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Plywood vs Particle board baffles 122

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  • Plywood vs Particle board baffles 122

    I have a late 122 with particle board baffles. I've read that the earlier ones with plywood baffles are more desirable, but I don't know if it is just nicer construction or if they sound better.? I know that plywood baffles are available but I'm not sure it is worth the trouble changing them. Looks hard to get the old ones out. Is this worth considering or is it a fools errand? My 122 is living room condition.

  • #2
    By baffle, do you mean the shelves that the speakers, and rotors mount to? I presume that is what you mean.

    If so, you risk doing more harm than good if you try replacing them. Leave your Leslie as-is. It's true that plywood cabinets will probably resonate a bit more. A lot of folks prefer the plywood cabs to the later particle board all things being equal, but it's rarely all things equal. So many factors go into the sound quality of a Leslie.

    Better to have a living room condition fully functioning Leslie with particle board shelves than a Leslie with various issues that has plywood shelves.


    • #3
      If your shelves are not sagging or smelling like your kids Guinea Pigs cage, than I would leave well enough alone. I would "think" that the particle board would absorb more standing waves but I wouldn't think one would be able to tell.


      • #4
        Plywood is more structurally solid. I had to replace the particle board woofer baffle in a Leslie I acquired because it had been stored outside in a shed here in the Southeast where it's humid. You could literally grab hold of it and break it apart with your bare hands.

        Valhalla Woodworking sells nice plywood baffles, but the hardest part is making sure you've cleaned all traces of the old baffle and the glue used to install them out of the grooves in the cabinet. I had to use a chisel.

        Like others say, if yours is still in one piece, I'd leave it alone. I have a particle board 142 that sounds great.
        I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.


        • #5
          Particle board in good condition is quite dense, I think the problem arises when particle board becomes flaky due to water damage,which could affect the sound quality.
          I have a 147 which has considerable water damaged particle board shelves but still sounds great.


          • #6
            As with any variances in density etc. ; No two cabinets will be acoustically identical. I have both particle board and hardwood/plywood baffle Leslies that sound great.
            Amp,crossover,drivers,balance,all vary box to box as well.Out of this dozen,two are easily superior sounding boxes overall.Two are close enough that in a live situation
            you'd be all ears to tell the difference.Again I have a (9+) hardwood baffle 251,and a (9+) particle board 142.And not much difference with the (9) particle board gig 147.
            Or the (9) hardwood 122.There are some lesser Leslies that sound fine,they just don't sound like those four.These stats mirror anyone else who looked for 40 years
            for the 'good boxes'.....once you've had better,good enough won't cut it.Those four boxes are back line ready to go.
            Again,two are fresh P15LL,and two are ceramic square back Utah's!The V21's came with the boxes.
            I mixed and matched drivers too,made little if any 'acoustic' difference in tone.It's more about the 'build'.Sometimes a magic sounding box was produced.

            When I encounter a Leslie with something on top (not put there by me?) I have to force myself not to roll my eyes.
            "Hey buddy,do you mind if I put my beerglass on your Martin D35? While you play?"

            Among this collection at least one Leslie does in fact sound better with a pitcher of beer on top.I think it needs glue.
            And the gig 147 isn't showroom in the looks department either,just sounds fantastic!
            A100/251 A100/147 A102/222 B2/142 BV/147 BCV/145 M3/145 M102/145 M111/770 L101/760 T222/HL722 M111/770 no B3/C3!


            • #7
              As mentioned unless your shelves are falling apart turning into oatmeal, leave it alone. I have a particle board 122 that sounds great. It came with the organ. If you're good at furniture repair then you might itch to take a crack at replacing them. But if the cabinet sounds good now, be concerned that you may not like the change in the sound after all the work.

              If I were going to use a replacement shelf I would use phenolic board. It's a waterproof ply used for boat repair and cement molds in construction.

              I have a 142/145 custom cab made out of phenolic ply and it kicks!

              Click image for larger version

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              • #8
                I have a 710 with a particle baffle board on the horn section that is starting to droop. I just modified the back panel by very lightly plaining the top surface to increase the clearance so the panel can be removed more easily. I have the unit in my studio which is climate controlled, so I expect the board will probably not move much more. Once your baffle board warps it will probably take a set and will not move anymore. If it does you have the option of modifying the back panel to maintain the clearance.


                • #9
                  Vancouver is damp compared to a lot of places.One 760 I knocked down mirrors David Anderson's experience.
                  After the first side was off I finished tearing it down with my bare hands,preserving my 'harvest' as best possible.
                  Duly noted the baffles are plywood in all SS models IIRC!
                  It provided upper/lower shelves and a motor box,the upper and middle back covers too!
                  The 760 amp and drivers sound great in the '63 plywood baffle 122 box here!
                  Total blasphemy for purists but this is also reversible.

                  If and when plywood rattles in these it can be as easy as a loose fastener,or require shelf replacement.
                  I mocked up this 44 box and when done it will be a top performer,along with this 45.A pair of '330' types.
                  The hardwood baffles in early shorty boxes have no issues with the extra power of the SS components.
                  "Gee Pete,those 145's sure crank out eh?" Blasphemy again,reversiClick image for larger version  Name:	!cid_1210.jpg Views:	0 Size:	159.4 KB ID:	649703ble though.

                  Attached Files
                  A100/251 A100/147 A102/222 B2/142 BV/147 BCV/145 M3/145 M102/145 M111/770 L101/760 T222/HL722 M111/770 no B3/C3!


                  • #10
                    Goff,finally found a use for the fine as an 8 ohm in this app.Not so much in a 147....
                    just have to build a 'corner' motor box for it now.Actually sounds great 'as is' but it will be a 'mover'.
                    Those home made empty 122's? The 760 shelves lay over the existing shelves at the correct height.
                    No need to remove the ones in these,just jig out the 'meat' LOL.
                    Will be interesting to hear when completed.Wes Garland thought they looked quite real!
                    Attached Files
                    A100/251 A100/147 A102/222 B2/142 BV/147 BCV/145 M3/145 M102/145 M111/770 L101/760 T222/HL722 M111/770 no B3/C3!


                    • #11
                      I have to agree with what's been said. If it's not coming apart then leave it. I've had leslies with ply and particle board shelves and really haven't heard any difference in the tonal quality. There are enough other variables to prevent a true comparison anyway.

                      Putting 760 running gear in a 122 case is blasphemy? Anyone who says that is nuts or just doesn't know their Leslie history! I don't know about the USA, but in the UK, the first 760s were in 122/147 cases, called the '760 Walnut' and '760 Black'. The latter had a black 'crackle' paint finish and two rather small recessed handles. When the Pro Line 760s arrived, the 760 Walnut simply became the 770.
                      You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 3 photos.
                      It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

                      New website now live -

                      Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha Genos, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
                      Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
                      Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
                      Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the 760 UK info Andy.The only box I've regretted parting with was my 770.I've had a dozen or more 147/145 boxes over the years.No regrets parting with those.
                        Knowing partilce board is denser Leslie had enough confidence in plywood to make the 760 shelves out of it.Added 'db' means more vibration in an 'underbuilt' cab.
                        Assembly was good,materials not so much....

                        Would love to hear that marine ply box Goff.It rains a lot here,so that product is readily available,or something similar.
                        Can different wood have different sound? Of course!
                        Which might explain my preference for this 251,it is mahogany and not walnut.Also has a fresh P15LL.
                        Same with this 330 I've installed into a '57 Leslie 45,also mahogany.Oddball 8 ohm JBL sounds perfect in the '330'?
                        Had to back off the bass volume control a little.

                        On a related matter,I ended up using a newer(1978) 'no idler pulley' upper motor stack since this pic was taken.......
                        Because the idler pulley location on a 45 is impossible to quiet down with the added inertia of a two motor stack.
                        I tried adjusting everything,height,angle,depth,and new belt.Gave up.
                        People end up replacing the whole hardwood shelf to relocate the motor stack,when it's the idler that is the issue.......
                        nice and quiet now.Finally, a later 'build' type that can be used in a retro cab!I think it's a 710 stack?
                        Glad I didn't hack up this beautiful '57 cab!

                        Being a reversible 'mod',it will be easy to try a 147 or 122 amp in it.Add a x-over and plug/play!

                        Alder is the economy wood used by Valhalla? Mahogany isn't as dense as walnut,alder even lighter!
                        Might be a consideration.Byron might know a thing or two.....
                        the upper mids on this 251 are the best I have.Tapping the 'lid' it has a nice acoustic quality.
                        Wes Garland heard this 251 box for himself.And helped me schlep it too!

                        The '330'/45 sounds best with this M3! Potent little rig with great upper mids(just a poormans foldback1')!
                        Bass pedals actually sound great in this shorty!

                        Attached Files
                        A100/251 A100/147 A102/222 B2/142 BV/147 BCV/145 M3/145 M102/145 M111/770 L101/760 T222/HL722 M111/770 no B3/C3!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sweet Pete View Post
                          Would love to hear that marine ply box Goff. It rains a lot here,so that product is readily available,or something similar.
                          Can different wood have different sound?
                          As fate would have it Pete you get your wish.

                          Just found this. At least you can hear and SEE it in action!

                          Can't vouch for the vid quality, the audio is from a smart phone(?) not sure what was used..and the videographer...well...super guy/gal....!!!

                          warning: @5:07 the volume takes off..and gets louder... AND the video didn't go to the end of the song!

                          But guess what? The video uploader loaded this second clip (below) even if the title is wrong but it is the end of the song!

                          I was off to the side in front of two-way side fills watching out for Roger who chose this lester over the brown 122 cab.

                          The phenolic ply; there is a (usually black) bowling ball type material skin so searching for phenolic ply will get you there. The wood and the glue is key. The bowling ball material adds to the waterproofing.

                          In making the road warrior 142/145 featured above, the vents were routed out and the bits kept going dull that's how nasty that glue is and is most likely key to its waterproofness.

                          I have baltic birch speakers, bass and monitors and I noticed the plies are starting to separate on the edge..the glue is not as tenacious.

                          But not this phenolic material!

                          All I did was add some aluminum angle bar to the edges, instant road case! it does have a vinyl cover that's seen better days, but the cab is tough!

                          I didn't build it, had a great tech who never saw a Leslie in his life build it from photos and my guidance.

                          I designed the cab based on 145 measurements courtesy of my San Diego buddy Dave Chesavage. Chose the materials and of course the internals which I got from John Haburay. The woofer is now a JBL E-130 reconed by John Harrison (RIP) of Tone Tubby to 16 ohms and an Atlas SA-1232 I found on eBay from a Hammond tech closing shop. Stock crossover, the amp is basically stock rebuilt by John Haburay.

                          I wanted the vents to be small.

                          The black roadwarrior cab is 14 years old. The back, shelves and base are 18mm phenolic ply and the sides, front and top are 12mm to give the cabinet some flexible breathing room, not too thick all around, just where it counts.

                          Remember the cab is a musical instrument too.

                          I painted the chassis candy apple red.

                          The covers are the same phenolic ply (12mm) and adhere with heavy duty plastic velcro type.

                          The cab was sprayed with some sort of paint over the phenolic material.

                          The ply is heavy.


                          • #14
                            Again having problems posting so here are the photos in a separate post.

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                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Thanks Goff!
                              Sounds great!
                              Looks like a roadable unit for sure! Like the velcro upper/lower covers too!
                              I attended many shows at Oil Can Harry's back in the day.....these guys ruled that club!
                              Having Squibb Cakes played through it? Priceless!

                              My only particle board 'keeper' is the gig 147.This 1971 has the 'mojo'.
                              Laughable because it's a square back Utah 15" and it easily keeps up to the fresh P15LL's!
                              These motor stacks/rotors have ramp times I try to duplicate in all my boxes.....and is easily my most live/recorded Leslie.

                              A100/251 A100/147 A102/222 B2/142 BV/147 BCV/145 M3/145 M102/145 M111/770 L101/760 T222/HL722 M111/770 no B3/C3!