Vintage speakers, really worth the price?

Discussion in 'Cabinets & Speakers' started by DaDoc, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. DaDoc

    DaDoc Well-Known Member

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    I keep seeing folks selling speakers made in the 60's and 70's for three or more times what one built more recently costs. As everyone knows I'm a vintage freak, but I also use all my gear, and want it to be dependable. When it comes to speakers though, I have to wonder how long a speaker built 40-50 years ago is going to hold up? Paper and glues age, no matter how well it's been taken care of, even a speaker that that has not been used at all would deteriorate over time.

    To me, they just seem like a risky investment. I've already had to change out two of the original speakers in my '71 B cab with newer greenbacks, and suspect I'll be changing out the rest in the near future..And I don't even drive my amp that hard.

    Whadda y'all think?
     
  2. IOSEPHVS

    IOSEPHVS Well-Known Member

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  3. StingRay85

    StingRay85 Well-Known Member

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    Original greenbacks with pulsonic cones are simply great. The reason why they got so expensive is due to Johan Segeborn reviewing them. Jokes aside, if you don't plan on abusing them or pushing them to the limit, probably also a decent investement. If you plan on wacking them 6 hours a day with 100W of tube power they are probably not the speakers for you. Just like with Mullard power tubes. Save them for recording and stuff, too expensive for everyday use
     
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  4. soundboy57

    soundboy57 Well-Known Member

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    They really do sound that great, Dadoc. Especially at home or studio, at any volume.

    Side by side, a good, proper working pulsonic cone will make the later blackbacks, or reissue greenbacks sound a bit harsh and stiff....without
    the "magic" midrange tone that is hard to describe.
    I have had a LOT of them.
    I also think the current prices are stupid, and would not pay $500 per speaker, even if mint, just me.

    I would pay perhaps $300-$350 each if very very clean and working proper.

    My two cents.
     
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  5. BygoneTones

    BygoneTones Well-Known Member

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    I've said this on the forum for years. Only a small minority of vintage speakers are worth those premium asking prices in my opinion.

    Yes there are some out there still going strong in really nice condition, sounding awesome and not going to fall apart on you any day soon. A couple of weeks ago I picked up a timewarp mint pair of G12S from 1975 and the doping is still stiff as if they havent been broken in yet! Glue nice and fresh, not all brown and corroded. Probably sat in someones bedroom unused for decades. So they are still out there. The good ones are worth every penny in my opinion. However the majority of vintage speakers out there are not like that at all in my experience.

    If you buy enough speakers and you know how to test them properly you will find the majority of them will have at least something wrong with them, and genuinely perfect ones are the minority of speakers out there.

    It was always "part of it" for me, picking up speakers relatively cheaply, repairing them if necessary, listen to how they sound and comparing tones of different speakers, and if you found some perfect ones then great. But it is very naive to believe every speaker out there is worth top dollar and in perfect condition. They just aren't, and no they don't last forever. Unless they have been well looked after they may well be toast now and sound like crap.

    Finding them cheaply thesedays has become very difficult. Most people are asking premium prices no matter what state they might be in.
     
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  6. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Well-Known Member

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    I've acquired a few Pre Rola's in G12M and G12H30 flavors. The Pulsonic cones sound the best, IMO. While the later ones sound good, the pre 1973 versions are the best. You do have to test them for everything though..rattling, loose spiders, loose dust caps, voice coil rub, etc.

    Without a waveform generator to test it fully, your next best method is to try them with your guitar and amp. But the reality is that there aren't that many good ones. I bought over 400, and about 15-20% are good, 10% are holy grails and the rest are just frames that need to be reconed.
     
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  7. StingRay85

    StingRay85 Well-Known Member

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    A few sellers on reverb just clip off the leads and then dare to say they tested it completely. Not even doing the effort to unsolder them.
     
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  8. BygoneTones

    BygoneTones Well-Known Member

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    Don't get me started. I think what most people seem to do is just test if they "work", meaning the speaker makes a noise and isn't completely dead. Then they say it has been fully tested.

    A common one is they will play a radio through it at low volume. I've seen people doing this when picking up speakers in person. Or, a 4x12 sounds good at low volume so all the speakers must be good right? No.

    Got to put enough power into the speaker before the problems will reveal themselves. With a 4x12 that would mean playing deafeningly loud. Best to check each speaker individually, and even that will be incredibly loud if done correctly with guitar and amp.

    The most neighbour friendly way to do it is to use an audio generator or test signal. The low frequencies will get the cone moving a lot and will not be amplifying the sound too much, and you can listen out for pops and rattles etc that shouldn't be there. It is more at around 50hz guitar speakers tend to kick in and get louder.

    Other poor testing methods include attaching a battery to see if the cone pops out, and the funniest one I heard of is flicking the cone with your finger to see if the voice coil is blown. What?
     
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  9. Nkyrental

    Nkyrental Well-Known Member

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    40 - 50 year old cones have to degrade somewhat, the technology in paper making and plastics then is no where near what it is now.
    Unless you have a vintage cabinet and want to try and keep it original, new speakers have to be better.
     
  10. Seanxk

    Seanxk Well-Known Member

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    well you said it right there, ( this has nothing to do with plastic ) it's all about the paper.........
     
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  11. GIBSON67

    GIBSON67 Well-Known Member

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    You have to be diligent in your testing before you buy...or buy 'em cheap.
     
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  12. DaDoc

    DaDoc Well-Known Member

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    Howdy Soundboy, how ya been?

    $300 to me is reasonable, but lately I'm seeing more and more sellers asking $500 up, which ain't so reasonable!

    By the way, do you know of anyone in our area (Northwest) who does good work on restoring old Celestions?
     
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  13. Nkyrental

    Nkyrental Well-Known Member

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    Not exactly plastics but the urethane/alkyd/silicones used in the glue holding the cone and magnet are similar in performance increases to those in the plastics industry.


    well you said it right there, ( this has nothing to do with plastic ) it's all about the paper.........
     
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  14. Amadeus91

    Amadeus91 Well-Known Member

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    These don't seem to get a lot love, but I have no complaints.
    Got these from you Brian years ago, on your recommendation. Their condition is AAAAA+++++ Pulsonic cones.
    Just wanted to say, THANKS.
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. pleximaster

    pleximaster Well-Known Member

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    There is a big difference in tone between new and vintage speakers when you compare the really good old once and new production. (New speakers are often very consistent. Old ones are not. A lot of old speakers sound bad and are just worn out. Just because they are old it doesn't mean they will sound good. But when you find some really good old ones they can be magical
     
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  16. Im247frogs

    Im247frogs Well-Known Member

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    All I know is, is that old Carveldan posted a short demo of him playing thu his rig w 4x12 Blackbacks, maybe a year ago, and it was the best thing I ever heard in my life.
    If I was gigging or recording I could easily see myself paying 400-500 per speaker. I think they're totally worth it as long as they're the real deal and they're not torched.
     
  17. soundboy57

    soundboy57 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know of anyone anymore. There may be a guy in Seattle, but just for reconing them, if I recall.
     
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  18. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Well-Known Member

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    One of my clients from there sent three old frames to me recently to be rebuilt because whoever the local guy was in Seattle quit the business.
     
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  19. BygoneTones

    BygoneTones Well-Known Member

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    Nice speakers. Yes I really like the G12S model, under-rated speakers.
     
  20. proxy

    proxy Well-Known Member

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    If somebody can convince me that vintage farty greenback sounds better then my XC I would seriously think about it .....
    XC is the best speaker ever....It has it all ...
     

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