Steam Bent Retro Guitar Amp

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Project by John Wainwright posted 04-06-2016 02:00 AM 1236 views 4 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was my first foray into steam bending wood – so of course the first thing I had to build was a steam box, and then a make-shift bending rig. Once I had the top and bottom formed, the rest went together fairly easily.

The amp is made from 1/2” red oak, with 1/4” oak-veneer ply for the front and back panels with the control labels printed directly onto the wood. It’s finished off with a 3/8” red oak trim ring over a brushed aluminum and black cloth grill cover, and wood knobs. The stubby little mid-modern legs also lend to the retro feel.

The guts are a basic solid-state 10-watt practice amp, with controls for volume, gain, high and low tone, inputs for both a guitar and an auxiliary input, and a headphone jack.

I entered this in a Ryobi Nation contest and actually won, and was awarded $500 in free Ryobi tools.

-- What wood John do?

15 comments so far

View kimosawboy's profile


164 posts in 2395 days

#1 posted 04-06-2016 02:35 AM

Diggin the curves as well as the proportions…nice!

G Vavra

View majuvla's profile


8740 posts in 2291 days

#2 posted 04-06-2016 06:41 AM

I like that connection of modern electronic and woodworking design.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Redoak49's profile


1824 posts in 1412 days

#3 posted 04-06-2016 10:50 AM

Very nice

View CampD's profile


1464 posts in 2910 days

#4 posted 04-06-2016 12:49 PM

Pretty cool, nice job!

-- Doug...

View Notw's profile


447 posts in 1177 days

#5 posted 04-06-2016 01:07 PM

You have a Steam master 9000 and a Bend-O-Matic….so lucky :-) very nice project

View Moondog1's profile


3 posts in 215 days

#6 posted 04-06-2016 01:21 PM

Wow! I’d love to have this for my electronic drums (Yamaha DD65) really cool.

-- Moondog1, Afton NY

View drbyte's profile


724 posts in 3486 days

#7 posted 04-06-2016 02:36 PM

Very nice work and great design! Love that Bend-O-Matic! What kind of amp did you use for the guts?

-- Dennis, WV

View RichCMD's profile


279 posts in 1365 days

#8 posted 04-06-2016 02:52 PM

I really like this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before. The steam bending just adds to the enjoyment.

-- Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass. Ralph Waldo Emerson

View helluvawreck's profile


22707 posts in 2290 days

#9 posted 04-06-2016 06:44 PM

You’ve done a really nice job on this project. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View JimboBaggins's profile (online now)


3 posts in 306 days

#10 posted 04-06-2016 09:08 PM

Cool looking rig. Are the guts from a kit or did you breakdown an existing amplifier?

View jeffswildwood's profile


1287 posts in 1401 days

#11 posted 04-06-2016 11:49 PM

Nice work, nice design. You did an awesome job!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way thats says "I meant to do that".

View  woodshaver (Tony)  's profile

woodshaver (Tony)

3940 posts in 2777 days

#12 posted 04-07-2016 01:43 PM

Very classy design! Looks great!

-- Tony C UAW, St Augustine FL, My high school shop teacher said "You can do it"... Now I can't stop!

View Josh's profile


1201 posts in 1993 days

#13 posted 04-07-2016 02:02 PM

Sweet little project and I love the pics.

-- Tree, wood, and box lover from Pennsylvania

View John Wainwright's profile

John Wainwright

15 posts in 207 days

#14 posted 04-08-2016 01:28 AM

To those who asked about the guts – this one was a basic 10w solid state practice amp, and I honestly don’t even remember the brand. It was a “Behringer-type” economy one I had lying around. It was less about the amp and more about the cabinet, just to see if I could do it.

If I can manage to get the Bend-O-Matic to bend some 3/4 walnut, I’m going to do one about triple the size using a tube amp with a 10” or 12” speaker.

-- What wood John do?

View mikeacg's profile


166 posts in 481 days

#15 posted 04-08-2016 01:46 PM

What a great way to recycle some old equipment! I have a little Fender practice amp that is showing some age and might be ripe for a refacing job! Thanks for sharing John!

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

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