Why are Celestion Vintage 30 Speakers So Popular?
Celestion Vintage 30 speakers are the most recorded speaker of all time. Why are they so popular? It all comes down to tone, projection, clarity, and quality.
The History of the Celestion Vintage 30
In 1986 Celestion was faced with the task of building a new modern speaker to meet the demands of harder rock amplifiers. Guitarists in the ’80s required a speaker that could handle more power and overdrive. Before the Vintage 30 was the Greenback. The Greenback is a great speaker in the right amplifier but it suffers in higher wattage amplifier.
Celestions answer to this issue was to build a new speaker design from the ground up. Celestion created a new cone and voice coil coupled with their “H” Magnet. Celestion called the vintage 30 “the most detailed speaker of all time”! With a statement like that, it has to be good, right? The Vintage 30 had dynamic and complex overtones not yet heard in a speaker of its generation.
The Most Recorded Speaker Ever!
Since the mid-1980s, the Celestion Vintage 30 speakers have appeared on more albums than anything else. The reason why Celestion Vintage 30 speakers are as popular as they are is that they are very mids focused.
When comparing a Celestion Vintage 30 to a Celestion Seventy 80 for example there’s a huge difference in bass and treble response.
Celestion V30 or Seventy 80?
This video below showcases the main differences between the Vintage 30 and Celestion Seventy 80. Vintage 30 speakers have a very tight low-end sound and a slightly attenuated top end for the sound that works great in a band mix.
Celestion Vintage 30 Speaker Wattage
The current Celestion Vintage 30 is a 60-watt speaker. Despite what you have read on internet forums these are not 70-watt speakers.
Vintage 30 Specifications (Official Celestion Listing)
Artists that use Celestion Vintage 30 Speakers
Part of the hype around Celestion Vintage 30 speakers is the fact a lot of professionals use them. The list of albums and artists that have used these speakers is incalculable but some of them are as follows.
- Carlos Santana
- Patrick Stump
- Andy Timmons
- Adrian Belew
- Peter Frampton
- Ola Englund
- Steve Morse
- Jason Hook
- Vivian Campbell
- Vernon Reid
- Ian D’Sa
- Steve Rothery
- Pepper Keenan
- Michael Amott
- Brent Mason
- Jimmy Bower
- Bruce Kulick
- + Many More…
When popular guitarists/rock gods endorse a speaker it usually helps create hype around a product. In my experience, Vintage 30 speakers sound best in 2×12 or 4×12 configurations.
Where are Celestion V30 Speakers Produced?
Celestion V30 speakers used to be produced in the UK. In 2002, Celestion moved their production to China. They physically moved a lot of their speaker production tools and machines to China to keep manufacturing the same. If you can find a vintage version of this speaker used go for it, but I can’t hear any difference between the new ones and the old ones.
My Favorite Vintage 30 Loaded 2×12 Cabinets
Each of the amplifiers I have had with 1×12″ Vintage 30 they always lacked a little thump on the low end. 2×12 Vintage 30 cabinets are the sweet spot between tone and portability while still being very loud. My recommendations for a 2×12 cabinet loaded with Vintage 30s are:
The Marshall JVMC212 Extension Cabinet
The reason the Marshall JVMC2212 is on this list is that I really love the sound of the Vintage 30 speakers with a semi-opened back cabinet. This will give the speakers a little more spread on stage and will also allow the bass response of the Vintage 30s to be a little more prominent. The JVM range of cabinets are built well and coming loaded with two Vintage 30 speakers will be great for live and studio work.
The Friedman Runt 212
Friedman is hitting it out of the park these days and their cabinets are also extremely good. Many people claim Friedman is a Marshall clone for snobs but they do make quality amplifiers and cabinets. Those wanting a premium closed-back cabinet check out the Friendman Runt 212. This is also loaded with 2 x vintage 30 speakers.
The closed-back will give you a tighter bass response and a much more directional sound. This means you will get less spread on stage but the sound will be more focused forward. Depending on your needs this is also a great option.
Is there a Celestion V30 Impulse Response (IR)?
Yes! Celestion now offers an impulse response. You can find it on their website.
Celestion v30 or Celestion Greenback?
The main differences between these speakers are their power handling and voicing. The Greenback speaker has more of a vintage tone and lower power handling. Greenback speakers are found in vintage-style cabinets and amplifiers. With a low power handling of 25-watts RMS greenbacks aren’t seen a lot of super-loud cabinets and amplifiers. Amplifiers such as the VOX AC15C1 work well with Greenback speakers.
An amplifier like the Marshall DSl40CR would require a 40-watts+ speaker to ensure proper operation with no speaker damage. If your amplifier is a single 12″ speaker combo and it is rated above 25-watts the Celestion V30 is the way to go.
Celestion V30 Alternatives by WGS and Eminence
Being that the Vintage 30 is such a widely popular speaker it of no surprise there are plenty of clones out there. I am a huge fan of Eminence speakers and I believe they make some of the most unique and outstanding speakers on the planet. The Eminence Governor (Sweetwater link) is the closest thing to a Celestion Vintage 30 as you will find. With this in mind, it’s not a direct clone.
If you want a direct copy check out the WGS speaker range. WGS makes a speaker called the Veteran 30. If it was me, I would much prefer the Eminence or the actual Vintage 30. I find WGS speakers to roll out too much top end and to be somewhat underpowered in comparison with Eminence and Celestion.
Celestion Vintage 30 Speakers in Australia
The most cost-effective quality cabinets that house the Celestion V30 speakers in Australia are the Joyo range. These speaker boxes are built like tanks and offer a lot of options that most speaker boxes from other companies do not. These speaker boxes come in both 1×12 and 2×12 configurations.
Buy it from Artist Guitars
These cabinets sound amazing and offer rear-removable porting options. Comparatively, the 2×12 Joyo 212V is built better than the majority premium cabinets I’ve tested.
Vintage 30 Speaker Break-in
As soon as you try a Vintage 30 you will know if you like sound right away or not. In my experience breaking the speaker in does very little with Celestion Vintage 30s. Speaker break-in on the most part is a myth and I have an article coming up about that soon.
What Styles of Music does a Vintage 30 Work With?
The cool thing about these speakers is they can be used for almost any style of music. Many musicians from Blues to ’80s metal players will dig a Celestion V30. If you are a Djent-style musician or like to play 7 strings guitars go for something more modern. My suggestion for you is the Eminence Swamp Thang. The Swamp Thang is a far better speaker for handling the super-low end sound that 7 string players love.
Common Criticisms about Celestion V30 Speakers
Many people find V30s bland. This blandness stems from a very mid-focused frequency without a lot of low or high-end frequencies. On their own, a Vintage 30 can sound average at best. In a band mix, a V30 speaker will shine thanks to this mid focused tone.
As I mentioned earlier, the other main issue is a Vintage 30 can sound a bit bland in a 1×12 cabinet. I’ve had Vintage 30 speakers in a Traynor YCV50B and it just didn’t throw enough wind. I replaced it with an Eminence Texas Heat and the amplifier came alive.
I also owned a Super-Sonic 60 combo amplifier loaded with a single 12″ V30. My biggest gripe was the fact the amplifier never had enough low-end. This was most prominent on the drive channel.