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What You Need To Know About Guitar Cabs



guitar cabs

©[Atomazul] /Alamy

A guitar cab, also known as a guitar cabinet, is a set of speakers fitted within a wooden enclosure. The primary purpose is to correctly project the audio signal created by a speaker or an amplifier head.

Nowadays, there are a lot of sizes, designs, and styles available in the market. For example, some guitar cabs only house a single speaker, and some can enclose up to four speakers. Therefore, finding a guitar cabinet that can perfectly meet your needs can be a tedious task.

Aside from the physical attributes of the guitar cab, each one also has qualities that will affect your amplifier’s output and tonal idiosyncrasies.
Let’s check out the details of each type of guitar cab.

Guitar Cab Sizes

There are three types of guitar cabs currently available in the market, the 4×12″, the 2×12″ and the 1×12″. You can already see a commonality among these cabs. They all feature 12″ speakers. However, there’s a slight difference with bass amp cabinets because they sometimes feature 8″ or 10″ speakers.

©[Pavlo Herhelizhiu] /Alamy

So why are guitar cabs a little more extended than bass amp cabinets? Because guitars project to a more open sound. So more length ensures that the amplifier will emit the total frequency range most electric guitars usually occupy on a frequency spectrum.

And among these three types of guitar cab, the Marshall 4×12″ guitar cab has been the epitome for guitar players. Why? Because it is one of the very first mass-produced cabinets. Furthermore, this guitar cab was used by legends such as Pete Townsend, Ritchie Blackmore, and Jimi Hendrix.

Let’s check out the specifications of each guitar cab.

1X12″ Guitar Cabs

These are the smallest cabinets available. Thus, they are the most portable. However, they do not project much volume compared to their larger counterparts. But, if you are performing at a small venue, a 1×12″ is ideal for you.

Most of the time, a 1×12″ guitar cab will work better with lower-wattage amps. The natural amp break-up is easier to attain with this size. Also, if a low-headroom amp is cranked, this will put more strain on the speaker. So, this will provide a raunchier tone, allowing your sound to penetrate a mix easily.

2×12″ Guitar Cabs

These perfectly bridge the gap between portability and power. The speakers are placed side-by-side, and they emit a richer and more three-dimensional tone. It also gives you more volume because of its more compact enclosure.

These cabs are best for medium-sized gigs wherein loud onstage monitoring is required. However, this is an excellent option for artists who go on tour to save shipping costs.

In addition, 2×12″ amp cabinets give you the ability to mismatch speakers. This means that you can experiment with new combinations to achieve the sonic texture you want.

These cabs can be partnered with medium to high-wattage amplifiers, so it’s recommended to pair it with an amplifier between 30W to 100W.

4X12″ Guitar Cabs

These cabs have a huge engulfing sound, so if your priority is volume, this is the best option out there. It’s also best suited for large-scale performances.

In addition, these cabs have two configurations, “straight” and “angled”. For straight cabs, all speakers are front-facing, so the sound is projected in the same direction. On the other hand, an angled cabinet is slightly different because the top two speakers will face up between a 10 to 20-degree angle.

If you want to fill more space, it would be best to use angled cabs to reflect sound in more areas. This will give your guitar an upper hand at reaching the audience’s ears.

When it comes to tonal perspective, there’s only a slight difference between the two. But, some people have noted that straight cabs have more power due to boomier lows and angled cabs have better highs.

Closed Back Versus Open Back

A closed-back cabinet is like a sealed-up box, so the speakers are fully enclosed. On the other hand, an open back cabinet has an opening in the rear where the sound can escape.

©[Vincent Baudry] /Alamy

Each will sound and respond differently for each type. For example, closed-back cabs have more chunk and thump. On the other hand, open cabs sound slightly larger but not as dense as a closed back.

Remember that one’s perception of tone is different from another, so if you are looking for a guitar cab for personal use, you can try to use both and figure out which one fits your preference the most.


Finding the best guitar cab is like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s close to impossible because the best guitar cab will depend on your needs and demands. So whatever guitar cab you choose, there is no right or wrong.

Hi, my name is Erick Ycaza. I have a BA in Advertising & Graphic Design. This blog is to provide you with daily music news and share my personal style.

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