A guitar cab is a set of speakers fitted within a wooden enclosure. Its purpose is to project the audio signal created by an amplifier head or a speaker out-enabled combo. With some small amp cabinets housing just a single speaker and larger cabs featuring up to four, the guitar cabinet market is surprisingly diverse.
With different sizes, designs, and styles available, it is fair to say that trying to find a guitar cabinet that perfectly meets an individuals’ demands can be challenging. That’s because different types of cabs have their own qualities, with their particular constructions and speakers affecting the amplifier’s output and tonal idiosyncrasies.
So in this article, we will break down the characteristics of the leading guitar speaker cabinets that users are likely to come across. By this, it will be more effortless and confident when distinguishing which type of cabinet can be the best pair with a given amplifier.
1×12″ Guitar Cabs
Generally, the 1×12″ cabs do not project as much volume as their larger counterparts – but can still be plenty-potent. They are ideal for smaller venues. It is suited to players that prefer a more articulate upper mid-range.
A 1×12″ guitar cab works well in conjunction with lower-wattage amps, making that natural amp break-up easier to attain. With a low-headroom amp cranked, more strain will be put on the speaker, and it will thus provide a raunchier tone, allowing sound to penetrate a mix far more quickly.
2×12″ Guitar Cabs
A step up from 1×12″ speaker cabinet, this guitar cabinet perfectly bridges the gap between portable and powerful. With their speakers placed side-by-side in most instances, they are totally similar to 1×12″ cabinets but emit richer and more three-dimensional tones thanks to their additional speakers.
With their extra volume, they tend to sound slightly more focused than a 4×12″ because of their more compact enclosure. Suitable for medium-sized gigs where more accessible can be vital, a small 2×12″ is obviously far easier to transport than a 4×12″. This makes it a viable option even for mainstream touring artists trying to save money on shipping costs.
One advantage the cabinet presents over a 1×12″ is that it offers the ability to mismatch speakers. Although most of them come installed with the same-spec speakers, having two different types can sound more varied.
In terms of which amps they work well with, 2×12″ cabs can be partnered with medium to high-wattage amplifiers, capable of projecting the massive amounts of headroom that even 100W heads can generate.
4×12″ Guitar Cabs
With a vast engulfing sound, the unparalleled 4×12″ is suited for large-scale performances only. That’s not necessarily a strict rule, as they can be used at smaller venues. The 4×12” guitar cabinets are available in two configurations – ”straight” and ”angled”. A straight cab is quite self-explanatory, where all of its speakers are front-facing and project sound in the same direction. However, an angled cabinet is slightly different with its top two speakers facing up at about a 10-20-degree angle.