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Tolexing a bass cab

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by HURR, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. HURR


    Apr 4, 2016
    Hey Guys,

    I am wondering, how do you tolex the back of a bass cab to get a single seamless flat upholstery job. With guitar cabs the back is easy because it is its own piece and you pop it in. On bass cabs since they are front loaded(mostly), the back is seamless and sealed. I cant find anywhere where the tolex is cut, or where a line is where they had to use another piece. Does anyone know how they do this, or have pictures/videos/step instructions of that process. I just cant wrap my brain around how one piece of tolex can go all over the cab and all of its angles without needing a separate piece, or seeing a cut somewhere. Am I just missing something?! Thanks!
  2. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    It depends on the size of the cab. A smaller cab is not the same as an 810. One way to do it is to wrap the back and sides and around the edges in the front with a single piece. The top and bottom can be separate.

    See the SB-12 cabinet restoration section in the TB Ampeg Portaflex Wiki: Cabinet Restoration | TalkBass.com, in particular the tolex application section.

    The cuts for a B-15 are shown here: How Much Tolex is Needed to Recover a Cabinet and How Should It Be Cut?

    But joints can help hide seams. The wiki shows how to do a but joint. Basically you overlay two pieces, make a single cut, this allows the seams to meet and align.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  3. HURR


    Apr 4, 2016
    Thanks! Yeah i know about cutting the two and making a pretty seamless match, but when I look at the bass cabs i cant see that at all...just looks like one big piece of tolex. Ill give those links a look!
  4. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    What is the cab?

    Some cabs use products such as Duratech from Acry-Tech Coatings. It looks like a skin of tolex.

    There are also a lot of tolex application videos on YouTube.
  5. HURR


    Apr 4, 2016
  6. beans-on-toast is spot on about the butt joints, that's the secret to a clean looking job. On that Mesa the butt joint is subtle but visible, it runs all around the back edge, about 1/2" in from the edge. That's a tricky job to pull off, I suspect that some sort of jig was used to make that cut. I wouldn't attempt a joint that close to the corner because the tendency for the tolex to pull away from the bend.
    beans-on-toast and AstroSonic like this.
  7. Here's a Bill Fitzmaurice Simplexx 12 cabinet that I built a few years ago and covered in emerald "bronco" tolex;


    This one taught me a little lesson about putting too much tension on the tolex when wrapping it - it looked great initially and the butt joints were completely invisible, but over the last couple of years, the tolex pulled back and the joints are now very visible on the back. Fortunately I built the cab for my own use (I'm not a commercial builder,) and I've learned the lesson, it hasn't reoccurred since...

  8. Vintage-Blue

    Vintage-Blue Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Owner, Vintage Blue (repro cabinets)
    Often the back is cut in as a separate piece but a cabinet can be covered with one piece of tolex, provided the shortest wrap-length around the cabinet doesn't exceed the width of the tolex (usually 54"). I did this when I recovered my Oliver Powerflex, just to see if I could do it. The first thing to keep in mind is that the metal (or plastic) corners are your friend - they help hide some of the transition cuts. On my cabinet I glued the tolex to the back first, leaving enough excess tolex on the sides, top, and bottom to finish wrapping the cabinet. I ended up with a seam on each side, down just a little bit from the top, and two seams on the bottom, a little bit in from each side. If you plan you cuts well and make sure you know where the flaps need to be to fold over on the sides and bottom it's not too tough.

    P3290184a.JPG P3290190a.JPG
  9. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Don't feel bad, you should see the first cabs that I did.

    It helps conceal shrinkage if you use a black making pen on the wood where the seam will be.
    Bugeyed Earl likes this.
  10. agedhorse

    agedhorse SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Tolex installation is as much science as it is art. It's the combination of high quality materials, glues, planning of the cuts, smooth base finish of the wood, sharp knives, and VERY experienced installers.

    You will never achieve a high quality job with inferior materials... especially off-shore vinyls which are thin and dimensionally unstable, but this adds greatly to the cost.
  11. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    As was pointed out, that Mesa cab does have a seam, it is very well done.

    But I understand what you want, as shown on the SB-12 in the wiki. It is often easier with a wider, 54", tolex. Wrapping the back and the side looks very good. There would have to be a seam from front to back on the sides.

    This sort of work has to be well thought out, even you've seen examples and know how It should be done. Good lighting is important. It helps to try small test seams. Building a jig or clamping a straight edge can help when making seam cut. I change blades after a couple of cuts.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  12. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    A few years ago I could buy local genuine Naugahyde. They doubled the price soon after replacing it with imported junk.

    This guy is good.
  13. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    The tolex at a seams are lapped over eachother and the cut goes through the top and bottom layers with one cut. Then you toss the waste from the top, peel the seam opem a bit and grab the waste from the bottom layer and gently pull it out while resealing the seam with pressure. I use the three piece method myself.
    BadExample and Bugeyed Earl like this.
  14. Since all tolex threads need pics - here's one that came out good, the butt joints on this one didn't separate at all:

  15. Pocket4

    Pocket4 Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I don't fancy myself doing anything so demanding, and I highly recommend applying duratex and texturing with a wadded plastic bag. Water soluble and non toxic too.
  16. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    I use the tolex from Mojotone. You'll be fine if you get it there or from reputable suppliers. I hate Mojotones tolex adhesive. Maybe I got a bad can, not sure. Tolex Glue from Veneer Supply is what I now use. Make sure to allow it to fully flash-off or it will squish out at the edges and make a mess. It's really hard to clean that stuff out of the nooks and crannies of textured tolexes.
  17. otp57


    Oct 10, 2016
    You can check out some very good vids on utube.
  18. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    If that leaves a bit showing, just get a sharpie close to the tolex color and paint the wood, then stick a sliver of tolex in the slot. Even my first time I didn't have this problem, except for some tricky corners on the bottom, which I did first to get practice for where it would show.
  19. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    That's why you cut both pieces with just one cut. It leaves no wood showing. It's not two separately cut pieces butted together.
    agedhorse likes this.
  20. I much prefer Tolex to rat fur. Why do otherwise respected Mfr's insist on rat fur?

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