Face Plate Details
Notes and photos from Mitch about how he builds the amps.

The layout drawing can also be used as a guide for designing the amp's face plate and back plate (see the Boards page for more about the layout drawing). All the jacks, pots and switches are there, so they just have to be situated on the chassis in places that are convenient for the user and also for wiring.

These front and back plates are usually made at a local laser engraving shop using a material called Lamicoid. It's white acryllic with a thin black layer on top. It's usually used for signs and name tags. It's similar to the Traffolyte material that Hiwatt used for their faceplates and emblems.

The laser burns off the black layer where you want the lettering. This produces white letters on a black background. There are lots of other color combinations available, and the engravers can laser etch anodized metal plates, too.

I do the panel layouts using computer graphics software called Inkscape. It's an open-source program that's similar to CorelDraw. It can output the artwork as a vector graphics file in EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) format. The engravers use this file to run their laser. The laser cuts the holes for the switches, jacks and pots, too.

Here's what a typical graphics file looks like for a front and back panel.


Here are the front and back panels for the Combo amp that were made from that file.



I have also had Plexiglass letters laser cut from my EPS files at a local plastics fabricator.

Plexiglass Letters

And I have cut my own wooden letters using a scroll saw.

Wooden Letters

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