Breaking in a speaker.

Discussion in 'Ampage Area' started by Crooner, May 10, 2013.

  1. Michiel

    Michiel Friend of Fred

    Jul 29, 2009
    The Netherlands
    Nope, wasn't me! That was our italian member Mikante. I remember that too. He seemed very pleased with the results.

    The Febreeze trick kinda scares me - it'll dissolve some of the bonding component that keeps the paper fibers of the cone together.
    I'm used to thinking in aging graphs of speakers and I have =no= clue what febreeze will do for aging & longevity of the speaker.

    I have one 90s Fender blue label that I suspect may have been treated with something similar to Febreeze. I see spots everywhere on cone and chassis and the cone shows strong discoloring (almost faded to a brownish/burgundy hue). It's a pretty sweet sounding speaker though.
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  2. johnreardon

    johnreardon Gretschie

    May 23, 2009
    Northants, UK
    Fully agree with you mate.
  3. MatchlessMan

    MatchlessMan Country Gent

    Nov 29, 2010
    Swindon UK
    Gotta remember tone is in the ear of the beholder. A 'broken-in' speaker may sound different afterwards, but it may not sound better to you!

    Going back to the OP's question, I recently bought a Barefaced lightweight cab for bass, and the manufacturer recommends goosing it with 25Hz for a few hours (or playing the hell out of it) to get it to sound optimal. I did the 25Hz thing (though probably at insufficient volume), then gigged it. It sounded noticeably better by the third set of the night.

    On the 'chemical treatment' front, I believe Matchless use a solvent to remove some of the doping from Vintage 30s in their cabs and combos. I can confirm that they are incredibly loud
  4. ruger9

    ruger9 Country Gent

    Nov 1, 2008
    I'm with Tavo. Speaker break-in is a real thing, and it's universally accepted that a broken-in speaker sounds better... so much so that a few speaker companies sell speakers that have gone thru the process, or will do the process for you at your request... so why wait a year for the speaker to sound it's best, when you don't have to?
  5. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    RELIC'd speakers. Who'd have thunk...
  6. 54club

    54club Synchromatic

    Mar 31, 2011
    Kelseyville, CA

    Who knows? Maybe the neodymiums just sound that way and will never "break-in". Like you said, maybe you should have just changed the speakers. I would have spent some time fooling with the amp and guitar settings before changing the speakers though...

    Different speakers have different characteristics. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice. The difference between a Fender Twin Reverb with stock Utahs, Jensens or whatever Fender used in them and one with JBL D120Fs like mine is startling. There is no way to get the same tone out of the amp with JBLs and vice-versa. When I play through a "stock" Twin, my amp settings wind up in an entirely different place just to begin to get somewhat of an approximation of the same tone. A lot of people can't stand the sound of JBLs in a Twin. I'm just the opposite, when I bought my Twin, it had been factory equipped with Fender branded JBLs and that is the sound I grew to love. I still have the original speakers that were in my '65 Twin when I bought it used in 1966. One has been re-coned twice, the other only once.

  7. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    All the parts in amplifiers that have current flowing through them constantly change slightly over their life time.
    That includes caps, tubes, resistors, transistors, transformers and speakers.
    That's why amps sound different as they age.
    Some people perceive this change as a good one while others think the sound is getting bad.
    That's why some people sell off old amps and others buy them up.
    I think this whole topic is kinda funny cause everyone is at least part of the way right and wrong at the same time.
    So I think we all should enjoy our stuff while it sounds good because it's all gonna change soon.
    Maybe that's why we keep buying new gear!
    I don't think musicians are ever really finished buying stuff...:~)
  8. 54club

    54club Synchromatic

    Mar 31, 2011
    Kelseyville, CA
    Breaking-in a freshly-laundered shirt?

    Since Febreeze is a fabric softener, I would imagine that it does the same thing to the paper fibers in the speaker cone, in other words it takes a little of the "stiffness" out of the cone, thereby giving somewhat the same effect as "breaking-in" the speaker. I've found a somewhat stiff and wrinkled shirt from a dryer load with no fabric softener added will soften up and de-wrinkle when worn for a few hours.;)
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  9. 54club

    54club Synchromatic

    Mar 31, 2011
    Kelseyville, CA
    Mellowing with age...

    I agree with you a point. I haven't spent a lot of time and $$$ shopping for amps and guitars since the mid-'60s because I made some right choices (for my personal taste) around that time. I have, however, spent some smaller amount of $$$ and time getting service and repairs done in a timely manner and so haven't been replacing my amp(s) and guitars regularly.

    It is true that guitars and amps mellow with age just like people. Amps and guitars live quite a bit longer than people and, in fact (with a bit of care), can live nearly forever. I bought my '65 Twin Reverb from Jerry Garcia in '66. Jerry quickly realized he had made a mistake and soon thereafter started to acquire quite a collection of JBL-equipped blackface Twin Reverb Amps. I believe those amplifiers still exist, unlike Jerry, may he rest in peace.

    My stereo rig in the mid '70s to early '80s.
    Guitars are l - r: Rickenbacker 450-12, Gretsch Country Club, Bigsby equipped Rickenbacker 360...all guitars wired stereo. Amps are '65 Twin Reverb and '65 Dual Showman...JBL D120Fs in Twin, JBL D130Fs in Showman, bridge PU through Twin, neck PU through Showman. This rig was loud! I usually ran the Twin volume at 2 and the Showman at 3.5. I only use one amp these days...sometimes that very Twin Reverb and sometimes my modded Traynor.
  10. HonkyTonkMichael

    HonkyTonkMichael Synchromatic

    Feb 1, 2010
    Hey everyone, I know that this thread is a bit old, but it helped me out so much and I am so pleased with my results that I thought that I would chime in with my experience.

    Long story short, I had some new Celestion Blue 12’s that were a bit on the harsh side, and did my own version of what Tavo and some others on these forums have suggested to break them in, and whoooooaaah Nelly, did it work well! In fact, I’d even say that it made a good amp into a phenomenal one. At full gigging volume the before/after tone change is just amazing in my honest opinion.

    The long version:

    What I have is a Dr. Z Stangray 2x12 combo that came with the Celestion Blue 12’s—which I believe is the Dr. Z hot rod version of an Vox AC30. BUT... every since I bought this amp, I’ve liked the tone but didn’t love it. It just didn’t have the round/full/tight low end and smooth mids that I loved from my sealed 4x12 and 2x12 cabinets loaded with Celestion V30s in series.

    The amp did have a magical Fender/Vox’ish “jangle” and was the loudest 30 watts I’ve ever heard from an amp by far. It also is the best circuit I’ve used for a clean slate to use my favorite pedals. My favs definitely are my Nocturne Dyno Brain, Timmy, and Barber Small Fry... and some various analog delays both new and vintage, but all that is for a different thread.

    Well after this amp spent a few years in storage due to life getting in the way of me being able to gig, I finally pulled the ol’ girl back out recently for a fun rockabilly 3 piece band that I’m playing in.

    After reading some articles and watching many a YouTube video on this amp and other similar Dr. Zs, I decided to go the route of the “Z Wreck” cab—one Celestion Gold 12 and one Blue 12 wired in series rather than the two parallel Blues. So that’s what I did.

    To my ears and fingers the 50 watt Gold and then the 15 watt blue in series using the 16 ohm tap made it much more alive and finally got me closer to that closed back tightness and round tone—but still not my favorite amp tone ever... just a little bit harsh when cranked up.

    So after much thought and contemplation I decided to use the “accelerated break-in method” mentioned in this thread. I live in an apartment and practice using a small amp and sometimes headphones, and can only use my bigger amps at gig volume levels about once or twice a week for a few hours. Sometimes less. This would have taken me years to get these speakers broken in the “old fashioned way”.

    That said, I used a 1:1 water/ammonia based glass cleaner and saturated both speakers, (not dripping, just saturated) and then let them completely dry—and repeated this 3 times. I also made sure not to get the coils or wires wet. I then waited around a day before I put the speakers back into the amp and played it. Again, making sure everything was completely dry before wiring the Gold/Blue in series at 16 ohms.

    Conclusion: Pure magic to my ears.

    I have had a few high quality amps in the last 25 years of gigging, both new and old, and have played through some friends’ high dollar vintage and boutique amps as well. IMHO, this thing is as good or better than any of them. Really. That’s the truth, and the guys I play music with are seasoned musicians—and they share my enthusiasm for this amp after the speaker break-in.

    It just oozes this smooth and “more woody” and responsive tone with my Gretsch guitars now. Sounds amazing with my Strat and Les Paul as well, and for all types of styles. Blows me away how much the tone changed, and again in a very good way to my fingers and ears. It is more round and is both punchy and smooth—all while retaining that “jangle” that I love about Fender and Vox amps that this Dr. Z was based on.

    Definitely worth every penny and time spent, for me anyway.

    I should mention that I have quite a bit of experience with electronics, speakers, and amps from working in communications and IT industry for the last 15+ years along with working on my own guitars and amps. The series wiring and speaker break-in method might be a bit much for someone that doesn’t have any experience with that sort of thing. AND always remember that when working with A/C voltage and amps (or electricity in general) that it is very easy to severely hurt yourself, if not kill you if you work on anything while turned on or “hot”. Be very careful, and paying someone that knows what they’re doing is well worth the money if needed, rather than accidentally severely injuring yourself.

    Sorry for the novel-length post here—I just wanted to write my experience with enough detail.

    Thanks and hope everyone is well in Gretsch-talk land!

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    pmac11 likes this.
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