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Unread 08-18-2010, 08:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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best wood for a cab

hey im thinking about building my own 412 cab, and was wondering what type of wood you guys would recommend. price isnt too much of an issue but nothing outrageous. im looking for tight bass, punchy mids, and smooth highs with a nice warm sound overall. i know speakers matter more but the wood also defines the tone a little of course. so what would be the absolute best wood to use for this cab?
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Unread 08-18-2010, 08:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

Birch plywood as thick as you can afford.
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Unread 08-18-2010, 08:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

hmm. is there a reason? or does this simply sound good? sorry i dont know much when it comes to how wood interacts with tone and such. i only have a very basic understanding.
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Unread 08-18-2010, 09:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

The volume of space in the box will dictate low end response. The trick to any box is to make it as stiff as possible. Any unwanted vibrations will take power away from the speaker.

Birch (void free) is a standard choice, because it is very road worthy. Now some manufactures build the "box" out of birch and the rear and front panels are high quality particle board called MDF or Medite. Particle board does not flex and it makes the best baffles. However, you must use "T-Nuts" in the baffle to secure the speakers.

You may think solid wood would work, but it's not a good choice. Old fender combo's were made out of solid wood and that is because plywood hadn't been developed yet. I wouldn't want my speaker box to have wood knots in it.

I will say that building a 412 cab is a lot harder than it looks. It can be time consuming. There was a member who built a nice one at his school, but it was a lengthy project and he had access to all the right tools. I mean after you build the box, you have four, precision holes to cut and tolex or carpet to install. Then there is all of the hardware. I'm assuming you have a solid wood working background and all of the necessary tools.
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Unread 08-19-2010, 01:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

hmmm. well i do a lot of stage production work (for theater, not music) so im used to working with wood. i think making the box wont be a problem, but the holes will be tough. never the less i think i can build a pretty decent cab if i really try. hopefully itll be good enough (at least) to replace my MC412 (decent cab for the $ actually) for practices. then for shows i can bring them both and... MARSHALL FULL STACK

back on subject... is this MDF hard to come by? or can i pick some up at any home depot? perhaps ill have to order some from a custom audio shop or something?

oh and btw i already have a slant cab, so would it be smart to go for a straight cab this time?
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Unread 08-19-2010, 02:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

MDF is very standard and generally consistent from different manufacturers.

It may be harder to get good birch plywood in usable sizes for a cab. Remember, it's not an appearance grade birch veneer on a poplar veneer core(or worse particle core) that you want. It is a birch veneer core, typically called baltic or russian birch. In retail stores, I've only seen it in 2'x4' pieces approximately 1/2" or 3/4" thick.
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Unread 08-19-2010, 02:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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hmmm. well i do a lot of stage production work (for theater, not music) so im used to working with wood. ?
That's essential, but be aware that you should approach this as a "fun" project because by the time you're done with sourcing the right materials, making the design, building the cabinet, tolexing it and buying 4 speakers, you'll be out a LOT more money than just buying a used 1960 cabinet which sell for $300 and up. And that's assuming you bill your own time at nothing.

That being said, I'm sure if you get a really nice result, your tone will sound that much better because you know it's coming from your own handiwork! Good luck!!

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Unread 08-19-2010, 03:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

As Marty has said, Birch ply and MDF baffles is a good combo.
Personally I have built 4X12 cabs and used a double thickness speaker baffle out of birch ply. I have never used MDF in any cab, but my son custom builds sub enclosures for vehicles out of MDF.
You can get either at Home Depot or Lowes.

I use birch ply because it is extremely strong (road worthy) and fairly easy to work with. You need to be careful as it can have a tendency to warp easily when you use thinner varieties. The other reason I build my own is to build cabs to my own dimensions. For example, a typical Marshall 1960 cab is 15 inches deep, I prefer a bigger box 16 inches deep. To me it adds a bit of low depth with certain speakers, shaving off a bit of high-end. YMMV...
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Last edited by Micky; 08-19-2010 at 04:51 PM.
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Unread 08-19-2010, 03:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

Birch plywood or pine. The rest is cheapo!
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Unread 08-19-2010, 03:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

I have had cabs made from Ply, pine, mahogany and mdf. My personal prefered choices were:

1. Mahogany - Very warm and woody, a rich complex tone that adds an extra dimension. Very sweet sound... more expensive.

2. Pine - Brighter than mahogany, but still adds a nice sparkle but more picky about the speakers.

3. Birch ply - the industry standard, more roadworthy and robust. I found it lacking overal clarity and sparkle but adds some thump.

4. MDF - Meh... keep it for Hi-fi speakers.

All subjective I know, but I would take mahogany every time if I could. Real wood seems to add that extra depth and dimension, however, where this works for me it may not work for chugga chugga heavy riffs.
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Unread 08-19-2010, 07:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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Originally Posted by Ken View Post
...you'll be out a LOT more money than just buying a used 1960 cabinet which sell for $300 and up. And that's assuming you bill your own time at nothing.

Ken
That's where I was heading with my comments. I have the tools and I do build cabs, but I will snatch a good deal on a solid made cab. I did buy a 1960A cab with G12T-75's for $300. So it is a reality. Four Eminence speakers are going to be around $320. You could easily exceed $400 in parts and materials.
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Unread 08-19-2010, 07:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

Just to play devils advocate here, what you are creating is a new cab though.
How much is a NEW 1960 a or b cab?
Probably will come out less to build one especially if you have all the materials and tools to do it. Personally I won't buy a cab with Celestions in it.
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Unread 08-20-2010, 02:20 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

Well Micky...you know me. I sold the 75's and now the cab is home for the Black Powders and Tonespotters.
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Unread 08-20-2010, 02:33 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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Originally Posted by Micky View Post
Just to play devils advocate here, what you are creating is a new cab though.
How much is a NEW 1960 a or b cab?
Probably will come out less to build one especially if you have all the materials and tools to do it. Personally I won't buy a cab with Celestions in it.
Current Chinese ones or also Pre-Rolas and Rolas??????
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Unread 08-20-2010, 05:45 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

NO Celestions. Ever.
After hearing them in comparison to the Eminence I wouldn't even purchase a pre-Rola. Sure if someone gave them to me maybe, but I am never purchasing another Celestion.

Ever.
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Unread 08-20-2010, 07:27 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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NO Celestions. Ever.
After hearing them in comparison to the Eminence I wouldn't even purchase a pre-Rola. Sure if someone gave them to me maybe, but I am never purchasing another Celestion.

Ever.
It's fine to have your favorites, but when someone posts a blanket statement like "all xxx suck" yet they are an industry standard for professionals, I wonder if it's the equipment that's really the issue.

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Unread 08-20-2010, 07:44 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

Whoa. I never said Celestions suck. They may be fine for you.
What I said is I would not purchase one based on my experience.
I also said your mileage may vary. (in previous other posts)

Don't ever lump me into the troll group like that. Don't put words in my mouth.
Same way Line6 amps may sell well and you may like them, but I am not gonna buy one.
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Unread 08-20-2010, 08:08 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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Whoa. I never said Celestions suck. They may be fine for you.
What I said is I would not purchase one based on my experience.
I also said your mileage may vary. (in previous other posts)

Don't ever lump me into the troll group like that. Don't put words in my mouth.
Same way Line6 amps may sell well and you may like them, but I am not gonna buy one.
that makes sense. It's the same for me with other things...
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Unread 08-20-2010, 08:47 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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Whoa. I never said Celestions suck. They may be fine for you.
What I said is I would not purchase one based on my experience.
I also said your mileage may vary. (in previous other posts)

.
Granted, but Celestion makes a lot of different speakers with different characteristics and sound. What is common to all of them that isn't as good as Eminence?

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Unread 08-20-2010, 09:03 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

If you're looking for good quality ply, you can also check out anything Marine-grade.
Marine ply will be quite expensive, but it is solid core and is glued up in many layers.
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Unread 08-20-2010, 11:09 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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Granted, but Celestion makes a lot of different speakers with different characteristics and sound. What is common to all of them that isn't as good as Eminence?

Ken
Construction. To me, Eminence stuff just looks, feels and plays like a higher quality speaker. Plus - They are American made by Americans, and are less expensive because of that.

You don't have to believe me or my opinion. You can get whatever you want. I am not forcing anyone to buy anything, and I don't own stock in any speaker company. You may not like what I like. I really don't care.

I do know what I like, though. At 53, I have a little experience. I have played many different speakers in many different bands. So what if you don't agree with me. That is OK. I am just relating my experience and opinion.

I don't wanna get into any 'brand war' with anyone, I have a certain amount of brand loyalty for a lot of different brands, for my own specific reasons. Your experience and reasons may be diferent. I don't care. I like Bud Light, you may prefer Coors Light. We can still have a beer together! (I look forward to it!)

To get back on topic, my choice for plywood is based on years of hauling shit around and playing in different bands. MDF will weigh more than ply, and depending on the speakers you use there can be as much as 5-10 pound difference PER SPEAKER! Weight to me is a big factor.

The point I was really trying to make is that when you build your own, you can use the materials YOU wand based on YOUR needs. A pre-built 4X12 may be more attractive to some people especially if it is exactly what they are looking for.

For others looking to tailor their sound, building a cab may offer options you cannot get with a pre-built cab. If you know what you are doing you can tune the response, reduce the weight and finish the cab exactly as you wish.
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Unread 08-20-2010, 12:31 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

call me a nutter. i built one out of 1/2" shiplap mahogany that was from coastal texas.that salt air makes the thing like concrete for drilling into but there was no sag @ all-i mean this thing was tight.

if you can find any wood from the northwest that was reclaimed driftwood & dried & sawn-thats awesome stuff. kiln dried & sawn sugar maple is great too.

btw- you better have casters because you're not going to be carrying these things.
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Unread 08-20-2010, 02:11 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

Do it, man. Just go into the process knowing that you're building a cab for you, to your own standards. Don't expect to start a successful business or anything (made that mistake trying to build and sell 412s on Craigslist 7 years ago ... got me nowhere but out at least a grand in materials after selling my stuff off cheap). Be sure to use some sort of jointery. Sure, finger joints or even dovetails are awesome, but you can get away with dowells, biscuits, or even just 1" stock screwed from the inside. Some people will tell you this isn't good enough Use a quality wood epoxy and it'll hold up for years. I personally hate any form of MDF or plywood if it gets wet, it will disintegrate, and it's much heavier than real wood. Plywood is easiest to work with, but hardwood looks cool with a stain instead of tolex. Some guys like kiln dried or antique pine. I think it's too fragile for the abuse my gear takes. There are several inexpensive software programs out there to help you design cabs within certain parameters. Of course, you could always copy the dimensions of your favorite existing design, too.
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Unread 08-22-2010, 09:26 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

MDF is a tone killer for tone creation. Birch plywood is the standard and I don't think you'll go wrong with that, but you also have the ooportunity to experiment.
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Unread 08-22-2010, 11:20 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

These are two I made.

Please excuse the tiny 5 watt amp sitting on top.
The bottom 2x12 is deeper than usual and the lower mids are great without being muddy. Usually I dont have these two stacked like this. I also have a clone of a 1936 2x12 cab that I made. I load them all with Alnico speakers, Bulldog, Old fender, Webber, etc.

Each project took about 2 weeks during my spare time. It only cost about $150 - $175 per cab. I have very little experience doing any kind of woodwork but these cabs turnd out pretty good. I used dado joints on two of them and a crude dovetail on the other.

As soon as I get my skills up to par I am never going to use tolex again. I'm not totally anti tolex but it is a bitch to apply, the hardest part for me anyways. Plus I want to try to use Mahogany and/or radiata Pine with just tung oil next time and build 3/4 inch burch plywood cases with carpet covering to protect them if I use for gigs.

The one with the curved corner was a fluke. I screwed it up and decided to just cut the whole corner off, it turned out sounding good and that was pure luck.

I don't like MDF, it's lifeless. I think a cabinet should take some energy away from the speakers. It may not be optimal in some ways but it radiates when you use the right blend of woods and the cab becomes more musical as an instrument should. Plus for me, when I let the cab take some energy it lets me work the power tubes just a little more, every bit counts.



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Unread 08-23-2010, 05:45 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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If you're looking for good quality ply, you can also check out anything Marine-grade.
Marine ply will be quite expensive, but it is solid core and is glued up in many layers.
I do have to second this... Marine grade will be heavy, but solid. I was discussing this with my brother the other night and I believe he said Orange built their cabs using Marine Grade Baltic Birch.

If you prefer regular birch or regular baltic birch, I've seen it at Menards for as low as $34 buck for regular 3/4" Birch at 4'x8', but Baltic Birch is running around $70. This could be strictly geographical though as I know it's cheaper where it's prevalent.

Also my brother and I have found a lumber yard that sells just about any type of plywood that you could imagine, and will cut it to the dimensions you want it if you ask them to. That's something to look into and might help if your sawing hand isn't the straightest.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! Keep us updated should you decide to build!
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Unread 08-23-2010, 07:25 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

Whoa, Hollowbody! I dig that cab. It almost has an Austin Powers vibe (forgive me - I am an old hippy). I'd like to see a matching head cabinet with that. Scha-weeet!


It's like too groovy, baby. Yeah!
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Unread 08-23-2010, 07:50 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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These are two I made.

]
Cool! I think if you're going to make a cabinet, you might as well NOT just copy a Marshall design and instead go for some originality. The only drawback is something that beautiful should never leave the house! At least not for gigs.

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Unread 08-23-2010, 03:52 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: best wood for a cab

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I do have to second this... Marine grade will be heavy, but solid. I was discussing this with my brother the other night and I believe he said Orange built their cabs using Marine Grade Baltic Birch.

If you prefer regular birch or regular baltic birch, I've seen it at Menards for as low as $34 buck for regular 3/4" Birch at 4'x8', but Baltic Birch is running around $70. This could be strictly geographical though as I know it's cheaper where it's prevalent.

Also my brother and I have found a lumber yard that sells just about any type of plywood that you could imagine, and will cut it to the dimensions you want it if you ask them to. That's something to look into and might help if your sawing hand isn't the straightest.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! Keep us updated should you decide to build!
Lucky, locally, birch plywood is $50/sheet for the half-inch, and something like 60 I think for the 3/4. I don't even think they have baltic birch. They will cut it for you, but I have a table saw for that

(I do admit though, if I know the dimensions of the pieces I'll be needing I'll often have them cut the board somewhere around in half so it's easier to swing around in the shop and onto the tablesaw )
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MM54 is offline   Reply With Quote
Unread 08-26-2010, 11:51 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 14
Re: best wood for a cab

I get my best wood playing through a 1960A. It just sounds so sweet with my dsl cranking through it that I can't help myself. It's pure sonic sex. Anything less just doesn't stir the sheets, so to speak.

err, did I miss the point here or something?
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