Graeme's Architecturally Inspired Handmade Guitar Amplifier

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Some people couldn't imagine a life without a television, but Apartment Therapy reader Graeme Scott embraced his appreciation for music and decided to make music the central entertainment option in their family living room, designing and constructing a handmade guitar amp inspired by a common modernist architectural feature...

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Front and back photos of Graeme's prototype amp with white front faceplate.

Graeme wrote in to explain the impetus for designing and building his own amplifier, including the inspiration for the minimalist modern design:

I love to play music on my guitar and I want to raise my son in a house that has music playing. We don't have a TV, so it's a great form of entertainment for us. It bugged me that guitar amplifiers were synonymous with ugly, so I built my own.

This started out as a desire for a small-ish amplifier that would look good in a living room and still be useful on a stage. Because I couldn't find anything I liked, I decided that I would make my own.

There were two stages to the development of this amp. I spent a lot of time thinking about the amp and how it would come together. But I decided to tap a friend that had a design background. Together, Thomas Rasmussen and I came up with the general idea, including the distinctive faceplate.

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Because we have a little bit of a crush on 70’s modern architecture, we looked around for things we could model the faceplate on. Thomas zeroed in on concrete blocks used for walls and fencing in yards. The result was a minimalist pattern of squares with 3 rounded corners

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For the second stage, I was quite determined to have an amp that had no visible screws, minimal hardware, a minimum amount of wood, and looked really slick.

I think the finished amp goes well with all the components along the wall of our living room/dining room area. The floors (old fir floors common with this era of Vancouver homes) an old abandoned credenza from a storage facility, the 80's stereo, a bowl of yarn, and of course my guitar. Being able to keep my guitar and amplifier out means I play more.

My family is happy that our living room doesn't look like a dorm room. It's an added bonus that every time I take my amp out, I get a lot of compliments. I also put in our bookcase (shown below); we built that too, and it's pretty cool, built with old fir floor joists with threaded rod, matching the amplifier.

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For those seeking to source the same components Graeme used to build his amp, he's shared his resources below (he can also be contacted at Modern Amp for further specifics):

  • Amp is custom built in Malaysia by Ceriatone
  • Speakers are built in the USA by Weber
  • Tubes are from JJ Electronics in the Slovak Republic
  • Faceplate was laser cut and powder coated by Hansen Industries in Richmond
  • BC Cabinet is built in Vancouver, BC by Chapel Arts (the wood is ¾ inch void free baltic birch plywood)

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Thanks for sharing your project, Graeme!

(Images used with permission and provided by: Graeme Scott)

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