Guitar Amp Shield
Here's another simple project that musicians may find useful. The original guitar amp shield was thrown together from scraps by one of the guitar players at my church. He wanted to use his amp on stage, but needed to reduce the "noise" straying into the general sound mix. The plans here are simply a refinement of his original.
I'm not a musician, so I don't understand the exact dynamics of guitar amps, monitors, sound systems, and the related acoustics. My job was just to make a folding set of panels that looked nice and would provide a place to hang some acoustic foam tiles. As far as I know, the shield does a good job of blocking unwanted sounds from the guitar amps on stage. However, you should probably spend some time determining your own acoustic requirements.
The original guitar amp shield was made out of scrap 1/2" plywood, spray painted black. Although this was lightweight, making for easy moving and storage, 1/2" plywood tends to warp and started looking pretty ragged after awhile. It should be no surprise that I built the new shield out of 3/4” black melamine with 0.5mm black PVC edge banding.
Keep in mind that the ones I built don’t get real heavy use. Melamine with PVC edges won’t withstand the rigors of constantly being moved, set up, and torn down. For that you’ll probably want to wrap it in vinyl fabric and add corner guards, much like an amp or guitar case.
I do believe that using the heavier 3/4" material also improves the sound deadening properties of the guitar amp shield. Along the same line of thinking, painted or fabric-wrapped 3/4" MDF should also be a very suitable material. For a warmer, softer look, and to eliminate the need for banding the edges, 3/4" Europly or ApplePly could also be used with whatever stain or clear finish you like.
Cutting this project is extremely simple since it’s just three rectangles. The dimensions I’ve given are based on the hinges I used and the size of my foam tiles. The size can easily be adjusted to whatever suits your needs.
Since I bought my foam in a package of twelve, I had four leftover tiles. It just so happened that my musician friends needed a second, shorter amp shield. So I reduced the height of all the panels by 12” (the size of one foam tile) and was able to build an additional, half-height shield out of the same sheet of melamine.
Keep in mind if you are using edge banding that the dimensions shown are the finished panel size. When cutting the parts you will need to subtract for the thickness of the edge banding material. Otherwise the hinges won’t fit properly.
The only hardware needed to complete the guitar amp shield are the hinges. Although the panels can simply be screwed together in a fixed configuration, by hinging them together the shield will fold for easier transportation and storage.
I chose to use a special hinge made by Hettich called a Fascia Hinge. The feature that makes this hinge unique is its ability to snap into position at a 90 degree angle. It's actually designed for use on sliding pocket doors, such as those found on television armoires. The fascia is a narrow strip of door material that is hinged to the main door and serves to hide the door and hardware when the door is slid into the open position.
As much as I like the hinge, it's sort of expensive and seems to be difficult to find. I bought mine through a wholesale hardware supply company. Unfortunately, they don’t sell to the general public. The only place I could locate that sells the hinge online is Georgia Hardwoods. I have no personal experience ordering from them but please let me know if you try them out and what your experience is like.
The dimensions given on the drawings are specific to the Hettich hinge, but just about any hinge will work. An RPC industrial cabinet hinge would have been my second choice after the Hettich hinge. They’re incredibly strong and about half the price of the hinge I used. The only drawback is the inability to snap into position open and shut.
The last key bit of material needed is the foam to cover the panels. As I mentioned earlier, I know very little about sound control and acoustics so I chose an inexpensive, nice looking wedge style of acoustic foam tile.
My assumption was that thicker foam would probably provide better sound control. The 2” x 12” x 12” tiles seemed a reasonable compromise between cost and quality, and the guys who play guitar at church seem happy with it. Of course you should select the foam for your project based on your own needs and budget.
To fasten the foam to the melamine panels I used 3M Multipurpose 27 Spray Adhesive. It’s basically contact cement in a spray can, and is compatible with foam. This is a key point since many adhesives are based on solvents that will melt foam. Make sure that whatever adhesive you use is compatible with the foam you have selected.
Mask off the area of the panel where the foam will be attached. Then spray a coat of contact adhesive on both the foam AND the panel. After allowing the adhesive to dry for the manufacturer’s recommended time (usually about one to ten minutes), carefully lay the foam in place on the panel. Then press the foam firmly onto the panel to allow the two glued surfaces to fully adhere.
That’s about it. It’s a very simple project with lots of room for customizing to fit your own needs. However you choose to put it together, just click on the link below to view the plans. If you prefer to download a copy to your computer, right click then "save-as". Either way, you'll need the Adobe reader to view the file.