Guitar speakers and speaker cabinets are quite often a guitar player’s last venture into refining the desired guitar tone. Most speakers being made today are modeled after vintage designs, or are an extension of a vintage design. Although it’s difficult to choose the correct speaker without hearing it (as is the case with most guitar gear), it is sometimes all that you can do when looking for the right guitar speaker or speaker cabinet for your needs. The following directory of guitar speakers and cabinets has been hand-curated to help you find that perfect speaker or cab.
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Avatar Speakers makes rugged speaker cabs with classic aesthetics (tolex, grill cloth, cabinetry), and typically loaded with Celestion and Eminence speakers. Avatar sells these speaker cabinets direct to guitarists, allowing them to keep prices down. All Avatar speaker cabinets are constructed using 3/4 inch plywood (featuring dadoed joints), include a one year warranty and a satisfaction guarantee.
Bag End speaker cabinets were used to make the Grateful Dead’s wall of sound (an enormous wall of 604 speakers that could project the band’s sound for a quarter mile). These are things that legends are made of, and Bag End has become just that…a legendary speaker company. Their 1×12 oiled wood cabinet is a perfect compliment to a boutique tube amp head. Bass players also take note. This speaker cab is great to pair with a portable bass amp head for grab-and-go rigs.
Celestion is the most well-known speaker company in the world, and their speakers have powered rigs like Jimmy Page’s Marshall amps and Trey Anastasio’s custom 2×12 speaker cabs. Classic Celestion speaker models include: G12H(75), G12M Greenback, Vintage 30, Celestion Blue and the Classic Lead.
Electro-Voice was founded nearly a century ago and is known for creating highly efficient loudspeakers that use breakthrough technologies (of their time) such as “compound diffraction projecting” and the modern “ring-mode decoupling” technique. These speakers are perfect for closed-back speaker cabinets that need to project efficiently at loud volumes.
Eminence speakers are made in the heart of Kentucky (in the town of Eminence), and are some of the most popular guitar speakers used in guitar amps today. Popular speaker models include: Eric Johns Signature speaker, Cannibas Rex (hempcone), Swamp Thang (high volume, sustain and chunky tone), the Tonker, Wizard and more in their Patriot, Redcoat and Legend Series.
Jensen speakers are best known as the speakers put in early Fender tweed and blackface guitar amps. The vintage P1oQ was used in the tweed Fender Bassman, the vintage P10R was used in the blackfact Fender Super Reverb and the vintage C12N Jensen speakers were loaded in the blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb. The Jensen website has a helpful list of recommended replacement Jensen speakers for both vintage and modern Fender amps.
Jenkins launched their first speaker cabinet (JSS212, a 2×12 speaker cab) in the mid 1990s and evolved their speaker cab modesl to include the Highway 61 and more. They are constructed out of Birch veneer plywood and a half-inch baffle board, include a vinyl strap-style handle, nickel corner joint protectors, rubber feet and are tuned to perfection for optimal speaker projection and tone. All you need to do are load your speakers and wire them up.
Palmer makes some innovative speaker simulator products that allow guitarists to send the signal from their power amp straight into either the Junction (small device shown left), a PGA 03/04/05 or a number of their other speaker simulator products in order to send the guitar signal direct into a mixing console. This is handy for gigs, home recording or even home practice (where volume is an issue). Speaker simulators never fully retain the exact feel of a guitar amp since the sonic imagery produced by a speaker is completely lost, but these are some of the best products for the job. These products are perfect for high-gain guitar players since the sparkle and clarity of a true guitar amp/speaker combo is very nearly impossible to replicate for clean guitar tones.
Raezor’s Edge makes unique guitar cabinets that offer wide dynamic range, clear and focused sound at all volume levels, tight low end and overall richness of tone. These cabinets can be pushed to the max and will not distort, vibrate or produce any unwanted artifacts in your guitar’s tone.
Jim Seavall, founder of Scumback Speakers, spent twelve long years of collecting over five hundred vintage “Pre Rola” and “BlackBack” era guitar speakers as the foundation for what he claims to be the best sounding vintage-voiced speakers you can buy in the boutique guitar speaker market today. With unique speaker variations and power ratings ranging from 25 to 100 watts, these speakers are all the rage, so definitely check them out.
Tone Tubby broke onto the guitar speaker scene just after the turn of the millenium with a new technology: hemp cones. These speakers boast better dynamic range than typical paper cones, but more importantly they are simply more durable. Steve Kimock is a big fan of these speakers due to his tendency to push his speakers to the limit. He cannot blow a Tone Tubby. We find that Tone Tubby speakers are better fits for amps designed to provide overdrive tone, whereas they are a bit dark for clean-tone amps (Fender blackface amps in particular). But, many guitarists love their sound in their Fender Pro Reverb, for example. These are one of the best guitar speakers on the market.
Voodoo Amps makes a couple lines of guitar speaker cabinets (Dual Lead and Single Lead series) that cover all of your 2×12 and 4×12 guitar speaker cabinet needs. They can come straight, slanted, loaded, unloaded or built to your own custom specs. Their brown grill cloth really gives them a warm and classic look.
Weber Speakers practically created the boutique guitar speaker industry with their recreations of classic designs (California, Chicago, vintage Jensen-style speakers) using alnico and ceramic magnets, different types of doping, different coils, etc. The great thing about these speakers is that they are affordable. Most cost just $75-$150, so they provide an easy way to customize your tone if you already love your amp. The DT-12 speaker shown to the left was an offshoot of Derek Trucks’ collaboration with Weber and Lord Valve (Denver, CO) to produce 10-inch speakers customized for Derek’s famous vintage Fender Super Reverb amps. The DT-10 was soo well-received that Weber also created the DT-12 for 12-inch speaker needs (great for a Fender Deluxe Reverb).