Guinness Themed MP3 Radio




A friend of mine wanted me to build a radio for him that was based on a theme. He considered a few options and finally decided that he would like his radio to have a Guinness beer theme.

Guinness is a draught beer from Ireland whose logo is a golden harp. So it was decided that this harp would be the main focus of the radio, not necessarily the Guinness text logo itself.

After doodling a few design concepts, we found the shape that we wanted (this style is known as a tombstone shape) and from there began designing and building a Guinness Vintage Style MP3 Radio.

One of his main goals was to have a subwoofer built into the radio, so I used a 2.1 computer speaker set as the donor for this project along with an MP3 module purchased from ebay.

Sit back and enjoy the video below and on the following pages we will get into the construction process through to the finish.

I hope that if nothing else, this Instructable inspires you to build a radio that is suited for your particular tastes.

Parts List:
- 2.1 Computer speaker system

- 12V 1A AC-DC power supply (for MP3 module)

- MP3 Decoder module

- Rotary power switch (for lamps)

- Antenna for FM radio (built into MP3 module)

- Gold Volume, Bass, Power Knobs

- Martha Stewart Gold leaf and adhesive

- Double sided foam tape and other various wires and materials.

Step 1: Design and Build

Get the Basic Shape:

Once I was able to disassemble the donor 2.1 speaker system, I could determine what interior volume would be required for the subwoofer box inside the radio and then base the size of the radio on what would be needed to achieve this.

I did draw a Sketchup model to prove the concept and figure out the dimensions, unfortunately I can't find the model to include with this Instructable.

However, when building, I like to hand draw the template onto bristle board so that it can be transferred to wood and then cut up as needed to template the next piece.

Once the pattern is laid out onto wood, cut out the pattern using your jig saw or scroll saw.

I always start out by cutting out the shape larger than the original so that it can be sanded and shaped to the proper size.

As with other radios I've made the front face is larger than the back face so that the cabinet casing won't be visibly attached to the front.

The subwoofer speaker is placed inside the interior box and ported (vented) to the back and uses the same cardboard tube that was used in the original 2.1 speaker set.

Step 2: Ready to Route

Once we have the pieces shaped and sanded to the final outside dimensions, we can now start routing the edges for appearance and assembly purposes.

The front face panel will need a channel routed for mounting the cabinet casing inside and the back face will just be edge routed (a rabbet joint) to flush mount the casing.

The inside edge of the front face as well as the perimeter of the base gets a Roman Ogee profile for decoration. The outside edge of the front face was shaped using a round profile.

My main goal with this radio was strength since this was my first one with a subwoofer, so it needed to be strong enough to withstand the pressures of the sub.

To join the subwoofer box pieces, I used a straight router bit to form a rabbet joint on each edge and then glued and brad nailed each section.

Since the subwoofer's vent is going out the back face, I had to mount the vent tube to it inside and so I also used the straight router bit to carve out a mounting place for it to be glued into place.

Step 3: The Grill

The inside of the front face will need to be routed to thickness of the 1/8" grill material so it can be flush mounted, so the straight router bit is used once again.

The grill pattern is cut out of the larger template,and I used an exacto knife to trim out the template and traced the design onto the wood.

Using a scroll saw, that harp shape is cut out of the oak plywood. Since the pieces were so fine, I had to use an emery board to sand the strings of the harp.

Step 4: Mounting the Electronics

Test fitting all the electronics will be needed before final assembly. Once everything is dry fitted, the staining and finishing steps can be completed (covered in next step).

Again, using the straight router bit, carve out the areas needed to mount the power, volume and bass knobs.

Make a piece of plywood to mount the grill fabric and another to mount the speakers to the grill.

Attach MP3 module to the grill using screws.

Everything will be wired together now, power from the transformer to the amplifier, power from the adapter to the MP3 module, connecting MP3 module to amplifier to speakers and the antenna to the MP3 module.

The transformer is fairly heavy so it was screwed to the top of the subwoofer box, the rest of the boards were stuck using double sided tape to the top of the sub.

Step 5: Stain, Gold Leaf

The front and back faces as well as the base of the radio can now be stained. I applied two thin coats of Minwax and three very thin coats polyurethane sealer.

The grill was sprayed black and, using Martha Stewart gold foil, apply the adhesive to the area you want covered, place the film and use a popsicle stick or other form of straight edge to help the transfer. Remove the backing and, voila, you have a golden Guinness Harp. I then applied sealer to this so the foil won't rub off (I don't even know if that can happen haha)

Be very careful to get a smooth surface with the foil adhesive as the foil will show any imperfections through it. (You may notice with mine, that the foil looks a little rough)

Step 6: Casing and Pine Veneer

Since the Guinness radio has a subwoofer and is so tall, I thought it would be a good idea to add a lateral brace to the top from the back to the front faces. I routed the edges of this brace so the casing could be attached to it for support as well.

I then added the side portions of the casing. The rounded portions of the casing are kerf cut so that it can be bent into place (with the help of a warm water soak for about 20 minutes). These casing pieces were glued and then brad nailed into place.

Once the rough casing is installed, and after you have unrolled the veneer so it can relax, you can adhere the veneer (I use pre-glued, iron on veneer) to the case and then mask off the previously finished areas, and apply the same two coats of stain and three coats sealer to the veneer.

Peel off the masking tape and now you are finished.

If I've forgotten any steps or if anyone has any questions about any portion of the build, please feel free to message me and I will help as best I can.

Thank you and Happy Building!



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    20 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Great Work!! This is an Amazing Radio Bro!
    Love my Vintage Radio that you made!

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Welsh! I want 1-3 of the Guinness radios! Need to talk with you more about it please! Please email me

    Awesome looking piece, i think you could make a killin if you created a microsite and did some Pr before Christmas and St Paddys day.

    1 reply

    Thank you very much! I have been thinking about setting up a website for a while now. I have also been thinking about getting a 3d printer so I can print a vintage style face plates for the modules.

    Anyone who is interested in having a custom radio built send me a message, if I get enough interest it might make sense to invest a little money. Thanks again.


    4 years ago

    Not sure how to send you a message I am using the app. We could email if you want. I am very interested in this.


    4 years ago

    Would you be willing to make another one of these and sell it?

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, By the way I love Guinness ever since I visited Ireland

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    The listing for the mp3 module is gone. Do you have a model/manufacturer? I have modified an am radio or 2 in the past similarly to this, more recently I fitted a bluetooth speaker into a drive in speaker box and it works great. Excellent work!

    3 replies

    Thank you for the compliment. The ebay links for some of the items seem to have stopped working after I linked them, best thing I can tell you is to search ebay for "MP3 decoder board". Thanks.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Oh my god are those ever cheap! Definitely using them on my next project!