You might not be aware how much the type of wood used for building a speaker cabinet greatly contributes to its tone. Cabinets, like guitars, can be built out of just about any kind of wood. But just like guitars, only a few kinds of wood are used because of their sound or cost. In this excerpt from my Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook (written with my buddy Rich Tozzoli), we look at the most popular building materials used in speaker cabinet construction today and how they affect the tone that you’ll hear when you crank them up.
“Marshall cabinets are built out of 11 ply Baltic birch, a wood that’s known for its strength and light weight. This is one of the reasons (besides the speakers and the closed back) that nothing else sounds quite like a Marshall cabinet. Other manufacturers also use birch, but some use the cheaper and thinner 3 or 5 ply, which compromises the sound. Others use 13 ply birch to make the cabinet more robust in transport, but that makes them heavier as well (see the graphic on the right below).