There are many excellent emulations, copies, clones of Celestion speaker models on the market at very accessible prices and with great tone, but really, when it all boils down, they are just impersonators of the real thing.
I have great respect toward Celestion speakers, simply because they have history. And even if there are many wonderful speakers that try to copy them on Planet Earth, they are really just slightly different flavors of the original Celestion guitar speakers.
The Celestion History
The earliest known record of Celestion‘s birth is dated somewhere in 1924 with Cyril French jump starting a small loudspeaker shop in Hampton Wick, UK. French had one of the earliest known cone speaker. It consisted of a bulky cabinet that looked just like a piece of furniture.
As the radio era was in full development, the popularity of Cyril’s invention gave birth to a patent and later was launched under the “Celestion” name (given by Cyril’s brother Ralph) in 1925 as “The Loud Speaker of Distinction”.
From there, Celestion Limited was formed in 1927, producing ‘the finest loudspeaker procurable at the price’, and being advertised as ‘The Very Soul Of Music’ for the hungry radio listening world tired of using headphones.
The 1930s brought Celestion to a full blown manufacturer and was the main speaker source for the entertaining industry (gramophones, etc.).
Later, Celestion had to go through hard times faced by a war-crippled economy along with a fierce competition from British Rola Company (a branch of the USA based Rola Company from Cleveland, Ohio).
A post-war Britain, a hard winter and a shortage of fuel, and power forced Celestion in 1947 to a complete production shutdown.
In 13 April, 1947, Celestion Ltd. was bough by British Rola, and later (July 1948) moved all machinery and staff from Kingston-upon-Thames to Thames Ditton, giving birth to a consolidated company named Rola Celestion Ltd supplying the Television industry speaker needs.
Another acquisition was made in 1949 when Truvox Limited, a public address (PA) manufacturer, bought Rola Celestion Ltd., covering virtually the entire speaker domain from TV sets to cinemas.
A major event dear to our guitar player hearts (and ears), with the rise of the rock era and need for music amplification, was the great fame and success of the Celestion G12 speaker, present in notorious amps of the time such as the lovely Vox AC-30 (Beatles). Strangely, the G12 was in Celestion production since 1936 and was never designed to suit guitar amps.
Notable here is the acquisition of a site by Thames Ditton on Foxhall Road, Ipswich, where the G12 12″ speakers were first to be made in Dec 1968.