What cabinet is 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 sounds 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 you can own. 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 ply, Lightweight Italian Poplar or one of our select Hardwood tone woods. 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 grilleboard, 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.
- The bigger the cab, often the bigger the tone (especially bass response).
- The more cabinet you have on the ground the better the bass response. Therefore, wider cabs generally have a broader low end.
- 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 to 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. Just know 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 play testing is done to determine the best speakers for each design. In use you’ll find our proprietary, US made PowerHouse™, Subway® or the Custom Eminence drivers that are toned for our Traditional PowerHouse Cabs.
- 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 any of our fantastic 12” drivers at no extra charge, should you have your own preference.
- Celestion Vintage 30 (custom made for MESA in Ipswich, England) – used in our closed back Rectifier® cabinets and some of our combos like the Express 5:25+™ 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 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.
- Fillmore™ FM-75 (a proprietary, US made speaker) - currently only in use 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.
- For our 10” loaded enclosures we offer two great classic drivers.
- 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 a blues, jazz and rock player. The P10R has a quick response and lively feel.
- Eminence E50 – 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.