You might assume that a 4x12 cabinet is significantly louder than a 2x12, but this isn’t always the case. While these cabinets do often offer more wattage, this is split between more speakers. The differences between these cabinets has more to do with your low-end response and overall presence than it does with pure power.
Still on the fence about which one’s right for you? We’ll break it down in more detail below, then you’ll find out which you should choose: 2x12 or 4x12 cabs.
2x12 or 4x12 Cabs: 2x12 Cabinets
For many guitarists, a 2x12 cabinet is the ideal size. It has more power than a 1X12 without being too heavy to carry to gigs. They’re also often rated at a wattage that takes full advantage of the power provided by most amp heads.
One advantage of the 2x12 cabinet is that it offers you more versatility. You can get two 2x12 cabs and stack them for gigs at larger venues, or pare your set-up down to one for practices and smaller clubs. This will cost you more than buying a single 4x12 but a lot of players find that a decent trade off for the easier transportation.
Orange PPC212 2x12 Cabinet Celestion V30
- Orange 2x12 Cabinet Celestion V30 16 Ohm Black
- Price: $799.00
- Price as of 10/22/2020 17:04 PDT(more info about ad)
Orange makes some of the best amps and cabinets on the market, and has been at the top of the game for decades. This closed-back cabinet produces 120 watts of power, which it pours into two Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. The total effect gives you a punchy sound with a natural reverb.
The PPC212 (see full specs) is the ideal 2x12” cab to look at in comparison to 4x12” models because it was based on the PPC412. It’s wider than many 2x12”, giving it a larger interior volume for a fat tone more similar to what you’d get from more speakers. The flip side of this is that it loses some of the 2x12” portability—at almost 80 pounds, it’s not exactly portable.
An Orange head is obviously a great pairing for this cabinet, but it’ll bring that same natural depth to any valve head that can give it enough power. It’s built of durable 18mm Birch so it’s road-ready and will serve you well for years on the road.
Marshall Amps MXR 2x12 Cab
- Marshall Amps Amplifier Footswitch (M-MX212R-U)
- Price: $349.99
- Price as of 10/22/2020 07:54 PDT(more info about ad)
If you’re looking for a 2x12 cabinet that’s a bit more affordable, the MXR from Marshall gives you just as much power as the Orange above. It uses a pair of Celestion 70/80 speakers that are designed to give you that classic British sound when paired with any Marshall head.
This Marshall amp is probably more the size you think of when you picture a 2x12. It’s a manageable load at just under 50 pounds. One unique feature of this amp is that it’s available in either a horizontal or a vertical configuration. This gives you more options when it comes to arranging your equipment.
From the black grille to the vintage sound, everything about this Marshall cabinet is classic. Best of all, you’ll love the sound. It’s thick through the mid-range with a musical high-end that’s never thin or jangly.
2x12 or 4x12 Cabs: 4x12 Cabinets
The 4x12 is a beast of a cabinet—the largest cabinet you’re likely to see, aside from the rare sighting of a 4X15. The disadvantages are obvious: they’re heavy and difficult to transport. So why would you want to get a 4x12?
A 4x12 cab is the most economical way to get more sound. You’ll pay less per speaker with a 4x12 than two 2x12s. The larger cabinet also gives the soundwaves more room to resonate, translating to a fuller sound with a better bass response.
Marshall 1960B 4x12 Cabinet
- Marshall 1960B 300-Watt 4x12-Inch Straight Guitar Extension Cabinet
- Price: $1,099.99
- Price as of 10/21/2020 23:47 PDT(more info about ad)
Marshall makes excellent cabinets in a variety of sizes. This 1960B 4x12 cabinet is available in both straight and angled versions. It gives you a variety of impedance options, too, which makes it easier to match with other equipment.
Players who want maximum sonic output from a single amp will love the Marshall 1960B (see full specs). The closed-back design enhances the low end and presence. The four Celestion G12T-75 speakers get 300 watts of power, for big, beautiful sound on both clean settings and high gain.
You’ll want to get a pretty powerful head to go with this impressive cabinet, but in truth it has the power to make just about any head sound fantastic. The biggest problem you’ll have with this cabinet is moving it to gigs. It does weigh nearly 100 pounds, though the wheels on the bottom do help with the mobility.
Peavey 6505 4x12 Slant Cabinet
- Peavey 6505 4 x 12 Slant Cabinet
- Price: $847.35
- Price as of 10/22/2020 17:04 PDT(more info about ad)
Not all 4x12 cabinets are priced to break the bank. You can find pretty decent models for a reasonable price, including this Peavey 6505. Its stats have a lot in common with the Marshall above—an angled, closed-back cabinet with 300 watts of power. It gives one of the lowest per-speaker costs you’ll find in an amp.
The materials used in the Peavey 6505 are fairly basic. It has a plywood construction and is loaded with four Sheffield 1200 speakers. Don’t take this to mean the construction’s shoddy. This is a workhorse of a cabinet, with heavy-duty casters on the base to help with transportation.
Power-wise, this cabinet will blow you away. You’ll get enough volume to fill any club, even if you play louder, harder styles. The sound is a bit more modern than what you’ll find with many 4x12s, making it a top choice for metal and rock players.
2x12 or 4x12 Cabs: So Which Cabinet Size Do You Want?
There’s no wrong answer to this question. You’ll find pros backed by both these cab sizes, and in lots of combinations. Remember that it comes down to a question of presence more than it does pure volume. In many respects, 2x12 cabinets give you more versatility, and they’re definitely more practical for practice sessions and gigs at smaller venues. Whichever one you choose, the four cabinets on this list are all high-quality choices that will make any amp head sing. Good luck!
Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel. Email him