How to Check Out Used Speakers

by Tony Flagg
It's always a buyer's market for used speakers because so many are worried about buying a blown cab. It's completely possible, however, to assess the state of a speaker cab prior to buying if you know the tricks.

The most likely thing to be blown with a newer cab is the hi-frequency horn. Arrange with the seller for the following:

Testing the horn:
Turn any Hi-freq attenuator all the way up; crank the amp and listen for hi end distortion or total lack of high end. If there is no high end, do this: turn the volume on the bass down, but all the way up on the amp. Put your ear up to the horn and listen for hiss. No hiss: either the attenuator is down or the horn is blown. Replacments are usually $75.00.

Audible check of the cones:
While the amp is on, make a visual check that all the cones move when you play a note. A final check is performed by playing through the cab loudly, with your ear in close proximity to each cone (any distortion introduced by one of the cones will be hard to hear at a distance, but that situation leads to decreased speaker life).

Double check the cones:
Turn off and disconnect the amp. Lay the cab flat on its back and carefully remove the grill. Using both hands, gently move each cone back and forth, feeling carefully for any rubbing or scratchy sensations. Try to distribute the pressure evenly around the cone while doing this. Any rubbing or scraping indicates a deformed (blown) voice coil.

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