Celestion Heritage Series G12M and G12H Speakers

Anyone into vintage British guitar tones should be jazzed over Celestion’s reissuing of the original G12M and low-resonance G12H 12" ceramic-magnet speakers. Hand-built in England using authentic glue formulations, edge treatment, and voice-coil-former material—and designed to match the coil and magnetic-flux specifications of the ’60s-era speakers—the 20-watt G12M and 30-watt G12H are visually accurate, as well, sporting period-correct solder-only tag panels and vintage-style Thames Ditton labels on their green plastic covers. The G12M ($295 retail/$195 street) and G12H ($325 retail/$220 street) weigh 7.8 lbs and 10.5 lbs, respectively, and both are available in 8Ω or 15Ω.
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To get a handle on what these two speakers sound like, we first did an A/B test with a standard G12M 25-watt “greenback,” using an open-back 2x12 and a 50-watt Traynor head powered by two EL34s. The results were interesting. The Heritage G12M had a much stronger presence, delivering angrier mids, a brighter top, and slightly more bottom than the standard G12M—which, in comparison, sounded a bit stiffer and darker. The Heritage G12M’s midrange is perfectly voiced for guitar, and, hands-down, I think it’s a better choice than the standard greenback for single- or multi-speaker applications.

With its low 55Hz resonant frequency, the Heritage G12H offered more bottom than our reference G12M, but it was also a little harder sounding and not as round as the standard greenback. In this particular rig, it sounded better for bass, offering more depth and tightness than the standard G12M.

To explore how the Heritage speakers sounded together, we installed a G12M and G12H (both 8O versions) in a Victoria Double Deluxe 2x12 combo (which is essentially a tweed Deluxe with four 6V6 output tubes). Since I’d blown the amp’s original ceramic-magnet reissue Jensens, the arrival of these new Celestions provided a perfect opportunity to get this superb club amp back in action again.

First, I tested how they sounded individually in the Victoria. The Heritage G12M offered lots of complexity and sparkle, with a little grit always present in its voice no matter how clean I ran the amp. At higher settings, the Heritage G12M pushed easily into breakup when I turned up my guitar volume, yielding a tone with great upper-mid and treble presentation and nicely balanced bottom.

As expected, the Heritage G12H sounded significantly bassier and had a darker, but by no means dull, overall sound. Combined, the two speakers complemented each other to provide an excellent balance of chime, low-end girth, and midrange richness. With both single-coils and humbuckers this amp sounded righteous with these new speakers.

The third test involved installing two Heritage G12Ms and two Heritage G12Hs (all 15O versions) in a Marshall 4x12, placing the Hs on the bottom and the Ms on top—a setup that would handle 100 watts. This cabinet had previously been loaded with Celestion G12T-75s, and, driven with both a 50-watt Komet and a ’70s Marshall 50, the Heritage combination sounded noticeably smoother, deeper, and richer, and completely eliminated the high-end fang of the 75s. In trade, there was some loss of volume and, of course, power-handling capability—important factors if you primarily play heavier styles—but if you’re looking for a bigger, sweeter, and more vintage-style tone from your 4x12, these new Heritage speakers are definitely worth investigating.