Guitar Amp From Jewelry Box




I picked up a cheap, wooden jewelry box from a local craft store for around $5 a while back, and it's been collecting dust on my desk ever since. Lately I've grown tired of looking at it and have decided that it's time to do something with it. One of my hobbies is building guitar effects pedals and thought it would be nice to have a small amp for testing purposes in my project room.

The circuit design comes from and is a great beginner electronic project. The amp has few parts, is inexpensive, sounds great and has impressive power, considering it runs on a 9V battery. It will even power my 4 x 12" guitar cabinet! (Not at gig levels, but great for practice)  

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Wood Jewelry Box
Wood Laminate
Hide Glue
Rubber Feet (4)
Small Piece of burlap or speaker cloth
3" Speakers (2)
Tung Oil
Scrap of 1/4" Wood
Plastic Sheet
Wood Filler
Paint Brush or Sponge
Knobs (2)

10 ohm resistor (1)
3.9K resistor (1)
1.5M resistor (1)

1K Linear Potentiometer (1)
10K Linear Potentiometer (1)

MPF102 or 2N5457 Transistor (1)
LM386 or JRC386 IC (1)

.047uF Film or Ceramic Capacitor (2)
.1uF Film or Ceramic Capacitor (1)
100uF Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor (1)
220uF Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor (1)

Stereo 1/4" Jack (1)
9v Snaps and Battery Holder (1)
Perf Board (1)
24 Gauge Stranded Wire (1)
Toggle Switch (1)
(Optional) LED and 1K Resistor (1)

Helpful Tools:
Router with Trim Bit
Sand Paper/Sponge
Carving Tools (Rotary tools, CNC, knives, etc)
Soldering Iron
Wire Clippers 

Step 2: Design

I was inspired by some photos that I saw of some vintage intercom speaker enclosures that had interesting speaker openings. The jewelry box that I have is made out of a light colored wood (Bass wood I think) So I wanted to either paint the box a dark color, or apply a dark-colored veneer and carve though to the light wood to contrast the design.

I took the measurements of the box to use as a template and drew the design in Adobe Illustrator. Here is a link to my vector design if you would like to use it for your own amp project, but please only use it for non-commercial purposes. Thanks!

Step 3: Wood Veneer Application

I got some dark scraps of veneer from a local wood shop (Padauk I believe). Apply a generous amount of hide glue to the box and apply the veneer with care, as it is very fragile. Cover the veneer with a sheet of plastic, as the glue may seap through. Clamp it, or put something heavy on top of it while it dries. (Don't crush it!)

Fun Fact: Hide glue smells like death.

Let the glue dry over night, then trim the excess veneer using a router and trim bit.

Step 4: Filling and Sanding

If there are any cracks or dents, fill them with appropriate-colored wood filler and sand the whole box until completely smooth. It might be easiest to unscrew the hardware on the box while doing this step. 

Step 5: Design Application

I carved the design using a CNC machine, but alternatively could be applied with a wood burning iron, carved with rotary tools, good ol' fashioned blades, etc. You could also apply the design using the transfer method outlined in my coffee table instructable.

Step 6: Wood Finish

I wanted to try using Tung Oil on this project, it was easy to apply and I am pleased with the result. Make sure the box is free of dust and apply a generous amount of Tung Oil with a brush. Wait 10-15 minutes and buff with a clean rag. Let dry over night and repeat a second coat the next day.

Step 7: Hardware

I made the speaker baffle out of a scrap of bead board that I found, cut small enough to fit inside of the enclosure. Mount the speakers to the baffle and wrap the front with a scrap burlap or speaker cloth. I didn't have to screw the baffle to the box, because it fit very snugly with the burlap in place.

Next attach the rubber feet. I chose to put them on the side with the hinges, because when the latch is open, the door stays partially ajar, giving the option of having either closed or open-backed cabinet.

Plan and mark the layout of the controls. When drilling, I like to use a bit of painters tape for cleaner holes in the wood. 

Step 8: Electronics

Please note that I did not design the circuit in this project, it comes from, and is called the "Ruby." You can find the official layouts and information on their website:

I used their veroboard layout. I like to position the components with the wires through the board and bend the leads on the reverse side, so that they stay in place while soldering.

Another helpful resource if, they have an alternate circuit layout and a very helpful wiring diagram here:

Where to purchase parts

I always tend to buy parts locally if you can find them, here are a couple other suppliers that I have bought from:

Small Bear Electronics: Easy to navigate, fair prices and they have pre-assembled kits available

Mouser: Huge inventory with good prices, sometimes difficult to find what you need due to sheer quantity of products.

Futurlec: Easy to navigate, great bargains, but company is based overseas and could take around a month to arrive. 

Step 9: Troubleshooting and Conclusion

Cross your fingers and fire it up... if it doesn't work right away don't worry, go back and trace your connections and make sure that everything is connected properly. Also check your solder joints and make sure that everything looks good. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for this instructable. Thank you for reading, go forth and rawk!

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    23 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    why not convert this into a simple two stage 12AX7 and EL84 (or 6V6) tube amp? simple schematics and sounds sweet as well... did i mentioned it glows? yes it glows....

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thats a good idea! I already have all the stuff to make an AX84, wonder if it would fit in there. Here's a photo of my SLO clone I built a few year back just for kicks! Unfortunately, I didn't document the build.


    This amp looks really, really good. But it kinda bugs me that you more or less just glossed over the entire electronics section. Any chance you could add more details to that?

    Wow this is soooo cute ! Put a video on YouTube ! Very creative.
    congratulation !

    Mr. Noack

    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is wicked awesome! Added to the list of projects that I must do.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    That looks incredible. You should throw up a video on youtube of you playing through it. I'm really curious about the sound quality of the amp.

    2 replies

    Fantastic beard! How long you been growing that? I've been doing mine for about a year and a half, but mine doesn't look as good as yours:-) To me the amp produces Fender-ish sounds, I will try to get a video up soon so you can check it out.


    Haha thanks. About 8 months since I cut down to about an inch.

    Sweet as soon as some of my projects settle down I will be building the amp. I will post pics under your instructable.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    What a cool idea. I also think it would make an awesome gift for a woman musician to customize a plain wooden jewelry box to "look" like an amp.

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Wow - I don't much about guitar amps or jewelry boxes -but I am amazed at what you created from that plain jewelry box!!! Just gorgeous!

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    I love your project, and your design. In step 3 you call the veneer Padauk, but I am pretty sure it is another kind of wood...Padauk is an orange to deep red color so unless the color balance of your photo's is way off it is probably another kind of wood (it kind of looks like a curly maple to me, but I'm no expert)

    Great work

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    Outstanding work mate, thanks for sharing

    1 reply

    That's gorgeous, so much nicer than the usual mini marshall/fender knock offs.

    I'm wondering if a larger, oval speaker could be substituted for thee two smaller ones... better bass though maybe too much for the enclosure?