NAMM 2024: “A true vintage classic based on the first loudspeakers designed specifically for the electric guitar”: Celestion celebrates its 100th anniversary with a speaker that pays homage to its earliest innovations

Celestion 100
(Image credit: Celestion/Marshall/Instagram)

NAMM 2024: This year marks the 100th anniversary of guitar speaker specialist Celestion, which has celebrated its centurion milestone in style with the release of a special edition 12" speaker.

Appropriately called the Celestion 100, it looks to channel 100 years of heritage by revisiting the company’s roots, going all the way back to the G12 speaker design that was developed in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.

In other words, the 30-watt Celestion 100 faithfully revives the legacy and tone of Celestion's historic G12 speakers, most notably the Alnico Blue, which was the first speaker ever purpose-built for the electric guitar.

For a bit of history, in the late 1950s Les Ward – Celestion’s chief engineer until 1979 – developed a new, strengthened version of the original G12 radio speaker in response to the need for a dedicated guitar speaker in the wake of the instrument’s skyrocketing popularity.

The need for more powerful amps and a speaker that could withstand the increased heat and vibrations from a guitar signal lead to the creation of the T530 – otherwise known as the Alnico Blue.

From there, the Alnico Blue blossomed in popularity, and was soon being fitted into Vox AC15 and AC30 tube amps, both of which helped power the British Invasion of the ‘60s.

The Alnico Blue’s close sibling, the T652, likewise found favor in Marshall amps, and soon became the go-to speaker unit for some of the most iconic guitar amps in music history – think the 1962 'Bluesbreaker'.

Though Celestion already has a handful of throwback speaker models on its books, the Celestion 100 aims to be pick of the bunch, sitting “at the head” of the firm’s product table.

Not only does it take inspiration from the Blue Alnico and T652, the speaker also looks to harness the tonal nuances of some earlier models, too, including the rare B024 and CT3757.

A bus celebrating Celestion's 100th anniversary on the floor of the 2024 NAMM show

(Image credit: Michael Astley-Brown/Future)

To help it achieve this goal, the brand formulated an all-new cone design, which was crafted with reference to “perfectly preserved vintage cones”. Edge treatment, likewise, is supposedly thin and light, and has been fashioned to enhance tonal performance and resilience.

“Players and listeners can expect a blooming low end and bell-like treble coupled with a sweet, shimmering midrange presence,” Celestion says of the special release. “When driven into distortion, the Celestion 100 compresses gradually and musically, softening the notes’ attack in the tradition of great Celestion alnico speakers.

“It all adds up to tone and aesthetics that are as credibly vintage as any speaker can achieve, but with performance that is perfectly at home in a modern live performance or music production context.

“Musicians who acquire the Celestion 100 anniversary guitar speaker will have the pleasure of owning a true retro-styled, vintage classic based on the first loudspeakers created specifically for the electric guitar.’

While the unveiling of the Celestion 100 is of course a significant release itself, it doesn’t look to be the only product that the firm will drop to celebrate its 100th birthday this year. 

Indeed, Marshall teased that there is “something extra special” the two parties have been working on by way of an Instagram post that showed a ‘Celestion 100 Years’ plate on an amp grille cloth.

Remember what we said above about those vintage Marshalls that were fitted with early-years Celestion speakers? Well, could we soon see a collaborative reissue between the two brands at some point in the future?

Now Marshall is back making amps – and amps that are similarly inspired by its heritage, no less – it seems likely. Concrete details won’t arrive until Spring, though, so we’ll just have to be patient.

To find out more in the meantime, head over to Celestion.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.