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In the market for a new amp?
Why not consider switching out your speakers instead?
Here are the 7 best 12 inch guitar speakers on the market today.
Should You Change Your Amp’s Speakers?
Changing your guitar amp speaker/s can have a massive impact on your sound. After all, the speaker is the last piece in the signal chain and has the important task of producing the actual sound you hear. Along with your amp and pedals, your speakers play a crucial role in your overall tone.
In most cases, typical stock guitar amp speakers can always be upgraded. Changing your guitar amp speakers can help with sound, tone, feel, and provide you with an array of tonal options to fit the vibe that you’re after.
If you aren’t happy with your amp, switching out the speakers is a great way to save money instead of having to shell out more cash for a brand new amp. Provided you do your research, a brand new guitar speaker can get you closer to the tones that you’re chasing.
There are an endless amount of guitar speaker options available on the market, which can be a little overwhelming…
That’s why I’ve put together this list of seven 12-inch speaker options from Celestion and Eminence to suit a wide variety of tonal configurations.
Best Celestion 12-Inch Guitar Speakers
The name Celestion is deeply intertwined with the history of Rock N’ Roll.
For many guitar players, this company is the bee’s knees when it comes to speakers. Just like Fender’s Stratocaster, Gibson’s Les Paul, Marshall’s Plexi, etc, Celestion speakers belong in the history books thanks to their contribution to music of all styles.
This revered speaker company started in a small shop in a suburb of London and became the go-to speaker for guitar amplifiers. Celestion produced its first speaker in 1925 and is still a major player in the industry.
Some notable Celestion users are Slash, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Angus Young, and Eddie Van Halen. And that is just a partial list of the legendary guitarists that have used Celestion brand speakers. Naming just half of their notable users would fill up a book. So in case it’s not clear, to state it simply, Celestion speakers have an incredible legacy.
The Celestion Blue started as a radio speaker that was modified specifically for use in electric guitar amplifiers. These speakers are known for providing a dampened attack, warm lows, mellow upper mids, and a bright bell-like top end.
These characteristics appeal to fans of Vox AC30 amps, where the Blue comes fitted as the standard speaker. It features the classic British sound that the company is well known for, marked by that signature top-end bite.
Just be warned that at a hefty 9.3 lbs, the Celestion Blue will add significant weight to your amp. This is a small inconvenience to getting a killer tone, though.
The current Greenback is voiced with an additional broad mid-range attack and restrained top end. These add punch and attitude to chords and provide searing leads without any unwanted “fizz”.
It has been Angus Young’s favorite set of speakers since his early days with AC/DC. The G12M Greenback features a frequency response of 75 – 5000 Hz, 16 ohms of impedance, and 25 Watts. It parts with the tradition of Alnico magnets, using Ceramic instead. Try it in a 4 x 12″ configuration for a powerful 100 watts sound. A solid speaker for your guitar amp.
The Celestion Vintage 30 is known for being quite loud. It has a power rating of 60 Watts, nominal impedance of 8 ohms, and frequency range of 75 – 5000 Hz.
It is a direct descendant of the Blue, but with a Ceramic magnet. Even though it is also a 12-inch speaker, it has developed a reputation for being much louder than one would expect.
Your guitar amp will be blasting through if necessary. And just like the Blue, the Vintage 30 is a bit heavy at 10.4 lbs. Nonetheless, it’s also a great choice for a replacement speaker, especially if you want that traditional Marshall sound in your amp. This speaker has been used extensively by Slash and Peter Frampton.
Features & Specs
Frequency Range: 70 Hz – 5 kHz
Power Rating: 60 W
Impedance: 16 ohms
Weight: 10.4 lbs
Best Eminence 12-Inch Guitar Speakers
Eminence was founded in 1966 right in the heart of Kentucky, right between Louisville and Lexington (Eminence is the actual name of a town, as well as the company). It currently is the world’s largest speaker manufacturer. Eminence has also developed a reputation as a stellar guitar speaker manufacturer.
And of course, they have several 12-inch guitar speakers to choose from.
Some of the artists endorsed by Eminence are Eric Johnson, Greg Howe, Oz Noy, Paul Jackson Jr, and Mark Lettieri.
If you have ever been to Texas in the middle of August, then you know what this speaker is all about. The Eminence Texas Heat is truly hot. It has 150 Watts of power, a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, and a Ferrite magnet. As opposed to Celestion speakers, it is American made but offers a hint of British flavor.
Few guitarists compare to Eric Johnson when it comes to guitar tone. He is known to obsess over every detail of his sound, and his tone is revered the world over. Eric Johnson partnered with George Alessandro and Eminence to develop the EJ1250 12-inch guitar speaker.
It features 50 watts of power, an impedance of 8 ohms, and a frequency response of 80 -5100 Hz. It has a high price, but there is a reason for that. If you are very particular about your guitar sound, and you like Eric Johnson’s approach to tone, then definitely try the Eminence EJ1250.
The Eminence Legend GB128 guitar speaker helps clean up your act. Cleaner British voiced tone with a full low end, warm, throaty mids and a very open top end. Turn up the volume and turn back the clock.
It features 50 Watts of power, with 8 ohms of impedance and a paper cone. Its frequency range is 80 – 5100 Hz. A modern 12-inch speaker with a vintage touch. It used a Ferrite magnet, instead of the more traditional Alnico. This great replacement speaker for those interested in a clean tone with a hint of vintage style.
The Eminence Swamp Thang guitar speaker will transform your cab into an all out powerhouse! Designed with heavier players in mind, the Swamp Thang provides a thick and chunky tone with loads of sustain.
The Eminence Swamp Thang offers great sound for any budget. It features 150 Watts, a response of 70 – 5000 Hz, 8 ohms, and a whole lot of power for your amp to shine.
The Swamp Thang was designed with players of heavier music in mind. It provides a chunky and thick tone with a lot of sustain. Its bottom end will accommodate even the most demanding drop-tune seven-string players. This speaker is a great choice for those who prefer the power of American sound that works with blues, classic rock, and even jazz styles.
Pair it up with your amp and wail away!
Features & Specs
Frequency Range: 70 Hz – 4.0 kHz
Power Rating: 150 W
Impedance: 8 ohms
Weight: 11.10 lbs
The 7 guitar speakers above only just scratch the surface of what’s available on the market. Here are some honorable mentions that you should also check out:
Fender 12” Standard Replacement Speaker
Jensen’s “Green Speaker
Celestion G12T 75 Speaker
(The G12T 75 is a favorite of Yngwie Malmsteen with its tightly controlled low end and aggressive midrange.)
As a guitar player, your sound is mission-critical! When you think about it, so much of your sound comes from your brain and hands, and although you can train these parts you can’t replace them. What you can replace is everything else – and an amp speaker is a great option if you’re looking to improve or change up your tone.
All of the models mentioned above are a step up from the conventional pre-installed speakers that come with your amp. See what resonates with you and the style of music you play, then check out some demos on YouTube before buying. You might be surprised by the results!