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  • Writer's picture7-DAYZ

From Old and Busted, to the New Hotness (The Speaker Saga, Part II)

So there I was. Two broken, old 1980's vintage speakers, which had been further damaged by my poor skills at wood staining. There were drips everywhere. Dried drips. And they were black, but not nice black - ugly-half-glossy-botched-stain-job black. All appeared lost.

But as Capt. Peter Quincy Taggart would say - "Never give up. Never surrender!" Out came the sand paper - but this time I was determined not to have all the stain bead up on the oak veneer because I didn't sand deep enough. This time I'd apply that wise old adage of woodworking: if brute force isn't working, you're not using enough.

Speakers after sanding

So I put the sandpaper, 220 grit, on my power sander and away we went at 10,000 RPM. When that was done it looked like this.

Now it was time to stain the right way. I had been trying to use brushes but it was just getting too much stain on the wood. So I went simple and cheap and used shop towels to rub it in instead, then made sure to wipe the excess off with a fresh towel after letting it sit for about 20 minutes. The instructions said only 15 minutes, but it was still hard to get the color into this old oak if I didn't leave it on the wood longer.

It was pretty slow going with this old wood and the first few coats of stain did not look great. So I persevered, there was really no choice now - and I stopped counting.But somewhere after 6 coats I started to get the rich ebony black that I was going for - by now I'd realized that these speakers would be good to use as I was building out my production space for my music, so I wanted them to look the part.

Once they were stained it was time to redo the speaker grills. This is tricky because they are a custom piece of MDF board and the grill cloth is stapled to it. But my MDF was thirty years old and fragile - this took some very careful plier work to get the old staples out.

Then my wonderful wife who is far more skilled with textiles than I, helped me glue and staple new cloth in place. Stapling back into that old board was tricky because it kept wanting to shatter from the impact of new staples. But together we managed to get the new cloth in place without ruining the speakers or our marriage - though it was at times a near thing :-D!

So, after 18 months of fits and starts, and a mistake or three - these speakers were finally restored inside and out. Now they're the central piece to my home production studio (more on that in a future post). From the tragedy that brought them into our family, they've been restored and now help me to make music with the mission to bring joy and uplift those that listen. I am quite partial to a good redemption story, and every time I use these speakers I'm reminded that there is hope, the old can become new again - and can be even better than it was to start. Here's how they look today:

In a future post, I'll dive into the specs of these and why they're so helpful to me in mixing and mastering my music. They are phenomenal sounding for the price of just my time and some new internal parts, and I wouldn't have been able to make my new EP sound nearly as good without them.

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