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Jensen P12N 50 Watt Alnico Speaker

Jensen P12N 50 Watt Alnico Speaker

Wow! I can’t believe that in all this time, I haven’t reviewed a speaker! I’ve focused so much on amps and guitars, and pedals, and other kinds of gear, yet I haven’t even touched upon this particular subject. I suppose it’s because a speaker isn’t something you actually see – it’s a part. Now I’ve made mention of how much I like particular speakers in a combo or a cab, but never a speaker itself. I’m going to remedy that now.

The cool thing about testing gear for someone, namely Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps is that in order to effectively give feedback on the gear you’re testing, you have to play it in different configurations. I’ve played a lot of Jeff’s amps through various combos and cabinets to get a feel of how his amps sound.

When I was testing the Aracom VRX22 prior to its release, Jeff installed a Jensen P12N in a cabinet for me to try out. In short, it was love at first strum! The P12N has to be one of the most musical speakers I’ve ever played through. It has a real punchy midrange that is balanced by a real smooth low-end response. The highs are present, but not overdone. The tone is – for lack of a better word – versatile.

To me, that versatility is its strength. The cleans are pure and chimey, whether you’re playing single coils or humbuckers, and the overdrive tone, again, at least to my ears, is to die for.

The P12N is actually a re-issue of the famed P12N from back in the ’60’s. Some claim that it’s shadow of the original with respect to tone, but tone is such a subjective thing. For instance, there are those that rave about the Celestong Blue. I’ve played through that speaker, and frankly wasn’t all that impressed by it. It could’ve been the amp/cabinet/speaker combination just didn’t work very well. In spite of that, it was nice, but just not all that special to me.

On the other hand, the P12N in the custom cabinet I got from Aracom sounds so incredibly smooth and lustrous. Granted, it helps that before Jeff installed it in my cabinet, it had already seen many hours of use: About two weeks straight from me alone, and several test runs from a variety of guitarists playing everything from blues to modern alternative rock. In short, the speaker cone was already somewhat broken in. As an aside, I hate breaking in new speakers. To me they’re all harsh-sounding out of the box. But I can tell that with my P12N, if it sounds sweet now, in a few months to a year, it’s going to sound even better!

How It Sounds

In a closed back cabinet, the bass response really shines, but never overpowers. And with an overdriven amp through a closed back cabinet, the distortion is tight and ballsy, yet not so thick that you lose clarity. In my custom Aracom 1 X 12 cabinet, when it’s closed, sometimes I think I’m playing through a much bigger amp. The tone is just so tight and well-defined. And for rockin’ songs, the P12N in a closed cab well, rocks!

With an open back cabinet, the P12N brings on the chime, especially with single coils. It’s 11:15 right now, and I actually started writing this article around 10pm. But I kind of got carried away jamming on my Strat with the back opened on my cabinet. The tone was so voluminous; much more open, and it was like each note just kind of hung in the air. The overall tone also brightens up significantly, with a definite emphasis on the midrange, which I love.

So which do I prefer? Closed back or open back? Actually, neither. Each brings its own unique qualities to the table, which now obviates the need for me to get a second cabinet from Jeff so I can play both simultaneously, which would sound totally awesome. 🙂

But, be aware that this speaker is not cheap. At retail, the lowest I’ve seen it is $220. But I do have to say that it is worth every single penny! Mind you, that is with the bell cover. I’m not sure about the tonal differences between having a bell cover versus not having one. All I know is that the P12N with the bell cover sounds absolutely dynamite!

Here’s a clip that I recorded to demonstrate the VRX22, but the P12N was used in all guitar parts. The rhythm parts were played through an open-back 1 X 12 cabinet, while the lead was played with the back of the cabinet closed:

5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

For how awesome this speaker sounds, it gets a 5 Tone Bones! For more information, visit the Jensen site.

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