“A guitarist’s tone is only as good as his technique.” This quote may be true back then but nowadays, there are a lot of different factors that contributes to a musician’s overall tonality. From the guitar, effects, then to their amplifiers – there are a lot of different factors to consider with regards to how a guitar player can shape his sound. One of the biggest factors that contribute to the signal chain is the amplifier. But with the mass production of guitar amplifiers nowadays, how will you be able to differentiate your tone from the guitarist next door? The answer, of course, is by modification. And one of the sure fire components that you can alter to upgrade your sound is your amplifier’s speakers. But what are the pointers to consider when choosing your speakers?
Tonality: What type of tone are you planning to achieve? Are you looking for that SRV sound, or are you into heavy metal?
Power: How loud are you willing to go? Are you planning to use the speakers for studio recording, or are you planning on taking your cabinet in the next Woodstock?
Budget: With all the countless possibilities out there, of course, this is one of the deciding factors that we have to look into. That high priced speaker may not necessarily be the missing piece you need to complete your signal chain.
So read on and learn all the options before you go hacking into your amplifier. Here are our top ten bids on the best 12-inch guitar speakers in the market today.
EMINENCE EJ1250 12-Inch Signature Guitar SpeakersPro: Versatile speaker, built to Eric Johnson’s exact specifications.
Con: A bit high priced.
Eric Johnson – guitar virtuoso, songwriter, perfectionist. These are few of the words that summarizes one of the world’s greatest guitar genius that ever lived. He is known for his guitar-like tone on the Fender Stratocaster and has won numerous Grammys for his songs. He is well known for his perfectionist tendencies, from his studio recordings to the way he winds and tunes his guitar strings. He made it clear that music is not just art, but an exact science. The EJ1250 was the brainchild of Johnson’s collaboration with George Alessandro and Eminence. The speaker is exact to Eric Johnson’s specifications; rated at 50 watts RMS at 8 ohms, this 12-inch wonder sings to the frequency range of 80 Hz – 5.1 kHz, and has a sensitivity of 100.9 dB which is perfect for overdriven guitar tones without the untamed highs and low overtones. Any guitarist who knows Eric Johnson will agree that this speaker is perfection at its best – the marriage between Fender, Mesa Boogie and Marshall. Even though at a price tag that high, we all know that anything that has EJ’s stamp on it is worth it!
Celestion Blue Guitar Speaker, 8 OhmPro: Big headroom / more punch.
Con: A bit on the heavy side (10.8 lbs).
The Celestion Blue will give you a feel for that British sound – more punch on your overdriven tone, and a large headroom that will definitely make you “stand out” even when playing in a huge pub. This woofer utilizes Alnico for its magnet and is rated at 15 watts / 8 ohms, with a frequency response of 75 – 5000 Hz. With its warm low-end tones, strong mid and sparkling highs, it is no wonder that this immediately found favor with top guitar virtuoso like Brian May. Due to its damping, this speaker provides just the right compression, and even on very loud volumes you can hear the clear definition of your tone. Safe to say, the Celestion Blue is one of the speakers out there that gives you more value for your money.
Celestion Vintage 30 Guitar Speaker, 8 OhmPro: Patterned after the original Celestion Blue.
Con: A bit heavy (10.4lbs)
Celestion Vintage 30 derives its ancestry from the original Celestion Blue. This speaker is rated at 60 watts RMS at 8 ohms, and has a frequency range of 70 Hz-5 kHz. The speaker size is 12 inch, but is remarkably double-its-size loud! Even though its magnet type is ceramic, the design of the vintage 30 is quite close to its Alnico counterparts hence the full punchy lows, solid sounding mid, and over the top creamy highs without the harsh overtones. The only downside is that it is quite heavy (10.4 lbs). A definitely good replacement speaker if you are looking for that vintage sounding Marshall sound in your cabinets.
Seismic Audio Denali 12 (Pair) – 12-Inch 450 Watts RMS PA Speakers or Raw WoofersPro: Comes in a pair / very loud.
Con: Heavy (10 lbs each).
This pair of 12-inch speakers from Seismic Audio is perfect if you are building your own cabinet from scratch. The Denali 12 features a rating of 450 watts RMS per speaker at 8 ohms each. Its frequency range is 48 Hz-3 KHz which is enough to capture those low growling thumps and clean highs, and a sensitivity of 97 dB. The only downside of these speakers is their weight, quite heavy at 10 lbs per speaker. But all in all, you are getting a very good deal for a pair of speakers that would definitely rock your house down.
Fender 12″ Standard Replacement SpeakerPro: Reproduces the sound of the original mounted speakers.
Con: Tends to sound a bit “shiny” (the original Fender Sound).
The Fender 12-inch standard replacement speaker is true to its core. It is produced to replace and not enhance the existing woofers on Fender amplifiers. Its rating is 100 watts RMS AT 8 ohms. So if you are looking to replace the busted speakers on your Twin Reverb or Princeton and want to retain the original sound these woofers are perfect for you.
Eminence Redcoat Guitar The Governor 16 12″ Guitar Speaker, 75 Watts at 16 OhmsPro: Thick rich tones.
Con: Tends to sound a little edgy on the high frequency if not properly tuned.
The Governor 16 from Eminence is a manifestation of the Brit-Rock sound. With ratings of 75 Watts RMS at 16 ohms, these woofers are perfect whether you are planning to build a 1X12, 2X12, or 4X12 cabinet. This woofer’s frequency response is at 70 Hz-5 kHz and is guaranteed to produce tight lows, cut through mid and sparkling highs. The great thing about this woofer is, with proper tuning, you can get a real focused tone which is sure to bring life to your solos. Whether as a backup replacement speaker or as a part of your main cabinet, the Governor is sure to deliver and exceed your expectations.
Celestion Hot 100 guitar speaker, 8 ohmPro: Flat response; true reproduction of tone.
Con: Needs proper equalization for you to hear your desired tone.
Celestion continuously innovates the way speakers should sound. The Hot 100 is the “Jack of all trades” in this regard. Its rating is 100 watts RMS at 95 dB which means that these babies are loud! Whether you are mounting these on classic tweed amplifiers or into much modern modeling amplifiers, they are sure to reproduce the intended sound faithfully. With its frequency response of 80-5000 Hz, you are assured that all your dynamics will be heard and that your sound will cut through the crowd wherever you are.
Jensen C12N 50W 12″ Replacement Speaker 8 ohmPro: Vintage blues sounds.
Con: Tends to coat everything in mids.
If you are into that vintage Fender tone, then the C12N from Jensen is for you. With a power of 50 watts RMS at 8 ohms, these woofers are sure to sing those jazz and blues lines like no other speakers at their price range can. The only downside is that they are not that versatile. So if you are into metal or heavy rock, then these might not be the speakers for you. A very good replacement speaker for classic Fender or other vintage amplifiers.
Eminence Texas Heat 12″ Guitar Speaker, 150 Watts at 8 OhmsPro: Made in the USA.
Con: Lacks a bit on the low end.
The Texas Heat from Eminence is true to its name – chicken picking hot! With 150 watts of power, you are sure to be heard at just about any club you might play in. Plus the fact that these woofers are still made in the USA means they are built to last Great for blues and country music.