Weber Speakers, now known as “Ted Weber’s Famous Loudspeakers” and arguably the modern era’s most influential guitar speaker manufacturer, is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the legacy started by late founder and vintage speaker connoisseur, Ted Weber. Ted’s son, TA Weber, has done a remarkable job continuing the company’s mission to provide the best possible tone and service to guitarists around the world. In this interview, Six String Soul sits down with TA to discuss the past, present and future of Weber speakers. He also offers some good advice for guitarists looking to upgrade the speaker in their Fender, Marshall or Vox amplifier.
What does the 20th anniversary of Weber Speakers mean to you, your family and your father’s legacy?
Firstly, I want to thank Six String Soul and all of their readers for allowing us to be a part of this community. Honestly, I cannot believe that is has been 20 years! I can remember the first few years of our history like they were yesterday. The trials, tribulations, small successes and the “Holy Cow!” moments. It means so much to me and the guys at the shop that we have been able to continue without Ted (my pop) since his passing 6 years ago.
We are just thrilled to know that the speakers and other gear that he designed are played around the world on a daily basis. We have really felt the love and heard the praise from guitar players from every corner of the globe. It is a true testament of what my father created. I wonder, every day, what Ted would be coming up with…what he would be throwing at us. He loved to come up with new products and launch them before we even had the parts to build them. He really kept me on my toes, and in a way I guess he prepared me to keep this train going even after his passing.
How did Ted carve his niche in the musical instrument speaker industry?
Ted originally saw this passion for speaker building as a hobby. I think with any hobby you get really deep into and learn every aspect and nuance. He would weigh the cones and measure the thickness of original vintage speakers and demand that our cones weighed that much and had the same thickness. He would analyze the stiffness of a voice coil spider, match the voice coils to the originals, build the magnet circuits and design them to have tighter voice coil gaps than anything offered on the market.
I think those early years, when we weren’t actually selling product, made all the difference. He had time to perfect the speakers. We sent them out to buddies to tear into them. They were floored with the tone and prodded him into taking it to the next level (beyond a hobby).
What were some of the key learnings that your father discovered, when studying the differences between vintage speakers, that helped shape the extensive line of Weber speakers?
The main difference we learned was that vintage speakers were built much better back in the good ol’ days; the accountants didn’t seem to be involved as much as today. When we arrived on the scene, no one was making quality speakers. They had to build a speaker for $10 or less in order to get into the big name amplifiers.
It amazes me that someone would pay $1,000+ on an amp, knowing that the speaker was rush job/assembly line item. You can have so much great gear (guitar, amp, etc.) that ends up going out, to the listening audience, through a $10 speaker. In my travels, it seems that most guitar players don’t think much about the speaker. We are trying to change that…one player at a time.
The speakers that we have developed began with base models and simply experimenting with cones, gaskets, etc. to see if we hit a winner or not. Some of our speakers were, in fact, suggestions from a customer; “Can you build me this speaker, but put this cone in it?” The answer was almost 100% of time, “Yes, we will do that for you.” No other speaker manufacturer can do that! That, certainly, sets us apart from all of competitors.
Which of this learnings, in your opinion, have the biggest impact on speaker tone for guitarists?
The tight gaps in the voice coil motor are the most critical, in my opinion, for tone. Since we build by hand, we have a better handle on the concentricity of the gap, and power, which leads to better dynamic range.
I also believe that our ability to adapt to a players needs/wants has set us apart. We are small, nimble and willing to do what it takes to make the player happy! No other company can (or wants to) build a one-off speaker for a player, unless it’s for Eric Clapton or someone with a big name, and even then, they may not be willing to do something out of the norm of what they produce. We do it for any one of our friends/customers.
We listen to feedback too. Those early years of being really small (and just Ted and myself doing all of the work) really gave us time to work out the kinks, perfect the build process and the parts needed.
For guitarists looking for a new speaker for their amplifier, how do you suggest they start their research to find their desired tone?
Forums and blogs are a great way to start. I know a lot of players/techs have heard about us from speaking to their counterparts on the road. Over the years, I have made it my mission to go to as many concerts, festivals, etc. and speak to tech/players one on one. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?
Again, it really just comes down to educating players in how much the speaker plays a critical part in their tone. Many of the players I talk to express that they put so much time into switching out tubes, transformers, strings and pickups…never giving the speaker a second thought. It’s the last thing that your tone comes out of…it is your tone!
We (CJ, especially) has a wealth of knowledge of which speaker of our goes perfectly with certain amps, for a specific tone wanted. He is a great place to start (and finish) your research for desired speaker tone. Drop him an email!
What are your top 3 suggested speakers for Fender style amplifiers? Why?
It depends of course on the amplifier, power rating, speaker size, etc. But very generally, for 12” speakers:
- The 12F150 for a very classic blackface fender type tone. strong low end, smooth present high end.
- The 12F150B. Same strong low end as the 12F150, but with a British cone for a little more emphasis on mids. More “chime” to the high end as opposed to “sparkle”. Or, a combination of these two in a 2×12.
- For 10” speakers, try doing a mix of 10F150 and 10A125.
- 10A125 (30w, light dope): Smooth sweet high end with a crystal clear response and smooth compression.
- 10F150 (25w, light dope): Strong tight low end and great headroom.
What are your top 3 suggested speakers for Marshall style amplifiers? Why?
Again, it depends on the amplifier, but we recommend:
- Ceramic Blue Dog for the chime and clarity on the upper end without being harsh. Match it with a…
- Ceramic Silver Bell for a full and powerful low end with focused lower mids.
These two speakers blend well in the midrange to give you an overall full sound with great harmonic content. Also we like the Ceramic Gray Wolf which has a present upper midrange cut and great aggressive sound.
What are your top 3 speakers for Vox style amplifiers? Why?
- You can’t go wrong with the Blue Dog for a Vox. Two Alnico Blue Dogs for an AC30, for instance, is a perfect match.
- You can try a Blue Dog and Silver Bell mix if you want something different.
But largely, it’s the Blue Dog head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.
Tell us about the partnership between Weber Speakers, Lord Valve and Derek Trucks that resulted in the DT-10 speaker model.
That partnership started similarly to what I discussed in an earlier topic. Lord Valve (LV) and Ted spoke on the phone and communicated over email quite a bit. One day they were discussing Derek and his tone. LV was working with DT on some amps/etc. We had a “base”, skeleton magnet circuit that we used on some other models. We tested various ‘soft parts’ (spider, voice coil, cones), until we landed on the combination that LV and, I assume, DT liked.
It’s definitely cool being associated with great, respected players. We have worked with Joe Walsh on several occasions. One time, in particular, we were in his Studio City, CA home testing out some speakers; our own private concert listening him tear through snippets of his hits. What an amazing experience!
What’s on the horizon for Weber Speakers?
We just launched a new website, which needed to be revamped for several years. We are also working on a few amp designs. We don’t want to be an “amp builder”, per se…and we don’t want to compete with some or our core, long term boutique customers. These amps are designed around a specific speaker.
The Legacy Amp and the The Grey Wolf Amp are the first two amps in process. We are continually working on new speaker models, and wrapping up the final touches on a complete line of speakers designed for the “down tuning” crowd (called the ToneCult series). It is a much underserved market. One of our guys, Neal is in a few bands and has been pushing us to work in this genre of music. I am looking forward to launching the series very soon.
Thank you for your time, TA. We’re big fans of Weber Speakers here at Six String Soul. Our favorites include the California 12, Chicago 12 and the DT-10 for use in Fender amps. They all have a beautiful combination of warmth and clarity. Thank you for continuing your father’s legacy.
Thank you so much for the kind words! We love what we get to do (on a daily basis) and love the people that we get to deal with. We are looking forward to 20 more years of making the world a bit louder!
I would like to extend a 10% discount, to all of your readers, on their next purchase. They can use “SSS10” as the coupon code.
For more on Ted Weber’s Famous Loudspeakers, please visit www.tedweber.com.