since the 80s there have been huge advances in amp technology and gain quality and the v30 remains popular. yet, amplifier modding remains popular. why? one of the most common requests techs get from musicians looking for mods is to reduce the apparent gain and reduce the harshness of the amp — the very things that v30s excel at! it’s my view that rather than modding or selling their amp, most guitarists should consider changing out their speakers.
a popular trend in recent years is mixing different speakers together in a cabinet. whether 2×12, 4×12, or even a full stack of cabinets, speaker choice is one of the the most effective ways of shaping your final tone. mixing speakers in a cab, rather than all speakers being the same type, gives you more tonal color and flexibility. each type of speaker has a specific voicing and tonal response, which can even effect amplifier feel, that you can choose based on your particular playing style and desired result. if you’re one of those who feels like your amp is too harsh sounding and stiff, it’s possible that the real issue is the speaker you’re playing through. something warmer, with more of a vintage voice, with more bass and a fuller mid-range and less of a high end/upper mid-range response could be a better solution than an amp mod. similarly, if your amp seems too dark or not gainy enough, then something brighter and a less full sound could be just what you need to focus your sound where you want it.
i’ve used a variety of different speakers over the years, and one of my favorite combination has been weber speakers, in particular a blend of their blue dog and silver bell. they truly sound vintage: warm, textured, rich with overtones and detail, but never harsh or bright. more recently i’ve occasionally used celestions or similar sounding variants like the warehouse brand’s vet30 and et65 (another truly vintage sounding speaker) speakers. personally, i prefer a more vintage sound with lots of texture and richness but that still retains clarity when used with high gain rock sounds and doesn’t get lost in a dense mix with other musicians, particularly when playing live with keyboards (which share much of the same sonic space). to that end, lately i’ve been mixing a warehouse ET65 with their vet30. both speakers work well when played clean or distorted, but the ET65 lends so much richness and texture to any type of style and the vet30 ensures i have enough clarity and bite to keep from getting lost in a dense mix.
so, before you look at selling or modding that amp you used to love, consider changing speakers, or blending different types in a cabinet. it’s much simpler, and cheaper in many cases, than modding the amp and can yield some fantastic results.