Changing your Tone

Speakers can change your tone

There are many different variables which affect the tone your speaker generates. Below, we summarize some of the variables that can affect the tone and sound of your speaker. This should help you to make a decision on which Jensen speaker will best suit your style. If you need additional help, consider using the Tone Generator to determine what speaker is right for you!

Size

The most popular guitar amplifier speaker sizes are 8”, 10”, 12” and 15”. There are also 18” speakers, which are used primarily in PA and bass cabinets, as well as some smaller speaker diameters (5" and 6"). Since most of you are replacing speakers that are already in an amplifier, we do not recommend choosing a different size than what your amp is drilled for or already using.

Impedance

Impedance is measured in ohms. It is important that the output impedance of your amplifier matches the equivalent impedance of your speakers. Your amplifier may have an impedance switch on the back allowing you to switch between 4, 8 and 16 ohms. If your amp uses multiple speakers, you will have to wire the speakers for an equivalent load impedance that matches the amplifier's output impedance. (Click here for speaker wiring diagram).

Wattage

The wattage of your speaker is primarily determined by the diameter of the voice coil and the weight of the magnet. Generally a larger voice coil and heavier magnet can handle more power. Your amp set-up is generally most efficient when you match the wattage of your amplifier with the wattage of the speaker. This is ideal, but in some cases you may want a speaker with a higher wattage than the amp. This would lower the overall amp output, but may increase the low frequency response.

Though it is not recommended (due to the potential for speaker malfunction) you can use a lower wattage speaker in a higher wattage amplifier to achieve higher speaker distortion. Keep in mind that the total power handling wattage is the sum of all the speakers. For example, two 50 watt speakers can handle 100 watts from the amplifier.

Magnet Type

The three different types of materials used in speaker magnets are Alnico, Ceramic (Ferrite) and Neodymium. Each material has a different effect on the tonal characteristics of the speaker.

Alnico, the original magnet material used in speakers, produces a classic tone. Alnico magnets tend to be a bit more expensive due to their cobalt content. These speakers sound warmer and sweeter at lower volumes and many musicians feel they react more quickly to the player's touch.

Ceramic magnets were developed as an inexpensive alternative to Alnico. These speakers have a few advantages: they do not cost as much, are more versatile and create a wide range of tones. Both the Vintage and MOD™ ceramic speakers tend to weigh more, generally handle more power and sound better at high volumes.

Neodymium is the newest material being used for speaker magnets. Price-wise they fall between Alnico and ceramic magnet speakers. These speakers respond to a player's touch much like Alnicos and they have a well balanced frequency response. The major advantages of these magnets are weight and efficiency. A neodymium speaker weighs about 50% less than other speakers without giving up power or tone. Neodymium speakers are especially good in large, heavy amplifiers or amplifiers that have more than two speakers.