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building speaker cabs

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Unpossible, Jan 12, 2019 at 11:06 AM.

  1. Unpossible

    Unpossible TDPRI Member

    63
    Mar 19, 2015
    Cal
    I want to buy or build a pair of open back cabs for 15 inch speakers.
    I have spent way too much time reading about and building speaker cabs for Bass and PA.
    Guitar type cabs seem so simple by comparison. Can it really be as simple as " speaker in a box"?
    If you closed your eyes, can you really hear pine vs. plywood, floating baffle, slanted baffle, etc.
    thanks
     
  2. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    42
    809
    May 4, 2017
    Orlando, FL, USA
    I mean I'm sure if you A/B'd these differences you could hear them, some more than others.

    Aiming the speaker at your face versus your feet, of course that's a big difference in sound.

    Cabinet design features like how stiff the baffle is, what wood you use, open versus closed back -- it's all been done tried and true and I don't think there's a conclusion to be drawn other than there's many ways to build a guitar cab.

    Not nearly the science involved as with hifi, ported cabs, etc.

    Just build whatever seems easiest to you, probably. It's your design, I don't think you can lose.
     
  3. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Holic

    Age:
    45
    626
    Apr 3, 2018
    victor,ny
    Sorta as simple as that yes, but size matters. Not as much as with HiFi spkrs, but different sized cabs will sound different. At higher volumes you would detect a difference in baffle construction, but I don't think it'd be easy to tell which was which.
     
  4. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    northwest
    There are some things that matter:
    -dimensions, especially depth can make it go from too little bass to too much woofy.
    -Baffle board thickness can matter. Too thick and it's woofy.
    -I have not found particle board to pine a huge tone difference. Not saying they may not sound a bit different, but most of that is eq able IME.
    -Coming down to it, interlocked corners like dovetail or fingerjoints are sturdy for road use. Pine is light weight. Particle board is heavy. MDF is very heavy.

    You can by a pro built pine cab from builders like JD Newell for probably $225 ready to use. Saves a lot of work. Tolexing alone is a lot of work. I got a nice 1 x 15 from him last year. perfect for my big EV 15B

    I have bought a simple fingerjointed pine cab off Ebay before, then modded it to exactly the depth and slant I wanted. That may save you $100 or more but heck, I wouldn't tolex a cab for $100. Been there done that!
     
  5. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    northwest
    One of my favorite cabs years ago for a 15" was an old Fender particle board SS amp cab. I put a 15" baffle in it, the EV barely fit. But the cab sounded just great
     
  6. dented

    dented Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Apr 17, 2006
    Back at the Beach
    I just bought empty SEISMIC cabs off of Amazon. 7 ply baltic birch. So far so good. Putting speakers in today. I don't know if they have a 1x15 but these are beauty for the money.
     
  7. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

    Jan 12, 2013
    Quebec
    It's not quite as simple as speaker in a box, but one way to approach your own build is to clone the dimensions of a commercially available cab that suits your needs -- so you know the size will be tried and tested.

    Although MDF can be a good material for cabs, you need to wear a respirator during cutting, routing etc. Your respiratory system can't filter fine MDF dust the way it can larger sawdust particles from pine or plywood. Plywood is good but you need the higher grade birch or poplar stuff to avoid going crazy everytime another layer splits or chips off as you do the joinery.

    Pine is great to work with, if you can get the width of boards needed for the depth of a 15" cab. 11 1/4" (labelled as 12" inch in building suppliers) is about the max for off-the-rack stuff.
     
    JL_LI likes this.
  8. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Holic

    Age:
    58
    516
    Aug 12, 2008
    Buffalo
    Certainly there will be some that argue that construction matters and maybe it does but there are other considerations, the room, are you going to move them, and budget. Overall a good grade plywood is a sound choice if you are building mainly because of stability and being able to have the width you want.
     
    JL_LI likes this.
  9. Unpossible

    Unpossible TDPRI Member

    63
    Mar 19, 2015
    Cal
    thanks, all.
    So pine for weight? Or just because it was used in classic amps?
    leaning toward birch ply.
     
  10. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

    Jan 12, 2013
    Quebec

    Classic amps are just as likely to be plywood as anything else, depending on the brand. Mainly pine because it's available, affordable, has good acoustical properties, and is a soft wood -- so easy on tools. Birch ply is a good choice for a 15" cab. Poplar ply is good also and about 2/3 the price... though it will crumble a bit at the edges if you plan on doing box or dovetail joints.
     
  11. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

    Jan 12, 2013
    Quebec
  12. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    67
    Dec 23, 2009
    Rocklin Ca.
    Find a speaker cab you like most likely they will give the dimensions. As for what to build it out of they use everything from exotic hard woods to Home Depot particleboard. How to build it another all over the place subject a lot of that depends on skill level and tools you have access to.
     
  13. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Feb 15, 2016
    Nebraska
    Be creative and go for a cabinet made from Willow. Ugly wood, but if covering it will not matter, but has very good sound qualities.

    The rule of thumb that I have read is that the better looking the wood is, the worst it will sound in a speaker cab. I built one out of Walnut once and that slogan held true, an aweful sounding cabinet.
     
  14. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    northwest
    Plywood's not that heavy, but yeah, northern pine is super lightweight and allows for jointed corners without pieces breaking out. Southern yellow pine is quite heavy OTOH.
     
  15. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 24, 2010
    Canada
    I have made a few cabinets lately with the lightest pine I can find. One thing to keep in mind for this is I doubt I will be touring with these but it will be no problem picking one up to go to a buddies place. I would go out to Home depot regularly to find wood for building guitars and I would also pick up pieces to build cabinets from. I would pick up identical sizes of wood and compare them to find the lightest ones. As an example, the 4x10 cabinet in the picture weighs 10.6 lbs, with back panels and other bits it will be under 15 lbs. Four 4 lb speakers and that is a 30 lbs of sonic goodness. The thing may vibrate a bit but not necessary a bad thing if you want a 3D kind of sound, part of the reason four four speakers. If you were playing out with it depending on types of locations you might want a tighter type of cabinet with plywood to project the sound for more.

    [​IMG]
     
    Milspec likes this.
  16. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Holic

    Age:
    45
    626
    Apr 3, 2018
    victor,ny
    Depends on the ply. 3/4 Baltic is extremely heavy.
     
    aerhed likes this.
  17. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    For an open back box the only things that matter are it's strong enough to support the speaker and is rigid so it doesn't buzz.

    For a Tweed repro, yes finger joint pine and bendy ply hung from a few screws is fine because that's how Leo made them.

    Butt joints screwed and glued especially if covered is fine. Ply transports well and isn't too heavy. MDF is rigid and inert but can swell if wet or split if stressed.

    Jin Marshall famously used the minimum ply that would fit around four speakers with angled top to fit the head. If you're going to have a sealed box, by all means use a design tool.
     
  18. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    59
    Mar 2, 2010
    Maine
    I've build lots of cabs and find that none are particularly better, but some are particularly worse.

    One bad thing is a thick stiff speaker baffle.
    Seems the speaker should mount to a baffle that's not too stiff.
    Never 3/4", 1/2" is good but 3/8" is fine for smaller lighter speakers.

    You can use birch ply but 3/4" birch ply is very heavy duty for a 1x15.
    Marshall 4x12 cabs were always 1/2" birch, and sound great. Not cabinet birch though, more like baltic birch or at least more ply and void free.
    The "cabinet grade" birch we see at lumber yards is really pretty dismal IMO.

    My sense is that a guitar cab ought to be a bit involved in the sound, but only as opposed to being a rigid heavy dead mass.

    I like solid 3/4" pine but also find fir plywood is great for guitar cabs, and IME sounds better than 3/4" birch.
    It's lighter too, and cheaper.
    AC fir is standard lumber yard stuff, sanded and void free on one side.
    "AC" means it has an A face and a C face, it is an exterior grade so waterproof glue.
    It has become my favorite cab material.

    It never looks terribly flat in full sheets, but builds up fine when cut into smaller pieces and assembled.
     
    bftfender, moosie and schmee like this.
  19. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 24, 2010
    Canada
    Birch plywood is, mad of birch (no kidding). Birch is a hardwood, as heavy or heavier than maple. And people think Les Paul's are heavy.
     
  20. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    67
    Dec 23, 2009
    Rocklin Ca.
    One Thing I learned about Plywood, stay away from the big box store junk it's better to go to hardwood supply and buy some quality material on every level. Yeah you will probably pay $80+ for a sheet. A lot of discussion about what type of plywood to use on hardwood plywood the outer veneer is so thin I really don’t think it’s going to affect the sound. You might also go to a couple cabinet shops they are not real big on storing scraps.
     
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