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"Imagine I had a load of different panels made from wood, glass, polystyrene and so on,” he says.
"If I got you to close your eyes and then hit each one in turn to make it resonate, you'd be able to hear immediately which was which.
In practical terms, the speaker is the voice of the instrument, the source of the sound we're trying to capture. In this feature, we'll be finding out how the speakers found in guitar cabs and combos actually work and discovering how much influence speaker choice has on the sound of the electric guitar.
Hopefully, when we understand a little more about what makes guitar speakers tick, we can put this knowledge to good use in the studio.
It's difficult enough to predict how a guitar speaker is going to sound when you're feeding it a clean guitar signal, but it's the distorted stuff that really gets the cone modes going.
It doesn't need to be that loud to do that — just the complexity of the signal really gets the tone humming.
According to Ian, the usual measurements of speaker performance are only of so much use.
I used this cabinet to record a collection of audio examples, which can be found at /sos/feb12/articles/and are described in the 'Hear For Yourself' box.
On the face of it, the speaker in a guitar amp operates just like any other dynamic loudspeaker.
The speaker cone is attached to a cylindrical coil of wire — the 'voice coil' — which sits in a narrow gap surrounded by a permanent magnet.
When an electrical current passes through this coil, it becomes an electromagnet and, depending on the direction of the current, is attracted to or repelled by the permanent magnet.
Just as the amplifier shapes, drives, compresses and colours the signal from the guitar, the speaker stamps its own indispensable personality on the sound.