Best Celestion Speaker Responses for Classic Rock

Best Speaker Responses for RockThere’s something about guitarists and tradition – back in the old days, buying a guitar, amp and cab was a major commitment, and learning to use what we chose was a big part of developing ‘our sound’. Many superstar artists are strongly identified with the visuals of their gear but walk into a recording studio and everything changes. Major studios have huge racks of different types of effects, amps and speaker cabs for players to try out to find the perfect sound for each song.

Digital technology has made this sort of choice available to most musicians, without the mortgage-sized price tag, and we now have hundreds of combinations of dozens of amps and cab emulations available at the press of a button or the click of a mouse. What we don’t get is the service of a multi-Grammy, award-winning producer to help us to narrow-down the choices, so here’s a simple guide to navigating the Celestion Speaker Response choices for classic rock tones.

Classic rock these days can cover a wide range of music, from the crunch of English Midlands old-school metal through to Nashville country, via glam, swamp, boogie, pop, AOR, blues and everything in between. Celestion Speakers have been along for the ride since the very beginning, so let’s take a look at what, historically, has done what, and what we can do to mix things up a little to keep things interesting when it comes to that classic rock tone and crunch.

G12M Greenback

If there had to be just one rock speaker to rule them all, it would have to be the classic G12M Greenback. This is a speaker that plays best in the midrange, just where classic rock guitar sits, with a perfect balance of warmth and thickness, and aggressive upper mids to bring out the bite and snarl of ‘British’ sound. For guitar tones with edge-of-breakup through to heavy saturation, the G12M in a closed 4×12 is a great place to start.

Buy the G12M Greenback IRs and DSRs here

G12H Anniversary

The G12H has a heavier magnet (Heavy vs the Medium of the G12M) and a slightly different sound. It’s a great speaker for tightening the low end – it stays a bit more defined a bit lower than the G12M which is awesome for both heavier and super clean tones: and it has a bit more high-end bite. Perhaps not quite as complex in the mids as the M magnet, but the H excels mixed with Ms in either 2×12 or 4×12 formats, alongside Celestion Blues in an open 2×12, and on its own in an open back.

Buy the G12H Anniversary IRs and DSRs here

Celestion Blue

The other classic go-to British Sound speaker; if you want your 30W of EL84 sparkle to sound just- right, play it through a pair of Blues. The Celestion Blue uses an Alnico magnet that gives it a quite different response to the ceramic based Greenbacks. It attacks the notes in a slightly more relaxed way, and is softer in the upper mids, with plenty of top end bite and grit. For anything from Americana and country to epic rock, this is a great speaker to bring mojo to just about any sound. A solid classic on its own in an open 2×12, it is a fantastic sweetener alongside a Greenback, and an IR that I often use to wrap around a sound to add a touch of movement and shimmer.

Buy the Blue IR & DSRs here

Vintage 30

Sometimes viewed as a ‘none more metal’ speaker, the Vintage 30 dominated the rock world of the 80s and 90s. Alongside the obvious oversized 4×12 format, its relatively high 60W power handling has made it a go-to choice for 1×12 combo amps, with the result being that we now hear amps that have been voiced to sound great with this speaker. Sometimes a bit obnoxious, the Vintage 30 can do just about anything and is a great starting point in a closed 4×12 or 2×12 format. It mixes superbly with other speakers and can be super tight and clear in open-back  cabs too.

Buy the Vintage 30 IRs and DSRs here

G12H-75 Creamback

In theory, the Creamback H and M speakers are high-power versions of the Greenbacks, but in practice they have a life of their own. I’ve chosen the G12H here because it is one of my absolute favourite guitar speakers ever. It is awesome on super clean and super dirty sounds, it sparkles and chugs, and does everything that a Vintage 30 does, with a slightly different voice that is sometimes a bit easier to live with – just a little bit less abrasive. Used on its own it works in everything from an open 1×12 to a stack of 4x12s and pairs brilliantly with a G12M to produce complex and full rock sounds.

Buy the G12H-75 Creamback IRs and DSRs here

G12M-50 Hempback

Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it can’t sound like the old!

This is a comfortable speaker and may be a mixer’s best friend; it somehow settles guitar tones into a mix and is a great ‘fix-it’ for amps that won’t quite sit properly – fantastic for clean and semi-dirty sounds. Try it in whatever cab format you’d use for a part.

Buy the G12M-50 Hempback IRs and DSRs here


The G12-65 may have been the original role-model for the ‘Super Speaker’. It punches hard and has a tight and focused sound that enabled old style hard rock and metal to dirty-up and chug. This speaker is all over classic rock music from the 70s onwards, and has a balance that is superb to this day. 4×12 – boom!

Buy the G12-65 IRs and DSRs here

There are lots of other great speakers out there – many of them are variants on these models. These are the classics of the classics, along with a few personal favourites, and anything listed here will work for a great range of rock music and sounds.

As a starting point I generally grab either a SM57/R121 mix or the SM57 balanced IR or use the DSR in SpeakerMix Pro. Feel free to experiment; the IR/DSR format allows gives us all the opportunity to take chances to find our own voice.