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Registered: 12/23/07
Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #1 
     Nothing looks cooler that those high end guitar amps and speaker cabinets with the fancy grill piping, and beading. Most people think that in order to get this look, you have to fork out some big bucks for the original Marshall replacement stuff, but to tell the truth you can buy generic stuff for next to nothing, or you can even make this stuff yourself! Granted if you're restoring a vintage Marshall, you should go for the genuine Marshall stuff, but for the shade tree cabinet builder putting together cabinets in his own shop, this is the way to go!

     What is piping? Piping (also called welt, or welting) is the decorative trim (most often vinyl) which goes around the perimeter of the the grill frame on speaker cabinets, but is often times also found on amplifier heads, as well (such as on Marshall amps). The 4x10 cabinet shown here shows the white piping and beading on orange tolex.

Here's a close-up picture of some piping. It's just a hollow vinyl tube with a stapling "tail" attached to it. This is a picture of the Marshall piping, which (as with anything that's "Genuine Marshall") is kind of pricey, but there are several sources out there for generic stuff, which is every bit as good as the Marshall stuff. In fact, many upholstery shops sell this, although they refer to it as "vinyl welt". You can even find it in a variety of colors, (if you really want to get flashy!). Both the Genuine Marshall stuff and the Generic can be found a Speaker Builder Supply -www.speakerbuildersupply.com.  
Manufacturers take two different approaches to install grills on cabinets. Piping can be installed on either one.         This is the same cabinet shown above with the orange tolex with the grill removed. This cabinet uses the Fender type construction, where the speaker baffle is mounted permanently in the cabinet, and the grill frame is inset into the front of the cabinet, and is removable without removing the speakers or the baffle.
  With this type of construction the piping is simply staple to the edge of the grill frame as shown.
Here's a close up view of the grill frame installed in the cabinet.

   The tu-tone cabinet shown here, is built using the Marshall type construction. The grill frame and speaker baffle are one unit, and the whole unit is removable from the rear of the cabinet. The grill frame/baffle unit is attached to the front rim of the speaker cabinet with screws.

     This 4x10 cabinet has the Wine Taurus and Tweed tolex combination, and the white piping and beading really looks sweet on it!

Here's a view of the inside of the cabinet with the piping stapled in place on the cabinet rim. The baffle/grill frame unit also gets screwed to this ledge.
Here's a view from the front of the cabinet, without the grill in place.
And here's the same view with the grill/baffle installed. This cabinet
You can also make piping yourself, if you can't find it anywhere or if you're looking for a certain color, or if you want to make a non-standard size. All you need to do is cut a strip of vinyl, and then spray the back side with some spray adhesive.
...And then lay your cording material down the center...

...And then simple wrap the vinyl around the cord like so..

  You can buy cording material at almost any store that sells fabrics, or you can do what we did here -just use some fabric closeline rope.
   (this is the actual piping that we used on the orange cabinet at the beginning of this tutorial, and it looks just as good as the premade welting)

So what about the beading? Beading (or stringing, as it's sometimes called) is a little more difficult. The beading sits in a channel or groove which is cut into the cabinet.

    You can purchase genuine Marshall beading, but it's only available in gold. The beading that we use on our cabinets is simply the vinyl insulation off of electrical hook up wire. It's made of vinyl so it's the exact same material used in piping and vinyl welt and it's available in a multitude of colors. We've found that 14 or 16 guage works about the best and we strip the copper strands out it so that all you're using is the vinyl outer wrap. This makes it more flexible so it's easier to work with.  

    Here a cross-section view of a beading channel. (sorry for the crude, micro-soft paint drawing). The tan color represents the cabinet. The groove is most commonly about 1/8" wide, and 1/8" router bits are easy to find, so this is probably the easiest way to cut the channel. I've heard of people doing it with a table saw, so that might be something to experiment with.     We use a router with a guide fence attached to the face plate. We normally set the router bit about 1/8" deep, or slightly over. The channel will extend over the front and rear edges of the cabinet, and will even need to wrap completly around to the inside edge of the front and rear of the cabinet.  
The red and blue in this drawing represent how the tolex will need to be cut. The tolex should be cut to the far edge of the channel, so the two pieces overlap.....
Each edge of the tolex will then be pushed down into the channel as shown..
The beading (string) will then be pressed down into the channel. If done correctly the beading should be a snug fit and should lock itself into place securely.
As we said the string groove will need to wrap completely around to the inside edge of the cabinet, but you'll probably need to cut this part of the groove by hand. We normally just use an exacto knife to free hand this part.  
Here's a rear view of the tu-tone cabinet. This is our take on a semi-open back design. The two large openings have perforated steel grill material over them to keep foreign objects out. (amature roadies for some reason think that open back cabinets are a great place to stash cables and stuff, which tends to damage speakers and wiring and stuff.

Thanks for checking out this tutorial. I hope you found it helpful! As always, we welcome your feedback and ideas. -Gary

Registered: 09/30/09
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi. Great site w/lots of good insight. This may sound dumb, but when doing the beading w/electrical wire, how do you get the wire out of the sheathing?
Thanks, Robert


Registered: 12/23/07
Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #3 

  Just strip the insulation back a couple of inches on the end of the wire and then clamp the stripped wire in a vise and then start pulling on the wire insulation and it'll usually slide off. Normally you can only do about a two foot section at a time. It kind of depends on the brand of wire. Some brands seem to strip pretty easy, and some strip kind of hard.


Registered: 12/30/10
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #4 
any good tricks or tips for keeping the piping "laser beam" straight? 
often it can look "wavy".

Registered: 03/13/11
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #5 
Originally Posted by rlkenney
Hi. Great site w/lots of good insight. This may sound dumb, but when doing the beading w/electrical wire, how do you get the wire out of the sheathing?
Thanks, Robert

I had a really hard time getting the wire out, even with a vise. I found that if I boiled it for a few minutes, it, was much easier to slide off.

Registered: 04/16/13
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #6 
I used the information on this page to cut the channel to hold the "beading" I actually used leather cord for my cabinet. It looks fantastic. I used 3mm (1/8") from here - http://www.leathercordusa.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=LCU&Category_Code=C1

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