If you’re curious about the benefits and downsides of 10 Inch vs 12 Inch guitar speakers, you’ve come to the right post!
Guitar Amp Speakers: Easily the Most Underrated Component
There’s a lot of stuff that we focus on when discussing guitar amps. Of course, there’s the obligatory solid-state vs tube discussion. Then we also have other issues, which include types of tubes, circuitry, the intensity of the distorted channel, and so on.
However, it seems that speakers rarely get the attention that they deserve. Preamp shapes the tone, the power amp boosts the signal and eventually drives it through the speakers, but the speakers themselves will also affect the tone.
It’s not only important to have a speaker or speakers that would be able to handle the amp’s power. They can also further shape the sound and can even change the amp’s sonic characteristics.
Speaker Size and Tone
Just like any other component, a speaker has different traits that affect the tone. It may affect it directly or indirectly. One of the important features is the speaker diameter.
Most guitar amp speakers go anywhere between 8 and 12 inches in diameter. Of course, you also have smaller, sometimes going down to 2 inches on practice amps. And you also have larger ones, usually up to 15 inches.
The most common two types, however, are 10 and 12 inches. Most cabinets or combo amps come with speakers in these sizes.
So how does a speaker’s size affect the tone? Firstly, I need to point out that a larger speaker can usually handle more power. And it can help you get more volume.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the amp will get you more volume if you put a larger speaker in it. It just means that it can potentially handle more. It depends on the amp itself. But if it’s a stronger amp, then you’d probably need larger speakers that would be able to handle it all.
Additionally, speaker size can affect the frequency response. The general rule is that a larger speaker gets a bassier tone. If you have two speakers with identical specs except for the size, a smaller one will sound thinner. This isn’t necessarily an advantage or a disadvantage. It’s just different.
Depending on the amp, a larger speaker might get that boomy kind of bass. A smaller one, on the other hand, will sound tighter. It’s important to find balance and know what suits your tone the best.
10 Inch Vs 12 Inch Guitar Speaker: What’s the Difference
10 and 12-inch speakers are most common with guitar amplifiers. And, to be honest, the differences between them are more or less nuanced, at least in most cases. But with the guitar tone, everything is in the details, right?
Now, let’s go back to the basic rules that I mentioned above. A larger speaker will usually handle more power. And, as a result, you may get more volume with some amps.
Then we also have the issue of bottom-ends in the mix. Now, 10 and 12-inch are kind of the optimum. They reproduce a pretty similar frequency range. And most guitar players find them to be the most balanced overall. It’s what you expect to hear.
However, with a 10-inch speaker, you’ll notice a slightly thinner, tighter, and punchier tone. They may also get slightly dirtier. After all, they’re one of the components of the signal chain. So you may potentially get less headroom and go into overdriven territories more easily.
A 12-inch speaker, on the other hand, can sound bassier. But it’s not the tight bass but rather a boomy-sounding one as if the tone gets just slightly muffled. 4×12-inch cabinets are usually the standard. They can push more air in front of them, so they’re more popular for live shows and larger stages.
And, of course, they may get slightly more headroom. This can keep the tone cleaner. If you’re using a stronger solid-state amp, I’d recommend having 12-inch over 10-inch speakers. But, again, this is a personal preference.
Finally, we come to the practical issues. Smaller speakers, cabinets, or combo amps are easier to carry around. It’s not like the difference here is huge. But if you need to take something on tour, maybe a 10-inch speaker cabinet is a better option.
Which One is For Me?
I’d first focus on practical issues. For home and enthusiast use, I think there’s no need for larger speakers. Sure, you may notice the difference to some extent. But it’s not like your tone is going to suffer greatly.
Then again, you might be aiming for something tighter, punchier, and more controlled. For instance, you may be playing a Strat or a Telecaster. And you might want that really punchy and tight tone, something funky that breaks up just a little. In this case, I’d suggest 10-inch speakers over 12-inch ones.
But if you need a louder setting and a boomier tone, then get something with 12-inch speakers. They’ll also be able to give you that additional push on larger stages. With a 4×12 cab, you’d feel the tone more compared to smaller options.
The best idea, however, is to try both options. Of course, there are no rules set in stone here. If it works for you and you get the tone you want, then do that setup! If it doesn’t, then move on and try something different.
10 Inch Vs 12 Inch Guitar Speakers: Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you think through which of these types of speakers is right for you!
And if you want to read more about guitar speakers on this blog, check out:
Lastly, feel free to drop a message in the comments below if you have more questions about this or another guitar-related topic!