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Cabinet Comparisons and Questions

Discussion in 'DIY Amp Forum' started by sumran, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

    Mar 7, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    I wanted to start a thread devoted to cabinets and speakers. Seems like a very important topic for DIY amps. I will be starting to build my own soon. I see a lot more discussion about tubes, capacitors, etc.

    I expect to learn a lot from the discussion. My first venture will probably be a poplar cabinet for a Princeton. That amp will take the place of a Blues Junior III that I currently use. The BJ will be getting some mods once it comes off line. After those are done I plan to build a pine cabinet for it. I have a Princeton that is in a MDF cabinet. So I will be able to do some side-by-side comparisons.

    I don't intend for this to be about my cabinets in particular. So if you have some that you built or have done comparisons, please post them.

    Don't get the idea that my part of this will happen at lightning speed. I hope to get the Princeton cab done by the end of the year. I am starting this now so that I can learn from the experiences you share. It will help me get a better results and factor in comparisons that might be of interest along the way.

    Much appreciation to those that share their knowledge and experiences. Most of the discussion on the forum is friendly and informative. Hope this thread can provide some worthwhile exploration of an important aspect of amp building.
     
    liltimmy likes this.

  2. Bob M

    Bob M Strat-Talker

    255
    Sep 5, 2012
    North of Boston
    I have a super champ that I had a pine cab made for. Initially it was to get a 12" speaker in it, but I found that the new cabinet had a resonance to it that the original simply couldn't match. I also have a '65 Tremolux with the original pine cabs. They sound great. I'm convinced the pine cabs enhance the sound of an amp.
     
    nuculer terrist likes this.

  3. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    I prefer solid pine for combos and extension cabs for both resonance and sheer light weight. My tweed deluxe combo clones come in at 25lbs. complete with alnico speaker. Other cheaper similar sized combo amps weigh nearly twice that because of particle board construction, lots of glue, tolex vinyl covering with more glue, etc.
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  4. The Strat Dude

    The Strat Dude Duderino Strat-Talk Supporter

    Kc's cabinets embarrass mine, but same observation. I put a blues jr in a plywood cabinet and it sounded like a different amp, best mod I did to it.
     
    simoncroft likes this.

  5. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

    Dec 4, 2013
    largo,fl
    I believe the speaker cab is where "cost cutting" is taking place big time.

    I made some solid Maple dovetail oversize 1 x 12's, and every person who has heard them next to anything else swears they are the big kahuna tuna.

    I have a friend who plugged his blues junior into one and we used his speaker, it was no longer a Blues Jr., it became Big Daddy Mac Sr. -


    I am not qualified to explain why, but I have found that the baffleboard is a major component. The difference will be apparent between using doghouse grade thin ply compared to quality Baltic Birch.

    I feel that a small baffle board in a small cab is what makes things sound boxy or nasally. I truly believe the large oversize baffle board is what lets it open up and allows it "out of the box". I think a deeper cab helps this, also.

    Again, cost cutting maximus. Solid wood dovetailed with a more expensive baffle board and more to ship a heavier and larger box is why we get the cost cutting edition.

    This is for open back cabs, I have never messed with closed back cabs, there is more science involved with them.
     

  6. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

    Mar 7, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Some great stuff already! Comments and pictures are getting me fired up to build some cabinets.

    Beautiful rig KCStratman!
     

  7. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

    Mar 7, 2010
    Gainesville, FL

    Yours improved the sound, even if it is not the same as KC's. That is the most important part. If I remember right, I thought yours looked good.
     

  8. robtking

    robtking Strat-Talk Member

    62
    May 3, 2012
    Dublin
    Great topic as I'm debating whether to make a solid wood cab for my blues junior or buy a 65 Princeton reissue. One question for the experts though - on fenders site they say that the cabs are made of birch/maple ply but I've heard that they're made of mdf. Can anybody confirm? I dont want to take a lump out of the cab;-)
     

  9. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

    Mar 7, 2010
    Gainesville, FL

    I don't know the answer to the MDF question. Others will know. I do know that a substantial part of the problem with the BJ cabinet is the size. The speaker barely fits the cabinet. It is open back but it needs more room.
     

  10. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

    Mar 7, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    It has been a while since I visited this thread. However, I have been working on design issues related to cabinet making and thought I would post about some of my recent wanderings.

    I have come to the realization that it is impractical for me to make my own cabinets in the traditional way. The setup and precision required to cut a Fender style cabinet in home workshop is very time consuming. There are two angle cuts on the cabinet front for a Blackface amp and there is the issue of the corner joints. If I was going to use a traditional box joint I would assemble the box then cut the angles on the table saw after it dries. In my shop, large tools like the table saw don't get dedicated space in the center of the floor. Wish I had a full blown shop but I don't. So that would mean pulling out the table saw, setting up and making the cuts and then putting it back. The baffle angle cut requires a jig for each cabinet size, which need to be stored with some care. All of this is easy in a production environment with adequate space but more difficult for a hobbyist.

    The solution for me is to do the work on a CNC machine. There is up front cost but it is useful for many things, with guitars and amps and for other projects. It give me precise cuts that can be repeated with minimal setup time. More importantly, the machine does the work while I do other things.

    The corners are the biggest challenge. A square box joint requires a vertical setup on a CNC, which adds to the cost and decreases efficiency. I do have room for my router table in the center, so I easily can use a locking miter joint for the corners. It is a stronger joint, makes for easy assembly and is preferable, to my eye, on finished wood cabinets. The other advantage is that the angle cuts can be done before cabinet assembly. Even without the CNC this is an advantage. The first cabinets will be done without the benefit of the CNC. I am researching machines but that will take a year or more.

    My goal is to get the first cabinet done this September. That amp (Deluxe Reverb) is already done and in use. It is currently living in a temporary cabinet. Even without the CNC, the long term direction is very helpful to me.
     

  11. moullineaux

    moullineaux Strat-O-Master

    819
    Jul 11, 2009
    ATLANTA, GA
    I built two cabinets out of some glued red cedar boards that I got from a friend. He had been planning a cedar chest but never got around to it. I built a 2/10 and 2/12, one as an extension cab and one for my 70's Bassman head. I basically researched cab dimensions from several sources and fit them to my specs. IMO the solid wood really helps the cabs resonate. They are both open back but can be closed if the need arises. Will try to post pics asap. I used some hardware from salvaged amps and all joints are simple laps joints that I glued and screwed together. I have gigged with both several times and they seem to be holding up well.
     
    Tube ToneChaser likes this.

  12. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

    Mar 7, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Look forward to the pics!
     
    Tube ToneChaser likes this.

  13. liltimmy

    liltimmy Senior Stratmaster

    Cabinet dimensions and speaker selection are one of the most overlooked factors in tone IMO.

    I have built one cabinet but played through many. A few observations:

    1. Might as well go solid wood if you are going to the trouble of doing it.

    2. Birch ply is good too.

    3. Bigger cab=bigger tone, to a degree.

    I would get a kreg jig tool for doing the corners and glue them as well. It's cheaper than a dovetail joint jig tool and is still very strong when done. You can get plugs if you are anal about having screws visible inside the interior of the cabinet. I built mine of mahogany with ebony accents, no disappointments.
     
    johnnymg and Tube ToneChaser like this.

  14. Tube ToneChaser

    Tube ToneChaser Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    55
    604
    Mar 30, 2017
    South Carolina; USA
    I have two RSA Thiele Cabs. I bought them in the late 90's as part of a package deal with,a Mesa/Boogie Studio Preamp/B.K. Butler MosValve MV-962 Power Amp. "Thiele" refers to the cabinet type (internal baffles, ports on the bottom front, etc.). Thiele cabs are built exactly for the Speakers inside them; use of a different speaker would result in lesser Tonal range, Frequency Response, etc. I DON'T KNOW what Speakers are in these Cabs; just never have taken them apart to SEE- YET! These Cabs almost make you think you're playing through 4×12 cabs- until you TURN AROUND & LOOK at your Backline! The LOUDEST, HEAVIEST single-12's I've ever played- since 1975! Btw, several manufacturers ( including Mesa) build Thiele cabs. On the "Interweb," you can even find plans to BUILD YOUR OWN. That's WHY I wanted to post this!
     

    Attached Files:

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  15. Tube ToneChaser

    Tube ToneChaser Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    55
    604
    Mar 30, 2017
    South Carolina; USA
    An UNDERSTATED 90 W/Side, just fyi.
     

  16. Tube ToneChaser

    Tube ToneChaser Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    55
    604
    Mar 30, 2017
    South Carolina; USA
    1498178471198.png
    The REST of my Mesa Rig. I added the BBE unit after I bought the rig. Simple, versatile rig; easy to haul around. Buncha good Tones!
     
    liltimmy likes this.

  17. Tube ToneChaser

    Tube ToneChaser Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    55
    604
    Mar 30, 2017
    South Carolina; USA
    The Thiele Cabs are also good to use as Extension cabs from a Combo Amp, for example. Just remember Ohm's Law if you do that, and you'll be good to go! DON'T wanna "fry" ANY Gear!
     

  18. fezz parka

    fezz parka The Wiggler of Sticks Strat-Talk Supporter

    What most people ignore is the thickness of the baffle and what type of material works the best. Unless you're using very heavy magnet speakers, 3/8" Baltic birch ply is the way to go IMO. The baffle is like a sounding board in a piano. Too thick, and it's dead sounding.
     
    liltimmy, mad axe man and simoncroft like this.

  19. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    61
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    I've read this thread with a lot of interest. Learned a lot too.

    As I worked in pro audio, I maybe come at this topic from a slightly different angle, which includes three factors I'd pick out as critical to understanding why a cabinet sounds different depending where your are standing on stage, or where you are in the audience.

    1. The width versus height of the cabinet is a greatly misunderstood factor. Sadly most cabinets are made for the convenience of amp manufacturers, and for ergonomic considerations (does it fit in my car?), rather than optimum performance. A wide cabinet gives you a very narrow horizontal sound dispersion, whereas the old-style PA 'column' gives great coverage across the audience area, without splashing sound all over the floor and ceiling.

    2. As soon as you have more than one driver (speaker) mounted in a cabinet, they interact and cause an effect known as 'beaming'. This means that, at some frequencies, the 'beam' of sound is a lot narrower than at others.

    3. The width of the speaker cones also determines which frequencies arrive at your ear perfectly in phase and which arrive slightly out-of-phase, and therefore not as loud or coherent.

    There's also the fact that low frequencies are inherently less directional than higher frequencies, but that's a law of physics we all have to learn to work with.

    Put these considerations together though, and it helps to explain why your carefully honed tone that sounds so great in front of your speaker cabinet, doesn't sound so great where the vocalist is standing, and totally sucks as far as the drummer is concerned! It also helps to explain why even the best sound mix is just a monotonous thud from outside the club, and half the audience can't hear you as well as you imagined.

    Unfortunately, about the worst designs when it comes to even sound dispersion are the oh-so convenient 'twin' style combo amp and the Marshall-style 4x12 'stack'. I know both have been used to brilliant effect by legions of excellent musicians, but they have considerable limitations when it comes to even sound coverage.

    I discussed all of this in great detail here: https://www.strat-talk.com/threads/overcoming-venue-acoustics.294797/page-3
     
    liltimmy and Tube ToneChaser like this.

  20. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

    Mar 7, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Here is a simple question. How much clearance do you leave for tolex? My first cabinet will be a Deluxe Reverb style cab. Chassis width is 22-3/8". I was thinking 1/8" on each side for tolex and general clearance.

    Surprised I was unable to find good cabinet plans online.