What cabinet and speakers are best suited for my amplifier?
We get asked a lot about which cabinets are best suited for what amplifiers and it gets tough to answer because there are so many excellent choices and all of our cabinets sound great. Plus, tone is a subjective subject and the best choice may depend on the application the cabs are needed for. There really isn’t necessarily a right or wrong but rather what works best for you.
Cabinetry plays a major and sometimes overlooked role in achieving the ultimate sound you are searching for. While your amp offers controls for fine-tuning your sound, no amp will sound its best without an equally good (or better) sounding cabinet. That’s why it’s so important to choose a cabinet that will not only suit your playing style but also enhance it and the other equipment you're using.
MESA cabinets are designed and constructed using the best materials, speakers, and craftsmanship. All Mesa enclosures are made using the finest void-free, Marine-Grade Baltic Birch in varying thickness of no less than 9 and as many as 14 plies, lightweight Italian Poplar or one of our select Hardwood tonewoods. Super strong rabbit corners are glued and nailed and all backs are gasket sealed to ensure an air-tight seal. Baffles are fitted with superior dado joint construction and braced. Grilles are wrapped around a separate grille board, not the baffle board. Our standard grille material is made of strong, twisted jute dipped in a special coating that filters top-end for a sweeter response. We offer a wide array of configurations, sizes, and styling, assuring that you can find a MESA cabinet that will fulfill the needs of any tone, feel or footprint you’re looking for.
Ideally, it would be best to plug in and try out a few (or all) of these designs to see what your ears prefer. If that’s not possible, here are a couple of thoughts for you.
- Closed-back cabs are tighter and punchier than open-back cabs. They are also very directional, which can be an advantage when needing to focus your sound to a specific portion of the stage or a disadvantage in other scenarios. If you are standing quite close to a closed-back cab (especially one sitting low to the ground) a lot of the upper frequencies are far below your ears and you may be dialing a tone that sounds great near & above your rig but could be killing those directly in the path of the speaker(s). Bandmates who are off-axis or behind a closed-back cabinet may not be able to directly hear the higher frequencies it produces (just those that are reflecting around the venue). With that said, nothing kicks like a closed-back enclosure and they are ideal for tight percussive playing styles.
- Open back cabinets tend to be airier and looser than a closed back enclosure and since sound is emanating from both the front and back of the cabinet, you can generally hear them well at any point on stage or in a room. If your band is relying on the amps on the stage to hear one another (rather than a monitor mix) you may want to use open-back enclosures.
- Due to having more internal room for frequencies to develop, a bigger cab will often have a broader tone (especially bass response).
- Due to a coupling effect with a floor or stage, the more cabinet you have on the floor or stage the more low bass response you can expect. Therefore, wider cabs generally have a broader low-end. If looking to reduce your low-end, try elevating the cabinet. Even a few inches off the floor (sitting on casters) you'll notice less bottom end and most likely more presence and definition in your midrange.
- Is the look of your rig important? If so, check the dimensions of your amplifier to be certain that it’ll fit on the cabinet you choose without looking awkward. We’ve included dimensions for each of our amps & cabs on our website’s product pages.
- Should weight be a factor for you, weights are also listed on each of our product pages. And, should you prefer to roll your gear rather than carry it, you can easily see if our Track-Loc™ Removable Casters come standard on a model, or in the case of many of our bass cabinets if they might include our Built-in Tilt & Roll™ Transport System, by viewing features & specifications on each of our website’s product pages.
- Speakers definitely play a role in cabinet selection. Because our amplifiers are designed to deliver such a wide pallet of tones, we require speakers capable of sounding superb no matter what tone is dialed. Our guitar speakers must be capable of shimmering cleans as well as bone-crunching gain and because our bass cabs are designed as full-range enclosures, our proprietary bass speakers must handle everything thrown at them while remaining articulate. When buying a MESA cabinet that we’ve already done the homework to determine which speakers best complement our amplifiers.
More about Speakers
Quite a lot (and believe us when we say this, as we’ve spent a lot of time listening to speaker prototypes) goes into developing a speaker that consistently sounds great and plays great over a broad spectrum of musical styles. Things such as the paper used to make a cone, its thickness and what it is treated with, the magnet material and its size, the diameter of a voice coil, even grams of glue can all play a role in getting the best tone and achieving it consistently. Speaker size doesn’t always translate into specific tone or frequency responses when loaded into cabinets but you can expect it to relate to a speaker’s speed of response. 10-inch speakers react quite quickly to a signal, where 12-inch speakers respond slightly slower, and 15-inch speakers even more so. It is a subtle difference but one you’re likely to feel as you play. When purchasing a MESA cabinet, these are things you need not fret about though, as we’ve already spent countless hours examining the various combinations and have chosen the best for use in our designs.
For Bass cabinet designs, hours of real-world application style playtesting is done to determine the best speakers for each design. Proprietary, US-made drivers have been selected for use in our Subway® Ultra-Lite cabs, just as with our PowerHouse Cabs before them to provide a rich, full-range voice that allows the natural timbre of an instrument to be audibly apparent.
In our 12” loaded Guitar cabinets, we actually have a few speaker offerings but equip each cabinet design standard with what our R&D team has painstakingly determined as their speaker of choice. You can, however, custom order a cabinet with our Celestion Custom 90 or Celestion Vintage 30 12” drivers at no extra charge, should you have your own preference. For a modest upcharge (please see your MESA Dealer for pricing), we also can load your cabinets with the following Celestion speakers: Blue Alnico 15W, Gold Alnico 50W, Cream Alnico 90W, G12M-65 Creamback 65, G12H-75 Creamback 75 or Jensen Blackbird 100W
- Celestion Vintage 30 - (custom made for MESA in Ipswich, England) – used in our closed back Rectifier® cabinets and some of our combos like the Recto®-Verb™ 25 and Roadster® 2x12 Combo. This 60 Watt speaker was originally developed to handle the demands of modern amps that were designed to be more powerful and offer more gain. The Vintage 30 speaker provides a tight bass response, thick mids and a rich, smooth upper end full of complex overtones that most players (especially high gain fans) find pleasing. Despite its full mid-range response, this speaker is often the choice of players looking for a bit of mid-scoop, as its low and high-frequency response can be accentuated when in an enclosure. The Vintage 30 is well suited for sparkling clean tones massive high gain and anything in between.
- Celestion Custom 90 - (another English-made MESA exclusive) – used in open back cabinets and our Widebody™ Closed-back cabinet. The C-90 (also often referred to as a Black Shadow or MC-90) bestows upon cabinets a tight & controlled low-end, abundant high bass & low mids, authoritative mid-range attack and an assertive yet composed top-end. It is superb at cutting through the mix while not being piercing. A favorite of lead guitarists for its 90 Watts of headroom, its voice, and dynamic response. This speaker is best suited for open back and ported, closed-back cabinet designs due to its thick & robust low end and not one we tend to recommend for strictly closed-back cabinets.
- Celestion Blue Alnico - One of the most famous speaker voices of all-time, helping to define the '60s British Invasion and beyond, the 15-Watt Blue is the benchmark for guitar speaker perfection - warm lows, mellow mids, and bell-like highs.
- Celestion Gold Alnico - Building on the legendary tone of the Blue while expanding application possibilities, the Gold is a higher-powered (50-Watt), Alnico speaker that recreates the unmistakable sonic signature of a true vintage classic. Warmth and complexity in the mids, coupled with a laid-back attack, rounded low end, and brilliant bell-like highs, the Gold deliver huge rhythm voicings and saturated vocal lead tones.
- Celestion Cream Alnico - The Alnico Cream raises the Alnico power-handling bar to an unprecedented 90-Watts, making it possible to deliver this most sought-after vintage tone to amps or applications of all kinds. With its classic laid-back Alnico attack, the Cream exudes warm lows and a brilliant bell-like chime. It has smooth and organic mids, further characterized by a fine-grained detail that adds a high-definition quality to the vocal range.
- Celestion G12M-65 Creamback - The G12M-65 Creamback produces the familiar woody G12M tone, but handles greater power (65-Watts) making it ideally suited for today's amps when a vintage tone is desired. The increased power handling brings added low-end grunt complementing the warm and vocal mid-range, crunchy upper-mids and sweet, refined highs.
- Celestion G12H-75 Creamback - The G12H-75 Creamback delivers 75-watts of power handling and has the unmistakable tone of the vintage G12H. The result is a speaker with not only more power-handling capability but also a tighter low end than the G12M-65 Creamback and a punchier, more dynamic high end.
- Celestion 25 Watt Reissue "Greenback" (16 ohm only) - The 25 Watt Reissue "Greenback" is voiced with additional broad mid-range attack and restrained top-end to give a forward, punchy attitude to chords and a searing lead tone without fizz. With its well-controlled low-end it can be used singly in low-powered amps, or in multiples for high-power rock heads. It's an ideal speaker to bring drive and definition to modern high-gain amps.
- Fillmore™ FM-75 - (No longer available but mentioned as a reference for cabs already in circulation) - a proprietary, US-made speaker that was used in our Recto®-Verb™ 25 Combo, the FM-75 is the culmination of a nine-year effort involving more than 500 custom prototypes with the intent of capturing the magic of our Golden Reference speakers that date back to the peak of the hand-built British era. Our FM-75 is a vintage-voiced speaker providing slightly lower lows, more punch, and a more balanced, less-scooped mid-range. Best of all, the highs have a vocal quality with harmonics that don't "separate" from the fundamental tones, eliminating that thin mosquito buzz of today's offshore speakers in high-gain applications.
- Jensen Blackbird 100W - The Jensen Blackbird 100W 12" Speaker has an extremely warm and smooth tone with a very rich, fat low-end, firm mids and sparkling highs. It handles overdrive distortion by bringing out colorful detail and holding strong even at maximum crunch and is suitable for both guitar and bass amplification.
For our 10” loaded enclosures we offer two great classic drivers.
- Celestion G10 Creamback – The speaker of choice for our Mark Five: 25 1x10 Combo, the G10 Creamback provides guitarists with everything they love about the 12-inch Creamback speakers into a 10-inch format. Hand-built in the UK using the same production methods and materials developed for the 12-inch models, the G10 Creamback uses a ceramic magnet and a 1.75-inch voice coil to deliver 45-watt power handling. With all the punch & dynamics typical of a 10-inch speaker, it is well-balanced with a warm tone & expressive detail.
- Jensen P10R Vintage Alnico – is a 25 Watt 10” Alnico Speaker used in 4x10 Lone Star Cabinets and Combos that has a rich, warm tone and accentuates higher frequencies in sparkling detail (known for its pleasant top-end chime). These speakers provide a sweet, warm, vintage tone and are the choice of many blues, jazz and rock player. The P10R has a quick response and a lively feel.
- Eminence E50 – (No longer available but mentioned as a reference for cabs already in circulation) is a 50 Watt speaker used in all MESA 1x10 Combo amps, our 1x10 Lone Star & TransAtlantic Cabinets, and in combination with the P10R in our 4x10 Lone Star Special Combo. It also brandishes the Black Shadow name and has a smooth, full tone, capable of staying extremely clean but getting crunchy when driven.
Please visit mesaboogie.com to learn more about each of the cabinets offered within all of our cabinet design families.