Celestion Guitar speaker Hate

I know Celestion speakers seem to be the choice of just about every major guitar cabinet manufacturer, but I have never gotten an acceptable tone from them… I have tried many amps over the years with many different 12" Celestion speakers and I always go back to Eminence, my favorites being the Legend V1216. I started a new band and over the last 6 months was really doing some tone searching for myself and what would work in my studio and what I could use as backline rentals. While going through different amps, I have found that also do not like el34s, and no matter cab combination I use they just sound muddy and dull.

So ive tried all these amps with every cabinet, compared in some instances etc.
Cabinets I tried:
Orange 4x12 straight V30s
Marshall JCM 900 Lead - GT75s, then rewired with, 2 V30s in x pattern, then with 2 GT75s and 2 Greenbacks in X pattern, then 4 green backs, then 2 v30s and 2 GBs in X pattern
Bogner 4x12 with 4 GBs then Eminence Legend V1216
Carvin 4x12 with Carvin British Series
Custom 2 x12 cab with the V1216, GBs, V30s, GT75s, G12h, Blue Backs, Elite 80, Jensen, and Carvin British Series
Carvin 1x12 cab with removable back for open back or closed and tried all the speakers.

Egnater Tweaker 40
H&K Trilogy
Egnater Renegade 65
Marshall JCM 800 Lead 2210
Marshall JCM 900 Dual Reverb Hi Gain 100 5881(6L6 model)'
Peavey 6505
Mesa Triple Rectifer
Jet City JCA20H
Carvin MTS3200 (with EL34s or 6L6s - I tried both you can easily swap and rebias)

Gretsch G5422TDC stock
ESP EC-1000 with EMG stock
ESP EC-1000 Deluxe with Gibson Burstbucker Pros
1969 Gibson SG with Seymour Duncan JB
1980s Gibson SG Standard stock
Musicman Reflex stock

Results for me were every amp sounded best with cabinets loaded with Eminence and the Carvin cab loaded with the Carvin speakers. The Carvin cab I bought new around 1996 and supposedly they are a Carvin branded eminence speaker and these are made in the USA, where later they were made in China and supposedly do not sound the same. some of the amps, guitars, and speakers were loaned for my little experiment. I will say that I hated the Orange cab, it had too much unusable low end and the top end was really fizzy, I am also not a fan of any orange equipment I have ever tried…

So what do I play? I play technical punk, but tried to give it a full work out. I know you guys are probably saying punk? this guy cant play and doesn’t know what sounds good, but if you have any doubts I can point you in the right direction. I do not normally use pedals, so for this test I did not, except while playing with the gretsch, I have a boss digital reverb pedal which does the surf/rockabilly thing really well.

All the amps I liked best with Bogner cabinet loaded with the Eminence, the Marshall was a close second and I think there design are almost identical, it might just be wood thing. What I kept? so what I have left is the JCM900 going to the Bogner with Eminence, the 6505 going to the Marshall with the GT75s (I liked the G12hs better, but they aren’t mine), the Carvin is currently going to the custom 2x12 loaded with the Legends. If you have never had the chance to play one of these, the clean channel is arguably the best clean channel ive ever heard, its almost too clean. The reverb is ok, but a little goes a long way, and the only reason why I put the reverb pedal on there. IT can definitely do the fender blues/jazz/ surf/ rockabilly tones with either a high output pickup, maybe a slight overdrive, or going to the lead channel and just adding a touch of gain (1-2). There is something really special about this amp, even on the lead channel when you play a full chord its like you can hear every string, and that is compared to every other amp on my list, the distortion on higher gain settings though sounds a bit compressed, but is great for newer metal and technical intricate parts that need really good definition but still high gain. I never owned a 5150 and always heard bad thing about them, but I found a 6505 for an awesome price so I decided to try it out. This amp is incredible and if i was a metal/ hardcore guy this amp does it. there is an aggression thing that no other amp I have ever used has. This amp does not do clean really well but does a great bluesy overdrive. Its almost impossible not to plug into this amp and start playing some metal riffs, even on low gain settings it still has that thing. The sound of rock is the JCM900 and Bogner combo. The tone on that with EC-1000 Deluxe is everything I ever wanted, its quiet, has a very harmonic sounding distortion that is thick but not muddy, chugs are precise and tight, it is the sound I have been chasing i think. I still have the Jet City and Eganter Tweaker but they are on my to sell list. Between the Carvin, JCM900, and 6505 I can pretty much get any tone I will ever need.

The Mesa sound sounded good but never my thing, the H&K I sold, it was a little noisy, the clean channels are great the crunch channel cranked is ACDC, but I wanted a hair more, the overdrive was kind of weird, not really for me, it sounded fizzy and compressed (dare i say metal zone pedal?). Also to really get the crunch I had to crank the power tubes and it was way too loud, it sounded good but I ended up selling it for more than I bought it for. I don’t understand the hype around the JCM800, I liked the 900 so much more, i didn’t hate it it just was more classic rock and not modern, and when i played it with the greenbacks i kept playing Foreigner and Boston, it just sounded like that… The 800 went back to the owner, and he is a big fan but he hasn’t heard/played the JCM900 yet… The Carvin originally came with the EL34s installed and had a very similar sound to the 800 (the distortion still sounded a bit compressed though) but the JCM 800 and the Carvin with EL34s just had a muddy sound to them. it was great when open strumming for like social distortion type thick guitars, but going into a chugs it was floppy, not tight and just mushy, the reason why i started using solid state amps years ago… The El34s really seemed to kill some of the top end too, i kept having to boost presence or treble with those tube types. Amp settings between guitars didn’t change that much, and the speakers had more of a drastic effect on tone than anything, also depending on what you are going for. of course the pickup selection had a difference, but it was more midrange and gain orientated with a plus minus of 2 and not a whole read adjust the amp to the speakers. Once i realized the Bogner and Eminence Legend combination was my favorite, i went back and forth with different cab/speaker combos to try to compare differences. Generally the V30s had a very fizzy top end and ear piercing midrange (2kish) that i hated, and none of these amps tone controls could really get rid of that. The GT75s had a more mellow sound in comparison to the V30, i guess it was more manageable. Surprising or not so it that a stock JCM900 cab sounded the worst with the JCM 900, and sounded the best with the 6505. I’m guessing the amount of controls on the 6505 allowed me to tame the offending frequencies. The other celestions were not for me, they all had too much of a classic rock forward mid (500-600hz) sound that in my ears was not flattering. the G12hs were definitely my favorite celestion out of the bunch, but for the prices of them ill stick with the eminence. I wasn’t expecting to do a review and was really for my own personal tone search. I had never really done one extensively but i think I’m done. I really want to try a mesa rectifier cab, as those supposedly pair really well with the 6505, but i don’t know if i should even worry about it, I’m happy…

I bought the JCM900 for $550
The 6505 for $475
the Carvin for $275 (if you can find them they are regularly under $400 and the combos come with the british series speakers)
The Jet City was $279 on sale but only 20 watts
The Egnater Tweaker i bought new, but upgraded the power tranny and outut tranny to mercury magnetics and replaced all the tubes with JJs.

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I still haven’t spent any meaningful amount of time on Eminence loaded cabs. I’ve tried Jensen, Celestion (obviously), Orange’s “Voice of the World” (hated it), Peavey, and a few others. The one I want to try asap is a ToneTubby setup. I’ve hear a ton of good stuff about them and I really want to hear them in person :slight_smile:

@Thunderhouse - I meant to ask, are you utilizing any pedals for extra gain, or are you purely an amp gain guy? Just curious :slight_smile:

I am purely an amp gain guy, ive playing live for son long, I hate bringing pedals. however I did make a tube screamer clone because I like building junk, it uses the original chip and has the “brown tone” mod with on/off switch, and hp filter and is true bypass. I built that and added a DI in the circuit with output/parallel to be either pre pedal or post pedal and put it in a one space rack that can be engaged on the front or a foot pedal can be hooked up and used as an on/off. I used this for a while with one of my live rigs in always on mode… it was for a particular sound and the amp couldn’t really do what I wanted and this did help it. But yes the above experiment was pure amp/ speaker with the exception of the reverb pedal. the carvin amp with the 2x12 legends the gretsch and reverb pedal is that rockabilly thing but can do the country twang and fender blues. I had next to a 2x12 fender hot rod with jensens and it was right there. The fender reverb was better but the pedal got it closer, I don’t know if I can swap the reverb tank in the carvin head. I never really got that much into that whole sound. Heres a little messing around with a rockabilly song. Left side and lead is carvin head with 2x12 right side is 6505 and marrshal jcm900 cab. there was no eq other then high pass used on the guitars. I used a sennheiser e935 about 8" from cabinet grill aimed at the cone/dust cap line on both cabs.


My experience has been that Celestions often have a less refined sound - there will be some objectionable quality, be it the upper mid spike of the V30, the fizzy breaking up high end of a greenback, the flubby WOMPH of a G12-t-75 or the annoyingly narrow volume sweet spot of the alnico Blue.

And yet, I love a good Celestion. They have a bite that sits well in a mix and live, even if in isolation at loud volume the sound seems unbalanced or wrong.

By contrast, speakers from other manufacturers often sound nicer in isolation but boring in the mix. I’ve not tried them all, like, but I have gone through a few speakers in my time.

My current favourites?

Old G12-65 with 1117 cones and big cloth dustcaps
Celestion Blues after a couple of years of heavy use
Mesa V30s (tweaked to have bigger low mids and a bit less upper midrange harshness)

To my ears, and taste, and style of course. It’s all just opinions at the end of the day!

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I tend to forget about the stuff that Mesa does with their speakers. I LOVED my Lone Star combo and was a big fan of the speakers. :thumbsup:

I have a quad of these from 1981. FANTASTIC speakers.

I posted this @ RR a few days ago - my experiences with Celestions…

I have a fairly rare (I’m told) Marshall 1966A 2x12 Cab. It’s basically like a smaller slant top 4x12 with with 2 speakers arranged diagonally. I bought it as part of a pigeon pair, which I used for a long time in tandem with my DSL 50 head and later sold one along with an amp I was unloading.

It sounded very good standard, but when the opportunity arose to do a direct trade and swap out the standard GT75s for a pair of Greenback 25s, I jumped at it…HUGE difference! The 75s always had the bite (too much IMO) and the thump, but now I get the bark, which is very cool.

In answer to the original question of the thread, this cab, paired with any of my amps (THD, Mesa, Vox), generally makes them sound better.

Huh - funny isn’t it? My experience is the opposite - I have a Mesa Lone Star Special 1x12 combo, and I’ve never been particularly fond of the speaker, especially after I blew it up and had to replace it at considerable cost. I remember being really taken aback, because I’d spent an arm and a leg on the amp, and Mesa’s “bulletproof-ness” is legendary…:confused:

Was this entirely your design? I’d love to pick your brain about some of that. Part of me really wants to get into pedal building just for hobby and modding.

yes and no. I found a kit that supplied the circuitry I wanted and then modded some of it to how I wanted to use it. I’m not really a fan of pedals at all, but this thing has come in handy more than a few times in the studio. I have a rack with the tube screamer, a dbx gate/compressor, graphic eq, and tc helicon reverb/delay that I keep out for guitars. most guitars I don’t mess with their tone, but some guitarists, really need some help… I find that it is more in their amp to cabinet selection and how they play that really affects thing. what I mean by amp to cabinet selection is like the JCM900 head and cab. the tone controls on the head don’t really to affect much of the what the cabinet is doing, like the mid, treble and presence controls just seem to affect the same frequencies and don’t really allow for much control. other combinations are similar and why I think some people really like or dislike an amp. I hated marshall amps for the longest time until I realized to not use marshall cabinets with them…

That’s Marshalls in general. The EQ controls on most Marshalls don’t go very far. They sound like a Marshall and you can tweak that Marshall sound a little here and there, but the amp itself will always mostly just sound like what it sounds like. That’s why I love Marshalls.

The JCM900 is not the best Marshall to judge other Marshalls by though.

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I was just stating that I think that amp to cab combination is terrible, and if that’s how you used a 900 I would understand why you would think that and probably why a lot of people do not give that amp love. Ive used/tried JCM800s, DSLs, all kinds of 900s, JTM45, and some others. I have a Marshall lover buddy that has a nice collection and he says that same thing about 900s and I know he doesn’t own one of those (but I think I got him reloading one his cabs with Eminence after hearing mine). My favorite hands down is the hi-gain 900 when it has 6L6s not el34s. I guess it depends what you want to use it for, but every time I always go back to that one. I have also figured out I don’t like amps with el34s.

I’ve owned two 900s in my life.

Both were MkIIIs. Those were the first 900s. One was a 50w which was terrible, the other was a 100w that had been modded by Voodoo amps and I wish I still had it. That thing was killer. I used mine with Greenbacks and Vintage 30s.

Most Marshall people don’t give the 900 love because they are oddballs. The amps, not the people. And most people associate the 900 with the Dual Reverb model, which was not their best effort. The other 900 models are pretty decent. 900s used all sorts of not-typical-to-Marshall features like SS clipping circuits and different power tubes. The SL-X is all-tube, but even it sounds dark and weird by typical Marshall standards. That was Marshall’s answer to the Dual Rec.

But whatever, different strokes.

apparently the 900s with 6l6s were made due to a shortage of el34s in the 90s. so they are a limited run type of thing but there are a bunch of them and usually sell for less. Mine is a dual reverb higain MKIII 100w. if it has the 5881 sticker on the front it has 6L6s. The greenbacks are way more useable with the 900s but i don’t like speaker breakup so i have to be gentle with them, and the V30s IMO are just too brittle and harsh sounding and the marshall controls just cant get rid of that.

V30s can be brittle and harsh…until you push them. They need volume. Mine are older and way way broken in and they sound great to me. I’m not using 900s though. DR 900s naturally have a grinding upper midrange that can probably be just too much with Vintage 30s.

But if you don’t like speaker breakup, then I can see why you don’t like Celestions.

Crunchy distortion (and not too much of it). Its about the balance and clarity. Gain full open you get tight focused pronunciation in your chord voicing. They have some pinch and bit, but its not brittle or harsh. Thats why everyone loves them.

That’s one of the best cabs ever made imo. If the speakers are stock they’re British. As you know the 900 means it was made in the 90’s. I like it better than the 800. Little more mid-range punch and more forward sounding. They’re just big sounding to me.

I had both. At the same time. Got the 5150 for $175. Bought it to flip it. But I did noodle around with it. I liked it best when the gain wasn’t very high, or the gain was high and the pickups were rolled back. If I used it, I would have tuned to give me what the Marshall JCM800 does, not what the Mesa Triple Rec does better.

I liked the way the 6505 approached high-gain territory better. I’m going to keep the 6505 but only as additional filler amp to blend with the several mesas. I know some people like the 5150’s a lot better, but I find the tone circuit in the preamp has a little bit more color, and I like whatever changes they made to the overdrive circuit in the preamp section.

I got to hammer on Clint Lowrey’s 6505 that was heavily modded by his tech. That thing wasn’t even a 6505…that was like a freak of crazy science experimentation gone wrong in all the right ways. lol.

How can anyone not understand a JCM 800?

I have to question everything you stand for now.

How can anyone not understand a JCM 800?

I’m not saying the JCM800 isn’t a good amp, but every time ive used one I was just like whatever. I found them sort of muddy in the low end most of the time, again I think its the el34s. its sounds like rock when you are strumming yes, but play anything with half way techy rhythms between palm mutes and open, and its nothing great in my opinion. ive tried newer ones as well as older ones, and I understand why people like them if its suits a certain style, but again I feel like its over hyped. If I was playing Social Distortion songs its perfect. In the years ive been doing live sound, the only band that has asked for them on a rider is the Misfits. I don’t know if you have ever heard their guitar sound, but not something I would ever want…

That’s one of the best cabs ever made imo. If the speakers are stock they’re British. As you know the 900 means it was made in the 90’s. I like it better than the 800. Little more mid-range punch and more forward sounding. They’re just big sounding to me.

The differences between 900 and 800 cabs from my understanding is only the speakers and even depending on the years it can change, ive seen some 800 cabs come with greenbacks and some with gt12-65s and I think there are 2 different types of those (the rola and the celestion labels) But as far as big sounding? I don’t really know what that means, compared to what? again for me, I’m pretty sure its the speakers I don’t like…

I liked the way the 6505 approached high-gain territory better. I’m going to keep the 6505 but only as additional filler amp to blend with the several mesas. I know some people like the 5150’s a lot better, but I find the tone circuit in the preamp has a little bit more color, and I like whatever changes they made to the overdrive circuit in the preamp section.

Did you have the I or II of the models, as there are slight differences. The IIs have a separate EQ section for each channel where as the Is do not but have a norm or high input jack. For a more mellow tone the norm works great, the high is like adding a slight overdrive to it, but you can almost match them with preamp gain between channels. I actually like the high input and prefer the I series better than II. whatever is in that circuit seems to give it a more aggressive sound which I prefer for what I would use that amp for. This 6505 is closer to a mesa rectifier than the JCM900, and in reality I don’t hear that at all from any marshall. I’m not really a Mesa rectifier fan but it does that one thing pretty good if that’s what you want.

In reality this was my first time of really doing some tone searching, and its way different doing it at your own place than in a guitar center or wherever, and in reality the amps and speaker combinations I used would be pretty tough to find all at one place. I really wasn’t expecting the Carvin head to be as good as it was, and I kind of expected more out of other amps. the saddest part for me was the realization that I didn’t like celestion speakers, I mean that’s what everybody wants right?

Just to be clear, are we talking about the stock Marshall 1960a/b Jcm900 series?

Whatever the hell that is. I was hoping you could tell me. FYI, it was sitting on the floor in a flood, the bottom got ruined but the electronics were good. I bought it for $75, repaired the bottom of the case, then stuck it on the sales floor. Both of the 5150 I also had up for grabs sold first though, so I opted to keep the 6505, as its the only non-mesa high gain amp I have.

My Dr Z Maz 38 Sr has a celestion gold. The Matchless has a mixed Celestion Blue, and Celestion Greenback. The Artist Series Hughes and Kettner has V30’s. But they are all British, and I can’t emphasize that enough. I don’t care if its a Celestion or not, because there’s a lot of good speaker companies out there. I just like them because of what they do for the amps I pair them with. It sound like you’re playing much heavier rock stuff than I do though…I mainly need a huge variety of stuff to cover radio pop (think John Mayer, Owl City, Bruno Mars), Country pop, and church music.

I use an Vox AC 15 with a modded booster (to trebble booster, home made). And the Celestion G12M Greenback sound perfect!

With the trebble booster, the amp sound like a marshall ! Perfect for some low volume AC/DC sound.

And when you crank the volume up… it’s just exactly the early AC/DC sound !