As you’re probably already aware, the Celestion Vintage 30 speakers are some of the most popular speakers of all time — which isn’t an understatement. When compared to other speakers in the industry, the Celestion Vintage 30’s are monumentally better when it comes down to the quality, clarity, projection and the tone for their size.
The History of the Celestion Vintage 30
Taking a step back to 1986, the Celestion brand’s research and development team pivoted from the trajectory of the speaker industry to create something entirely new for a very heavy-user demographic — the rock star.
Guitarists back in the 80s demanded speakers that pushed overdrive to the limit and could amplify clearly even under an ultra-high wattage.
Celestion’s Greenback was the best thing out there, but as we all know, it suffered greatly when things got a little too loud and the wattage went up a little too high.
With this issue in mind, Celestion redeveloped the speaker entirely and created a whole new cone and voice coil which essentially reinvented the sound output from the speaker. Paired with the new ‘H’ Magnet, the Vintage 30 was by far the most highly engineered, or at the very least, the most tailored speaker on the market at the time.
Fast forward to today and the Vintage 30 is still a fan favourite for its highly dynamic sound output and the ability to output overtones with ease.
Still the Most Recorded Speaker
Even after almost forty years, the Celestion Vintage 30 remains the most recorded speaker. With more albums recorded on this speaker since the mid-80s, it’s a tried and true guitar speaker that still has no genuine competition for authenticity and its famous sound output.
However, a few other Celestion speakers have begun to build on the Vintage 30 in that the 30’s partiality to mid-tones might not ‘wow’ buyers of today. The Celestion Seventy 80 offers a better response for treble and bass, for example.
Choosing Between the Celestion V30 or Seventy 80?
Keeping things short, the Vintage 30 speakers have an ultra-tight low-end sound which is ideal for anyone looking for a good sound in a band mix. However, there’s arguably a better low-end response on the Seventy 80 models that gives off a nicer rumble.
The model of the Celestion Vintage 30 available today is a 60-watt speaker. Though, older models or models you’ll find for resale online may feature different or altered wattages.
Keep in mind that despite many advertisers claiming a 70-watt speaker, this is not the case.
Specs Made Available by Celestion
- Nominal diameter: 12″, 305mm
- Power rating: 60Wrms
- Nominal impedance: Available 8Ω or 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 100dB
- Chassis type: Pressed steel
- Voice coil diameter: 1.75″, 44.5mm
- Voice coil material: Round copper
- Magnet type: Ceramic
- Magnet weight: 50oz, 1.42kg
- Frequency range: 70-5000Hz
- Resonance frequency, Fs 75Hz
Famous Artists Making Use of the Vintage 30
As you might expect, from an incredible and dynamic speaker like the Vintage 30 there are a tonne of great artists making use of them. They’re a dependable and incredibly reliable speaker that have been in use by the following artists.
- Patrick Stump
- Steve Rothery
- Pepper Keenan
- Andy Timmons
- Adrian Belew
- Michael Amott
- Brent Mason
- Carlos Santana
- Jimmy Bower
- Bruce Kulick
- Peter Frampton
- Jason Hook
- Vivian Campbell
- Vernon Reid
- Ian D’Sa
- Ola Englund
- Steve Morse
A few other great artists also make use of the Vintage 30, though the most popular that you might know, and that we’d stand by are the ones above.
Manufacturing and Reliability
If you’re in the industry or a hobbyist guitarist looking at speakers, you’ll know that the location of manufacture and quality of the product plays a big part in sound output and reliability.
Originally the V30 speakers were designed and produced in the UK, a nod to quality and refined processes, though back in 2002 the company worked on relocating all manufacturing processes to China — we assume to lower overhead.
One thing we are happy to note, however, is the company also worked to move a majority of the production tools and processes to China too, in order to keep a handle on quality control.
Reviews have also noted that (surprisingly) there’s little to no difference in sound output from vintage UK-made models and new mass-produced Chinese variants.
Choosing the Cabinets
When it comes to the cabinets for the V30 it’s important to know that 1×12″ Vintage 30 do lack just a little ‘thump’ or low end. There’s a little there, but not enough to truly make an impact.
From reviews and artists, the 2×12” Vintage 30 cabinets are the go-to thanks to the lower end really being able to come through.
There’s also good portability here too, even with the speakers being outstandingly loud and clear.
The Ideal Cabinets
JVMC212 by Marshall
For an open-back cabinet, there’s little that can beat the JVMC212 by Marshall. It’s a semi-opened design so there’s some incredible bass response here for those artists who really love their low end.
The audio is less directional than the cabinets by Friedman too, which might be a plus for some artists who need more of a spatial experience than a direct one.
With great bass and two V30’s in here, the Marshall JVMC212 Extension Cabinets are ideal for both on and off the stage, in studios and for live experiences.
The Friedman Runt 212
Not coming as a shock, The Friedman Runt 212 is a great choice. With Friedman working hard on creating cabinets that stand out from the crowd, the 212 challenges the Marshall and JVMC212 (although debatable) and is the ultimate V30 closed-back partner.
It comes with 2x V30 speakers so you’re getting an outstanding sound experience here.
One standout here is that the closed back on the Runt 212 does offer an exceptional directional sound and plenty of bass response, though it doesn’t get too deep.
Guitarists looking for less of a sound spread but more forward-facing audio will be happy with the Runt 212.
Choosing the Celestion v30 or Celestion Greenback?
Comparing the two, there are only a few key differences that might sway audiophiles and artists one way or the other.
- Is better at offering a vintage tone
- Vintage lower power handling
- Not as loud as the V30
- A more powerful option
- Offers slightly refined output
- A higher wattage
As is seen above, the main differences between the two rest on the power handling and the output and clarity of sound because of this wattage. The Greenback isn’t very loud, which means it’s better used in situations like studios.
One of the positives from the V30 being an industry leader is that a number of brands are working hard to offer an alternative that is inherently cheaper or in some ways better.
The current offering from Eminence is a good example as it comes with one of the most delicate response times for a speaker of the calibre.
We would place this as the closest relative or sibling, if you will, to the V30 that isn’t an entire knock-off of the speaker itself.
For a direct knock-off or replication though there is the WGS Veteran 30 which is essentially a near-exact copy of the Vintage 30. However it does seem to output too much of the higher end for most guitarists liking, giving off almost a tinny response when things reach for the higher end.
The WGS speaker is also a little underpowered when compared to both the Eminence and the Celestion speakers.
Vintage 30 Speaker Break-in
If you’ve chosen to pull the trigger on a Vintage 30 it’s good to note that there is little to no break-in time here. The speaker will essentially sound the same from the very start, which is great news if you do love the sound of the speaker on day one.
We would like you to keep in mind that break-in does tend to be a little bit of a hit or miss as there is such a small change in a speaker’s sound over time.
Conclusion and Frequent Comments
To end, the V30 is one of the more reliable and industry-loved speakers on the market and it’s sure to keep you playing for years to come.
However a few comments do mention that there is a dislike for the focus on the mid-tones rather than the high or low ends though. With that in mind, there can be an issue for some who invest in the Vintage 30 looking for a more well-rounded audio experience.
In all, the V30 is a rather remarkable speaker that’s built to last, offers a great experience is somewhat mid-heavy above all else. Just be sure to figure out your ideal cabinet set up for low-end response and you’re all set.