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Ripped jeans or ripped speakers?

A band once came into the studio where I was working many years ago, and somehow the guitarist's speaker cone had been ripped in transit. There was a triangular tear about three inches long by about an inch and a half wide...

A band once came into the studio where I was working many years ago, and somehow the guitarist's speaker cone had been ripped in transit. There was a triangular tear about three inches long by about an inch and a half wide. "Oh dear", he said (or something stronger - I don't remember!), "now we can't do any recording".

On the surface that was true, since his speaker was ruined and there were no other speakers available, although we could have accomplished the recording by other means. But it takes more than that to put me off. "Let's just try it", I said.

With a look of extreme doubt the guitarist connected up his equipment, switched on and started to play. Guess what? It sounded great. In fact, I would say that it sounded a little better than I had heard that model sound before.

Now, I could conclude at this point that a rip in the cone of a speaker doesn't necessarily mean the end of the world. But there is more...

It is a fact that the cone of a guitar speaker is designed to bend and distort. This creates the 'genuine' distortion you get with a cabinet that just cannot be achieved realistically by modeling. But what if you extended this by purposely cutting, creasing or otherwise distressing the speaker cone? There would be a whole range of new sounds available with just a little experimentation. You could even attach things to the cone, more paper, metallic objects, cooking foil. The options are limitless, and almost totally unexplored.

Of course, it might not work, and don't blame me if it doesn't. But you might get that special 'signature' sound that others will in the future strive to emulate.

By David Mellor Wednesday January 26, 2011