A word about speakers

or pushing more air


A 60's guitar amp speaker


The dangerous end


A re-issue Greenback


The holy grail of guitar speakers


Eric Clapton likes these

Loudspeakers play an important part of your tone.

They are the last link in the sound chain, the transducer, every scrape of the plectrum, every pinched harmonic, every damped palm muted chug, your speaker has to faithfully reproduce, as soft as a whisper or as loud as a Jumbo jet taking off.

All your loudspeaker does is push air, when you talk you push air, when we listen we hear soundwaves or air being pushed or vibrations.

You could play a 100 watt stack at full volume in the void of outer space (assuming you could breathe and have your ears un-covered) and stand right next to it and not hear a thing, why would you want to? well you wouldn't really, it's just to demonstrate that in space where there is no air the loudspeakers have nothing to push and your ears have no soundwaves or vibrations to hear. (I wonder if our drummer would consider playing in a vacuum?)...

Speakers have a power rating, some as low as 10 watts or even as high as 1000 watts, they also have frequency range like 75-5000hz and a  sensativity rating in the form of  dB. Most guitar speakers have a sensativity rating of between 95 dB and 100 dB the latter being most efficient (loudest), so guitar loudspeakers are much more efficient than HiFi loudspeakers where the average efficiency is around 87 dB.

In search of the ultimate guitar tone I have tried many different loudspeakers (if you ask my wife she will tell you I have a speaker fettish) which I suppose is true.

I have a theory that guitar loudspeakers have to be driven quite hard to sound their best.  Take a 200 watt professional guitar loudspeaker and put 10 watts through it, result a thin and lifeless not very interesting sound. Now put the same 10 watts through a 15 or 25 watt speaker and you get warm fat luscious cone breakup and compression with distortion as the speaker is struggling to reproduce all the frequencies that is being asked of it with the cone approaching it's end stops all at the same time. (Remenber the sound of Rock and Roll is...)

Tip  Warm your speakers up slowly by switching your amp on and letting it idle for a few minutes, then play some clean open chords at moderate volume just to warm the coil and get those cones moving. You can easily damage a vintage speaker by hitting it hard with a power chord the second you switch the amp on as moisture can get trapped in the voice coil and would instantly boil blistering the coil former and causing the dreaded cone rub.



Do you think The Greatful Dead have enough speakers, nah...