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How to select speakers

See our Buyers guide to vintage Fender amps for a guide and picture gallery of the known original
speakers in the blackface and silverface amps. You may compare these with your own speakers to
determine what you have.
Speakers are like ice cream; we all have our favorite taste. Some like strawberry while others like
chocolate. You need to experiment yourself and taste the hundreds of speaker flavors out there. It is
interesting to hear other opinions but it can also be confusing since we lack a precise vocabulary to
describe tone and taste. What someone finds harsh can be beautiful sparkle to others. Smooth
overdriven tones can mean very different things for heavy metal guys with Marshall and Celestion
stacks and country musicians playing twangy Twin Reverb amps. What is also interesting is that our
own taste developes over time. After many years with vanilla ice cream, the taste of chocolate will be
a tone explosion, not to mention a mix of the two. Variation is the key and therefore, my friend, you
need several guitars, amps, pedals and different speakers.
At fenderguru.com we prefer mostly the American type of speakers for vintage Fender amps. They
have a balanced and transparent characte that works good for most music styles. The term
American speakers is wide and not a very precise term. We use it to describe a natural tone,
meaning a relatively flat frequency response. Speakers can have different frequency response
depending on materials and construction design, like cone shape, magnet weight and coil size. Also,
the aging process of these materials will change a speakers tone over time. New speakers will
therefore sound different from vintage speakers.
There are of course exceptions to our preference of American speakers. One is a heavily cranked amp
with a bright single coil guitar. In this case we prefer darker sounding speakers than the typical
American Jensen C12n-style. We want more bass and mids to smooth out the treble
and high harmonic frequencies coming from the amp. A good example is a single coil strat or tele
played with the bridge pickup through a cranked blackface Bassman (AB165). The amp has a huge
bottom end and a slightly edgy Fender 6L6 push-pull (class AB) cranked tone. Think of Keith
Richards. Another example is a bright jazzmaster with bridge and neck pickup combined for some
jangly surf tone, through a big clean amp like a Pro Reverb, Super Reverb or Twin Reverb with lots
of reverb. In such cases we tend to favor British voiced speakers to give us a throaty and meaty tone
where the treble is tamed and compensated for. Such speakers may not be well suited for crystal
clear and soft clean tones, but they match perfectly with our blackface AB165 Bassman with jumped
channels and lots of preamp and power amp distortion.
Modern speakers produced today have improved since the 60s in terms of efficiency, robustness and
clarity. Swapping speakers is the most effective change you possibly do to change the tone of your
amp, and is also a recommended move to all vintage amp owners who plan to gig heavily with their
amps. Keeping the original speakers intact is important for the amps second hand value. Players who
gig with their amps regularly deserve new speakers and not 40 year old porous collector items that
blow whenever you pluck your low E hard.
The speakers we review here are mostly conservative alternatives from a Fender perspective. We
prefer speaker models who sound close to the originals that came in these amps. In some cases we
want more power and headroom, particularly in small single speaker amps like the Princeton Reverb
and the Deluxe Reverb who were poorly equipped from the Fender factory (it is a big shame that the

Jensen C12n never was installed in the blackface Deluxe Reverb). In bigger, multiple speaker amps
we often like speakers with lower power handling and less efficiency because the amps are more
than loud enough and we want some tone out of them by turning the volume up (its all about playing
in the sweet spot). We recommend to choose low power speakers rather than high power. A low
power handling means a smaller and lighter magnet and voice coil, lighter cone, less doping, less
vibration and movement and more stiffness overall. A low power speaker will have better
transparency, efficiency, sustain and speaker weight. High power speakers are stiffer and require
more power to vibrate and operate in its sweet spot. They sound great when they are fed high power,
but very few of these speakers sound good with low wattage amps. The enormous 200w EVM12L is
a peculiar exception to that rule, and its clean sound is great even at low volumes. A general
recommendation is to stay as low as possible on the speaker power handling. A 40w Super Reverb
will distribute 10w to each of the four speakers. 20w speakers will be safe here.
What tone do you seek in your amp?
Elements to consider are:

Do you play extremly loud, pushing your amp? Those who play these Fender amps above 5-6
on the volume knob should consider the power rating of your speakers. Normally it requires
much more than the max power rating to blow a speaker, but there are other side effects in
pushing a speaker against its limit. You may experience cone breakup and buzz. Some
speakers sound harsh in the top end and/or muddy in the low end. Some players like the
character of a tweedish distortion with a farty low end. Others prefer a firm and clean
attack in the low end that comes with higher powered speakers, more in the style of the
blackface amps. Players who play very loud well above the amps sweet spot, may find
powerful speakers better suited because they smooth out the upper harmonic frequencies and
provide enough lows and mids to compensate for the harsh and overdriven treble tones. They
also handle well a hard pick attack and brutal string action. On the other side, speakers with
low wattage can be better for clean tones due to better transparency and touch sensitivity,
especially finger picking. At the same time they can reveal too much of the harsh and
overdriven tones.

Do you want highly efficient and loud speakers to achieve maximum volume? Or is the amp
loud enough and you want more breakup at lower volumes? You need consider the speakers
sensitivity, or efficiency, for loudness and volume. With low efficiency speakers you have to
turn the amp up more and at the same time utilize more breakup from it, which is what its
much about. Still, many players think they need the maximum volume to impress band mates,
friends or worst, yourself.

Do you have a bright guitar or effect pedals with high frequency fuzz? In that case you may
want darker sounding speakers with a smooth tone, aka British-voiced speakers. Clean and
distorted tones come out very differently in different speakers. Using a Ibanez tube screamer
will, as everyone should know, eliminate the sparkle and highest frequencies. This pedal will
sound good through bright speakers and a bright amp since these speakers will let all
newances and bright details come through. A fuzzface may, in our humble opinion, not sound
good through bright speakers since youll get too much of the pepper spray harshness of this
fuzz.

If the amp feels very bright with few EQ possibilities to tame the upper treble you may want
to seek darker speakers. One example is the Deluxe Reverb, particularly the reissue model.
The typical speakers in these Fender reissue amps are known to be bright, Jensen P10r, C12n,
C12k. There are dozens of replacement speakers that can give your amp a more balanced
tone.

If the amp tends to be mellow, muddy and/or farty and with little EQ options, like the tweed
amps, you may want to find vintage style speakers with a softer bass response and enough
treble. We have good experience with vintage style Oxfords, Jensens in a Tweed Deluxe 5e3.
An efficient and loud Celestion Alnico gold 30 had too much bass aand was only useful with
the bridge pickup of single coil guitars. Brighter and vintage style speakers (low efficient and
low/medium bass response) can also be the solution if you have a hot, muddy and dark guitar
signal and you want more clarity and brightness.

What is your playing style? You have a hard pick attack or soft finger touch? If you play
softly you will probably like all newances to come out from the speakers and you need low
wattage and bright speakers that respond quickly and gives you all the details in the tone. If
you play hard with thick strings in the style of Texas blues, you may like more powerful
speakers that compresses the hard attack. A hard pick attack will also reveal some sharp treble
tones when the string bounces back and possibly slams into the frets.

Do you want a chunky thick tone or a snappy and firm response? Vintage style speakers are
fast and snappy and usually very good in multiple speaker cabinets (3-4 x10). However, in
single speaker cabinets they may get more power from the amp than they are able to handle.
Modern, powerful speakers have a more clean bottom and can deliver a chunky tone alone or
in pairs.

Is weight an issue? Usually not in smaller amps and top+cabinet configurations. If we want
lots of punch we could install heavy ceramic speakers and still be able to carry the amp and
cabinet to most gigs.

Are you planning to mix different speakers for a more complex tone and have more
flexibility? Are you up to the task of micing two sources? If so, there are many good speaker
blends to consider. The result can be amazing.

The morale is that the selection of speakers is dependant of your guitar, amp and pedals. Thats why
the extenion cabinets are practical. You may select speakers depending on which gear youre playing.
When discussing speakers with others tell them where you are at, what are you seeking, what do you
want more or less of. Come up with actual references in terms of guitars, amps and actual songs that
give people an idea of what tone you are seeking.
Mixing different speakers
If you are using your amp in many different environments we find it useful to install a mix
of speakers that bring different qualities to the table. By enabling and rewiring the speakers one can
quickly switch your tone depending on what the specific gig requires. Be careful that the speakers
you mix are not too different in terms of efficiency, frequency response and sensitivity. If you pair a
very bright speaker with a dark one, you will find that you have to EQ your amp to suit the brightest

speakers. Then you wont utilize the dark sounding speaker which will only be dull and dark. The
same goes for efficiency. You wont hear low efficient speakers if theyre combined with highly
efficient ones. Weve once paired Jensen P10r togther with Weber 10A150 with bad results. The
10A150 forced us to back down on the bass and volume since they have so much of it. The P10r then
barely came through in the mix, and it delivered an unpleasant, sharp and thin tone. The P10r forced
us to go down on treble and turn off the bright switch. This made the 10A150 dull sounding. We
simply couldnt find a sweet spot where all speakers were working together.
8 speakers

Warehouse Guitar Speakers G8c 8. A punchy and efficient speaker that offers more power,
punch and sparkle than any vintage 8 speaker. It is American voiced with bright treble and
solid bass for an 8 speaker. It can take lots of power before farting out and will be an
upgrade in your Champ / Vibro Champ if you need more volume and clean headroom.

10 speakers
Vintage style:

Warehouse Veteran 10. Light, snappy, warm tone, firm, they have the vintage appeal of
upper mids and higs. Excellent replacements of the original CTS Alnico 10? that came
originally in blackface Super Reverb, one of the absolute best speakers weve heard in SR.
Lots of touch sensitivity and warmness. The speaker is designed so that the cone breaks up
when pushed. Dont be afraid of cone breakup before youve heard it. Fantastic, mellow and
compressed. Excellent in 2-4 x10 configurations. You will not find any better speaker below
amazing 50$.

Weber Signature series and Weber Chicago Vintage series contain both Alnico or Ceramic
speakers that are excellent replacements of the original CTS Alnico 10, CTS ceramic or
Jensen C10r that came originally in blackface Super Reverbs. Beatiful upper mids. Snappy,
firm, quick and funky lows. Works great in multiple speaker configurations where many
speakers together provide enough punch. They can be slightly weak (depending very much
on expectations) and do not provide a lot of bass in 110 configurations, but for 410 you
will get touch sensitivity and sustain.

Jensen C10n. The vintage Jensen C10n speakers from the 60s are fantastic speakers in the
Princeton Reverb. They are powerful and clean. They will perform great in a demanding
110 environment. The speaker was unfortunately discontinued by Jensen.

Jensen P10R. Beautiful Alnico compression. True vintage Fender sound. Distinct, clear and
neutral. Bright, touch sensitive. Great in 410 applications.

Jensen P10Q. Much like the P10R, little more punch and darker sounding.

Weber 10A125. Much like Jensen P10Q, with more bite and crunch. Firm low end and nicely
balanced with mids and sparkling highs.

Eminence Legend 1028K. Very popular modern replacements for the original CTS Alnicos.
Bluesy and snappy.

More powerful speakers:

Eminence Copperhead. A very balanced and correct speaker offering both punch and warm
sparkle. A good allround speaker from Eminence that has gotten nice review from many
players.

Eminence Legend 1058K. One of our favorite value for the money replacements in Princeton
Reverbs 110 or in Vibrolux 210. Good for those who want a chunky and full tone with
good mids and sparkle. Lots of low end.

Warehouse G10C. Inspired by Jensen C10q. More efficient and louder than the WGS Veteran
10 model. It has more punch, more sparkle and can take more power without farting out.
Due to more sparkle a heavily cranked amp may come out harsher than the Veteran 10.

Weber 10A150. Loud and darker colored than the 10A125. Lots of punch and massive lows
and mids. Very efficient in dB/W/m and heavy weight too. Will practically turn a
10 Princeton into a loud Deluxe. The enormous punch and massive mids requires an EQ
adjustment on the amp. Massive alone and even better in combination with brighter speakers
such as 10A125/10F125. Four such speakers in a Super Reverb is an unbelievable experience,
but one will achieve a better overall balanced tone (and flexibility too) in combination with
brighter speakers.

Jensen Jet Tornado. Our all-time favorite Jensen 10 speaker where high power and efficiency
is required, not to mention low weight. We use it in a Leslie/Vibratone cabinet where all of
this is required. Nicely balanced tone with good sparkle and just the right amount of bass and
mids. It sounds excellent on is own and is one of the best NeoDymium speakers weve tried.
100 watts will hold easily up in 110 or 210 applications. Try these in a 210 Vibrolux
and youll have a super gig amp. Vintage character, just more and better.

Jensen C10r and C10q. The efficiency of a modern C10q will make your amp loud, and it
offers lots of punch as well as chimey highs. Good replacements for the ceramic 10s in
many blackface amps. Bright and also gritty when pushed.

Weber 10F125/10F150. Powerful ceramic speaker, bright and powerful with lots of
headroom. Recommended in a combination with two alnicos such as the 10A125.

10 speaker demos

Weber 10A150 (video on Youtube)

10 speakers shootout. Warehouse Veteran, Eminence Legend Alnico blue frame, Jensen
NEO-100, Weber 10A125/10F125 (video on Youtube)

A Deluxe Reverb with Jensen NEO 100 (video on Youtube)

A Princeton Reverb with vintage Jensen C10n, Eminence Ramrod and an original
vintage Oxford 10j4

12 speakers

Warehouse G12C. One of our top recommendations for the Deluxe Reverb if youre seeking
the real vintage Fender vibe with the older 60s Jensen C12n but with modern efficiency,
punch and performance. The Jensen C12n came in blackface Pro Reverbs and Twin Reverbs,
among others. Unfortunately was the C12n never installed in the Deluxe Reverb, which is a
pity since it is fantastic in a 112 application. A deep, lush and full tone with lots of
warmness, touch sensitivity and sustain. Excellent for a clean, quacky stratocaster played at
neck pickup. The Warehouse G12C is warmer and deeper than the newer Jensen C12n, and
with a more open character. It is also more sparkling than older C12n models. The G12c is
highly recommended in both Princeton Reverb and Deluxe Reverb if you want to aim for a
superb clean tone rather than a heavily cranked tone. In the Deluxe Reverb, you might want
to consider the bright cap mod with this speaker, since it can be quite sharp and trebly,
particularly when distorted. The G12C/s is a little smoother and easier to get along with when
the bright switch is on. We believe the WGS G12C/s is one of the most versatile speakers out
there. Just perfect in 1 or 212 solutions.

Warehouse Veteran 30. Slightly darker and bolder than the G12C. Great complexity in tone.
Handles break up and distortion nicely.

Eminence Maverick and Reignmaker. The new speakers from Eminence with 9dB attenuation
is a ground breaking development in speakers. Not only do they sound excellent at full
output, they also give you a attenuated and tamed tone when turning the wheel on the back of
the speaker. Great for practice and home playing. The Reignmaker belongs to the british
RedCoat series, while Maverick belongs the American Patriot series.

Jensen C12N. The classic Fender signature tone. Powerful, full tone, efficient. Has
everything. Note that the newer are brighter and more efficient than the vintage (60?s) Jensen
C12n. It is said: If an alien came to earth and wanted to hear an American guitar sound, Id
play him my Twin with a set of Jensen C12N. This speaker is used in newer Deluxe Reverb
reissues (the 100W model) and it has lots of punch and sparkling highs. Quite bright. If you
can track down a vintage model from the 60s, youre a lucky man.

Jensen P12Q. Beautiful Alnico compression. True vintage Fender sound combined with with
modern efficiency, sparkle and some punch.

Jensen NEO 12?. Warm, very light, powerful, loud and very efficient. Modern rock
expression that handles a tube distorted amp well.

Weber 12A125. Much like Jensen P12Q, we like it even better. Great vintage vibe. Very
balnaced.

Weber 12F125/150. Ceramic. Webers equivalent to the C12n. Louder, harder and with a
metallic crunch when the amp is really cranked. A good choice in a Deluxe Reverb with
bright cap either off or on. The 12F150 is fuller, warmer and thicker than the 12F125.Weber

12A150. Darker than the 12A125. Lots of punch with crunchy, lower mids and bass. One of
the coolest speakers weve ever played, but you have got to like the color of this sound.

Weber California 12. Huge power. Dark and colored tone, not as loud as the
10A150. Handles distortion well. Be careful that it will fit under your OT.

JBL d120f. One of the most sought after 12 speakers in the 60s. Loud, full tone with both
punch and sparkle, extremly clean, no cone breakup. Not in production anymore.

EVM 12L. Full tone with lots of low punch and sparkle. Will make your Fender amp more
Dumble-like, with liquid and rich tones. The tone comes out very clean in distorted amps
with this speaker. Heavy weight and big tone, it reminds us of the JBL d120f. Extreme
headroom for playing in SRV land. Still in production as the EVM 12L Classic model.
King of 12 speakers.

Celestion G12 Century Vintage. A light weight and very powerful Neodymium speaker that
performs acoustically very well in the Deluxe Reverb sized cabinets. It has lots of headroom
and balances treble, mids and bass beautifully.

Eminence Swamp Thang. Huge sounding speaker, very efficient and lots of punch and
sparkle. Good full tone. Weve used it with big success in Deluxe Reverbs for big punchy
tone with great sparkle. It feels much like the EVM 12L.

Eminence Black Mountain, Red, White and Blues, Eminence Legend 1258. Great Vintage
character speakers from Eminence.

12 speaker demos

Vintage 1966 Jensen C12n (video on Youtube)

A Super Reverb with EVM 12L (video on Youtube)

A 6L6 Deluxe Reverb with an EVM12L speaker.

A blackface Twin Reverb with WGS G12c

15 speakers

Eminence legend 1518. Loud and efficient. Big punchy sound with a full tone character.
Good speaker for the blackface quack and sparkle. Good American sound and not too
bright. Louder, more efficient and has stronger mids than the Jensen C15n. One of our
absolute favorites in the Vibroverb and extension cabinets for many 4 and 8 ohm amps.

Jensen C15n or P15N. Beautiful Alnico compression in the P15n, and more punch in the
C12n. True vintage Fender sound. Cant go wrong with this one if youre into an American
tone. Less efficient in dB/W/m than the Eminence Legend 1518.

Eminence Big Ben. The British brother to the Legend 1518. Big, loud, efficient and punchy,
like the brother. It is softer and more mellow in the higher frequencies and will tame a bright
amp and guitar.

Weber California 15. Weber was inspired by the JBLd130f in this speaker. It also reminds us
of the Eminence Big Ben in breakup character and tonal character. Be aware that a metal dust
cap will make the speaker very sharp and trebly which can be rough and harsh in distorted
amps (slide players might find the metal dust cap nice).

JBL d130f. One of the most famous vintage speakers. Full tone, loud, scooped with lots of
highs and lows and less mids. Absolutely legendary for clean tones but more difficult for
cranked fuzz tones. It will require much EQ and pedal experimenting to get this aluminum
dust cap speaker to sound nice with overdriven tones.

EVM 15L. Stevie had this speaker in all his Vibroverbs. Need we say more. Not in
production any more. It offers a scooped tone like the JBLd130f. Heavy duty, high power.

15 speaker demos

Blackface Vibroverb shootout with JBL d130f, Eminence Legend 1518 and a new Jensen
C15n (video on Youtube):

Extension cabinets
All blackface and silverface amps can be used together with extension cabinets using the external
speaker output. The point with extension cabinets is to get a bigger and wider stage sound, but
not necessarily louder. One can also blend different flavors of speakers for a more complex sound.
But then comes the question of which speakers to mike which too often complicates the idea of a
simple and failure-proof setup. Most often we use extension cabinets at big stages or at unmiked gigs
to fill the room better without playing so terribly loud. Sometimes we use extension cabinets as
monitors for the band which is very practical at out-door gigs where the sound is very little reflected.
You may point the extra set of speakers against the drummer and bass player.
The common rule of thumb with speaker impedances in Fender amps is that the output transformer
handles a impedance variation of +100% and -50%. This is a safe operating level where your amp
doesnt suffer. Example: An amp with a 4 ohm output impedance may handle a speaker load between
8 and 2 ohms with either removal or supplement of speakers. Lets study the impedances of different
amps and see what speaker cabinets that goes along (blackface amps, if not mentioned explicitly
otherwise). If not specified, you may assume 8 ohm speaker impedance in these examples. All
speakers are wired in parallell.
8 ohm amps: Princeton 110, Princeton Reverb 110, Deluxe 112, Deluxe Reverb 112,
Showman 112, Pro 115, Vibroverb 115. These may be extended with 8 ohms or more (i.e. 16
ohm) to stay under a total load of 4 ohms. A good extension cabinet is 112 or 115 at 8 ohms
since the power will be evenly distributed between the two speakers. Hooking up one 16 ohm
speaker will result in the power being distributed twice as much to the in-built speaker. Also, if you
hook up a 212 cabinet with 16 ohm speakers, the inbuilt speaker will get twice as much as each of

the other two speakers. Were not saying this is wrong or undesirable, just that the power will be
distributed unevenly between each speaker. This may introduce a bottleneck at one of the speakers
while the other are not being pushed at all.
4 ohm amps: Champ 18, Vibro Champ 18, Vibrolux Reverb 210, Tremolux 212, Pro
Reverb 212, Twin Reverb 212, Bandmaster 212, Bassman 212. According to the rule of
thumb these amps handle a speaker load between 2 and 8 ohms. The 4 ohm amps are flexible and
supports a lot of extension cabinet applications. A single speaker extension cabinet at 8 ohm will,
together with the 4 ohm speaker load, result in 2.67 ohms. Two speaker extension will give you a 2
ohm total speaker impedance. In both cases the power is distributed evenly between all speakers as
long as they are 8 ohm each and wired in parallel (which we personally always do). Good
extension cabinets with the amps above are 112, 115, 210 or 212. In any single speaker
extension cabinet we recommend highly efficient speakers since we want that extra speaker to be
heard along with the two unbuilt speakers. It is one against two.
2 ohm amps: Super Reverb 410, Concert 410, Vibro-King 310 (1994, ->). Good cabinets are
112, 210, 212 or maybe 410 just to show them whos their daddy. Personally we dont
prefer hooking up a 15 speaker with inbuilt 10 speakers unless the 10 speaker is big and efficient.
The 15 speaker deserves more power than a 10 and since the power gets evenly distributed
between 8 ohm speakers in parallell. In our opinion the best choice is a 212 extension cabinet since
you will achieve both the characteristics of ten and twelve inch speakers. You may also choose to
disengage two of the speakers in your Super Reverb to distribute more power to the 212 extension
cabinet.