Are you trying to sort through the best guitar amp speakers to upgrade your gear instead of buying a new guitar amp altogether? – If so, you’re on to something. The difference between a stock speaker and an aftermarket professional speaker can be insane.
Limiting distortion, increasing the gain threshold, offering better definition across all frequencies, and getting a boost of volume are just some of the benefits you can get from installing a new guitar amp speaker.
But, if you don’t believe me, just check out the following speakers and see how they fare in terms of specs and sound to whatever you have in your guitar amp. Of course, not all guitar amps come with lame speakers. Some actually feature high-end speakers, some of which you’ll find in this article.
6 Best Guitar Amp Speakers - Upgrade or Build Your Own Amp!
Table of Contents
The Celestion Vintage 30 doesn’t provide a vintage sound as the name would imply. Instead, it emphasizes the medium and higher registers for a rich and detailed guitar sound. The speaker is also characterized by its warm bass definition.
It’s a go-to speaker for many manufacturers and custom amp builders. The 12” speaker uses a ceramic magnet and can handle up to 60W. Its frequency range is 70 to 5,000Hz.
Take a look at the size of the magnet on the Celestion and you’ll understand why most subwoofers and woofers use ferrite magnets.
In any event, this speaker fits most 12” guitar combo amps, and it’s an improvement over many stock speakers – Celestion is a traditional manufacturer of audiophile speakers. It has a cut-out diameter of 11.1” and a true diameter of 12.2”. Its depth is 5.3”.
The Raging Cajun is characterized by its bell-like highs, crisp mids, and great low-end definition, similar to that of a larger speaker. Its loudness is one of the reasons why many professional guitarists choose the Raging Cajun for single-speaker amps or in order to beef up a multi-configuration amp.
Its frequency range is 70 to 5,000Hz. This is not uncommon for most 75W guitar amp speakers. However, the realistic usable frequency range starts at 80Hz.
The ceramic magnets do a great job of moving the woofer cone. In fact, one of the best things you can do with the Raging Cajun speaker is to use a light overdrive distortion. With some tweaks on the amp’s EQ and you would be surprised by the vintage Hendrix-style tone you can achieve.
The speaker has a 10” nominal basket diameter and a depth of 4.3”, which makes it compatible with most 10” guitar amps. Of course, it’s suitable for multi-speaker configurations too.
The Celestion Eight 15 is one of the most popular and widely used guitar amp speakers. You can find it in many small guitar amps as the 8” speaker lends itself to many genres, especially when used in practice or rehearsal amps.
If you’re looking for a good balance of medium and high frequencies, the Celestion Eight 15 delivers. With the right EQ adjustments, it can also deliver a beefy low-end tone, although that’s not the best register to showcase the speaker’s quality.
This speaker also comes with a 7-year warranty, amazing especially if you consider how cheap it is. It may not have the best power handling but the size makes it a perfect choice to upgrade your practice amp or your small Roland cube.
The Swamp Thang is a powerful 12” guitar amp speaker that can improve your note sustain for days. It has a fairly clean, slightly vintage tone that works best when used in blues, soft rock, and even jazz.
However, I also like it for alternative, grunge, and hard rock guitar riffs due to its chunky tone and sustain. The amp that you pair it with will obviously affect how many genres you can tackle.
It has a usable frequency range of 70 to 4,000Hz. This gives it a very nice balance across all frequencies and surprisingly good extension on the low end. It holds its own even if you’re playing a 7-string or if you favor drop tunings over the standard EADGBE tuning.
The build quality is also very good, considering that this is an affordable guitar speaker.
If you want something extra loud, with a meaty bass and an imposing personality, the Eminence Legend CA154 15” speaker may be the one for you. It comes in two models, 4 and 8ohm, which also makes it a highly adaptable speaker.
The frequency response range is 45 to 3,000Hz, which is to be expected of a 15” speaker. The warmth of the sound will allow you to make your rhythm guitar stand out on its own. At the same time, it will allow you to transcend genres and even focus on more aggressive play styles.
Also, thanks to the superior bass extension, the speaker has no problem getting the most out of a 7-string or 8-string guitar. It may even favor lower or drop tunings as opposed to the standard E tuning.
It’s not the cheapest speaker on the market, but it’s still one of the best investments you can make for your stage amp.
The Jensen Mod Series includes guitar amp speakers in various sizes and impedance ratings. That being said, it’s the Mod6 6” speaker that seems to enjoy the most popularity. It’s small but overall great improvement over many stock speakers.
It’s also affordable and well-build with quality ceramic magnets, easy to install, and has a very Western sound with just enough sustain and tonal transparency to satisfy any student or experienced guitarist that practices at home.
The sound is not bass heavy even though this speaker is intended for the modern guitarist. There’s a good balance across the frequency spectrum, which is what makes this one of my personal favorites. A highly versatile compact speaker all in all.
Get Your Dimensions First
Before even considering the quality of a guitar amp speaker, you should first take measurements on your amp and your stock speaker. Speaker measurements like width and depth are the first filters you should apply to any search.
You don’t want to have to modify the architecture of your guitar amp just to accommodate your replacement speaker. Measurements are highly important even if you’re building an amp from scratch. So, always make this a priority.
Also, before you buy, make sure you have some tools too. If not, order some. Guitar amp speakers don’t come with the necessary tools for a smooth installation.
Don’t Dwell on ALNICO Magnets
Ceramic magnets are of course good old-fashioned ferrite magnets. You might have heard of ALNICO magnets – they’re also ferrite magnets with the addition of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt (therefore AlNiCo). This makes the magnetic field stronger, but that’s only necessary if you’re using small magnets.
ALNICO magnets were among the first types of magnets used in guitar amp speakers. In the early decades of amp manufacturing, ALNICO magnets were responsible for that vintage sound you hear on almost any album celebrating the 30 or 40-year anniversary.
That being said, ALNICO magnets are no longer used today. There are still speakers which feature ALNICO magnets but most of them are second-hand speakers or simply too expensive.
How Much Power Do You Need?
If you want to upgrade your practice amp, a speaker that can handle 25, 40, or 50W is usually more than enough (but check your amp’s power rating). For practicing at home and even at the studio, you won’t need anything louder, especially if the tonal clarity is improved by the aftermarket speaker.
If you want something for live performances, then I recommend going for a minimum of 150W. That should be enough for some larger indoor venues.
Know the Brands and Know Your Dimensions
As you can see from my list, a handful of manufacturers always stand out whether you’re looking to upgrade your practice amp or your stage amp.
Picking a guitar amp speaker from a reputable manufacturer is important if you want a noticeable improvement over stock speakers. The more ambitious among you might even want to build your own combo amp speaker. If you don’t want to build your own cabinet, you can find ready-made cabinets with cutouts for different sizes of speakers. Pre-assembled amp modules are readily available too.