Buying a guitar speaker cabinet is never an easy decision, especially if you need to pick the best one out online. Guitarists underestimate the impact a kickass guitar cabinet can have on their tone. It is a crucial piece of the jigsaw puzzle (read: guitar rig) that musicians have to figure out.
From airy open-back cabs to thumpy closed-back ones, there is a lot that happens under the hood of a high-quality extension cab. I have peaked into the enclosure of dozens of cabs to create a handy roundup of the best 2 x 12 guitar cabinets for every style and budget.
If you're looking for a speaker cabinet to pair with your amp head, a 2x12 cab is a perfect choice. For one, it is not as expensive and humongous as the 4x12 speaker cabinets. Secondly, it has more projection and power compared to the 1x12 cab.
In that sense, it sits in the middle, offering the best of both worlds. These qualities make it the best choice in terms of power handling and usability in the recording studio and medium-sized or big venues.
Table of Contents
Some speaker cabinets have excellent reviews but may not sound good to you. Tone is always a subjective discussion. That's why they say it's best to trust your ear. To that end, I have provided handy links to videos to hear these 2x12 cabs in action.
As with all guitar equipment, first-rate components always result in reliable gear and stage-worthy tones. That’s why I have only listed brands known for their quality and integrity. Here are the criteria for shortlisting the best 2x12 guitar cabinets for this roundup:
- Versatile tone or full-bodied sound
- Best-in-class components (construction, speaker, etc.)
- Solid and sturdy construction
- Good customer reviews
- Value for Money
This post aims to help you identify which is the best guitar cabinet out there for you. So, let's get to it!
1.Best Overall: Orange PPC212 120-Watt 2x12 Extension Cabinet
- Power Handling: 120 watts
- Type: 2 x 12" closed back cabinet
- Speaker: 12" Celestion Vintage 30 x 2
- Styling: Orange finish w/ beige grill
- Weight: 61.72 lbs
- Price: $669 to $849
Orange cabs are punchy, powerful, and visually appealing. Their characteristic sunny orange enclosure always stands out on the stage. Luckily, the performance of the cab is equally appealing, which results in excellent value for money.
Construction and Specs: The PPC212 is a combo-sized guitar cabinet made with an 18mm Baltic Birch ply with a woven paper grille, steel hardware, and skid feet for traction. The cab draws its power from two 12-inch Celestion Vintage 30 speakers with a power-handling capacity of 120-watts. The birch construction is rock solid but that also makes the amp quite heavy. It is also available in an alternate color for a higher price. The cabinet dimensions are 30.71 X 20.86 X 14.76″ (W x H x D).
Sound/Tone: The PPC212 has become synonymous with the sound that most metal and rock guitarists enjoy. It is designed to pair with Orange combo amps or amp heads as an extension cabinet. It's a closed-back design with the tried and tested Celestion V30s. Expect plenty of punch in the lows with highly desirable natural compression in the top-end. It can be the ideal addition to your rig if you like searing lead tones and some bark in your rhythm.
Weight: At 61.72lbs, it is one of the heaviest cabinets on our list. However, the weight is on account of the rock-solid birch construction. It might cause some strain but it is also durable enough to handle the rigors of traveling.
Value: Orange is an everyday name in the category. They make some of the best products in the guitar amplification segment. It only makes sense that they have a relatively high price tag. However, if you desire their unique visual appeal, the sound of the V30 speakers, and rock-solid construction – it's money well spent. We recommend it for gigging, touring, and recording musicians in rock and other heavy music styles.
2.Best Budget: Marshall MX212R Guitar Speaker Cabinet
- Power Handling: 160 watts
- Design: Closed-back cabinet
- Speaker: 12" Celestion Seventy 80
- Styling: All-black with white tubing
- Weight: 50.7 lbs
- Price: $399
Marshall needs no introduction to a guitarist. If you are a fan of the iconic crunch, this extension cabinet is a one-way ticket to the legendary Marshall tone at a very cut-throat price. It may not be as fine-sounding as the premium options, but it gives you a lot of value for every dollar spent.
Construction and Specs: The MX212R guitar cabinet sports two 12-inch Celestion Seventy 80 speakers to accompany a Marshall head. That said, any equivalent amp head or combo can be used as long as you enjoy the resulting sound. It has a power handling capacity of 160 watts at 8 ohms, which will be sufficient for most use cases.
Sound/Tone: The cabinet comes to life when you crank up the gain. It's capable of some stellar rock tones that result in fat rhythm and searing lead guitar playing. The Celestion Seventy 80 speakers typically lead to a divided opinion. Some enjoy their punchy mids and searing highs, and others find them a touch too shrill. A lot of that boils down to your style and genre. If you play punk, rock, or heavier styles, the top-end aggression is highly desirable.
Weight and Compatibility: The extension cabinet is just a hair over fifty pounds, despite the solid construction. It’s dimension are 29.5 x 21.4 x 12.5” ( W x D x H. It can be paired with a wide variety of Marshall or non-Marshall heads based on your style and budget
Value: At under $250, you get the tonality of Marshall and the iconic look for the stage and studio. Not everyone is out for a premium cabinet or a full stack, and we understand that. That’s why we’ve selected the Marshall MX 212R as our best budget guitar cabinet. Plus, it is also available as a vertical stack with an angled top to create a quarter stack.
3.Best Premium: Mesa/Boogie Fillmore 180W Guitar Cabinet
- Power Handling: 180-watt
- Design: Vintage-tuned open back
- Speaker: 12" Celestion Custom 90
- Styling: Black with tinsel jute grill
- Weight: 46 lbs
- Price: $669
Who doesn’t adore the guitar tones of Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Allman Brothers, Frank Zappa, and other legendary guitarists from the 70s and 80s? If that’s you, you might find the Fillimore to be the best extension cabinets for the vintage guitar tones you’ve always dreamt of.
Construction and specs: The cab features two 90-watt Celestion Custom 90 speakers for a total power handling capacity of 180-watts. The cab's selling points are the birch construction, vintage-tuned enclosure, and a top carry handle. It is done up in black vinyl and white piping with a classy tinsel jute grill. Yes, the price tips over the $500 mark, but that’s the least you can expect for decades of innovation and the good name of Mesa/Boogie.
Sound/Tone: From gain drenched tones to top-end glass, any amp can come to life when paired with Fillmore cabs. The Celestion 90 pair does not disappoint with its performance at any volume level. Don't mistake them to be a one-trick pony. The cabinet is every bit dynamic, responsive, and versatile. They are the best in class if you covet an open-sounding cab.
Weight and Compatibility: At 46 lbs, this is one of the lighter amps of the roundup. Despite that, it is by no means frail. The 2x12 version is engineered to match a Fillmore 50 amp head but it can work with any equivalent amp head or as an extension to a combo amp.
Value: The roster of Fillmore extension cabinet fans includes some big names like Carlos Santana and Keith Richards. It’s the best choice for those who appreciate organic tones, world-class construction, and storied history.
4.Best for Rock: EVH 5150III 50S 60-watt Guitar Speaker Cab
- Power Handling: 60 watts
- Design: Closed back, casters, tilt-back legs
- Speaker: 12" Celestion G12H Anniversary Edition
- Styling: Black with woven grille
- Weight: 50.7 lbs
- Price: $499
The EVH 5150 Series is a 90s re-launch of the amps designed by Van Halen back in the day. As of today, the series includes a bunch of 5150 heads and cabinets. They have become a big hit among guitarists who enjoy dazzling clean tones and gain-drenched wallop.
Construction and Specs: The EVH 5150III 2x12 cabinet is available in two finish options – a) all-black and B) an ivory equivalent. Under the birch ply construction, you will find two 30-watt Celestion G12H speakers eagerly waiting to be hooked up to some action. The closed back design is robust. It can handle a gigging musician's needs.
Weight and Compatibility: At 60 lbs, it’s on the heavier side of the spectrum. However, don’t forget that this is a tilt-back design with high-quality caster wheels. The wheels are really helpful for the sake of portability and extra maneuverability on stage. The cab works best when paired with a head from the EVH 5150 Series. That said, you can match the guitar cabinet with an equivalent amp head. Although, that might lead you to miss out on the Van Halen tones that it promises.
Sound/Tone: Tone-wise, this cabinet is designed for the modern guitar player while still offering a slice of the Van Halen Tone. The closed back design is generally in the ballpark of rock and metal players. The 5150II is capable of massive power considering its humble power handling specs. Paired with a good amp, it can yield amazingly warm and fat tones with a focused (read: tight) overall sound.Value: The EVH extension cabinets are designed for tone and travel. What it lacks in power handling, it more than makes up for with the first-rate performance of the G12H speakers and portability features. It's a fantastic choice for the touring/gigging rock guitarist.
5.Best For Blues: Hughes and Kettner TM212 Guitar Cabinet
- Power Handling: 120-watt
- Design: Closed back cabinet
- Speaker: 12" Celestion Vintage 30
- Styling: Black w/ black grill
- Weight: 43 lbs
- Price: $669
Hughes and Kettner calls this cab a ‘steel fist in a velvet glove’. It designed for some sweet ‘n serious punch thanks to the vented housing, dove-tailed birch construction, and classy fit and finish. It’s yet another addition to a long list of H&K guitar gear that delivers solid build quality and performance.
Construction and Specs: The ultra-light TM212 cab sports a rugged ‘bass reflex’ enclosure designed for some serious punch. Under the classy fit and finish, it features a pair of Celestion Vintage 30 speakers, which are a popular choice for guitar cabinets. At 43 lbs, it is the most lightweight 2 x 12 guitar cabinet of our roundup. It’s great for those who travel for gigs and want something gentle on the back.
Tone/Sound: The cabinet is voiced to accompany the Hughes & Kettner TM 18 or 36 Head when stacked vertically. Either way, it is fully capable of sounding rich and creamy. The Celestion V 30s do a bang-up job at handling clean and distorted tones. They have a full-bodied tone because of the closed back design and good low-end punch. The top-end is not detailed or glassy. It has a subdued quality that is very desirable.
Weight and Compatibility: The 120W extension cabinet weighs a mere 43lbs. That’s something your back will be thankful for. It can be also paired with the GrandMeister 36 (vertically) or other standard sized heads in horizontal use.
Value: Based on the robust construction, quality, and low weight, the TM212 cab is par with the price. It’s a good option for guitarists who seek an easy-to-transport 2x12 guitar cab for rehearsals, recordings and gigging at clubs and medium-sized venues.
6.Best for Metal: Friedman Runt 2x12 EXT Guitar Cabinet
- Power Handling: 120W
- Design: Ported closed back
- Speaker: 12" Celestion Custom 90
- Styling: Black with grill
- Weight: 58 lbs
- Price: $669
Friedman Amplification is an up-and-coming name in the guitar world. But their rise is steep and accelerated thanks to their innovate designs, high-quality components, and killer tones – this handcrafted extension cabinet is proof of their excellence.
Construction and Specs: The Friedman Runt 212 is a USA-made guitar extension cabinet with a rear-ported design. It has a ported closed back design for a tight/focused sound with an excellent low-end grunt. The hole in the back gives the tone more oomph in the lows, which pairs beautifully with the overall sound of the V30 speakers.
Tone: Metal players need to pack a wallop with their tones, and the entry-level options often tap out when the gain gets terrorizing. Not the Friedman Runt! It will be a great companion on stage and in the studio when your riffs and lead playing need a rich response to come to life.
Weight and Compatibility: The guitar cabinet is on the heavier side (58 lbs) but that’s expected from a cab with robust construction. Rest assured, it can handle all the severities of touring and playing night after night. In any case, the Runt 2x12 is a killer option for serious guitar players, especially those of the hard rock and heavy metal ilk.
Value: You could probably get two “budget options” for this price, but the tone may scream “you get what you pay for” when you play them. In terms of build quality and sound, the Runt is on the money. The price doesn’t seem so heft once you experience the tone and top-drawer components first-hand.
7.VOX V212C Custom Guitar Speaker Cabinet
- Power Handling: 50 watt
- Design: Open back cabinet
- Speaker: 12" Celestion G12M Greenback Speakers
- Styling: Black with grill
- Weight: 48 lbs
- Price: $499
We end our round-up with a killer open back guitar extension cabinet with VOX’s pedigree.
Construction and Specs: The V212 has all the aesthetic appeal of Vox and 50W power to boot an AC15CH or any similar amp head. The open back cab features a pair of Celestion G12M Greenback speakers famed for their open sound and warmth. This is the amp for guitar players who want an unrivaled clean tone or sweet, sweet treble when the gain is cranked just right.
Tone/Sound: The Vox AC sound is a classic tone and this is a part of that sonic territory. The 212C can purr and roar with the same proficiency, making it a rich-sounding and versatile guitar cabinet. In the studio, the open design of the Vox 212C allows the sound to disperse so the midrange can come to life. It offers dynamic detail that can be captured with good micing for tracking purposes.
Weight and Compatibility: Despite superior construction, the cabinet only weighs 48 lbs, which is downright commendable. The cab is travel-friendly and portable, especially if you want to use it for a half-stack or as an extension.
Value: The VOX V212 is a gateway drug to the spacious arena rock tones with a performance that far exceeds the price. The iconic Vox design is the icing on the top. Plus, it is one of the cheapest ways to get a cab with two Celestion G12M Greenback speakers. If that is not a good enough bargain, what is?
Guitar Cabinet Buyer Guide - 2 x 12 Extension Cabinets
A guitar cabinet is the ‘speaker’ that is coupled with an amp head (or amp). However, an extension cabinet can be used with a combo amplifier or for stacking. It gives you flexibility in a guitar rig to match multiple amps and cabs based on the occasion.
In theory, the extension cab design is quite simple. It includes one or more speakers in wood, ply, or MDF enclosure in an open, closed, or semi-open design. The main role of the speaker is to sound out the audio signal coming from the amp head or combo amp.
This leads many guitar players to focus on the amplifier head while underestimating the importance of the cabinet in their tone. Yes, the amp does the heavy lifting of your core tone, but that doesn’t mean the cabinet doesn’t have any impact on the quality of the sound.
Types of Guitar Cabinets
Guitar cabinets are available in 4x12, 2x12, and 1x12 configurations. 4 signifies the number of speakers and 12 represents the 12-inch speaker. Therefore, 1x12 = a guitar cabinet with one 12-inch speaker.
4x12s are a proper stage monster. Remember the iconic Marshall stacks we see in concerts and music videos? The 2x12 is also a common contender for stacking for live and recording purposes. The 1 x 12 cab is the smallest tone pusher among guitar cabinets.
The 2x12 cabs are popular because they are more powerful than the 1x12 and more portable than 4x12. They are neither bulky beasts nor featherweight brawlers. 1x12 are perfect for small venues but pretty useless beyond that, especially if you want to use them to monitor your sound.
On the flip side, who wants to lug a 90lbs 4 x 12 cabinet every time you have a gig at a local bar. Plus, it would be ridiculously loud for the context. That's where a 2x12 fits in - it offers the best of both worlds.
What do 2x12 guitar cabinets sound like?
Simplistically speaking, 2 x 12 cabinets have good projection, tight lows, and emphasis in the mid-range. That said, each guitar cabinet has a distinct sound quality based on the construction materials, enclosure design (open or closed), and quality of the speaker. The speaker plays the most important role in the tone of the guitar cabinet.
How to pair a 2x12 guitar cabinet?
It would be a tragedy if you connect incompatible amp heads and cabs. Typically, 2×12” guitar cabinets are used with amp heads with lower-to-mid level wattage. When paired right, they can result in full-bodied tones that sit well in the mix.
In many cases, amp manufacturers build a special guitar cabinet to match a specific amplifier (amp head). These pairings are a safe bet because they are designed (or destined) to sound good as a pair. This, however, is not mandatory and you can use other guitar amp heads with an extension cabinet.
What is better - Open Back or Closed Back Guitar Cabinet?
In open-back cabinets, some part of the back of the enclosure is removed to release sound. This results in an airy sound with pronounced highs, as it allows the speaker to breathe, so to speak. They sound amazing with clean tones because of the high-end presence and bright sound. On the flip side, the lows are loose on account of the vibrant and spread-out tone. They are preferred for genres such as jazz, blues, funk, indie/folk, and studio recordings.
Closed back guitar cabinets have no opening in the back. Their speakers are fully enclosed within the cabinet. They yield a full-body punch because there is no loss of sound from the back. In general, they sound tight, focused, and have lots of weight in the mid-range. Most 2x12 guitar cabinets in our roundup (and the online market!) are of the closed-back variety. That's because their punchy tone and natural compression are highly sought after by guitarists. However, because the sound is unidirectional, they are less versatile in terms of mic-placement in the studio.
A Final Word
I have provided guidelines in the buyer guide for reference. With some basic research, you should be able to find the best speaker cabinet to match your guitar amp. The choice should also take into consideration your needs, space, and application (read: genre).
Hopefully, the detailed reviews and easy-to-follow links will help you purchase the best 2x12 guitar cabinet for your amp (and genre). As always, I will return with another elaborate guide to help you make informed purchase decisions. Until then, happy hunting!