Brief Overview of Principles & Manufacturers
for a guitar amplifier comes with many choices:
is a measurement that involves feeding a speaker 1 watt of power and
recording its output in decibels (dB) with a microphone placed 1 meter
away. This is probably the most important number I look at when
determining if a speaker is any good. It is important to note that, for
instance, the difference between 97 db SPL and
100 db SPL would require an additional 200 watts of power. This SPL
number will tell you how efficient your speaker can turn power (watts)
into sound (dB). The higher the number, the better.
tells you how a speaker alters the original signal. For audio systems
that reproduce sound, such as P.A’s, stereo systems and concert studio
monitors, the goal is to have a speaker configuration that is relatively
neutral to the original signal. This is usually achieved using multiple
speakers, or drivers, including a woofer, midrange driver, and tweeter.
Sometimes, it is necessary to have a subwoofer added to achieve ultra
low frequency notes from movies and sound effects. However, the
frequency range of a guitar is limited enough to not require more than
one kind of speaker, usually a midrange type. The most popular size is
12 inch for dedicated cabinets, and sometimes 10 or 6.5 inch for smaller
cab’s, combos, and practice amps. Most guitar players like a speaker
that enhances the midrange frequencies, in a way “warming up” the
sound, as well as making it punchy and defined. This allows for your
sound not to get lost in the mix of other musical instruments.
Handling is a
measurement given by the speaker manufacturer that tells you how many
watts a speaker can handle before it will begin to distort the signal.
Sometimes this is a good thing- this can cause speaker overdrive that is
pleasing to most Rock and Roll genres of music. However, too much
distortion can cause a speaker to be damaged, usually melting the voice
coil. In most cases, you want to make sure that a speaker can handle the
maximum output of your guitar amplifier, just to be on the safe side.
Being one of the most popular and recognized names in guitar
loudspeakers, Celestion has been making great drivers since 1929,
originally for the British Broadcasting Company. Since the history of
guitar amplifiers is rooted in early tube radio, it is no doubt that
they eventually found their way into early British guitar amplifiers.
Since then, they have been installed at the factory of many amplifier
companies, including Marshall, Vox, Orange, Mesa Boogie, and many
have Marshall and Celestion to thank for the distinctively “British
tones” that we are so familiar with.
Also known as the Blue Bull Dog, this 15-watt loudspeaker made
its way into early Vox and Marshall amplifiers in the 1950’s and
60’s. It soon became the fist official guitar speaker because of its
amazing sensitivity of 100 dB, due the use if a special AlNiCo magnet
(an alloy of Aluminum, Nickel, and Cobalt). The actual frequency
response is not too different from a Celestion 12M Greenback, but they
have a smoother top end.
With the development of Rock and Roll, audience sizes grew and
consequently more and more amplification became necessary. Celestion
rose to the challenge of designing a loudspeaker that could cope with an
increase in power, and the G12 series was born. The G12M was the first
speaker produced by Celestion to feature a ceramic magnet assembly.
Through this, every subtlety of the player’s dynamic style becomes
A modern speaker that can trace its roots to the original G12,
the Vintage 30 combines high power handling with an instantly
recognizable vintage tone. The Vintage 30’s 100dB sensitivity makes it
ideal for use in high-gain tube amps and with tight bass, fat mids and a
smooth, harmonically rich top, a fantastic ‘70s rock sound comes with
all the added bass and overdrive you could ever want. My Orange AD30R
amp has two of these speakers, and so did my old Marshall 1960AV
cabinet. I have nothing but good things to say about these speakers,
they are great! Most likely one of the best modern speaker designs out
today, in my opinion. Found in many Orange, Marshall, Mesa Boogie and
plenty other amps, you can’t go wrong with these speakers.
The G12H provides the ideal solution to those looking for a
compromise between the Vintage 30 and the G12M ‘Greenback’ - for
players who need a syrupy, thick and warm tone that still retains a
tight bottom end. These speakers have great clarity (without being
harsh) when played clean yet they will also pump out the classic
Celestion grind when pushed into distortion. Pick attack is vividly
articulated and with sustained notes the sound trails off into warm
harmonic tones and a blooming feedback. I have met plenty of people that
have played through this speaker, and most prefer it for heavier types
of music. All around great choice if you want lower end than other
speaker has emphasis on huge bass, relaxed mids and vibrant highs, which
make for a brutal sound - solid and fat with plenty of sparkle. Its
heavy-duty aspect means that it handles extreme high gain and distortion
like a gladiator. And this speaker will also retain a clean sound at
much higher power levels than others can take. With these properties,
this speaker is one of the favorites for musical styles such as
rock/metal/thrash. This speaker is also one of the more popular speakers
installed in Marshall’s, Mesa Boogie, and Crate speaker cabs.
Eminence Speaker Corporation,
established in 1966, has made a significant contribution to the
development of equipment for rock and roll, country, blues and other
musical genres. These speakers are often installed at the factory in
amplifiers such as Fender, Peavey, Orange, and many other popular
companies. They are very reliable, and are considered to be just as good
as Celestion speakers; however, they tend to be high-frequencyer
sounding in my opinion. Overall, they are a great combination of value
and sound quality. Fender,
Peavey, and SLM (Crate/Ampeg) worked with speaker companies like
Eminence, Oxford, CTS, JBL, and Electrovoice to establish tones that are
It is first important to note
that Eminence, unlike Celestion, has many variations of the same speaker
under a single name. In this case, the Guitar Legends speaker comes in
nine similar drivers, but slightly differentiated. They are all hand
crafted from 40 years experience fabricating loudspeakers. They are
specifically suited and voiced for guitar applications, yet offering
variations for several fields of musical tastes. These speakers work
great for Jazz, Country, Blues, Rock, and everything in between. Some of
them are voiced to be more neutral- offering the perfect solution for
modeling amps, while others color your sound in the traditional British
flavor. No matter which model you choose, you can guarantee it will have
warm, rich low end, with smooth
mids. They are overall efficient speakers, with the Legend 122 offering
an AlNiCo magnet.
both British and American cone technology into speakers that are
manufactured in the USA, these speakers give you the ability to have
virtually any tone you desire. Be
it British or American, clean or dirty, big bass or screaming highs,
these speakers promise that will allow you to “Pick Your Sound”.
Eminence has even gone as far as providing a guitar speaker cross
reference guide, helping guitar players choose a replacement speaker for
their amp. These speakers can be described as clean
and full, with lots of body and sparkle to thick and smooth, with lots
of mids and extended highs, depending on which model you choose.
Overall, these speakers have a high efficiency, with most models over
100db. They also seem to be one of the most comprehensive and complete
lines of speakers that Eminence has ever produced, offering nearly ever
guitar player a speaker that would suit them.
These speakers have more vintage history than modern. They were
the installed stock in the first radios and stereo systems, as well as
the Fender Amplifiers. They helped to define the early “American”
sound just as much as Eminence did, and are remembered today mostly for
it. The C and P series are still being manufactured today by parent
developed in the 1960's the ceramic series defines that classic American
rock and roll tone. They produce a warm smooth treble response with even
fat distorted tone, which is loved by so many guitarists. Standard in
Fenders and Ampegs of the early 60's, these speakers were the hot item
in the day, contending with the Eminence speakers for American
dominance. Available in many sizes and power ratings, these speakers
were very popular for their low prices due to the low costing ceramic
magnets. The consequence of this cheaper magnet is a sensitivity of only
about 95 db on most models.
Jensen 'P' Series guitar speakers were originally designed the late
'40's & early 1950's. The Jensen P10R 10" speaker is the
most famous of Jensen speaker's. Originally used in the Fender Super,
Bassman, Vibrolux, and Bandmaster amplifiers. Many
other great American speaker companies such as Ampeg and Fender used
these Alnico speakers. These re-issues are made from the exact
blueprints and use the same production techniques. They feature the
highly efficient Alnico magnets and use seamed cones to provide
authentic vintage sound.
MOD speakers have a British sound similar to that of Celestion. Some MOD
speakers are available in 4, 8, 16 & 32 ohms. They are best
suited for replacements in existing guitar cabinets. Load Marshall amps
with these and you may never need to replace them again, due to their
100-watt power handling. These speakers also work well in bass guitar
conclude, all of these choices may seem overwhelming, but in the end it
comes down to one thing: your sound. If you really like the sound of a
particular artist or amplifier, there’s a good chance that having a
similar or the same speaker will help you achieve your desired tone. I
believe that the first choice is to decide which sound you admire most:
American or British. If you choose American, chances are you like the
sound of Peavey, Fender, and Ampeg amplifiers. The Eminence and Jensen
speakers will bring out the characteristics of your amplifier best when
used with these American brands. If you dig the British sound, my guess
is you love the sound of Marshall, Vox, Orange and Hiwatt. Celestion
speakers are the clear choice for these types of amps. Personally, I am
Brit at heart, loving the music, amps, and speakers that this country
has produced. Owning a Vox AC30 and Orange AD30R, my favorite speakers
include the Celestion G12M Greenback, AlNiCo Blue Bulldog, and Vintage
30. However, I have also had great experience with Fender Custom Shop
Eminence Speakers that were installed in a Fender Pro Tube Twin Amp that
I used to own. The choice is yours.
Special thanks to Nick Santore from the Orange Amp Forum.
May 15, 2015 - 22:31
Jensen speakers are not like vintage Jensens, not even close. I have a new p12Q in a Tremolux 5E9a style amp and the ice picking could climb Everest. I have spoken with a good number of reliable amp builders and they say the same thing, inconsistent and not at all like the old ones.
Your site is really great! I am enjoying it.
March 18, 2012 - 14:52
A very nice article and very concise even though I have read many articles on guitar speakers I learned many new facts about Eminence as well as Jensen!
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