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Indeed, early guitar amps rarely put out more than the higher figure, until the arrival of the 80-watt Fender Twin of the late 1950s, and a few others.
These speakers were fine when used singly in small venues or recording studios, or in multi-driver cabs at dance-hall volumes.
Using pulp-paper cones and alnico ring magnets to achieve power handling conservatively rated in the 12- to 20-watt ballpark, these appeared most famously as the Goodmans Audiom 60, and, famously, the Vox Blue—a Celestion G12 relabeled by the amp manufacturer.
Celestion’s “Blue”—still available today as an excellent reissue, the Alnico Blue—is famous for its sweet, rich, and musical mids, appealing highs, slightly rounded low-end response, and plenty of aggression when pushed.
Replacing a stock speaker with a different type can instantly alter your amp’s sound more than any other single change, and it can be the simplest, quickest, and potentially cheapest means of converting a mediocre combo into a raging tone machine.
Swapping to a more desirable speaker—or replacing a faulty one—is not always simply a matter of installing a “better” unit, so knowing a little about the general characteristics of speaker types can prove valuable to any guitarist.
Lower-powered speakers, with all their gorgeous “flaws” became a big part of the rock and roll and blues sounds, and they have retained this role for more than 50 years.The smaller Indiana-based manufacturer, Weber Speakers, likewise offers a range of highly regarded vintage-style units—many of which are based on Chicago-era Jensens.Across the pond, Elac, Goodmans, and Celestion were manufacturing speakers in the 1950s that had broadly similar characteristics to their American cousins.In the United States, Jensen was the big name in (lower-powered) speakers in the 1950s and early ’60s, and, in the years after, the company retained a reputation as the hottest vintage American make to own.Jensen’s P10R and P12R (15-watt, 10" and 12" alnico speakers), P10Q and P12Q (20 watts), P12N (30 watts) and a few other models played a big part in the signature sounds of great American ’50s amps from Fender, Gibson, Ampeg, Magnatone, Premier, Silvertone, and others.