Are you ready to shred? If you’re a proud owner of one of the best metal guitars, it would be a shame to play it through the wrong amplifier setup.
A monstrous metal guitar needs to roar through an equally beastly amp and cabinet.
This post explains some of the finer details of guitar cabinet choice and picks out the best guitar cabinets for metal to help you find a scorching new tone.
I tested 7 products and found the Orange PPC212OB to be the best guitar cab for metal.
This is a 120W open-backed cabinet containing two 12” Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. I think this cabinet sits in the best spot for a lot of the feature options in guitar cabs.
It has two speakers, so it’s not as intensely loud as a 4x model, although it’s not as quiet as 1x cabinets, which sometimes aren’t loud enough for gigs.
I believe it’s the perfect balance of size and power for most metal guitarists. Unless you’re playing stadium shows, or larger venues, the sound of this cabinet will suffice.
As a guitarist, I’ve experienced firsthand the difficult decision of choosing a guitar cabinet. For beginners, it can be hard to understand all the nuances and factors. I’ve created this guide to clear up some misconceptions about amplifiers and cabinets and explain how to find the right cab for your situation.
How to choose a guitar cab
There are some great cabinets out there, maybe too many! It’s easy to be blinded by the huge amount of cabs and amps available. There are some considerations to make which will narrow down the number of decisions. See the bottom of this post for more FAQs about choosing a guitar cabinet.
Speaker Count: There’s a large variety of speaker configurations available for cabs. Some brands even offer different configs within the same cab range. The type and quantity of speaker largely determine the resulting sound, so try as many options as you can to get a feel for which style you prefer.
Power Handling: this describes the wattage value that the cabinet supports. Amplifiers give out a powerful electronic signal, if this is too strong for the speaker’s handling level, they could be damaged. There is usually some overlap, but it will degrade the speaker’s sound quality quicker.
For instance, a 50-watt cabinet could be plugged into a 70-watt amp, but ideally, it should use a 50-watt.
Size & Weight: Check the size and weight dimensions of a cab before you buy it. Some of these things can be huge too, making them difficult to transport. If you plan on using a cabinet for live performance, make sure it’s going to fit in the boot of your car. You will need a way to transport them safely.
Keep reading for our full assessment of the best Guitar Cabinets for Metal!
Best Guitar Cabinets for Metal in our tests
- Orange Amplifiers (PPC212OB) 120W, 2×12, Open
- Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister (TM112) 60W, 1×12, Closed
- EVH 5150III () 60W, 2X12, Open
- Marshall (MX412AR) 240W, 4×12, Closed
- VOX Black Cab (BC112) 70W, 1×12, Semi-Open
- Blackstar (HTV412B) 80W, 4 x 12, Closed
- Orange (PPC108) 20W, 1×8, Closed
7 Best Guitar Cabinets for Metal Reviewed in Detail
The Orange PPC212 is an open-backed cabinet that packs two Celestion Vintage 30 speakers in a classic Orange style. These speakers are designed to recreate the classic sound of the Celestion Blue.
The Orange PPC212 has a high sound quality and robust construction. This also feels very light for a 2*12 speaker cabinet, making it great for transportation.
This open-backed model has a great response for heavy distortion, which is perfect for metal guitar tones.
With improved performance, the Orange PPC212 has a 120Watt power handling rating, which delivers a powerful sound and full-range tone.
Orange cabinets have metal corners and rubber feet for protection and stability. The Orange PPC212 has built-in carrying handles which make this easy to transport and move around on stage.
Orange amps have a solid reputation, and as soon as you try them you know why.
This high-quality cabinet is a great choice for metal and rock guitarists looking for a medium-sized guitar cab with an uncompromising tone. This has a tight sound suitable for lead and rhythm guitarists. The celestine speakers are bright and clear, cutting through a recording mix or concert venue, and they handle high gain.
|Speakers||2 x 12” Celestion Vintage 30|
|Dimensions||Width – 26”|
|Weight||28kg / 62lb|
Pros and Cons
- Carrying Handles make transportation super easy.
- Huge sound for the size.
- Relatively expensive for the size
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This Hughes & Kettner 1×12 model makes a great small amp stack for metal. Don’t underestimate its small size, this has a good quality sound that takes all the gain in the world.
Perfect for metal or hard rock, these closed-back cabinets deliver a huge sound with their sweet Celestion speaker. Its closed-back design gives it a tight response, with a warm low end. The mid-range was slightly nasal, but some players will like that style of tone. This closed-back cabinet has a slick, black look that isn’t as in-your-face as orange cabs.
Combine this with the studio settings of a heavy amp head like a Hughes & Kettner Tubemesiter 18 and get ready to hear some searing tones. This cabinet features a Celestion 30 speaker which delivers a clear, powerful sound.
This is on the smaller side, so it won’t be loud enough for stadium shows and large gigs. At best it could just about manage a mid-sized concert. We recommend the Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister speaker cabinet for emerging metal guitarists who are looking for an amp to use at home and on stage.
|Speakers||1 x 12” Celestion Vintage 30|
|Dimensions||Width – 19.8”|
|Weight||14kg / 31.6lb|
Pros and Cons
- Small and transportable
- No head mounting mechanism.
- The carrying Handle may get in the way of some amp head designs.
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These transportable open back cabinets feature two Celestion G12H 30W anniversary speakers with a pure sound. These are perfect guitar speaker cabinets for playing metal live or in the studio. They handle high gain with ease and are ready to spread the sound of wilding shredding.
These 2*12 guitar cabinets produce a sound that covers most of the frequency spectrum, they support up to 60W of power so they can be driven hard. These created a great “breakup” crunch
One advantage of the other features is the angle-able legs. This cab can be angled up or down, which gives sound variety, and is useful for on-stage monitoring. The EVH 5150III has a birch plywood construction which gives it a bright, sweet resonance.
The dual speaker cones are aligned in a horizontal array for a wider, rather than taller sound. This is a great option for rhythm metal guitarists looking for great amp gear at a great price. At the same time, we felt you could get larger cabinets with similar quality at the same price. Other than that, we had no criticisms for this guitar cabinet.
|Speakers||2 x 12″ Celestion Heritage speakers|
|Dimensions||Width – 36”|
|Weight||27kg / 60lb|
Pros and Cons
- Built-in head mounting mechanism increases the stability of attached amps
- Tilt-back legs allow angling of the unit, improving sound dispersion.
- Loud enough for clubs and medium-large venues.
- Larger cabs are available at a lower price.
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Marshall cabs and amps are known to deliver a heavy tone like no other. These closed-back guitar cabinets have a suitable quality for metal, rock, punk, and any distortion-based genres.
The MX412AR is an angled 4*12 speaker array. The angling increases projection and gives a more pronounced top end. For value for money, Marshall gear is second to none. These high-gain cabinets and amps sing loud and clear, working great when clean or distorted. From a whisper to a scream, these closed-back cabinets have a deep dynamic range and low noise interference.
This 4*12 is a beast for metal, using 4 speakers creates a massive sound. This can sound disgusting and sublime at the same time. The Celestion G12E speakers had a great sizzling breakup and a clean and sustained low end. You can feel the low frequencies rattling your body.
There are a bunch of guitar cabs in the marshal range, we picked this 4x model because it is truly enormous. Marshall makes some of the best 2*12” guitar cabs too.
The sound of this guitar cabinet could pretty much fill a stadium, it can handle super powerful 240-watt amps for maximum high gain tones. These guitar cabinets feature a closed-back design for a tight, punchy sound.
These 4×12 guitar cabinets will be too big for some situations. This speaker cabinet would be too loud for apartment playing but comes to life in big venues and stadiums. If you’re looking for a massive high gain closed-back cabinet for your metal or rock gigs, the Marshall MX412 is a strong choice.
|Speakers||4 x Celestion G12E-60|
|Dimensions||Width – 32.5”|
|Weight||30.8kg / 68.1lb|
Pros and Cons
- 4 speakers create a massive sound.
- Performs well clean or dirty.
- Supports high wattage amp heads.
- Too big and loud for many situations.
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This single speaker VOX amp is a great cabinet for home practice and small venue performances. Accepting up to 70W of power, this cabinet can accommodate for more than the Mini Orange below.
This is an intermediate to professional guitar cab. It suits metal and rock well because it handles distorted and saturated signals well. It has a great crunchy mid-range with singing, defined highs. The low end has a resonant, full growl with a solid sustain.
Its parallel speaker jacks allow for additional cabinets or inputs to be connected. Alternatively, it allows for additional signals for recording. With a closed-back design and punchy dynamic range, these cabinets compete with more expensive brands like Mesa Boogie. This cabinet comes in a couple of different speaker configurations. There is also a 1×8 model which is even smaller.
For the price, this is a great slice of vox cabinet tone. These are great for both vintage and modern sounds. Vox is a reputable, well-loved brand – this cabinet is just one example of why.
Paired with 70W guitar amps, the 1×12 Vox Black Cab is capable of producing loud, heavy tones. This cabinet features pronounced mid and high mid frequencies, with clear tops and an airy finish.
It uses a semi-open back design, featuring a small oval cut away at the rear. This results in a fairly open sound. It doesn’t disperse as intensely as full open back cabinets, but has a wider range than a closed-back cabinet. Combine these cabinets with the right amps and their speakers will blow your mind.
|Speakers||1 x 12” Celestion V Type|
|Dimensions||Width – 25”|
|Weight||13.6kg / 29.98 lbs|
Pros and Cons
- Light and transportable.
- Tight, controlled speakers.
- Expansive sound projection for size. Particularly compared to similar size guitar cabs.
- Expensive for a single speaker cabinet.
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Blackstar is known to make some of the loudest, most aggressive amps around, and this HT Venue series lives up to those expectations.
This closed-back cabinet features 4 Celestion 12” speakers for a mighty tone with roaring projection. Accepting amp signals up to 80 watts, these Blackstar guitar cabs are surefire contenders for the best metal guitar cabinets. Suitable for high gain scenarios, this large cabinet comes in both angled and straight versions. For a massive tone, you can combine one (or more) of each in a stack.
Blackstar cabinets tend to respond better to heavy distortion than many of the other manufacturers. They are known to be used by metal guitar and bass players a lot. They also come at a competitive price.
A cool feature of these 4 x 12 guitar cabs is their stereo potential. These can operate in either mono or stereo configurations. The stereo mode can split two independent signals across the left and right speakers. This can make some epic, wide guitar tones when used with stereo guitar effects pedals. Their tonal response is great for metal guitar
The HT Cabs responded well to a variety of Blackstar amps (heads), and other brands’. This had a huge low end that could produce lower tones from pitch-shifting pedals. The highs and mids blend well, with tight high-frequency respoa nse. This has a much larger sound than 2*12 guitar cabinets, making it suitable for large gigs and venues. These would also be great for the studio, but probably too loud for most home use.
|Speakers||4 x 12” HT Celestion 80|
|Dimensions||Width – 36.6”|
|Weight||42.6kg / 94 lbs|
Pros and Cons
- Stereo mode available.
- Massive sound
- Would like to see a larger wattage.
– – –
This compact cabinet is a great piece of gear for recording metal guitar at home. Not only is it desktop friendly, but its sound also has all the classic quality of orange cabinets.
This cabinet merges the best of vintage high end with punchy modern low end.
The sound retains its clarity even when driven to the limit.
We thought this makes a great small recording cabinet for home studio use and practice. It’s a little quiet for gigging but has a formidable sound for its size. When listening back to a recording you can barely hear the difference between this and larger cabinets.
It keeps all the original Orange styling, with a woven speaker grille cloth and vivid orange vinyl.
Despite its small, cute appearance, this is still capable of producing disgusting metal guitar tones. It has a decent dynamic range and still sounds good at lower gain levels.
One issue is that it’s only compatible with Orange Micro Terror or Micro Dark amp heads. So if you want to use this you’ll need to buy one of those too. That’s not a huge issue as the amp heads make for great studio gear.
|Speakers||1 x 8 Voice of the World|
|Power||20 watts (Micro Terror/Dark only)|
|Dimensions||Width – 12”|
|Weight||3.8 kg / 8.5 lbs|
Pros and Cons
- Its small size makes it perfect for home use.
- Has a deceptively large sound.
- Wide dynamic range, distorts well.
- Great for recording, monitoring, and expanding amp rigs.
- Limited amp head options.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Guitar Cab?
A guitar cabinet, or cab for short, is a wooden box that houses 1 or more speaker cones.
They are used for transmitting an audio signal from a guitar amplifier into the air.
They aren’t actually amplifiers themselves, although people often confuse them for “Guitar Amplifiers”.
When you say guitar amp, people usually think of the whole stack, which includes the cab and the head. (People often call the amplifier unit the “Amp Head”.) Although this is called a combo amplifier.
Technically the amplifier is the electric circuit that amplifies the raw signal from an electric guitar’s pickups.
The amplifier (head) sends these larger signals to the drivers of the loudspeakers in a cabinet. This causes the loudspeakers to vibrate, creating the loud, audible sound of an electrified guitar.
Many modern amplifiers are all-in-one (combo), which means they are essentially an amplifier built into a guitar cab. However, most professional amplification systems revolve around using separate amplifiers and guitar cabs.
This means that guitarists can match different cabs and heads together to create their own unique tone combinations.
Guitar Cabinet Sizes in Detail
When you look through guitar cabinet catalogs, you’ll see the vast number of speaker configurations available. With some cabinet models having different options within their range.
Do you want a beastly 4 x 12? Or maybe a humble 1 x 12. But what do these numbers mean? And how does it affect the sound? The formula is derived from (Speaker count X speaker size in inches).
For example, a 2 x 12 cab houses two 12” speaker cones.
The most common sizes for guitar cabs are 1×12, 2×12 and 4×12.
Bass amp sizes are different, sometimes using 8” or 10” speakers.
Each configuration has a different sound.
1×12 are smaller and quieter, usually lacking some bottom end. Good for small stage performances. Suitable for guitarists with a preference for dynamic mid-range tones. They also work with lower wattage, generally around 30 watts.
2×12 is a size up from 1×12, using two speakers instead of one. These are more powerful, with greater volume and sound pressure levels, although they will require an amp anywhere from 30-100 watts.
These are easier to transport than larger models, and suit performers for medium capacity gigs where monitoring on-stage is important. A cool thing with 2x cabs is that you can combine mismatched speakers for interesting tonal options. A common recording trick is to fit a 2x cab with one bright and one dark speaker cone. This gives recording engineers more power and versatility when it comes to miking up the cab.
4×12 are the larger size of cabinets and produce the greatest volume and sound pressure. When you need a loud tone, this kind of cabinet is the wisest choice. They are large and hard to transport, but this would be the only suitable option for big stages and stadiums. These typically have the deepest tone, fuller sound, and also the widest stereo projection. These need to be powered by beefy amplifiers, usually around 300 watts.
Which Is Better – Closed Back cabinets Or Open Back?
Another distinguishing feature is the back type of the cab. Cabs come in either Open Back or Closed Back varieties, which refers to the construction design of the cab.
Closed-back cabs have a fully covered rear face, so other than the grille, the whole cab is a solid box. Open Back cabs are not fully covered on their rear face, so you can see inside the cab, where the rear of the speakers are found.
Closed backs are the most common type, but they have a very different sound to Open backs.
Closed-back cabs have a tighter, more transient sound with less spill from the rear. This produces a more low-end-based sound, with a thicker mid-range.
Conversely, open backs allow sound to propagate from the front and back of the cabinet. Not only does this change its projection, but it creates an airier, more open sound with a brighter, more pronounced high end.
Open Back cabs have a washy low end, without so much tightness and low-frequency transients. Although this is compensated by vibrancy in the mid and upper regions. It also helps with on-stage monitoring.
Which is best? Ultimately, like most things in music, it’s a matter of subjective preference. It depends on what kind of guitar tone you are aiming for. The best cab will be whichever compliments your playing style, amplifier, and effects pedals.
Overall we chose the Orange PPC212OB as our favorite guitar cabinet for metal. This had a fantastic tone for the value. It easily handles extremely distorted guitar tones. It helps you instantly achieve a strong metal sound when paired with the right amp head.
Orange makes many great cabinets, but this one will be suitable for most metal guitar playing. It’s two celestion vintage speakers are capable of producing both clean, sweet tones, and nasty, churning distortion sounds.
This cabinet produces a volume level suitable for home playing, and live performances in small to medium venues
If you’re looking for a fantastic cabinet for metal guitar playing –
- Check out the Orange PPC212OB!