The J Design 112 California Hand Crafted Speaker Enclosure

Closed-Back Testing of the J Design 112 California Hand Crafted Speaker Enclosure

I received my new hand-crafted custom speaker enclosure from Jeff Earl of J Design this week and I have to say…it’s a beauty.  I still need to spend some time putting it through its paces in various open/closed back configurations, but the initial “closed-back” results have been extremely satisfying.

Closed-Back Configuration Audio Sample

Here’s a quick sound clip of the cabinet in a closed-back configuration.  The amp I used is a little Groove Tubes Soul-O-Single Combo with the gain and master volume wide open (gain pushed in).  I put an SM 57 right on the grill clothe going directly into a BAE 1073 MPF pre with no EQ. The rhythm guitars were tracked with the Combo’s stock Jensen PR10 Alnico 10” speaker.  The prominent lead guitar sound is the new speaker enclosure.  To my ears, it produces a much more organic and 3D sound.  You can definitely hear the warmth of the wood in the track.  It’s a thick, lovely sound…

1X12 Speaker Enclosure Design

I chose the 112 California and loaded it myself with a 12” Celestion Vintage 30 upon arrival (speaker wiring and mounting screws were included and installed…..connections are the simple slip on style).  The 112 California appears to be one Jeff’s more popular designs.  It seemed to offer me the most flexibility considering my specific recording needs.  Below are the details from my order:

  • Premium  3/4″ Clear Pine cab with 13 ply Baltic Birch Speaker Baffle
  • Three-Panel Convertible Open/Closed Back
  • Oxblood Stripe grill cloth
  • Gold Piping Around Baffle
  • Fiddleback Anigre Fascia on Baffle
  • High Quality Strap Handle
  • Nickel Plated Steel Protective Corners
  • Large Rubber Feet
  • Stainless Steel Hardware Fasteners
  • 16 Gauge Wiring on a 1/4″ Neutrik Jack

Note that the standard 112 California design comes with a two-panel semi-open back, but I had Jeff add a 3 panel semi-open/closed back where the center panel and/or bottom panel are removable.  There’s an additional cost of $15 for this and it is WELL worth it.  For me this was an important feature because I knew this was going to be my primary studio cabinet and maximum flexibility was critical.

Jeff custom builds the speaker enclosures when the order is placed and offers an impressive variety of beautiful, exotic wood and grill clothe options.  The cabinet’s corners are beautifully dovetailed…the quality and craftsmanship is top notch. It took about 20 days for him to build and deliver so be prepared to wait a couple of weeks when you place the order.  Jeff’s really easy to work with and he communicates well via email.

Future Considerations – 212 California Speaker Enclosure

Next on the list for me is a 212 California to match the 112.  The plan is to have him build it with a “plug & play” stereo/mono jack which would allow me select right or left speaker individually (or together if using a stereo setup) at 8 ohms, or (both speakers in series) at 16 ohms mono or (both speakers in Parallel) at 4 ohms mono….lots of options.  As for the speakers, I’m thinking a Celestion G12H-100 on one side and a Celestion Alnico Blue on the other side.  I do a lot of double tracking guitars on the fly and being able to quickly achieve that kind of tonal variety from a speaker enclosure is vital to my creative method.

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