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The (Amp) Love Doctor Is In (again)

by vaughn skow March 15, 2011 5 min read

"Wanted: One sweet little lady with a generous bottom and a sweet personality, who is able to gracefully handle my overwhelming 100-watt personality. Ideal candidate would be healthy as a 19 year old, but with the wisdom and experience of a gal three times her age."

Over the last few weeks I have once again been receiving a bunch of inquiries as to which speaker would be the best fit for a particular amp and style of playing.  I’m often a bit hesitant to give an overly forceful recommendation because, as I discussed in my original Love Doctor blog, not every couple is, well, compatible; and sometimes what seems like a perfect match to one tone-junkie winds up in RMA divorce court for the next.  And so it is that I decided to re-visit this subject again.  Oh, by the way, at the end I’ll be asking for your comments.  I think we have gotten the comment posting system worked out now, so hopefully all of your comments will appear properly!  Okay, so let’s get to it!

I decided to begin with a short generallist of what usually works when pairing a speaker to a particular amp type.  Again, these are generalities!

1. Low wattage tube amps often shine when paired with light-weight relatively low-power rated speakers.  A perfect example is the vintage Fender Tweed Deluxe and the vintage Celestion Blue Alnico 15 watt speaker (or our WGS Black & Blue Alnico 12).  These speakers are very touch-sensitive, efficient, bright and airy, and respond quickly.  That makes them a perfect match for the Fender Tweed Deluxe (and it’s many clones), which isn’t very loud, compresses VERY quickly, and can easily get a bit overly "woody" sounding.

2. High power tube amps, when cranked on big stages, need speakers that can handle themselves gracefully while under pressure (especially if you need to be able to maintain any clean headroom).  Usually, this will dictate a speaker with a fairly large voice-coil, a high-temp type former, and a higher power handling.  The classic examples here would be the fantastic old Fane speakers in the vintage HiWatt amps, and the EVM 12L’s in the early Mesa-Boogie Mark series. 

3. When you start using A LOT of speakers, #2 starts to be less of an issue.  This is simple, when a 100-watt load is spread out over four or eight speakers, those speakers no longer need to be all that beefy.  As a matter of fact, some of the best 4x10 and 4x12 combinations utilize lightweight low-power speakers.  Some great examples would be the greenbacks in a vintage Marshall cab (WGS’s Green Beret) or the 10" Alnico speakers in a vintage Super Reverb or tweed Bassman (or the WGS Veteran 10).

4. Generally, Alnico magnet speakers sound a little smoother (sweeter) on the top end than their ceramic counterparts.  The Alnico speakers also tend to compress a bit more, and often sound more vintage and "broken-in" right out of the box.  WGS has designed some amazing sounding ceramic speakers, but if you are a 4th-degree black belt level tone seeker, you may not be satisfied with anything less than Alnico!

5. In speaker design and manufacturing, the little things matter.  Miniscule variance on, say a voice-coil gap, amount to very noticeable tonal differences.  That’s why I just don’t feel good about the made-in-China stuff; even if it is a good design, there usually just isn’t the level of attention to detail and quality control in the factory that is necessary to consistently produce great sounding speakers. 

Okay, anyone still with me??  We, if you made it this far, then here are some WGS gals and their mates that we just know are matchs made in heaven:

The G10 (A or C): Any 1-10 or 2-10 medium to high power amp will LOVE this beefy little gal!

The Veteran 10: your medium power 4x10 combo (or cab) will lust after this petite cutie.

The G12 (C or A) will make your 55 year old American amp (or clone there of) feel like its brand new ... same goes for the G15!

The Veteran 30 will find a sweet spot in the heart of anyone who loves classic Marshall/Metal tone - even more so with the Retro 30.

You lust for a cab loaded with Vintage greenbacks to satisfy your dirty, wild side.  And those new repro greenbacks are but a pale comparison to the real deal, right?  So, what’s a guy (or gal) to do?  Load up your 4x12 with the WGS Green Berets!  

Let’s just say that you are tired of the stiff lifeless response and ice-pick highs of that EVM12L (or similar beast) in your Mesa 1-12 combo (or other high-power 1-12 tube combo).  The HM75 is the gal for you!  She’ll give you more warmth and be way more responsive than that mean old EV, and your back will thank you, too.  If you can swing the dough, the Blackhawk HP would also be a fantastic warm soul-mate!

The ET65 will make you fall in love with your blackface Deluxe Reverb (or similar) all over again.  This fat-bottom girl will give that old Deluxe the kick in the pant’s that it’s always needed.  Actually, any overly bright amp can benefit from a little ET65 love! 

Pair the ET65 with a Vet 30 or Retro 30 in a 2-12 or 4-12 cab for a match truly made in heaven!  Big, tight bottom and quick response (touch sensitivity) with a velvet-smooth top end ... wow!

The Black & Blue Alnico 12: like I said before, low wattage tube amps will love this little gal!  If you want some of that same vintage Alnico mojo for an amp with a little too much horsepower for the little Black & Blue, then, by all means go with a Blackhawk Alnico, or the Blackhawk HP.

And last I will mention the WGS Reaper.  This is one of WGS’s most popular speakers, and the reason is because it just plain sounds good anytime, anyplace.  It’s not as "British" sounding as the Green Beret or Vet 30, nor does it have the American tone of the G-series.  This speaker is somewhat of a jack of all trades.  It can get gritty and compressed when driven, but can also hold together for some decent clean headroom.  If your amp desires a little more clean headroom, or exceeds the Reapers 30-watt rating, then a Reaper HP should get the old flame back in your relationship.  And once again, if you like a baby who’s got a little more back, then the Reaper 55Hz is just the all-around juicy gal for you.

***Okay!!  Now, here is your part:  All of you out there, please post a comment of which WGS (or other) speakers have worked (or not) for you in a particular amp or configuration.  Let’s all help each other out here!  Together, we can make the world a more loving, and toneful place J.  Oh, and just in case the comment system is still on the fritz, feel free to emailmedirectly, with your comments, too!

Next week: High-Gain 12" comparisons ... your gonna love it!


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