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JBL L56 Restore

Discussion in 'The Lansing Legacy' started by usamike10, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. usamike10

    usamike10 New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    NE OHIO
    EFBB8832-40F9-40F2-9DC5-F674DBC54454.jpeg I picked up a pair of L56’s that had water damaged cabinets and rottern woofer surrounds. I like restoring speakers and am thankful the guy I bought them from decided to sell them to me for cheaper than he could of sold just one tweeter. Hate to see the parting out of old speakers.
    Looked for reviews of the L56 online but didn’t find much favorable info, so they sat in my basement for a couple of years until I needed a winter project.
    So i’ve restored them and I am impressed with them! They are more colored than my L7’s, but they do sound great for a two way.
    I replaced the 3 electrolytic crossover caps with Mundorf Mcaps and installed new binding posts. As for the woofers, I reformed them, then decided since they have that nice aluminum woofer basket that I would go through the painstaking process of wet sanding them to a fine polished surface. It was a lot of work but it was worth it as they look like chrome now.
    The cabinets were water damaged so I carved out all the ruined MDF and used wood Bondo to repair and replace the MDF. I had just enough wood backed walnut veneer to re-veneer the cabinets, and re-painted the black fronts and backs.
    The grill frames were intact but the grill cloth was snagged up. I never really cared for that brown grill cloth so I decided to change it up. I saw a set L56’s on Pinterest with orange grills that looked really nice. But since someone had already done that I decided to go with white.
    I bought on old set of swivel bar stools on CL and made speaker stands out of them. I needed to get them up off the floor not only for sound but from the cat. I’ll post a few pics.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
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  2. usamike10

    usamike10 New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    NE OHIO
    A few pics..
     

    Attached Files:

  3. bberkom

    bberkom AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,379
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Those look crazy good.
     
  4. pahhhoul

    pahhhoul AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    whoa! that is some fantastic work there!
    those speakers look like new!
     
  5. macyjrm

    macyjrm AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,204
    Location:
    Mississippi
    I’m also liking those barstool frames for speaker stands. Very well done!
     
  6. tarior

    tarior Dirty pool, old man? Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,515
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington
    Those look great. Neat speaker stands, too.
     

     

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  7. usamike10

    usamike10 New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    NE OHIO
    Thanks for the nice comments, I’ll post a few more pics. I cut the walnut veneer so the grain pattern is continuous.
    Like I said, I bought the barstools off Craigslist for $20 just to make stands. My wife and I ended up really liking the barstools as barstools! So for now, I just built platforms that screw on to the barstool swivel frames, I put some black foam down and the speakers just sit on them. I hated the thought of drilling holes in the new veneer, so they just sit on top. And I can always put the barstool chairs back on the frames some day.
    It’s difficult to find decent looking stands for vintage speakers, so if you type ‘chair’ in CL you may find some interesting vintage speaker stands.

    Mike
     
  8. usamike10

    usamike10 New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    NE OHIO
    Some more pics..
     

    Attached Files:

    malden likes this.
  9. Johnno_Oz

    Johnno_Oz AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,018
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    Beautiful job Mike
     
  10. seventy1

    seventy1 Member

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Amazing work! I have an L65 cabinet that our puppy found delicious. It's more than I wanted to take on, but a complete re-veneer may be in order, and then the pair needs to match... A couple of questions to the expert (Mike): Did you just fill in the damaged area then veneer over the top of the original veneer? If so,any treatment to the old veneer, sanding and/or sealing? If not, how did you remove the original. And lastly, where do you source your veneer and adhesive? Thanks for any help!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  11. usamike10

    usamike10 New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    NE OHIO
    Hi seventy1, the L56’s were the third pair of speakers I re-veneered. The first two sets I removed the original veneer using a Wagner hot air gun to soften the old glue. Or you can use an iron to heat it. I use a putty knife to work the old veneer off.
    So, the L56’s, those I left the old veneer on and re-veneered over it. I roughed them up with some 250grit sandpaper. I used a sharp utility knife to cut sections of the damaged veneer then carved out all the loose partical board. I filled out the damaged area with wood Bondo. This takes several layered applications. It’s good to shape it down while it’s still wet, it takes a lot of sanding if you make it too big.
    My brother bought me the wood backed walnut veneer from a friend who works for a cabinet company. It was a 4x8 piece and that’s the only veneer I’ve had, it’s pretty much gone now after 3 sets of speakers.
    You will need a veneer saw, you can get one on Amazon, mine is the 3 cherry brand. You will need to sharpen the blade, there are videos for this on YouTube. I used a sharpening stone with oil. A sharp blade is important, otherwise you will splinter the veneer.
    I used the wood glue method of attaching the veneer. But before that you will need to plan out your veneer panels for your speakers. I like to draw it out on paper. You can use your veneer saw or sharp utility knife to cut the panels. I cut mine so the top and sides are continuous in wood grain pattern. It helps to mark the back side of each panel with pencil. Example: L side speaker 1, then mark F (front) R (right side) ect.
    You will need to cut each panel .5-1 inches larger than the measured size. When it comes time to start glueing the panels on, there is a strategy. The bottom piece should be first, then L and R sides. You want the top to be last, that way it covers the veneer edges when looking down on the speaker.
    So, to use the wood glue method, you need wood glue, (Titebond) and a veneer glue roller of some type. I thinned out my glue somewhat to get better coverage with the roller. So let’s say you start with the bottom panel, roll glue on the bottom of the speaker and the veneer panel, let dry, repeat 2 or three times. To attach the panel, lay it in place exactly where you want it, lay a newspaper over it and iron it in place with a hot iron. After it cools, set the speaker on a flat surface that you can cut on, I used a large piece of Masonite. With the speaker sitting on the new piece of veneer, use the veneer saw to cut the excess off each side. Repeat this for all panels, do some light sanding and finish with some Danish oil or your preferred product.
    I had never veneered or had anyone show me. I just did some research and watched YouTube videos. There are many methods, I choose this one. Take your time, don’t rush and you will be rewarded. Good luck.
     
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  12. seventy1

    seventy1 Member

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Wow, great write up. Thank you very much! I've done some reading and research, but you mentioned a few things that I didn't know or think of... now to find the time!
     
  13. usamike10

    usamike10 New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    NE OHIO
    I bought the L56’s off CL with a damaged set of 4301’s, for $150 for all. I did the 4301’s first, these are the ones I removed all the veneer from. I found a few pics for your reference.
     

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  14. donprice

    donprice Wound up workin' at a gas station.... Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,356
    Very nice working saving the cabs from the dump.
     
  15. altecchris

    altecchris New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Talk about a small world!

    I was the gentleman who sold Mike these speakers, can't remember if it was last year or longer, but i had acquired them from a guy some years back who had owned a fairly large recording studio, he had closed it down and retired and had kept some of the studio gear, along with the jbl 56 and 4301s, unfortunately he had stored the gear and the speakers in a leaky garage, by the time I rescued them they had sustained some pretty devastating water damage.

    My intentions at the time had been to try and restore them, but other projects kept coming along and i just never got around to them, so I decided to move them along in the hope's someone else would restore them or at the least get some parts if needed, that's how Mike ended up with them, looking back i remember when I sold them to Mike him saying his intentions were to restore them, several times since selling them I have thought about them and wondered what had become of them, if they got restored or parted out.

    Flash forward to this evening, I saw an add for a retro record storage table for sale like what I was looking for ro an hr north of me, when I get there and as I'm talking to Mike I'm thinking to myself, this guy looks familiar but this is a ways from home, but I mentioned it anyways and he says the same, after a minute I think he realised and asked if had sold two pair jbls and the pieces fell into place, Talk about a small world!!

    Mike I was very impressed with the quality of the restoration you did on those speakers, and glad to see they didn't end up parted out, the right person ended up with them.

    I enjoyed talking audio with you and catching up, take care.
     
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  16. Fairlane

    Fairlane AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,739
    Location:
    West San Jose CA
    Better than when they left the factory. Love the grill fabric color too.
     

     

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  17. TomBig58

    TomBig58 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    672
    Location:
    Chicago
    Great post. Thanks for the veneer tips, Mike. It bolsters confidence for the rest of us who might be crafty or handy but afraid to tackle something like that.
     

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