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Artificial Speaker Aging

by vaughn skow August 19, 2013 3 min read

Bear with me folks, this might be a fairly lengthy blog!  A few months ago I received this email from a very knowledgeable fellow, Rasmus in Denmark.  Read along, you’ll be glad you did: 


Hi Vaughn,Thanks for all you efforts - and thanks for you pushing speaker business in the right direction.

Long story short, I have been at fender guy all my life and a tone seeker for about 20 years. Been tweaking at noodling with amps, pedals, pickups etc. etc. Recently I have been through at seek for the right 10" for my vintage 65 Princeton Reverb, and been buying: Eminence 102, 105, Jensen RI P10R, WGS Vet10, WGS G10a.

In general I liked your speakers best but.... all I tried is too loud for finding a sweet spot at home studio sound levels. It seems all brands are trying to increasing effeicacy which is not necessarily good for everyone! This week I went bazurk and did a chemical ageing with acetone - fabric softener - and mild sandpaper treatment on the cone of the Jensen p10r - which I considered the worst speaker among them. And now it sounds just FANTASTIC. Breakup at low level, good bass, articulate etc. etc. All positions on a strat sound right. This amp has turned into something I wouldn’t even have dreamt of. I don’t know if this is common knowledge among you guys, but to me it was really a breakthrough tone wise. Actually it makes good sense, because by thinning and softening the membrane it moves much more freely and tone becomes dynamic and nice for the ears. And natural breakup at home - NICE.

Cheers, Rasmus


That got me to thinking!  I remember doing this same trick on a terribly stiff Jensen repro a few years back, also using the acetone based fabric softener.  My results were not as good as Rasmus’s, so I enquired as to just exactly what his technique was.  I think we can all benefit from his answer:


Hi Vaughn,

I think the key to my success with the Italian Jensen is to weaken the surround, not sure the acetone/fabric softener is all that important. In addition to sandpaper, I worked the cone surround good with my nail. So I really softened it being quite physical. If this should be recommended to anybody they should know that you easily destroy you speaker by doing this. But the reward is really worth taking the chance I think. At least with the Jensens RIs. The speaker cannot be played at high levels because it goes into extreme flapping. But before that there is now a very useful interval of tone heaven - which is perfect for at-home-use. You see, I have spent a fortune on overdrive pedals in my life, but this is IT. (Much of the secret of many great recordings is much more in the speakers than many of us believe.)

Thanks for taking time to discuss,



Interesting!  I was afraid to go so far as physically trying to scrape, and thereby weaken/soften the surround.  I merely applied the acetone to the surround … and even then I was afraid to use very much.  I got rid of that stiff Jensen as quick as I could … but if I ever encounter another equally stiff cone, I think I just might try the combination of chemical and physical loosening of the surround!

Of course there is also the age-old method of just blasting the crap out of a speaker for many hours on end to get it to loosen up.  I remember trying that trick in the garage.  I had some SRV on a loop alternating with sine-wave sweeps blasting at about full-power on a 60-watt driver.  Let’s just say that my wife is not a fan of that method, if you know what I mean.  Yea, now that I think about it, I DEFINITELY like Rasmus’s idea better :-)

See all y’all next time around.  Stay loose!  

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