Modify an old, vintage radio and turn it into a mini guitar amp
Some time ago I found a beautiful old radio at a junk shop. I got it home with thoughts in mind of fixing it. Once I cracked it open I realised this was going to be an act in futility.
So instead of fixing it I thought I would instead mod it. But mod it with what? I initially wanted to add a bluetooth speaker inside but it would have meant 1 speaker and I didn't want to have a mono bluetooth speaker. After a little searching I decided to add a mini guitar amp to the insides.
I play guitar (badly) and wanted a small, practice amp so I didn't have to plug into my larger one each time.
I initially wanted to make my own amp and started to do this but I couldn't get the sound out of it that I wanted. I found a few kits on eBay but these were too expensive. Finally I found a small, decent amp for a good price and decided to use this.
It's a simple mod as all I'm really doing is moving the insides of the amp to the vintage radio, but I really like the final result. The radios a beautiful design so It's something you can keep on the shelf and pull down any time you want to get loud.
Step 1: Things to Gather
1. Mini amp - I used this one but you could just make your own or buy a kit like this or this
2. Vintage Radio.
Ebay has heaps. Pick the one you want, just make sure that it is easy to open and has plenty of room inside
3. 9V battery holder - eBay
1. Soldering Iron and solder
2. Screwdriver/Phillips head
4. Hot glue
5. Super glue
8. Cleaning material
Step 2: Pulling Apart Your Radio
The first step is to pull apart your vintage radio.
1. Take off the cowling. Mine was held together by a single screw on the back.
2. Remove the insides. Before you start to take things apart, take a good look at everything and think about what you want to keep and will need. My radio was well engineered and it was a bit tricky trying to get the electronic out but I managed it in the end.
3. Store the parts somewhere safe, you’ll find that you need some later on.
4. Remove any dials, badges etc so you can give everything a good clean.
Step 3: Cleaning the Radio
Now it's time to give your radio a good clean! The one I purchased had a lot of dirt on it that had built up over the years,
1. Use hot soapy water to wipe down the cowl and front cover.
2. Use ear cleaners to get into the hard to reach places.
3. Wipe down with a towel to dry any excess water.
Step 4: Taking Apart the Mini Amp
1. First take off the knobs from the front of the amp
2. Next un-screw the back
3. Once you have the back off there are a bunch of small screws inside- un-do all of these, including the ones holding the speaker in place
4. Un-do the bolts holding the Potentiometers into place on the front cowl.
5. Carefully pull all of the bits out
Step 5: Adding the Speaker Cover and Speaker
1. Remove the speaker cover from the amp. You need to glue this down on the back of the radio where the original speaker was. I used used super glue.
2. Un-solder the wires from the speaker and add some longer ones. This will make things a lot easier when replacing the battery.
3. Reattach the speaker to the speaker cover.
Step 6: Drill the Holes for the Knobs Etc
1. Take off the decal from the amp where the knobs were and use this as a template.
2. Decide where you want the knobs to go making sure that they don't get in the way when you are carrying the amp/radio.
3. Drill out the holes and once done attach the volume control etc to the radio. Just use the nuts that came off the Potentiometers to reattach.
4. Mark out and drill holes for the AV and headphone jack. This is a little tricky as the AV jack is square. Take your time and use a dremmel to remove.
5. Screw into place.
Step 7: Add the Battery Holder.
1. Cut the wires from the battery holder on the amp.
2. Solder on the battery holder making sure the polarities are right
3. Add some velcro to the bottom of the holder and attach to the inside of the radio.
Step 8: Add the Knobs
1. Its up to you whether you want to use the same knobs or not. The knobs suited my radio so I went with the ones that came with the amp.
2. Simply push back on the knobs to the end of the Potentiometers.
Step 9: Turn It Up and Play It Loud
So now your done it's time to plug in your guitar, turn up the amp and play some tunes.
Hopefully your a better guitarist than me! (not a hard thing to be).
Thanks for looking - now go build one.