Student of Guitar

2X10 Vs 1X12: What’s the Difference and Which Is Better? [2022 Edition]

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If you’re interested in learning more about a 2X10 vs 1X12 guitar cabinet speaker configurations, this is the post for you!

I’m not necessarily an expert on this subject, but I’ve played guitar since 2003 and know a bit about the instrument.

So I thought I’d explore this topic in the sections below.

Understanding Guitar Cabinets

When most think of guitar amps, they are actually thinking of a combo amp. However, plenty of guitar players prefer to go with an amp head and a cabinet. But what actually is a cabinet?

It’s essentially a wooden box with passive speakers in it. And, of course, there are a few wires that connect everything.

When I say passive, this means that the speakers require an active power amplifier in order to work. The power amp section of an amp head helps drive the sound through them.

Cabinets also come with one or more inputs. This is how you pair them with an amp head. However, these ¼-inch inputs can carry a stronger signal compared to your guitar’s jack.

These inputs come with a specific impedance which is usually 4, 8, or 16 ohms. Now, there’s a whole story about matching the impedances. It’s tricky business and some wrong combinations can ruin your amp’s transformer. But this is a story best left for another blog post. 

Guitar cabs usually come with 1, 2, or 4 passive speakers. These speakers are usually 10 or 12 inches in diameter. There are some examples with 15 inches, but they are rare.

And, as you can imagine, there are plenty of guitar cabinet configurations. The most common one is with four 12-inch speakers. This configuration is also labeled as 4×12. But there are also other variants, like 1×12, 2×10, 2×12, 1×8, and others.

You should also bear in mind that these are all mono configurations. After all, guitar amps are almost exclusively mono, not stereo, devices.

2×10 Vs 1×12: What’s the Difference?

What we want to look into are 2×10 and 1×12 variants. So what’s better, having one 12-inch speaker or two 10-inch speakers?

2×10

Essentially, cabinets that have more speakers can handle more power. We can also say the same for larger speakers. If you need something that can get you more volume with a powerful amp hear, look for more rather than fewer speakers.

Generally, a 2×10 speaker cabinet is not that common. Such a configuration is usually more present for bass amps. Nonetheless, such guitar cabs can still handle a solid amount of power from an amp.

In fact, it’s probably overkill. They can handle up to 400 or even 500 watts.

Also, a major downside of this configuration is the scarcity of 2×10 cabinets. For some reason, it’s not a standard configuration. Instead, manufacturers usually make 4×12, 2×12, and 1×12 cabs. In fact, the 2×10 formation is more common for basses but not guitars.

This is why its tone is also so unique. You’ll get slightly thinner-sounding results with 2×10 cabs.

If you really want to get one cabinet, you’ll most likely have to find a custom amp builder. Or, you can make it yourself.

1×12

An amp with a single speaker, or a single-speaker cab, can get slightly more bassy.

This is noticeable with 1×12 cabs. Although it’s not as bottom-end-heavy as a 1×15 cab, it sure gets beefy.

Obviously, these cabinets are also much smaller. This is why some guitar players prefer them as well. It’s also a popular setup for a backup rig.

But on the other hand, 1×12 cabs usually handle less output power. They’re typically designed for 60 to 100 watts. But there are some rare and expensive cases that go up to 400 or 500 watts.

Direct Comparison

Tone

So if we compare these two combinations, the 2×10 cabinet will help you get more volume. Of course, this depends on the cabinet’s ability to handle power and the amp’s output. But it’s highly likely that you’ll make it a bit louder with a 2×10 cab.

Additionally, the 2×10 is also a bit more open in its tone. With more than one speaker, there’s some spaciousness involved there.

Meanwhile, the 1×12 configuration likely has less volume. Additionally, you need to bear in mind that this is a larger speaker. Compared to the 2×10 combination, there are significantly more bottom-ends.

Some may even say that 1×12 sounds dull. 1×12 cabinets or combo amps usually have some bottom-end rumble. In fact, many claim they need to dial back the bass knob with some guitars and pedals using a 1×12 setup.

If you have an amp head that’s heavy in bass, this will be slightly more pronounced with a 1×12 cabinet. If your amp sounds too thin, a 1×12 cab could help boost its bottom-ends.

Meanwhile, the 2×10 cab gravitates towards higher mids.

Practicality

The issue of practicality is also important. A 1×12 cab should be easier to transport. Having a stack, even a half-stack, is already a bit challenging in terms of logistics. If you’re frequently gigging, 1×12 is easier to transport. 

Additionally, 1×12 cabinets are more common. The 2×10 combination isn’t a typical one and these cabs are usually more expensive.

2×10 Vs 1×12: Conclusion

Remember that the tone depends on many factors. Speaker configuration is just one of many.

And choosing between these two particular combinations, I’d go with a 1×12 cab. It’s a more common setup that’s easier to transport and seems to be all-around more practical.

But a 2×10 setup is certainly interesting. If possible, try both and see what works the best with your gear and your needs.

Until then, you can check out this comparison below. It also includes open and closed back settings.

And if you want to learn more about some interesting guitar gear comparison, check out the following posts:

As usual, let me know in the comments below if you have questions!

6 Responses

  1. Lot’s of misinformation here. How can adding a speaker make an amplifier supply more power? Answer: it can’t. When you take 50W of power and run it through 1 speaker you get 50W of sound pressure potential. When you take the same 50W of power and run it through two speakers you are effectively dividing that power in half. 25W through each speaker. Yes, parallel vs series blah-blah, but the point is the same. The big different between a single and double cabinet is the sound dispersion patterns. Sound waves from a single speaker emanate from a single voice coil; 2 speakers generating the same signal will have their sounds waves mingle, phase canceling some, and enhancing others. It might not matter much with most guitar music, but the human ear is more tuned to hearing sounds from a single source rather than multiple sources. Even when listening to music in stereo, it is a far more satisfying experience when the system is set up to deliver a single sound stage rather that a mish-mosh sound.

  2. Hey Alan, thanks for stopping by!

    I absolutely agree with everything you’ve said. I know that adding a speaker won’t add more power. What I wanted to say is that cabinets with more speakers are usually intended for stronger amplifiers.

    But I understand what you’re saying and I’ll see to edit the article just to clarify this.

  3. My semi hollow ibanez suits the 2 10 configuration but my start style ibanez roadstar sounds better with a 1 12 guitar combo. Just a ballance thing, the warm semihollow is ballance through the bright 2 10 combo. The treably roadstar is balanced out by the bass heavy 1 12 combo.

    1. Hi Jeremy,

      Thanks for this insight! Yes, some guitars just work better with one configuration than the other.

  4. Tom Pernal says:

    I recently had a ’59 Bassman combo built with 2 10s in lieu of 4 10s. mainly for size and weight constraints. I find I have plenty of bottom, even with a Strat and Tele. Used to have a Silverface Super with 4 10s and never had anything close until this build. Played a Hagstrom Swede with humbuckers with the Super and generally prefer 2-10s over 1-12. I find the bottom end fine and the mids and highs more chimey.

    1. Thanks for that insight, Tom!

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