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Hands-On Review: Eminence Replacement Guitar Speakers

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Changing your speakers to improve your tone

By Jim Gault
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer

Most competent electric guitarists eventually become concerned with tone and begin experimenting to find a sound they can call their own. Many factors go into producing a particular tone. The type of guitar, the selection of pickups, the amp used—even such details as string gauges or the thickness of a pick result in changes in sound. Nor is it all just equipment. Even a player’s touch can have a profound effect on the character of the sound.

One important component of the tonal chain—one that is often overlooked or taken for granted—is the speaker. My purpose here is to advocate replacing speakers—not just because you’ve blown one out, but proactively as a way of finding a new sound. While changing speakers is a fairly complicated move, the payoff can be big.

Speakers can vary greatly. The cone’s composition, the speaker’s power handling, the size of the magnet, the material the magnet is made of, how the voice coil is wound—these and many more details of construction make one speaker sound and behave differently from another. Finding a speaker that is best suited to your amp, your musical style, and the way you play can be a huge step toward finding a signature sound that works for you.

From custom designs to branded speakers

Eminence is the name to turn to if you’re looking for replacement speakers. The company has a 40-year track record. It designs custom speakers for most of the established amplifier companies: Fender, Kustom, Crate, Marshall, and others. Eminence primarily designed speakers for other companies until 1999 when it began engineering and marketing Eminence—branded speakers. Just as Celestion has speakers such as the Greenback and Vintage 30 that have their own identities apart from any specific amplifier, Eminence has developed an extensive and versatile line of guitar speakers and a number of the company’s models are gaining strong reputations.

The Eminence guitar speaker line has two main families—the Patriot Series and the Red Coat Series. As their names imply, they are characterized as American-style and British-style speaker sounds. The American style is based on the general tonality of vintage American amps such as Fenders—a more rounded, cleaner, and brighter tone. The British style is based on the tonality of the vintage Marshall and Vox amplifiers—a weightier tone with more low and midrange emphasis. These are fairly loose categories and overlap somewhat, but they do help to generally orient the guitarist trying to choose a speaker.

One problem is a daunting number of choices. Eminence gives you about 30 different models of 12" guitar speakers in these two categories. To simplify the process, Eminence’s five most popular branded speakers give you great choices in a range of sound styles and in a manageable number. These include The Wizard, Lynch Super V 12, and the Red Fang from the Red Coat series; and the Texas Heat and Cannabis Rex from the Patriot series.

The Red Coats

The Wizard is a great speaker choice if your thing is classic rock. It has a power rating of 75 watts, and is available in 8 and 16 ohms, which makes it easy to use as a single, double, or in a 4x12 configuration. It is also designed for use in sealed cabs. It is an especially articulate speaker with just a hint of grit and a tight, easily controlled bottom end.

The Lynch Super V 12 is another popular Red Coat speaker. It is a made-in-America model, refined by the ears of American rocker George Lynch, and given stage cred through its use in Randall’s popular Lynch Box, but it is authentically British in tonal character—very full, very clean, and very warm. Its tonal character makes it a versatile speaker, well suited to a range of music styles. Because of its high 150-watt power handling and 8-ohm impedance, this is a speaker well suited for a strong 1x12 combo or extension cab.

Red Fang, with its alnico magnet and British-made paper cone is definitively vintage Brit in character. It is rated at 50 watts power handling and is available in both 8 and 16 ohm. It is a speaker that works well with lower-power combos and extension cabs, and in 4x12 boxes driven by 100 watt or even higher-power heads.

Eminence The Wizard 12" Guitar Speaker Eminence Red Fang 12" 50W Guitar Speaker

Patriots

On the Patriot side are two excellent and interesting speakers. For high power-handling applications, the 150-watt Texas Heat delivers a warm, fat bottom and a clear, singing top end with noticeable bite. This speaker is especially responsive to touch and, as a result, helps you play expressively. It’s a great all-around speaker for rock or blues.

Perhaps the last of the five models is the best. Its Cannabis Rex name sets it up for jokes about stoned-out tone, but this is a fantastic speaker with a killer sound. The hemp cone is tough and very durable, and it also has great acoustic properties. It gets a full, very clean sound with both body and sparkle. The high end is very articulate. Country, jazz, classical, and rock—this is a speaker that will handle many musical styles beautifully. The Rex has a power rating of 50 watts, is available in both 8 and 16 ohms, and is acceptable for closed or open cabs.

Eminence Patriot Texas Heat 12" 150W Guitar Speaker Eminence Patriot Cannabis Rex 12" 50W Guitar Speaker

These five models give you a great set of choices and, of course, there are many other Eminence models to consider. Among them you’re sure to find the speaker that gives you that special sound you have been searching for.

Features & Specs


The Wizard:

  • 8 or 16 ohms
  • 75W power handling
  • 56-oz. ferrite magnet
  • 1.75" voice coil
  • For sealed cabs
  • Paper cone
  • Pressed steel basket

Lynch Super V 12:

  • 8 ohms
  • 150W power handling
  • 38-oz. ferrite magnet
  • 2" voice coil
  • For sealed or open back cabs
  • Paper cone
  • Die-cast aluminum basket

Red Fang 12:

  • 8 or 16 ohms
  • 50W power handling
  • 35-oz. Alnico magnet
  • 1.75" voice coil
  • For sealed or vented cabs
  • Paper cone
  • Pressed steel basket

Texas Heat:

  • 8 or 16 ohms
  • 150W power handling
  • 38-oz. ferrite magnet
  • 2" voice coil
  • For sealed or vented cabs
  • Paper cone
  • Pressed steel basket

Cannabis Rex:

  • 8 or 16 ohms
  • 50W power handling
  • 38-oz. ferrite magnet
  • 1.75" voice coil
  • For sealed or vented cabs
  • Hemp cone
  • Pressed steel basket

Tags: Amplifiers Speakers

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