Celestion Gold

In the late 1950s, Celestion responded to the need for a dedicated guitar-amp speaker by introducing a modified version of its G12 radio speaker. The new unit had a power rating of 15 watts, and was first pressed into service in the Vox AC30. Celestion has called this classic speaker the “Blue” for some time now (though it has come in a variety of colors over the decades), and with its shimmering top, and warm, thick low-end response, it remains a number-one choice for many guitarists who favor old-school British tube-amp tone. In fact, the only downside with the Blue is its low power rating.

Power handling is precisely the reason Celestion recently introduced the Gold ($420 retail/$279 street), which, thanks to a beefed-up, round-copper voice coil—which has the same 13" diameter as the Blue’s—is capable of handling 50 watts. The Gold comes in 8 ohm and 15 ohm versions, and, aside from its color, is identical to the Blue in all other regards—including its 9.3 lbs weight.

We set about comparing the new 8-ohm Gold to our reference 8-ohm Blue by installing both speakers in identical Mesa/Boogie 1x12 open-back cabinets. Our test amps were a mid-’70s, 50-watt Marshall with both channels jumpered, and a ’66 Marshall JTM-50. On both amps, the Volume controls were turned halfway up for the starting point. After calibrating our ears with the Blue, and then switching to the Gold, we noted that the Gold sounded thicker, and a touch smoother in the mids. However, the Blue had a little more midrange bloom and more top-end sparkle. As you’d expect, the Gold didn’t lose a bit of focus when pounded at higher volumes—but, then, neither did the Blue. I wouldn’t recommend pushing a Blue like this for very long, however.

Which brings us straight to the point that if you plan on using amps of 50 or more watts, the Gold will certainly stand up to the challenge. For lower-power applications, however, old Blue still rules.