Metal masters Joel Stroetzel of Killswitch Engage and Jeff Waters of Annihilator; Blues icon Joe Bonamassa; Jazz fusion legend Allen Hinds; Country supremo Trey Hill (Kellie Pickler). All of them are awesome guitarists in their chosen genres, of course, but other than that, what could this incredibly diverse group possibly have in common? While their musical styles may be hugely divergent, they are united on one thing – their choice of guitar speaker, the Celestion Classic Lead 80.
The Celestion Lead 80 (aka CL80) has earned almost legendary status amongst guitar players as it has a pedigree going back to the 70s, became a favoured choice for many lead guitar players in the 80s, and continues to attract huge loyalty from famous names and up-and-coming players alike. So it was high time to add this classic speaker to our range of impulse responses, and today marks its release.
Is the Celestion Classic Lead 80 impulse response for you? To help you decide, we explore the sonic qualities of the Lead 80 and look at how you might make use of this speaker IR in your home or studio setup.
Celestion Classic Lead 80 Tone
If you’re playing a full on rock, metal or thrash song, perhaps with 3 guitars going on (bass, rhythm and lead), it’s vital that the lead guitar can cut through and bring the melody into focus whenever it needs to. What you need in this type of situation is a speaker that will provide power and punch for the lead guitar, no matter how insistent the bass and rhythm, as well as brilliantly clear articulation, even on super fast shredding.
Not only that, when it comes time for your soaring solo, you want a tone that’s smooth and clean, even at high gain – you don’t want to be holding back on the power for fear of hitting unwanted distortion.
All this is exactly what the Classic Lead 80 was designed to do: deliver smooth, clean highs, punch through any amount of “competition” from other instruments, and give clear definition on every note.
However, the Lead 80 is no one-trick-pony. It’s also got great versatility and delivers wonderfully modern rock tone for mid and lower ranges too, making it a great choice for aggressive rhythm guitar (just ask Jeff Waters about that).
To find out more about the tone of the Classic Lead 80, take a look at the physical speaker product page, or check out some of the Listening Resources listed below.
Celestion Classic Lead 80 Impulse Response
So what’s the best way to put your new Lead 80 speaker IR to use? Like all our IRs, the number of uses is limited only by your creativity, but here are the main 3 ways to get the best out of the Lead 80 in digital form:
Lead Guitar Practice – When your focus is on learning a classic guitar solo that calls for screaming highs, it’s hard to think of a better choice than the Celestion Lead 80 to give you that purity and articulation.
Mixing Parts – If you’re putting together a multi-guitar track in your studio (and especially if you are playing all the parts yourself and mixing them together later) you need a way to give each part its own character. Getting the lead melody to be heard over a heavy bass or rhythm can be a challenge – so using the Classic Lead 80 IR is a perfect way to cut through and bring the lead into focus.
Blending – The Lead 80 is frequently used in a 2×12 cabinet configuration, and often combined with a different speaker. Combining it with a Vintage 30 is a popular choice (see Listening Resources below to hear the Lead 80 and V30 separately and blended). So why not experiment and do the same with your IR? Simply blend the Lead 80 with any other Celestion speaker you have in your impulse response collection to tweak the tone in the direction you want. (This blending won’t give you exactly the same tone as a physical 2×12 containing different speakers – but you can easily add more warmth, chime or vintage feel depending on your choice of speaker.)
Which Cab Type?
All our speaker IRs are available in 5 different cabinet configurations (1×12 open back, 1×12, closed back, 2×12 open back, 2×12 closed back and 4×12 closed back) which can be purchased singly or as a complete set (with a more than 40% discount).
Choice is very much down to personal preference and the type of sound you are looking for, but as a guide here are the two main considerations:
Cabinet Size – In the physical world, the Lead 80 is most commonly used in a 1×12 or 2×12 cabinet, with a preference for the 2×12 if you want to mix speakers or get a somewhat beefier sound. A 1×12 is a cheaper and lighter option of course, which is a swaying factor for many players, especially if they have to transport their own kit around to gigs.
Open or Closed Back – Since most Lead 80 players are looking for a punchy, well focused tone, a closed back is going to be your most obvious choice. An open back cabinet will tend to give a rounder, more ambient tone, which may be ideal for some situations.
So, since in the IR world a 1×12 and 2×12 cost (and weigh!) exactly the same, a good default cabinet choice would be the 2×12 closed back option.
Download the new Celestion Classic Lead 80 impulse response here or check out our Listening Resources section below.
Listening Resources for the Classic Lead 80:
We have several videos showcasing the tone of the Lead 80 for distortion, clean and crunch:
In addition, we have a short comparison between the Lead 80 and one of our best known speakers the Vintage 30:
Celestion Vintage 30 vs Classic Lead 80 Face Off!
Celestion CL80/H30 Comparative
by Travis Beck
Travis puts the Celestion Lead 80 and G12H Anniversary head to head through a range of playing styles. Also interesting is the blend of the two speakers – since the G12H Anniversary is also available as an IR, this is an option you can also try out digitally.