Speaker Cone Cry and How to Fix it

What is Guitar Speaker Cone Cry?

Speaker Cone Cry is an audible issue facing certain speakers.  This happens mostly when a speaker cone is faulty or on the way out. There’s a number of things that can cause cone cry in guitar speakers.

What does Cone Cry Sound Like?

The easiest way to describe it is a physical distortion or “octave” sound following a particular note or chord you play.  This can be described as distortion, fuzz, buzz, or simply a lower sounding version of what you would expect to hear. Cone cry has also been described as crossover distortion.

The audio sample of Cone Cry below was thanks to pula59 on the gear page forum.

How does Cone Cry Happen?

Cone cry can be caused by a number of ways.  The first way is from over-tightening the speaker which can in some cases, cause slight bending. This bending can also make the cone flex and bend in a way that might not even be visible.

The second can be speaker misuse.  Misuse can be as simple as putting an underpowered speaker in an overpowered amplifier.  This can also cause the speaker to simply blow up and stop working. If the speaker spends a lot of time clipping and distorting past its power handling point you can also experience cone cry.

Eminence Wizard Cone Cry
My Eminence Wizard exhibits “Cone Cry”.  This speaker was moved in and out of many amplifiers and odds are it was over-tightened a few times that caused this issue to happen.

 How to Fix Cone Cry?

  1. There are a few easy fixes for guitar speaker cone cry.  The first way to fix it is as simple as scrunching up a piece of tissue paper and lodging it between the cone and the metal supports of the speaker. This is enough sometimes to remove the unwanted frequencies as it simply adds pressure to the cone itself.
  2. The second way to fix Cone Cry is by thickening up the physical cone of the speaker.  What you don’t want to do is apply something you can’t remove or move.  My suggestion for thickening up the cone is to try duct tape or gaffer tape.  This will be easy enough to move or remove.  Start with a few strips and see how it goes.  The theory with this fix is, it will dampen the resonance of the cone and allow it to operate without the unwanted frequencies.  Just apply one or two 5cm 2-3″ strips and see if it helps.  Don’t use anything too thick.  Some people have claimed Masking tape is the best solution for fixing cone cry. Masking tape is also known as painters tape.
  3. Remount the speaker.  Sometimes fixing cone cry can be as simple as adjusting the tension on the speaker rim.  Start with the speaker screwed in loosely on all sides.  Once you have it lined up then fasten the screws in place.  Do not overtighten the screws.
  4. Buy a new speaker.  If you don’t want to spend hours of troubleshooting then check out my speakers’ buyer’s guide. It will cover all the frequently asked questions and best speaker buying decisions
Speaker Cone Cry Fix Location
Place the tape on the speaker cone located between the grill.

Dealing with Cone Cry

Cone cry can be a huge problem for studio musicians as well as live guitarists. This sound anomaly will appear in recordings if you mic up your amplifier.  It will also sometimes be very apparent at a live gig.

Can a brand new speaker exhibit Cone Cry?

Cone Cry can be an out of box experience but it is usually very rare.  Cone cry will happen more after some use or changing speakers from one cabinet to the next more than straight out of the box.  If you are ever buying a speaker on the used market be sure to ask if there are any issues with cone cry.

If you do buy a new speaker and it has cone cry, the good news is most quality speaker companies like Eminence and Celestion offer warranties to fix/replace the defective speaker.  My suggestion is if you experience speaker cone cry record it on your phone or with a microphone and have an audible example of it to show the shop you got it from the issue.

Is Guitar Speaker Cone Cry Common?

Cone cry is not very common and most guitarists haven’t experienced it or even heard it before. You will see this topic pop up on forums online but there’s been no real resource guide on this topic until this post.

Cone Cry can affect many speakers both new and used.  Sometimes the issue is only apparent at louder volumes.  If you are playing at home at lower volumes you might not even notice it.  Cone Cry is not the guitar speaker breaking up naturally as many will do that.  Cone cry usually adds a weird and strange overtone or audio artifacts to your sound.

If you are looking to purchase a new speaker check out the articles in my Guitar Speaker Guide category.  These articles are designed to make choosing a new speaker much easier no matter which amplifier you own.