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Old 03-29-2010, 11:56 PM
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Location: Aptos CA
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In this thread, I asked WordMan for his thoughts about guitar amp speakers. I thought his reply was really well done, and something that should be posted in this thread for other players. For context, I had asked why I preferred a Jensen speaker vs a stock speaker in a Fender amp, and what his thoughts were about guitar speakers in general.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan
Here are some basic points of "conventional wisdom" about speakers -

- There are American Voiced and British Voiced - i.e., Fender-style, traditionally Jensen, Weber, etc. and Marshall/Vox style, typically Celestion. One is not better than the other but people have clear preferences. Dialing in your tone involves making a choice and from the sound of it, you picked Jensen - now, that may be because the speaker model is a step up vs. the Celestion in terms of speaker quality, not due to a preference in the voicing, but we'd have to geek a bit harder if we wanted to go that far.

But Jensens contribute to the overall Fender / American voice - i.e., more open bell-like cleans and an overdrive that comes on more smoothly, with a steady increase in warmth and grit until you end up in crunchland. The speakers aren't as "tight" - typically because they are part of a Fender open-back cabinet design (because the cab is open, sound pours out the back, adding more sound in a slight delay from the sound in front - so it is thickened up with that slight delay and tight lows get blurred a bit...).

British-voiced speakers are heavier built as a rule and break up earlier and with a more aggressive crunch. They are part of a closed-cab system, so the sound is more focused out of the front, and the speakers have a tighter travel, because the air stays in the back, providing a bit of resistance to the cone. All of this contributes to the tighter lows, even gained up, of a guitar through a Marshall stack.

- Magnet size matters - as a rule, the bigger the magnet, the more responsive the speaker is. I am not sure why.

- Obviously - cabinet design matters; see above. With amp circuit, speaker type and cab type, geeks like me mess around. I like Fender circuits coupled with Marshall speakers. I really like closed-back cabs, especially in a 2x12 or a 4x12, but for my small rig, I use an open-backed Tweed design (i.e., based on Fender's "Tweed" amps from the 50's) fitted with a Celestion Blue...

- Celestion Alnico Blues rock - they are a small-watt speaker (I think they can handle 15 watts vs. 30 for the Vintage 30's, but there is a new Celestion Gold which is supposed to be like a Blue but rated at 50w). They were originally in Vox amps and so have that clear articulate tone that crunches up really smoothly and nicely.