Hello folks, just wanted to share a few thoughts on speakers since I had some questions about it this week.
Now, I’m by no means an authority on speakers… but I do know what sounds good (to me).. and I’ve only really had experience with Celestion, Peavey,Eminence, and some stock OEM speakers…
Bottom line rule is: If it sounds good, smells good, looks good.. it IS GOOD. That’s the bottom line…
That being said, here are my thoughts on speakers as they apply to guitar amps and guitarists…
I personally seem to favor “British” speakers.. because they generally break up a bit sooner, and have a warmer sound to them. “American” speakers generally have a cleaner output and MIGHT be louder.. and cleaner… but have less “character” or warmth to them.
Now a lot of that has to do with the SPEC of the speaker… and the model… but using the most common speaker models as examples you can see where these “stereotypes” of speakers are coming from.
Celestion: This is a British speaker.. and according to many.. The standard by which all others are meaured. This is the prototypical “British” speaker, being used in many classic and vintage amps and by many of the “hallowed” guitarists of the last 50 years.
Of special note, the “Greenbacks” which were used in many Marshall cabinets in the 60s and 70s. Hendrix being a big user of the Greenbacks 25 watts ( I think they also had 30 watts versions as well… but don’t hold me to that). These speakers had a lot of that “British” vibe, but being only 25 watts… would break up fairly nicely when pushed hard.. Many players (i.e. Hendrix) loved the added breakup of the speakers paired with the tube breakup of their Marshall stacks to create that classic sound we still hear in our heads.
Another popular speaker is the “Vintage 30” which is very popular today. This is actually a 60 watt speaker with a nice “punch” and some breakup, but much later than a Greenback. The V30’s are a popular option speaker for most cabinet/amp companies today and can usually be ordered at an additional cost with very little trouble. Many 4×12 cabinets from many of today’s top makers come with V30s as standard (other cabs can add V30s as an option).
Celestion does make several other speakers, in various sizes, wattages, and price ranges. Among them the “Heritage” series (which are a cross b/w the Vintage30’s and the Greenbacks), the “80” and “65” speakers which are used as OEM on many midpriced cabinets, and another favorite of many a top guitarist are the G1275’s. They have a midrange KICK and a higher watts handling that delivers more punch and thump and less breakup when pushed (this is Yngwie’s speaker of choice).
Another prominent speaker company is Eminence Speakers. They have an interesting “range” of speakers which they have dubbed “Red Coat” and “Patriot” series. The “Red Coat” speakers are their “British flavored” speakers and will have varying wattages and sizes (and prices).. while the “Patriot” speaker series is more American in “flavor” (or rather they “lack the British character” and generally are “cleaner” in output) There are plenty of videos on Youtube offering comparisons and reviews of the Eminence line of speakers.
My personal favorites:
Back in the 80s, I had a British 4×12 cabinet loaded with Celestions. I don’t know what model specifically but I’m sure the speakers were 35 watts each. The cabinet handled 140 watts of power and is still the best sounding cabinet I’ve had. It was sold LONG AGO as I “downsized” my rig. But at 35 watts it probably had some early breakup from my 100 watt head and some punch too. I would say from the speakers I have tried, the V30’s are the closest ones.. BUT with my current rig.. my head would not even come close to pushing the V30 at all… and since I’m a sucker for pushing the speakers hard and getting SOME breakup… I opted for the Heritage 30 watts speakers. It’s given me a very good compromise for my lil’ Tubemeister. =)
Recommendations? I would say it depends on what type of music you play.. AND your amp. If you play play classic rock, you probably WANT breakup (for that vibe).. so I’d go with a lower wattage speaker, like the Greenbacks. Be sure to ALWAYS have enough wattage handling from your SPEAKERS to handle your amps power output. Playing a 50 watt Marshall 1×12 combo thru a Greenback 25 will give you a headache, and lots of smoke. =) And a repair bill for a new speaker (and maybe more from the amp). If you play loud uber heavy metal.. you may want a HIGHER WATTAGE speaker… maybe even one with less breakup to handle the busy and often detuned heaviness. If you get speaker breakup here, it could sound like mud. Also, be sure the speakers don’t “cut” too much in the mids (check the manufacturers site for eq specs/curves on the speakers). The mids are what help you cut thru on stage. Try the G1275s for the clean and brutal output. For jazz and cleaner genres, I would suggest a larger wattage cleaner output speaker. Maybe even something with “less character” perhaps as a higher watt Eminence Patriot series speaker.
Ultimately, the choice is yours based on your taste and what music you play/your gear, etc… but feel free to comment and ask below and I’m more than willing to offer my feedback!! Don’t forget to use the web to find speaker reviews and demos to check out and do your homework before dropping some coin!!
I hope you guys enjoying this and found it useful!!
Thanks folks.. and ROCK ON!!