Aside from the guitar and amplifier you use, a good guitar cabinet is an essential part of your sound. Even though manufacturers usually make them to pair with specific amp heads in their product lines, you can still mix and match if you want to.
Most guitarists, especially in rock music, usually work with a setup of one or two 4×12 half-stacks.
While that looks extra cool on stage, it is excessive for the vast majority of guitarists – which leads to the popularity of 2×12 cabinet setups. These are bigger than a combo, but not excessive like a half-stack, while also offering the advantage of versatility; you can use the amp head you prefer.
This setup also proves more convenient because of its portability, while also giving a more directional and powerful sound output.
Thanks to the modern PA systems in use today, you no longer need to struggle carrying around large cabinets and high wattage tube amps, and having a good reliable 2×12 cabinet really helps you out.
Best 2×12 guitar cabinets – Comparison Guide
Weight (in lbs.)
Seismic Audio guitar speaker cabinet
30.25 x 12.25 x 25.0
Orange Amplifiers PPC212OB open back cabinet
26.0 x 21.25 x 12.0
Yamaha THRC212 300W cabinet
33.0 x 24.9 x 17.3
Marshall SC20H Studio Classic cabinet
29.5 x 21.1 x 12.6
EVH 5150III EL34 212ST cabinet
34.6 x 22.4 x 18.4
Best 2×12 guitar cabinets – Top Picks Of 2021
Seismic Audio has been in the market for a number of years, and I like plenty of aspects about their products – but their guitar cabs are definitely something special.
- Detachable grill to allow for front speaker loading, and detachable back panels to allow rear speaker loading
- Body comprised of birch plywood
- Does not include guitar speakers
- Dual 0.25-inch connectors at the back, metallic flush corners
Most of their cabinets are unloaded, as the aim is to cater to happy shed players that want to implement their wildest desires when using amplifiers. However, this one includes speakers, making it the exception to their rule. Its structure is very simple and basic, and it does not even have a fancy code or product name.
Their approach to this product is clear: keep it simple. You will get what you pay for, as it is also quite affordable. It works fine for most instances because of this approach, but expecting it to produce classic tones is asking for too much.
- Great in sound quality
- Easy to mount speakers and amps, whether at the front or back
- Pre-wiring allows you to simply plug in and play
- Good price value
- The mounting holes (for the speakers) are inconsistent
- Does not have a wide range of sounds
This cabinet primarily aims to satisfy the needs of budget buyers, but it will not do too much impressive stuff for you. Regardless of that, it remains a solid buy that even a beginner can start with before progressing to more advanced cabinets.
Orange is a very famous and quintessential British brand and produces a distinctly British tone output, which is a good idea if you want the classic blue-rock sound.
- Output power of 120 Watts RMS
- It can handle extra heat that higher power equipment demands
- Quite heavy, at 62 lbs. weight
- Open-back design
With the speaker configuration it offers and its physical size, it is quite obvious that the manufacturers are aiming it at a higher-end audience, and the price reflects that. It sounds good in a variety of cases, but it would prove a waste to purchase it and pair it with a head that does not sound good to the ears.
Keep in mind that this cabinet mainly uses Celestion speakers, which are only manufactured in the UK. You can still use your own amp preference on it, but it is important to keep in mind that it will naturally sound best with items that have tubes.
- Sounds good and clean with a variety of tones
- Compact design makes it easy to carry around
This is definitely a cabinet choice to go for if you have the money for it, but it proves a worthy buy because of its clean, crisp sound quality.
Yamaha is a famous name when it comes to high-quality musical instruments – but they have also made a name for themselves in guitar cabinets, which prove reliable. The THRC212 follows in the footsteps of this reputation, thanks to its excellent durability, appealing design, solid structure, and flawless performance.
- Closed back design
- 300W or 150W+150W power output
- Features The Tonker 12-inch and two mismatched Eminence Legend1218 speakers
- Aims to achieve a balance of vintage warmth, punch, and clarity
- Easy-to-switch stereo or mono operation
Among the wide array of guitar cabinets in Yamaha’s collection, this one proves fantastic in the quality of its performance and its appearance. It is quite heavy and big, but that does not prevent it from achieving a clean-cut sound.
One aspect it shines in is the easy manipulation and control it offers you, thanks to the single-purpose knobs that are in strategic and easy-to-reach positions. This makes it a perfect choice when you want to use it on stage, because it offers a combination of impressive dynamics, enhanced responses, and good sound pressure. The design incorporates a closed back, which provides a clear and well-focused tone.
- Mirrors the entire signal from input to output, resulting in a very crisp sound
- Offers plenty of gradient changes in sound tweaks
- High quality construction
- Very easy to use
- The gain channels sound boxy and unclear at times
The Yamaha THRC212 is a great choice if you want to achieve improvements in clarity, punch, warmth, and good tone. It is easy to control, since it also gives you easy switching between the mono and stereo modes.
Marshall Cabinets and amplifiers are famous for being the ‘workhorses of the music industry’ because of their reputation, quality of service, and very long legacy – the case is the same for the SC20H cabinet.
- Angled construction approach
- Reinforced corners
- Mono sound output
- Closed-back design
- Constructed using tolex-covered plywood
This cabinet functions at its best when you pair it with the newest Marshall Studio Classic head, which stands tall among the best Marshall amplifiers. Regardless of the amp you choose, know that this cabinet is well-suited for achieving rock tones, thanks to its aggressive mid-range punch and plenty of warmth and clarity. It does a perfect job of accentuating higher gain rock amps, resulting in a full tone that can cut through a full band mix.
Unlike most guitar cabinets, this adopts the setup of a vertical speaker, giving it more height. It also has an angled top which makes it perfect for on-stage monitoring because it delivers the sound towards your ears. Overall, it is a great choice for live use, as well as recording sessions.
- Comes in the classic Marshall look and has the same tone
- Very easy to use, even for beginners
- Durable build
- Good audio quality
- It does not include wheels
There are countless ‘British-style’ guitar cabinets, but few live up to the standards that Marshall sets in the industry. This is another example of their excellence, even though it is more affordable than the typical Marshall cabinet.
This is among the most impressive cabinets in the current scene today, and will serve you well if you are looking for solid tone without amplifying your guitar sounds too much.
- Rock-solid birch construction
- Includes a head-mounting mechanism, EVH casters, and tilt-back legs
- The rear and front panels do not include as many controls
- Includes a MIDI input jack and 1/4-inch headphone output
The head comes in a ‘small box’ appearance, which means that the control knobs on both the rear and front panels are fewer compared to its original 100-watt head. The result is the retention of the original 3-channel design with independent gain and volume controls in each channel, but there is sharing of the high, mid, and low EQ controls.
The versatility of the equipment is not in doubt, and will likely hit your sweet spot if you want to use it for recording sessions or playing your guitar in a small venue. The distortion quality is surprisingly powerful even though the volume is lower, which is quite impressive for its build.
- Very good sound quality and a wide tonal range
- Easy to use
- Easy to move around, thanks to the back tilt feature
- None noted so far
Even though this guitar cabinet costs less than its 100-watt counterpart, it still offers you great value for money by delivering impressive sound in a smaller package.
What should you look for when buying a guitar cabinet?
There is a wide variety of guitar cabinets, with both functional and cosmetic purposes in mind.
The same speaker can sound very different in different enclosures in both significant and subtle ways – so an important question arises: what happens when you decide to use a different amp alongside the cabinet, other than what the manufacturer recommends?
For you to make the right choice of cabinet, it is important to first know the differences in different cabinet design, and how these result in changes to your sound.
History of guitar cabinets
Any speaker cabinet that aims to give you accurate sound production – regardless of whether you are using it for live sound, studio settings, or home stereo – relies on certain principles.
However, a guitar cabinet aims to give you both specific sound qualities and convenience at the same time, mainly due to their weight and overall size properties.
There are two types of enclosures that you will find in these cabinets: closed-back and open-back.
These seem to have the same origin and purpose, and they were meant to provide the most practical size of enclosure for a set of four 12-inch speakers. Not much emphasis is on the sound qualities they produce, at least from a mathematical standpoint, because much of the tone they produce is the result of sound anomalies.
The result of its tighter approach is a more focused sound across the entire spectrum, though the low-ends have more emphasis. The front of the cabinet has greater sound volume than the rear, which makes it have more low-frequency responses and a sharper attack. The total sound is easy to capture when you have one or two mics, and it is directional as opposed to the 360-degree output of the open-back types.
This design approach is the result of necessity, but it definitely has its own unique sound quality. It allows the cabinet to produce sound from both its rear and front, with a greater emphasis on the low-ends. The result of its looser approach is a 360-degree sound distribution, which allows the notes of the song to bloom; the larger the cabinet is, the greater this effect.
From the standpoint of practical use, open-back cabinets perform best on small stages that have little to no monitoring, as well as rehearsal situations where the participants need to hear each other from the sound source. They also work well in recording sessions, since the studio mics will pick up different qualities of the sound and give you more options to work with.
What factors should you consider when choosing a guitar cabinet?
Similar to any music tool you plan to work with, a better-sounding product is always the result of manufacturing integrity and better-quality materials. Not all materials are equal, with some like pine sounding better than others due to their great tone and structure.
Here are some factors to keep in mind:
Size of the cabinet
The cabinets will usually translate the sounds your guitar makes, due to wattage capability and frequency responses. The larger the speaker is – such as an 18-inch type – the more it will emphasize the low ends in ways that do not sound natural for the guitar.
Very large cabinets are also impractical to use because of their physical size and extreme power demands. On the other hand, very small cabinets like 8-inch types are better for home practice, but impractical for concert settings.
The perfect balance for most cases is the 10-inch, 15-inch, and 12-inch speakers, as they give the best balance of clarity and warmth in the sound. Additionally, they also produce the volume range you need to give the guitar enough space when it competes with other instruments in a mix.
Most electric guitars (if not all) have an average frequency spectrum between 70 Hz and 5 kHz, so a guitar speaker does not need to produce frequencies outside this range.
That is partly the reason why 12-inch speakers are very popular, since they mostly use these limits.
A smaller speaker will use a higher frequency range while a larger cabinet uses a lower frequency output. Your choice will determine how well the guitar sound complements traditional amplifiers and the sounds they produce.
Effects of mixing things up
Combining a guitar cabinet and speakers that use different wattages can result in some interesting outcomes in terms of the sound. Because the speakers are receiving the same output, any speaker that has a lower wattage needs to work harder to match the higher-wattage speakers, and producing a less efficient output, while the higher-wattage speaker sounds smoother.
The type of cabinet and the design of the speaker also influences the sound output, with an open-back speaker sounding more open and full, for instance. You can even enhance this effect by putting some physical distance between two cabinets.
The general rule to use here is ensuring that the wattage rating of your amplifier’s output is equal or less than the combined wattage rating of your speakers. This will reduce the chances of speaker damage occurring due to excessive power demands. Additionally, use your ears as a guide – if the output does not sound good, change things up.
If getting a new 2×12 guitar cabinet has been on your mind, then this list should help you know where to look. There are plenty of other options that are available as well, so ensure you take your time and make the choice of what works for you and your playing style.
Does using a guitar cabinet make a difference in sound?
Yes, they have a major effect on tone. With that in mind, do not always choose one basing on price, as some affordable ones can prove better compared to expensive options.
How does speaker size impact my choice of a guitar cabinet?
The size has a major effect, as it determines the frequency output you will get.
The bigger the cones are, the more efficiently it will produce lower-end and bass frequencies, while smaller cones do a better job at reproducing treble and higher-end frequencies.
What is common in guitar cabinets?
In most budget options, chipboard makes up the cabinet (though this has poor sound, strength, and ruggedness ratings), or MDF (very easy to machine, but suffers due to weight).
High quality cabinets on the other hand use walnut, mahogany, and maple, which gives them strength, good sound quality, and durability.