There is remarkable variety in the guitar-speaker market. This is excellent, but choosing what’s best for you can be quite tricky. In this KGR Review, we list 7 of the best guitar speakers you can buy. We cover everything from all-rounders to genre-specific models. Each speaker on this list is well known among guitarists, and we tested each based on their accuracy, frequency response, room feel, and build quality.
In our tests, we tried to keep the gear we used as consistent as possible for all speakers, but due to their different power ratings, sizes, and impedances, we had to use a variety of amps and cabinets. We used a Fender Player Stratocaster and a Shure SM57 for all the recordings during the tests. We tried clean, crunch, lightly overdriven, and heavily distorted gain settings for all the speakers to get a full picture of their tonal range.
Features: Alnico magnet, 50 Watt rating, 8 Ohms
Benefits: Vintage British voicing, Excellent dynamic response, Broad frequency band
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Features: Pressed steel chassis, Ceramic magnet, 60 Watt rating
Benefits: Extremely reliable, Accurate tonal reproduction, Harmonically rich
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Features: Hemp cone construction, Ferrite magnet, 50 Watt power rating
Benefits: Excellent touch sensitivity, Smooth and controlled sound, Great versatility
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- Our Top 3
- Individual Reviews
- How to Choose The Right Speakers For You
- Final Thoughts
Our Top 3
- The Celestion Vintage 30 12” Guitar Speaker is our Best Value pick for all-rounders. It delivers fantastic quality with any guitar tone.
- The Eminence Cannabis Rex Patriot Series 12” Guitar Speaker is our Budget Pick and performs incredibly well at an affordable price.
- And if you want the absolute best, our Editor’s Choice is the Celestion G12 Gold 12” Guitar Speaker, which makes everything sound beautiful with unmatched accuracy.
Reliable performance that professionals have trusted for decades.
This is an industry standard speaker that is built to last. With this Celestion you’re getting a speaker that can go from bell like cleans to gritty overdriven tones without batting an eyelid. It can handle just about any genre, but rock is where it excels.
The Celestion Vintage 30 is probably one of the world’s most used guitar speakers. Most of your favorite guitarists likely use it, and it does have ‘legendary’ status among modern guitarists. It’s a solid speaker build that can handle practically anything you want to play on your guitar. We found that it works best in a 4×12 cab, and really gave us the ‘room’ feel.
The Vintage 30 combines vintage sound with modern construction to deliver improved power handling and durability. While it has a ceramic magnet, we found it shares some characteristics with the Celestion Blue Alnico speaker.
In our observations, the frequency response indicated a lot of headroom, so the graph extends well beyond the human hearing range; quite typical of Celestion speakers. We saw that the graph shows a primarily flat response, with a slight boost to the upper-midrange frequencies. This corresponds to what we heard in our tests – a well-balanced tone with some smooth and rich highs.
The Vintage 30 is not as expensive as Alnico speakers and still delivers a great tone that’ll suit pretty much everyone. We were able to distort the tone heavily and still maintain clarity, while the cleans are also impressive. From blues and country to rock and metal, we got some great tones out of these speakers at all gain levels.
Verdict: The Celestion Vintage 30 is everyone’s favorite speaker due to its versatility and quality. The price is reasonable and the community is impressed by this model’s power handling and durability. In our opinion, the speaker is great for just about any guitarist in any genre. It’s also durable with a rock-solid build and convenient to use.
A solid and versatile speaker that comes in at a surprisingly low price.
This speaker might be an affordable option, but it doesn’t sacrifice tone or quality in order to keep the cost low. The name comes from its unique hemp cone, which provides excellent response to changes in attack and tonal versatility.
The Eminence Cannabis Rex is a popular choice for guitarists looking for affordable speakers. It’s also known as the ‘C Rex’ and is praised for its versatility. We tested the Cannabis Rex to see if it could truly deliver a high-quality tone with any genre, and we were pleasantly surprised. It performed well with overdriven sounds, while its clean tone is pristine and crystal clear.
In our tests, the Cannabis Rex gave a smooth and warm high-end accompanied by a solid low-end with a significant presence. The frequency response graph showed us a robust response in the upper-midrange. The response drops off just slightly for the beginning of the lower-midrange frequencies and then goes up a bit to make a plateau corresponding to the bottom end. However, it lacks some headroom.
We found that the power handling of the Cannabis Rex at 50 Watts is sufficient for most amps and retains the room feel. The speaker design is hemp cone, while the magnet is ferrite. All this comes together in a reliable and durable unit. The build is lighter than a speaker with a ceramic magnet, making transport a bit easier and more convenient.
In our opinion, the lack of headroom in the frequency response is the only thing about the Cannabis Rex that falls short of its competition. We found that while the overdriven tones sound decent and well-rounded, they do lack some clarity and smoothness.
Verdict: The Eminence Cannabis Rex offers excellent clean tones and well-rounded overdriven sounds. It comes with an outstanding build and great specifications at an affordable price. While the response is not as flat as the other all-rounders on the list, it provides a bit of extra character at the expense of versatility.
High end speakers with peerless balance and authentic vintage tones.
These speakers really are the gold standard. They offer incredible construction quality for rattle free performance, and alnico magnets for the ultimate in organic sounding tone. There’s no genre that this speaker can’t handle, from jazz to metal, it does it all.
We often praise how far audio technology has come in terms of modeling the sound of vintage equipment using modern hardware. However, the authentic vintage experience still remains at the very best. The Celestion G12 Gold is a classic British Alnico speaker with a long history. We tested it thoroughly across several genres and everything we played sounded incredible.
In our tests, the G12 Gold was able to keep up with each tone as if it were a flat response speaker. At the same time, it has a very distinct character that permeates through each riff. We also compared our test results with the frequency-response graph. The graph shows a slightly scooped response that extends well beyond human hearing in classic Celestion style.
The graph shows two plateaus with a dip in response between them corresponding to the midrange frequencies. We found that this tames the frequencies to which our ears are attuned, thereby offering greater intensity. The high-range plateau is only slightly more potent than the low-end plateau, ensuring perfect balance.
The G12 Gold not only looks great with its golden sheen, but it also has an Alnico magnet for authentic sound. The power handling is 50 Watts, and there are two versions available – 8 Ohm or 12 Ohm. The G12 offers the best of both worlds – vintage tone with modern compatibility and convenience.
We tested it with sweet country chicken picking and even some thrash metal riffing, and it handled both superbly. It brought out the nuance in each tone, and we really liked how a single speaker was able to fill the room with a massive sound.
Verdict: The Celestion G12 Gold offers the same sound as the original, but with modern specifications and features. Both of the versions available hover around $400 USD, making them a costly choice. The sheer quality and brilliance of the sound is such that it’s absolutely worth it, though. It’s capable of playing any genre with accuracy and faithfulness.
A high gain monster that wants to be driven hard.
With this model you’re getting a screaming heavy metal speaker that can chug like no other. It was designed with drop tuning and huge bass response in mind, but it still cleans up well and offers good response in the mid and high frequency ranges, too.
Slipknot guitarist Mick Thomson was looking for a speaker perfect for playing live in drop tuning. Working alongside Eminence, the solution he came up with was the DV-77 Signature. We read that Mike Smith (the man behind Mick Thomson’s custom Omega Amplifiers) was also consulted during the designing process so that the speaker would complement his Obsidian amp.
The tone we heard from the DV-77 is unique. Despite completely suppressing the midrange frequencies through his amp for most of his career, Mick Thomson chose to go with the DV-77’s strong midrange. We found the midrange balance to be just perfect, as it didn’t have any harsh frequencies that would stand out.
The frequency response graph revealed to us a little of the magic behind the DV-77. The graph forms a high plateau corresponding to the upper-mid and high-range frequencies followed by a sharp dip in the response. Then we observe a slight boost along the lower midrange and then an almost flat bottom range. We were amazed by the results. Even after turning the gain on our amplifier to 11, it sounded clear, punchy, and heavy.
The amount of headroom beyond human hearing range is low compared to other Eminence speakers that we’ve tested. The design features a custom basket shape, ferrite magnet, and a UK-made Kurt Mueller cone. A 70-Watt power rating allowed us to drive the speaker higher and really gave us an overwhelming room feel.
Verdict: The Eminence DV-77 Mick Thomson Signature is a speaker perfect for performing with drop-tuned guitars. Even with standard tuning, it holds its own. Any sub-genre of heavy metal can be played with the DV-77 with incredible results. At right around $150 USD, the speaker is reasonably priced and offers excellent build quality, typical of Eminence speakers.
A legendary speaker that has graced countless stages and studios.
These speakers are some of the best on the market when it comes to rock tones. They deliver a big bottom end while still allowing shimmering overtones to be heard. Their flat response makes recording easy, making them a great choice for studios.
While testing the Celestion G12H-75 Creamback, we found that the model shares some similarities with the classic 1960s G12H, but it has a more dominating presence that’s perfect for rock. In our tests, the Creamback showed a distinctly strong bottom end and some bell-like jingles on the other side of the sound spectrum. The speaker maintains the G12H’s authentic British flavor.
From the looks of it, the frequency response gave us several indications about the behavior of the speaker. There is a distinct dip in the graph corresponding to some of the midrange frequencies, which leads to the scooped feel of the tone. After the drop, a sharp climb forms a plateau spanning the upper-middle and high-range frequencies. On the plateau, there are two small but distinct spikes in response.
The bottom end is comparatively robust, but the response remains mostly flat. There is also substantial headroom beyond the human hearing range. All this tells us the tone of the Creamback is slightly scooped, with an ever-present bottom end and a solid and well-tuned top end to balance out the heavier overtones.
We found the speaker is at its best with moderate to high gain, which is excellent for rock. The 75-Watt power rating proved versatile. We were able to try it out with a range of amplifiers with no issues. The Creamback’s ceramic magnet is heavier than the original G12H for the added ‘oomph’ and more powerful tones.
We tried to play some classic Led Zeppelin on this, and were pleasantly surprised at how well we could emulate Jimmy Page’s legendary guitar tone. It was crisp, smooth, and had some top-end sparkle to bring out the leads.
Verdict: The Celestion G12H-75 Creamback combines the classic British tone of the G12H with some power amplifying modifications to give a speaker perfect for all kinds of rock performances. The price is moderately high at about $170 USD and the build is a bit bulkier than the rest. But it comes with excellent power-handling capabilities.
These speakers are pure vintage perfection.
There are few speakers that can accurately reproduce the vintage warmth and overdrive that blues artists crave, but these speakers do it brilliantly. With a soft attack you’ll find that they produce beautiful, rounded tones, but dig in with saturated tubes and you’ll get some amazing grit without loss of clarity.
The Eminence GA-SC59 was created in collaboration with the world-renowned amp maker George Allessandro as a signature model. True to his roots, George Allessandro’s involvement meant that all the parts used would be traditionally sourced, and the manufacturing was done old-school, making the GA-SC59 a premium vintage model.
We found the tone of the GA-SC59 to be reminiscent of the early 1960s. Everything about this speaker, from performance to the materials to the specifications, is vintage. The power rating is 40 Watts, which is quite standard for classic Alnico speakers. This old-school vibe and a tone full of character made this our choice as the Best Speaker for Blues.
The frequency response is very atypical. We could see several different interesting details in the graph. There are three plateaus that the response graph forms, each followed by a significant dip in the response. The largest spike corresponds to the high-frequency region and is preceded by a substantial fall in response which scoops the mids to an extent.
We then see a rise in the response, making a plateau in the midrange frequencies. The third plateau corresponds to the bottom end, which we believe balances out the strong high-end.
This unique frequency response is fine-tuned to give character to the tone while maintaining clarity. We tested a variety of blues licks on this and each one had nuance, depth, and emotion in the sound. When dialing up the gain beyond crunch, it starts to lose some of its brilliance, so we recommend keeping it for clean and blues.
Verdict: The Eminence GA-SC59 George Alessandro Signature is an authentic and well-crafted vintage powerpack. The unique modifications and subtle design aspects clearly show in the performance of this speaker. The fine-tuned alnico magnet outperforms every speaker in the clean and crunch department. While it may be expensive, it’s absolutely worth it if you’re a blues fan.
Pristine cleans and impressive fidelity.
These speakers are heavy duty road warriors that are designed to handle high volume cleans without distorting. They have an enormous power rating, making them the perfect choice for your high headroom amplifier.
When we held the Electro-Voice EVM 12L in our hands for the first time, it felt beefy and robust, and really looked built like a tank. Being a favorite of guitarists like Joe Bonamassa, the EVM 12L comes with a historic pedigree that quickly became evident to us when we plugged in our guitar.
The clean sound from the EVM 12L is simply unmatched in clarity. Moreover, the generous 200-Watt power rating offers incredible versatility with amplifiers and a tremendous room feel that fills the air with sound. We were able to push the amp very loud with no hints of distortion, making it perfect for large crowds and performances.
The EVM 12L’s frequency response surprised us with an unusual amount of midrange bias. The spike in response corresponding to the lower-middle range frequencies is almost as strong as the high-range response. The bottom end is much more mellow in comparison and completely flat in response.
The heavy 18-pound build of this speaker helps reduce low-frequency flex, and we didn’t get any ‘wobbly bass’ from it. It’s sturdy enough to likely last a lifetime. Though the label on the speaker body that reads “World’s Greatest Guitar Speaker” may feel pretentious, we found that it does live up to its reputation.
The EVM 12L excels at any clean tone we tested, but it does stumble when cranking up the gain. We found its frequency response is uniquely suited for cleans, and seems to lack clarity and brilliance at overdriven and distorted gain levels. It’s still versatile enough to handle crunch tones, but we recommend not going above noon on your gain dial.
Verdict: The Electro-Voice EVM 12L definitely impressed us with its capabilities, both with its clean tone and loud volume. The build is rock solid and the power rating covers any amplifier you could use. While it comes at a premium price, the 12L delivered some of the best clean tones we’ve ever heard, so it’s well worth it.
How to Choose The Right Speakers For You
Before buying a guitar speaker, there are a number of factors we suggest considering. The first thing to note is whether the speaker is compatible with your existing gear. So looking at the specifications is key. The most important parameters are:
Wattage or power-handling is the amount of power the speaker can handle as input. For example, a speaker with a 40-Watt power rating may get damaged or even blow if you connect it to an amp rated higher, such as at 75 Watts.
The caveat here is that it’s never as simple as just having the speaker rating higher than the amp rating. Different speaker brands rate their speaker with different standards, so you have to be careful and check the specs accordingly.
Naturally, for a speaker to fit into a cabinet, the cabinet must have a slot compatible with its size range. You can typically get 6”, 8”, 12”, and 15” diameter speakers for guitars. The size you need depends on what you play and at what volume level, but it can also influence the tone.
For large crowds, you need multiple powerful speakers with big bodies and a great capacity to move air over their membranes. So it’s important to have a speaker cabinet of the desired size and then get your speaker of choice.
The impedance of the speaker is another specification that has to match for the proper functioning and safety of your equipment. We have to make sure the resistance of the amp matches the combined resistance of the speakers we use, considering both the number of speakers and whether they are connected in series or parallel. This can get complicated when wiring multiple speakers, such as a 2×12 or 4×12 cab setup.
Most speakers come in different impedance variants, so check your amp’s impedance and pick accordingly. Generally, it’s best to match an 8-ohm impedance with most amps, but you should check your specs.
Guitar speakers heavily influence guitar tone and sometimes they’re even more important than the amplifier itself. Since tone is subjective, the best way is to use your ears as a guide. We recommend testing various speakers in a local guitar shop if possible, or listening to audio/video demos online.
Testing the speakers through various levels of gain (clean, crunch, overdriven, and distorted) is also a good idea. This gives you a clear understanding of the entire tonal range and will allow you to select one that’s perfect for your style of music.
You’ll also want to test the ‘dispersion’, or the room feel of a speaker. This is a super important factor toward getting a tone that really inspires you to play and create new riffs.
There are a number of different types of magnets used for guitar speakers. The most common of these is ceramic. The problem with ceramic magnets is that they are heavy, and though they are inexpensive, they have some limitations as far as tone is concerned. Alnico is the authentic choice for a vintage tone of any kind, but they are very expensive, so you’ll only find them in premium models.
Ferrite and neodymium magnets are relatively new to the scene and are used to get similar results to alnico and ceramic speakers, but with much less bulk and more corrosion resistance. If you aren’t looking to spend for an alnico, ceramic or ferrite are likely a good, affordable alternative. Many modern amps use modeling techniques to improve the quality of cheaper magnets as well.
To summarize, we put the Celestion Vintage 30 at the top of our list as the Best Pick for an all-around guitar speaker with industry-standard performance. The Best Budget all-rounder is the Eminence Cannabis Rex Patriot Series Speaker, which offers great tones without breaking the bank. And the KGR Editor’s Choice is the Celestion G12 Gold, a high-end work of art that’ll add brilliance to any tone you play through it.
Whether you’re playing some classic country or riffing through drop-tuned guitars, choosing the right speaker is essential to an inspiring tone. We hope you found the answers you were looking for and get the perfect speaker for you.