Eminence 12s - Swamp Thang, Cannabis Rex, Wizard

With Celestion firmly entrenched on the throne as the Dino Speaker King since the earliest days of the genre, They probable feel invincible, and that no one can touch them. As a long term user of their product, I would tell them to check the rearview mirror. And in the case of one model by a competitor, they might need to look out the drivers side window. Eminence, no upstart by any means, has three models that could go toe to toe with Celestion right on their Dino home turf: The Swamp Thang, The Cannabis Rex, and the Wizard. The first two belong to Eminences Patriot (U.S. sounding) line while the third comes from their Redcoat (Brit sounding) series.

Eminence's roots go back at least as far as the late 60's. OEM models of their speakers have been used in multiple amp models over the years. They have and continue to produce models for many amp designers that carry the designers name rather than their own. While their Legend series has found a place in the hearts of many guitarists it's only in recent years, with the advent of their Patriot and Redcoat series, that they've managed a sustained assault on the near impenetrable fortress of Celestion.

The Swamp Thang

150 watts. Ceramic magnet. 8 or 16 ohms. Frequency range 70 to 5000 Hz. Resonance Frequency 113 Hz. Sensitivity 102 dB.

Without doubt, the Swamp Thang is the most misnamed speaker ever manufactured (though Celestion's Vintage 30 which is neither vintage, nor 30 watts remains a puzzler). When I think of swamp music I hear something that's far removed from the tonality this speaker delivers. There's nothing even remotely bluesy about this speaker. I don't even understand why it's in the Patriot line. It's got Redcoat written all over it. It reminds me very much of Celestion's Classic Lead 80 with added volume and a bit more aggression in it's voicing. The mids are a bit darker but never muddy. It's very smooth in the middle with strength and power at both the high and low end of the frequency range. Highly articulated but robust when the amp it's used with is overdriven.

I have a Swamp Thang in a 1 X12 EarCandy Boa cab. It is a monster. Power handling? I've run my Mesa Mark III into this brute and it hasn't even whimpered. Solid as a rock. If I needed to replace the JBL in a vintage Mesa cab I would not hesitate in going with the Swamp Thang. It is less clean sounding than a JBL, and some would say that's not necessarily a bad thing. The Swamp Thang can certainly handle the power and would add a bit of an updated quality to the cab. Celestion should keep a good eye on this one.

Now. About that name. I'd have gone with Swamposaur or Swamp Rex or Swamp Monster. Swamp Thang just makes me think of a poacher takin' a break on the porch of his houseboat playin' bottleneck slide and singin' bout' how unfair life's been to him. Hell. If he was plugged into a Swamp Thang the game warden would have his ass in a cell quicker than the snap of the gator that took his left foot.

The Cannabis Rex

50 watts. Ceramic magnet. 8 or 16 ohms. Frequency range 70 to 5000 Hz. Resonance Frequency 101 Hz. Sensitivity 102 dB.

The Cannabis Rex. Even the name speaks of it's Dino aspirations. While it is a hemp cone speaker it really doesn't sound like a model with it's eye on the Tone Tubby city state. Other than the smoother and less aggressive high end that is an identifiable by-product of hemp being used as the material for the cone, the Cannabis Rex moves in a different direction from that point on. It does not shuffle along. It stomps it's feet and makes its presence known.

I'm not really sure who at Eminence is in charge of writing the suggested use portion of their speaker descriptions. They state that the Cannabis Rex is most appropriate for country, jazz, and classical. I don't hear that. I don't hear that at all. Even with its hemp cone and ceramic magnet, to my ears it produces a tone similar to the mix of a less aggresive version of a G12H with a hint of the Celestion Blues voicing thrown in. It has a compressed sound that I normally associate with AlNiCo magnet designs. I'm guessing it's this compressed quality that causes Eminence to steer jazz players and country pickers in this speakers direction. But, where speakers meant for jazz or country usually flub up when you push them hard the Cannabis Rex doesn't react that way at all. Both with overdrive and 80s type vintage distortion it produced a full round voicing that seemed to cut some of the top edge while retaining an articulate quality. Like the Swamp Thang, I've only heard it through a 1 X 12 so I can't really say how it would react in a multi speaker enclosure. Still, if a Dino wanted to use hemp cone speaker's in their rig I'd choose the Rex over the Tone Tubby or Weber designed or any other hemp speaker I've ever used or listened to. It just sounds nastier or meaner or maybe grumpier is the word I'm looking for. Like the look in the eye of a well feed dinosaur you've just accidentally woken from its siesta.

The Wizard

75 watts. Ceramic magnet. 8 or 16 ohms. Frequency range 70 to 6000 Hz. Resonance Frequency 100 Hz. Sensitivity 103 dB.

Remember what I said about Celestion looking out the drivers side window. Well, this is the model they'd find attempting to pass. This Mother Rocks. This is the bellow of a Tyrannosaurus letting everyone know your walking on his turf.

Lets look at a few qualities a Dino guitarist would want in a speaker.

  • Loud is good.
  • Near perfect articulation when used in any way and at any drive setting is very good.
  • Able not only to handle an overdrive or distortion, but, to add a voicing of it's own that is a perfect match to the tonal qualities a Dino searches for is excellent.
  • Of lesser importance to Dinos but still good qualities to have would be a great clean voicing, a richness to its voice without being overly thick, having a distinct, crisp and clear sound quality, and being well balanced across the frequency range.

I think The Wizard reaches more of these goals than any other speaker I've ever played through. True. It hasn't withstood the test of time. It hasn't, as of yet, collected a huge base of superstars touting it's name. I don't know that the build quality is up to the standards of the Celestion speakers designed and assembled in England. There are, at this point, a lot of unknowns that only time and experience will provide answers for. But for the catagory of tonality, voicing and sound quality when used within the Dino format, I would rank this speaker every bit as good as the Celestion Vintage 30, the G12H Anniversary, or the Heritage series G12H or G12M.

Tonally, The Wizard is top shelf. It's frequency range is unreal. The actual noticeability of the increase in range is remarkable. Even under the heaviest amounts of gain you can throw at it there still exists a sparkle at the high end, string definition when chording, and the tight yet pronounced bottom end of a swimsuit model. This one I've heard in both 1 X 12 and 2 X 12 cabinets, and I truly hear it's voicing as being even better in a multi-speaker enclosure. I haven't heard it in a 4 X 12 yet, but, I'm guessing The Wizard would be killer.

In conclusion

While the majority of speakers produced by Eminence fall outside of a Dinos tonal goals, the three models listed above (plus a few others I'm not yet familiar with) should be on Celestions radar and on a Dino's shopping list. Celestion probably sees all three, but, when you've been at the top for so long you sometimes let your guard down. With these three Eminence speaker models moving in Celestion had best man the walls.

In the case of Eminences' The Wizard I'd suggest Celestion raise the walls and bring Merlin out of retirement.