10. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    If I were going to make any attempt at cleaning a grille cloth, I would use foaming upholstery cleaner and follow the instructions, just like I do on couches, rugs, and car seats. The stuff works great. Applying artificial heat would seem like a big no-no.
  11. The OP isn't trying to clean it, he is trying to age it!

    So basically you are wanting to do a relic job on your grill cloth much like a relic job on a new bass! The purists would say that you should let it age naturally or your amp won't have that real mojo! :D

    Are you wanting a faded look? If so I would think the coffee method would make it stain darker, not lighter. Do you have an extra piece you could try out a few different techniques on before you do the actual grill cloth? How about spraying it with a very diluted bleach and water mixture, letting it sit a bit then rinse it off?
  12. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    My wife tells me I don't know my colors so what do I know!

    I'd look for a brown gray with some green in the mix. It really depends on what dyes you find. You can add dry tea and coffee in there as well. You've got to buy a bunch of colors and mix them. Things can get muddy fast so it takes a lot of experimentation. Sorry, I don't have a magic formula to offer. By the time you find what works, you won't have a clue how much of anything you've got in the mix.

    The important thing is to try it with a lot of swatches. I'd try all the suggestions that everyone is making and see how they look when dry and hold up after being exposed to the sunlight for a while.

  13. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    In that case, I'd smoke it over a barbecue grill. :bag:
  14. Yes, but what kind of wood to use? Oak or hickory?
  15. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    What normally discolors these grille cloths falls under the category of what most would regard as abuse. So, at various points in this artificial aging process, I would spill all of the following on it at least once:

    Bourbon or rum
    Kool Aid

    I would also:

    Leave at least one burning cigarette on it for a few minutes,

    Randomly write someone else's name on it in either permanent marker or model paint,

    Put a grass stain on it,

    Put a grease stain on it (French fries?),

    Drag a metal scouring pad across it,

    Spritz it heavily with faux raindrops and then let it dry in a cool basement,

    Leave it out in the open sun for at least one entire day, maybe more.

    Then, before I mounted it back on the cab. I'd do a half-assed job of cleaning it up.

    It will look totally loved and appreciated.
  16. I'd go coffee personally, but if you're fine with your amp smelling like piss and death for a while then go for it. I just hope you have a separate trailer to carry it in, or else the ride to the gig would be pretty awful.
  17. There is a technique called tea staining which is used to give an aged look to photographs, cloth and paper. It uses actual brewed tea to give a vintage brown tint. It would probably work better than coffee and not smell nearly as strong.
  18. Luckydog

    Luckydog Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    a liquid stain might work some but i think the cloth is man made fibers which might resist the dye more than a natural fiber. For that reason i think you might want to coat the fiber rather than try to (less successfully?) soak the fibers. My thought is a sticky tar stain like cigarette smoke. Also agree you need to avoid high heat. How about a few days in a smoky bar.
  19. thudstaff23


    Mar 10, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    Just leave it in my jam space for a couple weeks. Then, your grill will get mysteriously worn out. It's a mystery because I know my bandmates and their visitors would never disrespect my wishes by touching my gear, but yet it gets tarnished constantly!
  20. And be sure to buy a couple of cheap cigars and over a weekend, you can smoke them and blow the smoke into the grillcloth.

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