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How Do the Big Guys Break In Their Speakers??


I'd imagine the "big guys" have bigger problems to worry about than breaking in speakers.

Like: It makes no sense to haul amps or cabs (with those carefully broken in speakers) all around the globe so how to dial in some random amp provided in the backline and still achieve your signature tone.

By the way, if it's so significant, why don't the speaker manufacturers break in speakers at the factory as a part of the whole manufacturing process? Also, if I think the tone begins to suck after break in period, could I get my money back? If not, then why?


Breaking in speakers is a bad practice. It should come out naturally with use. That's why when you hear about "big guys" doing that ... you think that's not brain - the part of the guy that is big. Hahaha.


Yeah it's such a hard-ship to plug n play to break-in a speaker.

As Charlie Brown would state, "Good Grief!"

Grungy :facepalm
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try unplugging your amp(while it is on) from guitar and leave cable on floor, you will get a nice buzz that you can control the volume from the amp. this works well! rob

J M Fahey

How Do the Big Guys Break In Their Speakers??

Some of them get booked in Rock in Rio:

click on the image to open.
I had never heard of breaking in speakers until I experienced it 1st hand about 10 years ago. I have a '78 Marshall 50-watt MV combo that was a total ice pick into the side of the head. I'd had it worked on - converted to EL34's, less damping, better grounding, SED tubes - but it still always had that ice pick thing happening.

Then, I lent it out to a friend for a gig. After, he wanted to buy it, for a lotta money. Next time I played it, it sounded awesome. You know, like it was supposed to all that time. I'm talking night and day difference. Not subtle at all.

I asked my friend, what the heck he did to it. He said, "nothing". Anyway, we figured out that he played it way louder than I ever did - except for brief bursts. Normally, I keep the master was at about 3 for both practice and gigs. These are nice, vintage "black back" celestions.

The moral of this story is, for celestions anyway, crank it up to 6-7 for 3 hours. A couple decades of playing at 3 for 6-8 hours/week will not do it.

I still play this amp all the time. I have also broken in a Marshall 4x12 loaded with G12Cs this way and it worked well. YMMV


Hey, guys, I have the best way to break in speakers.

Just allow your guitar playing teenager to play hardcore rock/punk music on your cab each day, gradually increasing the volume from, oh, nuclear meltdown, to full armageddon, and finally, to Big Bang volume levels.

Hold onto your fillings. And your gonads. Well, I guess it's hard to hold both at the same time and be comfortable. Best of luck with the choice, anyway.

In a very short time your speakers will be completely broken in. The smoldering in your cab will stop after about a week or so. After a while, you get used to the smell.

This is guaranteed to be faster than CDs.

By the way, if you don't happen to have a guitar playing teenager, you can always rent one with a guitar pretty cheap. ;)
My son opened up my Fender Princeton Reverb's speaker with death metal.


Senior Member
TURN IT UP! But seriously, I have discovered that many speakers sound great right out of the box and just get better. Others don't. Many Emi's sound good to me as do Greenbacks.


Silver Supporting Member
I firmly believe one reason many new amps, especially Marshalls, get the reputation for sounding bright and brittle is the non-broken in Celestions. IME new Celestions really need a good break in, maybe 8-12 hours on the Variac set to 6-9VAC.

Maybe a decade ago I had a pair of Celestion Greenbacks reconed by Weber to "new from factory" G12M-25 specs. When the speakers arrived, they were painfully bright with some amps, unusable even. But they had to be great, right? Just a few months ago I got the bug to try the cab out again, and the brightness had persisted all this time (I've never played the cab very much in that time BTW). Also in the cab was a reissue Greenback, and a wonderful original G12M-25 Blackback from the 70s. So just to see what would happen I broke in one of the Webers with the variac, and the improvement was astounding, the speaker then had a very nice high end (that thing Greenbacks have where they are bright but not harsh). I then broke in the other Weber in the same way and got the same results. The broken in Weber recones sounded closer to the Blackback than did the well broken in reissue Greenback.

Just tonight I was digging a cab with a very well broken in V30, was amazed at how warm it sounds, just lovely. Unbroken in V30s, especially with the wrong amp, can be laser death ray ear manglers.
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I'll go on record with my personal experiences here... When I had my own rehearsal studio, I had good results by running an FM station with a lot of hard rock guitar music (KNAC - remember?) through the PA and using only my guitar speaker cabinet connected to it. I ran the volume at what I would consider on the bold side for a 4x12. My reasoning was that all the frequencies I was interested were in that station's guitar-heavy playlist. Dr Decibel might back me up here with the idea that there are several ways a speaker vibrates in real-world guitar use; there's the in-and-out piston motion you get from a variac or low guitar note with a neck pickup, that loosens the edge surround, the spider and anything else that goes in and out in a simple pattern. Then there are the cone's flex modes across its surface both in the form of waves that radiate out from the voice coil towards the edge (and probably back too, like waves in a pool) and shapes that form around the circumference of the cone. You can't see any of this so it's hard to believe this isn't hocus pocus but you can look up "Chladni Plates" and see what this vibration type is all about. If I am not mistaken, Celestion used some kind of laser interferometry measurements to study the behavior of some of their past glories when they decided to recreate them as reissues.
Well, anyway, I would think that in order of preference, the best ways to break in a speaker are: 1. Play the way you play, long and loud for some days or weeks - can't beat that. 2. Play recorded guitar heavy music in your preferred style through a clean amp for 24 hours or so. 3. Play 60Hz hum through it using a variac for 18-20 hours using Uncle Spot's posted calculator for safe voltage levels.
These days - no studio, I am reduced to breaking in with a variac but it still makes a big difference I can hear. I recently acquired a Deluxe Reverb with a factory-installed Celestion Blue. It sounded really disappointing - tight, nasally, cardboardy with a nasty high-mid chirp... basically like a piece of cheap crap. The speaker's great reputation made me think, this can't be. Jim Seavall of Scumback Speakers has been telling me for years that 'ya gotta break them in' and this time I finally took his advice. So I did the variac thing on it in a downstairs closet. I checked on it every 6-8 hours and even the hum sound seemed to get deeper after about 8 hours. After 20 hours, I hauled the amp back up stairs and (angels singing) There It Was. Open, clear, deep, sweet, "big". All the nasties were gone and it sounded like a speaker with a legendary reputation. It was a night and day difference that anybody could hear. Even my wife who couldn't care less about such things noticed. That's my (long) 2 cents.


I bought that earcandy speaker break-in cd a couple years ago. Followed directions. Then beat the hell out of my speakers by playing long and loud. Yea they're finally there!

Also I have been lucky on CL buying speakers that wound up coming from some young metal heads. Those v30's were broke the fukc in

Floyd Eye

Senior Member
You know what? Just use it as a reason to play more (to break it in).
Listening to a Celestion Blue break in, you think it doesn't get any better than this then it does....


I agree. I am thoroughly enjoying the Cream 90, pre break in. Now a V30 is different, but I don't know that those ever really break in satisfactorily.
I have always maintained that heating/cooling cycles play into speaker break-in also. Not just pounding it for days. Pound it and let it cool overnight. Pound it some more.

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