"The type of wood used for building a cabinet contributes to its tone. Cabinets, like guitars, can be built out of just about any kind of wood. But just like guitars, just a few kinds of wood are used because of their sound or cost.
|Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)|
Plywood and MDF has less cabinet resonance than solid woods like pine, cedar and birch. The resonance is what contributes to the “warmth” of the sound, but can also be responsible for blurring the notes because of the slight absorption of sound. That means that the sound coming out of a pine cabinet may be full and round, but it won’t project as well as a cabinet made of plywood. Baltic birch is chosen because of its musicality, although it’s not quite as resonant as pine although it does have a bit harder edge. The resonance that occurs with MDF is described as “dead” and “atonal.” Anything that adds color actually wastes a bit of the speaker output since some of the energy vibrates the wood instead of the air.
Sometimes cabinets were designed out of necessity instead of a grand tonal design. In the case of the famous Marshall 1960 4x12, the cabinet was built as a way to contain the four Celestion G12 speakers, which were cheap and plentiful at the time. These speakers were rated at just 15 watts and were prone to flapping on hard hit low notes, so the closed back cabinet helped limit the cone travel because of the air suspension, and having four speakers kept the amp from blowing them out."
You can read additional excerpts on this and all my books on the excerpts page at bobbyowsinski.com
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