26 Proteus 2 months ago "Presence-dome" (good term - never heard it before this thread) JBLs were such a part of the lore of amps for me, coming up in the 60s and 70s, that I have to remind myself they may be unfamiliar to some.Till probably the late 70s, I couldn't consider an amp truly worthy unless it had those chrome domes gleaming behind the grillecloth. Before we (that is, the guys with whom I played guitar) even cared about how an amp sounded dirty, the crisp punch and headroom associated with those speakers meant louder-better-bigger. As I recall, no matter what was going on from the midrange on up, it was the solid mass of a punchy low end that told us an amp was loud. We weren't going for a broken-up, overdriven tone. We could get that from the Webcor and Wollensak tape recorders we sometimes played through, pushing their preamps to desperation and flapping their tiny speakers. We got much the same thing from the little amps we used when we got lucky: Valcos of whatever description, Silvertones. We were kinda indifferent to that crunched-up tone; we just dealt with it and learned to use it (and sure, eventually appreciating it for its own merits). But what meant BIG was the strong, clear, percussive, air-moving clean sound that came from higher-power amps with JBLs.And yep, they could be ice-picky. That was part of the package. It may be hard to believe, but we actually used tone controls on the guitars and amps to tame the worst of it. But in general we liked that sting and that clarity - because it just sounded (to our innocent and untutored ears) like the high-end component of the generally hi-fi response we liked about the whole range of those speakers. Sounded like we were hearing everything the guitar was producing - and, after all, electric guitar was by definition a magnificent thing. We wanted to hear every nuance. I still have vintage JBL D-1somethings (I used to know...130s, I think) in my 2-12 Bandmaster cabinet, last reconed in the early 80s - and still healthy. When I hear it now, yes I recognize and acknowledge the extraordinary high-end crispness. By comparison to the generally much smoother palette of speakers we're now used to for guitar, they can sound strident, clanky - and, when fed unfiltered dirt - gritty and grainy. So you don't feed them dirt - or you EQ it appropriately for better compatibility with the platform.But that's not what they're about. In their heyday - late 50s to late 60s - they represented something new and exciting for guitarists: the possibility of being LOUD and CLEAN at the same time. I'd venture to say that all electric guitarists from the 40s through the late 70s were well familiar with the sound of low-wattage amps driven past their design limits and overdriving in the way that has now become "iconic" - and a bit fetishistic. That sound was the normal condition of all our training years. We heard it every time we got a chance to crank up our small or improvised amps beyond 2 or 3 on the dial. I don't think it was what most of us wanted to hear. We just wanted loud, and dirty came along with it. It was revolutionary and even radical when - thanks to higher wattage, big output transformers, and JBLs - we heard the pure emanations of electric guitar CLEAN, blown up to LOUD without turning to mush. Duane's and Dick's tones, and that of the surfers who followed, sounded literally larger than life. Having been used to naturally overdriving small amps, we instinctively knew that giant sound was a modern miracle. It was new and self-evidently cool: you can keep your fuzzy little amps, we're going for Big Iron. While country and certain restrained finger-pickin' players welcomed the high-power/JBL combination simply because they could get a little louder and stay clean, other guitarists found the combination downright rebellious and transgressive.It wasn't so much about melting faces as caving in chests and blowing heads off. At anything approaching even club gig volume, dirt (at least around the edges) had been the norm; Clean was the novelty. But revolutions in music rarely stay fresh for longer than 3-5 years, and by the late 60s distortion was novel again - but this time intentional and with a wide range of different characters, achieved either with pedals or by overdriving high-power amps for even more outrageous volume. The palette of the electric guitar has continued to broaden and deepen since then.But there's still nothing quite like a clean-clean guitar with the hi-fi punch and full-range clarity the huge magnets, large-diameter voice coils, and aluminum domes of JBLs (and their current clones) make possible. Even at room volume, they have unique presence and a distinctive articulation; at larger-than-life volume, they're a singular experience.