Speakers for Solid State Guitar Amp Heads

My last post reviewed smallish, solid state guitar combo amps for jazz. It expanded on my previous posts on jazz amps and solid state amps. But wait! There is still another possibility for small, lightweight, easily portable, powerful amps that can be used for jazz. You’ve probably already thought of it. You could have a solid state amp head and a separate speaker cabinet. One of the benefits of this arrangement is you can plug the amp into different speaker cabinets depending on your need.

Because you will need both a speaker cabinet and a solid state amplifier head, I am going to cover only the speaker part of the equation in this post. Next post I will cover the actual amplifiers.

I want to start with some general considerations regarding speakers. First, ohms law. You can look up ohms law, I’m only going to give a simple description. Amps are designed to be used with speakers of specific resistances. Typically they expect an 8-ohm resistance on a speaker. Often the specification is for the minimum resistance. For example, a 16-ohm speaker would be OK for a minimum 8-ohm load but a 4-ohm speaker would not be good.

The part of ohms law that concerns guitarists is if you have more than one speaker in a speaker cabinet or more than one cabinet connected to your amplifier. As an example, assume you have two identical 8-ohm speakers. If you wire them together in series, the total resistance will be 16 ohms. If you wire them in parallel their resistance will be 4 ohms.

speaker wiring in series or parallel

Why would you want to do that – wire two (or more) speakers together? The first reason is sound. Two speakers will (probably) result in a larger, louder sound than one speaker. But there is another reason which relates to power handling. Speakers are rated for the maximum watts power they can tolerate without distortion or damage. If our example speakers are each rated for 50 watts RMS max power (peak power will be higher), then two of them together will allow 100 watts power to be handled. Generally, you will be operating your amplifier at lower power than the maximum the speaker can handle. But you when buying a speaker and cabinet you should be aware how it relates to the power output of your amp.

There are many speakers designed for guitar amplifiers. If you favor tube amps, replacing your speaker with something having a different tone is an easy way to improve your sound. Tube amps often add something to tone, particularly when overdriven. Speakers for these amps also color the sound to compliment what the amp is doing. However, I am not reviewing those types of speakers in this post. I’m trying to find speakers that work well for jazz guitar using high-powered, solid state amp heads. These are speakers that do not color the sound and can handle higher amounts of power than found in classic low powered tube amps such as the Fender Princeton Reverb I sold last year. It is not surprising that the speakers in these cabinets tend to be designed for HiFi applications.

I’m going to group the speakers into two categories. The first category consists of extension speakers made to pair with combo amps or heads from amplifier makers. The second are speakers + cabinets from builders who specialize in speaker cabinets. Note that most of the speakers inside these cabinets come from a few well-known speaker makers.

Extension Cabinets

Henriksen has several options that match their jazz amps. The first is the 310 Extension cabinet that is designed for their 310 amplifier. It is a 14 x14 x 8-inch cabinet weighing 16 lbs. It comes with an Eminence Beta 10 speaker + ASD1001 tweeter. The tweeter can be turned off. The cabinet is a closed back, ported design and the speaker is rated for 250 watts. The cost is $540. There is a larger 1×12 model to match the 312 amplifier too.

(See Combo Amps note regarding price changes and availability – it applies to everything in this post too.)

Henriksen also has an extension cabinet to match their Bud amplifier. The Bud Extension cabinet has the same dimensions as the Bud. It is 9 x 9 x 9 and weighs 11 lbs. It currently costs $450. The speaker is 6.5″ Eminence Beta rated for 250 watts power.

ZT Lunchbox makes an extension cabinet to go with their amplifier. It has a 6.5 inch speaker and claims it can handle 100 watts. They warn that it is designed to work only with their amplifier. I don’t know what they could have done but you’ve been warned. The cabinets costs $180 at Amazon.com.

Cabinet Specialists

There are few speaker cabinet makers specializing in products useful with high powered solid state amps for jazz guitarists. The number of products is further reduced because I’m looking for smaller and lighter weight cabinets. Two by 12-inch speaker cabinets are much easier to find than a lightweight cabinet weighing under 20 lbs and capable of handling 100 watts.

Raezer’s Edge is one of the most popular cabinets for acoustic and jazz applications. The founder passed away but it seems the company is still making products.

Model Speaker Config Tweeter Power RMS Hz Height Width Depth Lbs Price
NY 8 1×8 225 55 – 5,000 15 12 9 20 $480
NY 8 ER 1×8 yes 225 55 – 20,000 15 12 9 20 $600
Stealth 10 1×10 225 55 – 5,000 15.5 17 11 22 $530
One-6 1×6 250 50 – 5,000 $430

These aren’t the only cabinets from Raezer’s Edge. They are only the smaller, lighter cabs. All cabinets are 8 ohms.

EarCandy. The other cabinet maker is EarCandy Labs. They have many guitar and bass cabinet models including unloaded cabinets where you can load your own speakers. But, as above, I’m selecting the cabinets and speakers that are most likely to work for jazz with high powered, solid state amp heads. Most of these cabinets have options beyond what I’ve listed so do some research if my selections don’t work for you.

Model Speaker Config Speaker Power RMS Hz Height Width Depth Lbs Price
Mini 1×6 G 1×6 EarCandy Mini 6 50 50 – 5,500 9 12 8 12 $160
Mini 1×6 G 1×6 Eminence Alphalite 6A 100 85 – 6,000 9 12 8 12 $225
Mini 2×6 GC 2×6 2 x EarCandy Mini 6 100 50 – 5,500 10 15.5 8 15 $190
Mr. Watts 1×8 No Speaker x x 11.5 14 12 15 $230
Mr. Watts 1×8 Eminence Beta 8A 225 78 – 4,500 11.5 14 12 15 $289
Mr. Watts 1×8 Eminence Alpha 8A 125 58 – 5,000 11.5 14 12 15 $269
The Bell 1×10 Eminence Beta 10 250 51 – 3,800 14 14 9 15 $375

Custom options such as a selection of grill cloth or handles cost extra. Some options don’t cost extra. You can choose the covering and color from a selection for most cabinets. All the prices seem quite reasonable.

All cabinets are custom made and you can specify 4, 8 or 16 ohms for the cabinet regardless of which speakers you have loaded.

Related Posts

Review: ZT Lunchbox Guitar Amplifier
views since 2016-11-26 = 346
I'm preparing for retirement by selling guitars and and paring my equipment down to the items I use most. I'm thinking of space requirements because I...
Solid State Amp Heads for Jazz Guitar
views since 2016-11-26 = 627
You may think the title to this post misleading. There are no lightweight, solid state amplifier heads made specifically for jazz guitar. But there ar...
Solid State Jazz Guitar Amps
views since 2016-11-26 = 1,1k
I reviewed some jazz guitar amps in a previous post. Most but not all of those jazz amps were solid state. This post will look at some of the same com...
Review of Breedlove Pursuit 12-String and why I mi...
views since 2016-11-26 = 130
I just published a post on the trade-offs between purchasing a foreign made, mid-priced guitar and a more expensive American built instrument. I concl...

Leave a Reply