Eminence is the largest speaker manufacturer in the world, producing over 10,000 speakers a day, used by professional and amateur musicians across the world. The key to their success can be directly attributed to their loudspeaker knowledge and ingenuity, allowing them to offer products known for their great tone and excellent value. So when it came time to replace the speaker on my Fender Blues Junior, Eminence was a clear choice. As for which specific speaker model was the right one for the job -- well, that was a much harder choice.
While a Fender Blues Jr is no slouch in the clean tone department, there were times that it felt a tad bit bright and thin for my style. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the sound of EL84 tubes and the tone of the Blues Junior in general. In fact, it absolutely sings when pushed into slight overdrive or heavy distortion, but there were times when I felt I needed something a bit more mellow. So I knew that whatever speaker replacement I ultimately decided on would work towards taming those little rough edges.
With that in mind, I browsed through Eminence’s speaker catalog with clean, smooth tone in mind. This obviously sounded like a job for their Patriot series, speakers with “American” tone in mind (as opposed to the “British” sound of their Red Coat line). I immediately ruled out the Red White And Blues as it had too much top end sparkle. The same with the Swamp Thang as it was made with heavier tones in mind. On the other hand, the Texas Heat was very enticing. With it’s rich, smooth tone, great sustain and fat round sound, it almost sold me. Then I bumped into the Cannabis Rex, a speaker named after the hemp cone it houses. After listening to a few sound clips and demos, I knew I found the perfect match for my Fender Blues Junior. Smooth, rich, mellow and very laid-back -- it was exactly the speaker I was searching for.
The Eminence Cannabis Rex guitar speaker is known for its clean and full sound, offering plenty of body and sparkle. The hemp fibers give the Cannabis Rex a smokey and smooth tone that takes the edge off the highs without losing their definition. In fact, many players claim that the Cannabis Rex couldn't make a harsh note even if you tried! Aside from being able to handle both clean and overdriven tones with a nice, laid-back feel, the low-end in particular features a smooth depth without being too forceful or bass-heavy. Ideal for country, jazz and blues guitarists.
When the switch was finally made and I turned on the Blues Junior on to take it for its initial test drive, the difference was instantaneous. It was as if the speaker took my old tone, beefed it up in all the right places, smoothed out the high end while keeping everything tight and articulate and gave it an overall rich, mellow vibe. The sustain was top notch as both single notes and full chords rang strong. Even the signature harmonic textures of the EL84 tubes seemed to benefit from the full-bodied vibe of the Rex.
The change in the amp’s sound and response was similar to swapping out an old strings for a fresh, high-quality set -- sure, the core tone remains in the same ballpark (everything else on the amp remained the same, after all) but there’s definitely something special in there that makes all the difference. It was a bit darker than before, bolder but without sounding muffled or muddy. Fat but tight, laid-back yet bold. If you like your guitar tone with plenty of sparkly high end, keep the Cannabis Rex away because it will tame that treble like nobody's business!
While the Cannabis Rex equipped Blues Junior punched out amazing clean sounds with ease, it was able to handle overdrive tones with a great, laid-back feel and a crisp smokey the low-end that never felt too forceful or bass-heavy. No matter how hard I tried, I was never able to push it towards anything that sounded too harsh or shrill. Yes, it might be different from what a lot of heavy guitar players might be used to but the payoff from experimenting with a smoother overdrive tone is worth it.
Enough about what I think. Check out the Eminence Cannabis Rex in action for yourself by hitting the links below:
Yes, the Cannabis Rex is an amazing replacement speaker with plenty of qualities that matched perfectly with my style -- but it's not for everyone. If you’re a player that likes bright, sparkly highs or dislikes fat tones that are a tad bit on the dark side, this is most definitely not a speaker for you. But if you're the type of player that likes the sound of full-bodied articulate tone with super smooth character, or simply want to experiment with a rich, laid back and bold new sound, look no further because the Cannabis Rex is it.