The electric guitar is the main driving force of so many styles of contemporary music – a single guitar can chug metal, drive rock, chime the blues and sparkle pop. If one guitar can drive music, then two can make it bigger, wider, more interesting and just, well, better. Then there’s country music.
Country music was born in the early 20th century out of the social and folk music traditions of European settlers. Often telling stories about the lives of the communities who played it, country music featured a wide range of instruments and voices that interacted to weave a rich musical tapestry. Along the way, it stripped down to basic balladeer, expanded to big swing-band, went outlaw, bro, southern rock, pop, and acquired a virtuoso guitar ethic second to none.
So, what are the best Celestion IRs & DSRs for Country Music?
Classic Country Band Picker
Because modern country covers so much ground, we’re going to have to think about this in terms of what the electric guitars are actually doing. A traditional country band might have some combination of two or three electric guitars, an acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, steel, bass, upright bass, keys, piano, vocals, drums, percussion and perhaps more. That’s a lot of instruments, and in these cases the electric guitars will tend to be played clean, often with picked notes outlining chords, and voiced to fit in with whatever else is playing.
The classic mainstay amplifiers for this type of playing have long been Fender Black and Silver-Face amps with strong lows and highs, slightly recessed mids and lots of transient attack (often controlled with a compressor). A longstanding upgrade for these types of amps has been the classic Celestion Blue in an open back cab/combo, for a touch of extra life and sparkle, or perhaps consider the Celestion Ruby for a slightly more modern take on the same concept.
Another classic speaker that lends itself to this scenario is the G12H Anniversary or it’s Creamback cousin, the G12H75. Both speakers that will allow the amp voicing to shine, with superbly balanced low-end control and upper-mids shimmer.
Finally, a superb, more contemporary choice is the Neo 250 Copperback – we sometimes feel that the concept of high power-handling and light magnets could get a bit lost when we’re listening to IRs/DSRs, but the Copperback has an almost magical ability to make an amp sound special whilst at the same time getting out of the way. Definitely one to consider.
Country Fried Git Picker
Here’s a simple truth; country music has some of the shreddiest, flashiest and most articulate players on the planet. These folks will often play rhythm parts that require super articulate finger/hybrid picking, then step forward and shred solos – all played with a terrifying clean or near clean sound. This class of shredder might play a slightly hairier sound than the pure ensemble player – when it’s your name above the stage you can afford to be a little more “In Your Face”. We can’t go far wrong here by taking a look at what Brad Paisley plays – and he’s a fan of a variety of AC30-type amps coupled with open back cabs featuring Celestion Blue, Celestion Gold and Celestion G12-65 speakers.
Classic Rock Picker
Elements of country music have long been a flavour or spice in rock music, notably in the southern rock of Skynyrd, the country rock of The Eagles and many others. Today, country and rock meet seamlessly in the music of crossover bands like Blackberry Smoke and Driv-By Truckers. The sounds we use here are often more driven than in classic country and it’s difficult to go wrong with the classic rock favourite G12M Greenback in a closed 4×12 or 2×12. That said, we’ve also heard some superb tones out of an open back 1×12 or 2×12 loaded with Vintage 30s.
Ultimately, ‘country music’ is almost too big to define – we all know it when we hear it, but for every definition there’s an exception. Breaking down the genre by the role of the electric guitar simplifies things, but it is very much a simplification – there are as many cases that straddle the lines as that fall in between them – but used as a starting point, the below speakers are a great starting point for your country tone quest:
- Celestion Blue / Ruby / Gold
- Celestion G12H Anniversary / G12H 75 Creamback
- Celestion Neo 250 Copperback
- Celestion G12-65
- Celestion G12M Greenback
- Celestion Vintage 30
…and don’t forget – for a variation, the 10” speakers can add a wonderful same-but-different flavour!