Vintage Radio Guitar Amp

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About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.

Intro: Vintage Radio Guitar Amp

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.

Enjoy

Step 1: Things to Gather

Materials

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


Tools

1. Soldering Iron and solder

2. Screwdriver/Phillips head

3. Pliers

4. Hot glue

5. Super glue

6. Dremmel

7. Drill

8. Cleaning material

Step 2: Pulling Apart Your Radio

The first step is to pull apart your vintage radio.

Steps.

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,

Steps:

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

Steps:

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

Steps:

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

Steps:

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.

Steps:

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

Steps:

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.

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    23 Discussions

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    Kidhacker

    8 months ago

    you could also keep the internal amp in the radio and just add a clipping diode for distortion/overdrive/fuzz

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    cybersneaker

    4 years ago

    Take a perfectly good thing that you have to buy, and put it into an old thing by doing a lot of work, so you can have the same function at the end but in a different package. Wish these instructables used the thing and not just their case.

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    strat6911icaro_25_sp

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe if you did some reading, you might have seen that the insides were unusable, as they were totally corroded. He destroyed nothing, but recycled a lovely case and gave it a second life. The fact that this was kept out of the landfill deserves a bit of respect, don't you think? :D

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    Machine

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Oh dear! Don't rip apart those nice old radios. They are collectibles and worth money to collectors and they are beautifully designed.

    Very clever Instructable, I thought you'd used the whole radio BUT NO you used only the case and added an amp inside it, did you use the old radio amp, I am sure it would have given a very desirable sound too ??????? HMV were very good old radios etc.

    1 reply

    Cheers man.

    Unfortunately the insides were badly corroded and there was nothing I could salvage inside. I'd love to mod an old audio amp inside a radio, and will probably look to do this for a future project (got to do some research first).

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    Gizah

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I guess this is not the case since the radio was broken in first place, but generally, vintage radios can be easily modified into great sounding lo-fi practice amps (very bluesy, ideal for a DIY cigar box guitar) using not much more than an audio jack and some pretty simple rewiring

    1 reply
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    lonesoulsurferGizah

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Gizah,

    The insides looked like they had been submersed in water for the last 5 years! There was a heap of corrosion so not much change of bringing it back to life. When I decided to add an amp, I was looking on the net and saw that people had used the audio amp inside the radio (or cassette player). I really like the idea of re-purposing the insides to make an amp. I couldn't find much though on the best way to go about it. do you know any websites that have instructions?

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    mckeephoto

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool! Reuse, recycle. And, it looks so much cooler than a traditional practice amp.

    I have been working on a similar project to install a tone monster cigar box amp in an old radio for about a year. They can put out some pretty big sounds for such a tiny amp!

    Ok, so I opened the back a year ago to fix the box and then got distracted...

    Too many cool projects to do here!

    1 reply

    I really like the tone monsters. I was going to use one myself for this project but decided otherwise.

    I know what you mean about getting distracted - I initially pulled the insides out of the radio over a year ago but only just got around to adding the amp!

    Way too much going on!

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    nodcah

    4 years ago

    Great instructable! The finished product looks awesome! :-D

    1 reply
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    bergerab

    4 years ago

    Awesome idea! The final amp looks soo sleek!