About the Vesper's Bent Wood Cabinet

Vesper guitar amplifier cabinet shell.jpg

When we decided to make our own original guitar amplifier, we knew that the cabinet had to be original as well. The first idea we had was to eliminate the corners, which are always a weak point where sound quality is concerned. We also dreamed of a cabinet with a minimalist appearance that showcased the natural materials that it was made with.

Two bent wood corners minimize the total number of joints. Any joint is a potential weakness in the amp that can introduce diffraction, a type of subtle distortion that occurs when a wavelength encounters an air gap of the right (well, wrong) size. The Vesper’s use of bent wood eliminates the upper two joints. This results in a strong cabinet that projects well at all frequencies.

High-quality Baltic birch construction. Baltic birch is often considered the most desirable plywood for amplifier cabinets. It’s a very rigid, dense wood with an extra-strong void-free core, resulting in a crisp, punchy tone. And the core - which is itself made from birch, rather than a cheaper filler material - is so attractive that we left the edges exposed to show off its uniform texture.

One-of-a-kind details. Because the Vesper is handmade from natural wood, no two are exactly alike. First, we hand-pick each piece of wood: the inner ones for strength, and the outer pieces for distinctive and striking wood grain. After the wood is steam-bent in a 24-hour process, the cabinet shell is cut to size and finished with a durable lacquer. Each step is completed manually, one amp at a time, resulting in a truly handmade cabinet built with the highest craftsmanship.

Why plywood?

Plywood has more rigidity than solid wood. This is desirable in an amp cabinet because more rigid materials vibrate less and therefore all the amp to reproduce sound more accurately. Amp cabinets are in a sense the opposite of acoustic guitars, whose tonal qualities benefit from the resonance of solid wood.

In an amp cabinet, plywood - particularly Baltic birch plywood, which the Vesper is made from - is known to sound lively and potent, with a high level of clarity. Because solid wood is softer, it has more resonance and vibration. This gives the amp somewhat of a low-fi edge.

Where’s the tolex?

We have nothing against tolex (in fact, we will soon introduce a tolexed version of the Vesper). We actually re-tolex vintage amps pretty often. In a sense, the re-tolexing process is one of the things that inspired us to make natural-wood amplifiers.

Re-tolexing amps is transformative: once you rip the last piece of vinyl off, the cabinet has a totally different presence in the room. We always have to fight the impulse to just keep it bare. That’s not even because we necessarily think it would look better. When you’re writing a song, your environment has an effect on your creative process, and the amp you’re using is a big part of your immediate environment. Would we want to play this old amp differently if we left the tolex off? If it looked different and less traditional? Does vinyl have a sound?

Then, we switched to a low-fume, water-based tolex glue. And we started making natural-wood Vesper amps.

Further Reading

Browse all of our articles on restoring vintage gear. Or, click on an image below.

Paulina Salmas