News & Media

The D-fend SA300 is now available!

April 9,2013

Eminence Speaker LLC is proud to introduce the D-fend™ SA300, a fully programmable stand-alone unit designed to protect passive loudspeakers from excessive power conditions. A patent-pending technology, D-fend™ allows maximum driver performance while ensuring damage-free operation.

D-fend SA300With D-fend there are no more worries about blown speakers, HF drivers or crossovers. Or even worse: fire caused by excessive heat. Not only does D-fend keep your system safe, but your venue and audience as well. The user simply sets the thresholds and D-fend monitors and limits the amount of input power it passes through to the loudspeaker. It’s USB compatible, and can be programmed to your specifications from a desktop or laptop. Operating from a standard speaker-level signal, the D-fend SA300 requires no auxiliary power unless being used in low-power applications.

SA300 retail cartonD-fend loudspeaker protection is ideal for system installers, PA gear rental companies, OEM manufacturers, and any end-users who own passive loudspeakers.

“The D-fend SA300 is a truly unique and versatile product”, says Josh Martin, Technology Sales Manager at Eminence. “The on-board microprocessor allows you to customize attack, release, and threshold settings in order to maximize loudspeaker performance while keeping it safe; an achievement unseen within the audio industry. Whether you’re an installer or a rental company, you can have peace of mind someone isn’t accidentally destroying your investment and reputation.”

The D-fend™ SA300 is available to resellers through Eminence’s dealer and distributor network, and is also available direct to the consumer through Learn more about the D-fend™ SA300 April 10 – 13 at the Adam Hall exhibit at Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany, or online at and

Employee Spotlight: April Suter

We are Eminence April 8,2013

There is an old Jewish proverb that says, “I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.” That idea is foreign to most of us. We typically want to lighten the load, do less, and keep ourselves from being tied down or committed to something for very long. But hardly ever does the person asking for lighter burdens accomplish much. If the truth be told, no one ever really goes looking for burdens; they usually find you. Similarly, in the workplace, we typically don’t go looking for extra things to add to our daily routines. But nevertheless, extra things find us.

From my own experience of working in production here, you will be hard pressed to find someone more able and willing to shoulder a tough workload than April Suter. April is extremely knowledgeable about everything with regards to our production departments. Her knowledge comes not from simply being told how to do something, but from hours of hard work doing the various jobs.

Her current supervisor is Vickie Truman. Vickie has this to say of April: “I have known April since elementary school. She is the same person today as she was then; caring and loyal. She is a great coworker and a person that you know will be your friend forever. We don’t come by people like her every day. She is hard working, dependable, and has a great attitude. Anyone that has worked with April will have nothing but good things to say. She is a huge asset to Eminence Speaker. She knows everything about the Final Assembly line and assists in all the jobs. I see her in a leadership role in the future. She definitely makes my job easier and I am glad to call her my coworker and Friend.”

JM: April, let’s start with your pre-Eminence days. What did you do before you came to work at Eminence?

AS: I was a manager at the Save-A-Step Convenient Mart for a while and then went to work at the old Brunswick plant here in Eminence. I worked there for 5 years, until they closed the doors.

JM: That sounds like a familiar story. I’ve heard several folks here

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talk about their time at Brunswick.

AS: When I started working here at Eminence, I recognized a lot of faces from there.

JM: So, how long have you been here?

AS: It will be 7 years in April. I had been hoping to work here for quite a while. I heard that they were hiring and put in my application. I was hired straight in.

JM: What departments have you worked in?

AS: Primarily, just the Final Assembly lines. I have helped out in other departments but my primary work has always been in final assembly. We used to have a position here called “Floater” that was basically a person that could fill any job when someone was out or would work on certain orders that required special, pre-production work. I was one of our Floaters. I still do basically the same thing now, just without the title.

JM: So what does a normal day look like for you?

AS: Whatever the schedule brings is what I do. I may be applying silicone to the surround of the speakers or working on spider-spacers in the morning, then applying acrylic to the finished speaker at the end of the line later in the day. If someone needs help, I try to be there to help keep the line running smoothly. I enjoy my job! I like the moving around and learning new things as they come.

JM: Since we received profit sharing checks today, where do you see the greatest improvement in helping with profits?

AS: I think that the scrap reduction process is the best thing we’ve done. We’ve recycled and reused a lot of things that previously were just thrown away.

JM: What principles do you work by when it comes to the quality of the product?

AS: Our principle is, “If we won’t buy it, we don’t expect others to buy it.” People here really do care about what they make and they are proud of it. We hope our customers can tell that we care. It takes people that care to make a good product. Vickie is a good supervisor who looks for people who care to have on her team. If you are willing to learn, she will teach you. She will work with you and help if you’re struggling.

JM: So after 7 years, what are your general thoughts about the working here?

AS: It’s a good company. I enjoy working here more than anywhere I’ve been. It’s a good place to work. The people are friendly. We have our bad days like anyone else, but for the most part, the people are great to work with. The hours and insurance are great, too.

JM: Thanks for coming in to talk with me today, April!

Employee Spotlight: Patty Thurmond

February 21,2013

I have met and talked with many people in my years here at Eminence. There are very few that I have met that are as knowledgeable of their department as Patty Thurmond. Some people see a task at a “street level” view and some see a task from “30,000ft.” Patty can do both. And that is part of what makes her such a vital part of the Eminence Speaker workforce. Patty works in the Press Room at Eminence under the supervision of Garrett Gambrel. Garret recognizes Patty’s contributions to the company as such:

Patty Thurmond“Patty is an upbeat, hard worker with a great attitude. She is a huge asset for the department as well as the organization. She shows concern for quality and takes

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pride in a job well done. She knows how to motivate others and increase production. I never have to worry if she is working which makes my job easier. She is a great person, definitely an original.”

As this month’s Employee Spotlight, I sat down with Patty for an interview.

JM: What brought you to work at Eminence and how long have you been here?

PT: I’ve been here for 8 years and I was hired through Kelley Temporary Services. I was working at another place but I was about to have an addition to my family so I needed a more stable environment. Beverly Payton told me about the opening here so I applied.

JM: Most people who have been at Eminence for any length of time have worked in multiple departments. Is this true of you?

PT: Yes, I actually started out working in the Packing Department. I worked there for a few months and also worked on the Box Line. We had a short time of layoffs here at the plant and during that time the supervisor over the Press Room and Paint Line asked that I be transferred to their department. I was transferred and have been there ever since!

JM: The Press Room is a place with many different jobs. What does a normal day look like for you?

PT: I’ve been trained on every job in the department. Some days might require hanging parts on the paint line and other days I may be running a press. It really just depends on the needs of the day.

JM: I know that Eminence prescribes to the “continuous improvement” paradigm; how have things changed or improved since you’ve been here?

PT: Our Standard Operating Procedures have improved quite a bit. They are readily available at every work station for review if you need it. Our training processes have gotten better and there is much more knowledge about the products we produce. Workers are more aware of the costs associated with scrap and really try to keep from having any.

JM: What is your favorite part of working in the Press Room?

PT: It’s the people. I am a people person. I can work with just about anybody. We are more like family than co-workers. When you work with good people you enjoy coming to work. They are all very encouraging and helpful. It’s a good place to work.

JM: How do you get people to that point in their work environment? How does a person become “family” in the workplace?

PT: I think you have to get the workers to like their job. When people enjoy what they are doing, they get along better. A lot of people get frustrated with a job and then give up. If you want a job, stay here, work, and ask questions. The ones who ask questions are generally the ones who end up staying with us.

JM: What do you think are some of the better things about working for Eminence?

PT: I like that we have the profit sharing program. I also think it’s nice that they will fund some of your college tuition if you want to go to school. I also enjoyed the Kentucky Headhunters concert. I thought that was really neat how they kept that a secret and then surprised us with the concert. It was a great concert that we got to see for free!

JM: Any final thoughts for our readers?

PT: In the past 8 years I’ve seen anywhere from 10-14 thousand parts assembled in a day. Even though things have gone down in the economy, we’re still going strong! We take pride in our work! And this is a great place to work. It’s a people place and that’s the best thing overall.

JM: Thanks for your time, Patty.

Employee Spotlight: Thomas Hill

January 13,2013

Thomas HillFormer Major League Baseball player, Sam Ewing, once said that, “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” And for those of us who have been in the workforce for most of our lives, we know that his assessment is true. Eminence Speaker is no exception. Our company has been built by the hard working hands of its employees since 1966. The foundation was laid with hard work and hard work continues to build on that foundation.

This month’s “We are Eminence” employee highlight shines its light upon Thomas Hill. Thomas is one of the many pairs of hard working hands here at Eminence. He and his brother, Eric, take great pride in running our US Distribution department. Glenn Simpson is Thomas’ direct report here at Eminence. Glenn has this to say about Thomas:

“Thomas is a great guy. He’s here every day which is a big plus for me. He’s got a very positive attitude and work ethic which makes him very easy to work with and be around. He always keeps himself busy. Not someone you feel you need to keep an eye on. A real asset for the company and especially our department. Besides that, he’s a Louisville Cardinal fan. How can you not like that!!”

I have personally known Thomas since our grade school days. Thomas is a man of integrity and honesty. His perceptions of life and the workplace should not be taken lightly. It was with great pleasure that I sat down and interviewed him on the first working day of 2013 about his Eminence experience.

JM: Thomas, you have been at Eminence for quite a while now. How many years has it been?

TH: 13 years.

JM: You are currently working in the US Distribution department. How did you wind up here at Eminence to begin with?

TH: I came in through Kelly Temporary Services. The temp service had found me a job at the Budd Plant in Shelbyville. Budd actually offered me a full-time position there but I turned it down.

JM: I was also offered a job at Budd many years ago, and I remember that they paid really well. Why did you turn the job down?

TH: I didn’t like the atmosphere and attitude of a lot of the workers there. They were making great money but seemed to be ungrateful and were on strike quite a bit; not everyone, but a lot of them. There was too much of a “that’s not my job” attitude with many of the employees. I grew up on a farm and you pitched in and did what you needed to in order to get your work done. I just didn’t like the atmosphere there so I told the temp service to find me another place to work and Eminence was next in line.

JM: So, what made Eminence attractive enough to keep you here?

TH: The family atmosphere. You had people here who had built long-term relationships. People here had watched each other’s kids grow up and knew their families. People here had the same work ethic that I had. I really liked the founding principles of the company and how it gives back to the community and employees. Things like the Christmas Dinners, company picnics….those type of things, they make a difference. The 4 day work week and benefits package are nice too.

JM: What was your primary job when you started and how did you get to be one of the employees working in US Distribution?

TH: I’ve been in US Distribution for 7 years but started out temping in the Press Room as a welder. At that time, most everyone was trained on other jobs within the factory as well. I’ve worked in the press room, Buttkickers, Final Line, Voice Coil department, and box line. I had been trained on so much that I could fill in just about anywhere. But my “official” jobs have been working on the Final Line, Press Room, and US Distribution.

JM: I know that US Distribution is a multi-layered job. What does a normal day look like for you?

TH: It’s really about customer service. When we prepare orders for our customers, sometimes we are required to get weight and height measurements to help them figure out final costs on shipments. We try to find the best way to assemble their shipments to save them money and reduce freight costs. We talk with many customers on the phone about the status of their orders and when they can expect them to arrive. There are several customers that we have gotten to know really well over the years. There is a lot of math involved in our job and a lot of physical labor.

JM: What are some things you’ve seen change since you were hired?

TH: I’ve noticed that we do a lot more business over the internet these days. is the avenue that most of our orders come through now. As far as the rest of the plant, there is better technology being used. The final lines are using better machines for production that result in less manual labor and wasted time. The processes are all standardized and make for better quality and assurance.

JM: Overall, what do you think is the best thing the company has invested it’s time and money in?

TH: I would say it is the Eminence Branded products. For many years people didn’t know it was our speakers in their systems. Now with the branded products that bear our name, people know who we are and trust products with our speakers in them.

JM: Looking over the years of workers that you’ve seen come and go, what are some observations that you’ve made?

TH: Qualified workers are harder to come by these days. Hard workers are getting harder and harder to find. The younger generation doesn’t seem to have the

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work ethic. I guess it’s all in how you were brought up but people don’t want to work anymore.

JM: What is your favorite memory associated with being here at Eminence?

TH: I remember when the Kentucky Headhunters came and set up a concert in our parking lot during working hours and we got to go outside and enjoy the concert. We were paid to enjoy the concert. It was nice. Little things like that go a long way with people.

JM: Last question…You guys make things look easy back there. What is the main hinge that makes US Distribution swing so smoothly?

TH: Use your time wisely. Know what you have to do and how you will accomplish it. You have to use your time wisely or you will get behind fast.

JM: Thanks for your time, Thomas.

Eminence Adds Three Lightweight 10”, High-Power Neodymium Models.

January 10,2013

Eminence Speaker LLC proudly announces the addition of three ultra-lightweight 10” neodymium models to their Kappalite family of professional audio loudspeakers.

The Kappalite 3010LF is a 10” neodymium subwoofer with an ultra-linear long-excursion suspension, deep wound 3” voice coil, and an extra deep motor assembly. These features allow this new design to move serious amounts of air and generate serious SPL. With a music program power rating of 900 watts, the strong motor design, low Vas, and high Mms allow this driver to play down low in very compact vented boxes.

“Don’t let the low rated SPL fool you.” said Jerry McNutt, Design Engineer at Eminence. “Making loud deep bass in a small box required extra stroke, high moving mass, high motor strength, and high power handling. The Kappalite 3010LF has it all and weighs less than 8 lbs!”

Eminence Kappalite 3010MBThe Kappalite 3010MB is a 10” neodymium driver recommended for use in vented designs for mid/bass, vocal wedge, or high power satellite applications. It can also be used in very small sealed designs for true midrange applications. The truncated basket is great for line array use, or for tucking away in other tight fit situations like high power competitive auto sound. The low distortion neo motor and 3” copper edge-wound voice coil provide exceptional clarity at high volume. “The Kappalite 3010MB is the perfect solution for people looking for very high SPL, high power handling and super-low weight by providing a high 98.6 dB sensitivity rating, 800 watt music program rating, and weighing a mere 7.1 lbs.” said McNutt.

And for applications requiring an ultra-high SPL, high-power midrange driver, the Kappalite 3010HO is the perfect solution. This new water-resistant driver has a sensitivity rating of 99.9 dB 1W/1m, a power rating of 800 watts (Music Power), and only weighs in at 7.1 lbs. “With its compact truncated cast aluminum frame and shallow neo motor design the Kappalite 3010HO will be equally at home in a huge line array system exciting a stadium crowd or in a high power auto sound system.” said McNutt. “The LF, MB and HO models are a great addition to our ever growing Kappalite family of high value, high performance pro audio drivers that won’t break your back or your wallet.”

Eminence Offers BIG Sound from an 8” Guitar Speaker.

January 10,2013

Featuring a hemp cone, 1” voice coil and lightweight 15 oz. ceramic magnet, the 4 ohm 820H offers a rich, warm, full bodied tone that emulates a larger cone, with fat, punchy lows, smooth, but defined highs, and a nice break up. The 820H also offers prominent mids, but with a warm, smooth texture.

Eminence Patriot 820H“There are a lot of 8” amplifiers on the market, but very few have a

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speaker capable of delivering quality tone.” said Anthony Lucas, Eminence tech support specialist. “The 820H sounds nearly like a 10” speaker and doesn’t break up too early or fall apart like other 8” speakers I’ve heard. It could enhance the tone in any suitable amplifier on the market, and is actually the first 8” speaker I’ve ever heard that I consider worthy of putting in something like a vintage Fender Champ.”

View the product detail page here.

Eminence Adds a 12” Pedal Steel Guitar Speaker to the Patriot Series.

January 10,2013

Eminence Speaker LLC proudly announces yet another addition of an ultra-lightweight guitar speaker designed for the steel guitar player: the EPS-12C.

Eminence Patriot EPS-12CNow available in the Patriot™ Series of guitar speakers is the “little brother” to the popular 15” EPS-15C. The 225 watt EPS-12C is a 12”, 4 ohm, cast-aluminum frame guitar driver featuring an edge-wound aluminum wire voice coil and lightweight neodymium magnet. Weighing in at a mere 7.1 lbs., the EPS-12C delivers the highly sought after classic pedal steel tones: a full low end, neutral mids, and is bright and clear.

“Field tested with the leading pedal steel players and equipment manufacturers in Nashville, Arizona, Texas and Los Angeles, we were able to find just the right combination of tone, explosive dynamics and high power handling that they all wanted in a 12” pedal steel driver.” said Jerry McNutt, Design Engineer at Eminence. “The edge-wound aluminum voice coil lets you get the most out of your amp, and with a 450 watt music power rating you will be able to drive it hard and loud. Load up your amp with an EPS-12C and your ears and back will be pleased beyond measure, after measure, after measure.”

View the product detail page.

Employee Spotlight: Teresa Rucker

We are Eminence December 2,2012

“People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”— Mary Kay Ash

The words of Mary Kay Ash certainly ring true here at Eminence Speaker. The existence of Eminence, from its founding to its future, can be accredited to the caliber of men and women who have called themselves “Eminence Speaker”. Indeed, we are Eminence! Behind the most trusted name in the audio industry lies an eclectic group of people with personal stories. Without these people, we would never be who we are.

This month’s “We Are Eminence” employee spotlight shines on Teresa Rucker. Teresa currently works in our Voice Coil Department. Eminence Speaker has been around since 1966 and for 23 of those 46 years, Teresa Rucker has been faithfully building our reputation one voice coil at a time. Her supervisor, Michelle Gambrel speaks of Teresa this way:

“Teresa is very passionate about everything she does. She is very loyal to Eminence Speaker, her friends, her church, and her family. She takes pride in her work and has a lot of knowledge about her job and the company as a whole. She tries her best and gives her all. It is a pleasure to work with her. Teresa is what Eminence Speaker is all about.”

I recently sat down with Teresa for an interview about her experience here at Eminence.

JM: How many years have you been employed here at Eminence?

TR: I’ve been here for 23 years this coming May. I worked for Ashland Oil for 17 years and then worked at Brunswick for 7 years after that. My son was 5 years old when I started here and he’s 27 now. Time flies!

JM: How did you come to be an Eminence Employee?

TR: My time at Brunswick had ended and I really needed a job. Being a single parent, the opportunity at Eminence was a Godsend. Sue Kindred was the supervisor in the Voice Coil Department at the time and she gave a good recommendation for me. I came in for the interview and they hired me on the spot. They told me we would be working a lot of overtime and we did. We were working 60 hour weeks then, sometimes in 12 hour shifts.

JM: Who trained you in your department?

TR: Most of my training came from Sue Kindred and Nancy Simpson.

JM: Have you worked in any other areas in the plant or just the Voice Coil Department?

TR: I’ve worked primarily in

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the Voice Coil Department but have done other jobs as well. I’ve operated presses in the press room, worked on the assembly line, compression driver line, Buttkicker department…..a little bit of everywhere. If you’ve been here for a while you will eventually do a little of everything.

JM: What are some changes that you have seen happen at Eminence over the years that have made things better?

TR: The production lines have been streamlined. We have a lot more people working them now than when I started but they have been streamlined quite a bit.

JM: What keeps you here as an employee rather than working somewhere else?

TR: The economy is pretty bad these days. Having the insurance plan that we do is a big deal. The benefits are a big deal. Insurance can be so expensive.

JM: What is your favorite memory of the time you have spent at Eminence so far?

TR: We used to have company picnics and parties that involved the whole family. I really liked that, especially Christmas time. Christmas is about the kids and I really enjoyed when we did things that we could bring our families with us. My son always enjoyed that. I also enjoy the meals we have within our department. The family atmosphere created good memories. It has been good getting to know the Gault family, too. Bob was a military man but a very fair man. He expected you to produce great work but genuinely cared about you. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know Rob and his mother for all these years.

JM: If you could tell the world one thing about Eminence, what would it be?

TR: I would tell them that we strive for perfection in what we do. We aren’t always perfect but we strive for that. If I wouldn’t buy it myself, I wouldn’t allow it to go past my station. We want quality to be the top priority.

JM: Any final comments for our readers or maybe even comments for the younger generation of workers coming in?

TR: For the younger generation I would say, “Work on the quality first and the quantity will come. This is a good place to work if you are willing to work. There is a job here to do if you are willing to do the job.”

JM: Thanks for your time, Teresa.

Josh Martin is Eminence’s Technology Sales Manager and has been with the company for 6 years.

Q&A with amp guru George Alessandro

October 30,2012

Eminence has had the pleasure of working with George Alessandro for many years, building custom guitar speakers to his specifications for many of his high-end amplifiers. Together we collaborated with legendary guitarist Eric Johnson on what we think is the finest alnico guitar speaker on the market, the Eric Johnson Signature EJ1250. We recently sat down with George to learn more about the man behind the tone of many of today’s premier artists.

Eminence: First, tell us a bit about Alessandro High-End Products, Working Dog, and Hound Dog Corp.  What do you do, and what sets you apart?

George: Hound Dog Corporation is the parent company that does business as Alessandro and Working Dog. The Alessandro trademark was put into place to define a new concept of true high-end products. The Working Dog mark was about quality, and cost effective products for the working musicians out there.

Eminence: How did you first get started in the industry?   How did you learn your trade?

George: I earned an associates electronics degree out of high school, worked servicing 2-way radios for a couple years, then went back to college for my BS in Biology and Chemistry (pre-med at the time). During this time I was working as a sound-man/roadie and tech. It was a hobby at the time. At 15 years old, my first guitar and amp was an Ibanez Roadstar and Peavey Bandit.  By 16 I had a vintage strat and Super Reverb, and by 18 acquired two more vintage strats, more Super Reverbs and a ’59 tweed Bassman. I grew up in the early 80’s, so hair bands were the trend. By my mid teens SRV made it big. He opened my eyes to a whole new type of music and gear and I’ve never looked back.

By the time I purchased the ’59 Tweed Bassman, I was working on electronics and tinkering with vacuum tube amps. I thought there was something wrong with the sound of the amp and took it to a bunch of the local techs. I still never thought it was right. Months passed, many repair bills later and still unsatisfied, I decided to do some research and see if I could fix it. Low and behold, it had a shorted cap that no one had found, and sounded like I thought it should, heavenly and mean. I kept reading and learning about vintage guitar amps from that time and started servicing all my own gear. This was also the time when I learned to seek out the “old timers” and pick their brains about vacuum tube gear. I worked for a “Fred Sanford” type guy, named Fred Chassie, who had more vintage studio gear and vacuum tube stuff than you could imagine (10,000 sq. ft. minimum, floor to chest with just isles to get around). My job was to unbury mountains, pack them onto pallets and move them to a smaller warehouse. My pay was to make piles of gear that I found in those mountains, and if I wasn’t greedy I got it. I pulled so much vintage studio gear, vacuum tubes, mics, and parts out of that place that I still have piles left here today. Cool gear aside, the true gift of Fred was his knowledge. As we uncovered gear, Fred would tell the story of what the gear was, where it came from and how it worked. I’m talking about the earliest generation tape machines, microphones, compressor/limiters and preamps. He knew everything about all that gear because he was there when they came out, used and serviced them, bought and sold them till the day he passed. There are no books on this stuff and his generation is now no longer with us. His knowledge was a gift I will never under appreciate. That knowledge was something that I applied to my trade everyday. Since then I’ve been compiling a similar knowledge base of Vintage Guitar amps of the 50’s and 60’s. I’ve been lucky to have played, owned and serviced just about every pinnacle amp out there. I’ve refined my trade to a specialty of vintage amps only, that is where my decades of experience lies. I’m good at it, and it is still just fun.

Eminence: What made you decide to go into business for yourself?

George: In the mid/early 90’s I was at the crossroads of my life; school or work. I was finishing my BS degree and looking into med school. By this time, I was servicing vintage amps as a side job for fun money. I had made friends with a brain doc at University of Penn in Philly. I serviced his guitar amps and he showed me around at Penn’s dept. of Neurology. We got to be good friends and had a mutual friend in Ken Fischer, another person who had an influence on me at the time. I had to make a choice of 10 more years of school/residency to get my PHD/MD or let my hobby of amp repair become a career. I had designed my own circuit that I was installing in Black Face Bassman heads to give them more gain and built a crude amp from spare parts with it. It sounded really good and a couple prototypes later, looked less crude. As Ken Fischer was the only local guy I could talk shop about intelligently, I brought him the prototype to hear. He liked it and gave me a really nice plug in Vintage Guitar Magazine. The orders flooded in and my hobby became a business. At the same time my brain doc friend was telling me about the downfalls of the medical field, (with HMOs, malpractice insurance and the internal politics in the hospitals), it was not necessarily a good fit for me. I really wanted to get into medicine for the right reasons, but if I was going to be miserable, was it worth it? Well, we know what I’m doing now and when I look back at all the people and places this path has taken me, I would have never believed it then.

As the years passed and I added more amps to the product line, I started getting into high-end audio (avoid it unless you have some disposable income available because it is addictive and can get costly). I was amazed at how Hi-Fi evolved from Macintosh in the 60’s to the gear of today. Hi-Fi today is better then yesterday, the last decade and the decade before, they never stopped evolving their products. It seems like in the Guitar business, the 50’s and 60’s was the heyday of gear. The raw materials in current high-end hi-fi are modern technology designed for enhanced audio, while guitar amps are still dinosaurs. In the late ’90’s I started tinkering with these high-end parts and it was truly a revelation. I found that if used properly, very modern and state-of-the-art hi-fi parts could be used to enhance vintage style guitar amps. This revelation led to revamping the amp line and designing from scratch new designs that utilize all the positive effects of the new parts. I found all the weak links in my rig, like the cables, guitar internal parts and speakers because the amp had so much more to offer, but was not coming through. I had to develop all the other parts of the rig to equal or exceed what the amp was capable of creating. Now the tones, oh what beautiful tones! The product line now expanded from just amps to everything except the wooden guitar itself. The concept was to offer everything from cost-effective high-end, to the very best money can buy (I can still remember being laughed at when we introduced a $2000 guitar cable in the late 90’s. Within 5 years everybody jumped into the market and there were too many cables that were very expensive but did not sound better, hence the market collapsed).

Eminence: You’ve worked with some really great artists over the years.  Who have you gotten to know and in what capacity did you work together?

George: Because I was in this upscale market (started as boutique, I evolved into high-end) and I was offering really good products, many of the A-List guitar players sought me out. I had the opportunity to build gear and do service work for all the guitar heroes I grew up listening to. Out of respect to all the musicians, I’d love to list them all, but the short list of most memorable/most respected are guys like David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, John Mayer, Joe Perry, Derek Trucks and Keith Urban. George AlessandroI still have to pinch myself to see if I dreamed all the things I’ve done, one of the most memorable being backstage at an Aerosmith concert with my wife and 6 month old daughter. Steven comes out of his dressing room and we are standing there, he stops, runs over and starts playing with my daughter. He is there making ducky noises and playing with her feet, 10 minutes later he is standing in front of 20,000 screaming fans and Joe is out there playing an art amplifier, the Bling Beagle, I built for him that we snuck in his rig for his birthday. It was a fun night and one I can remind my daughter about when she is a teenager and thinks her parents are uncool, that we actually are 🙂

Eminence: How did you first meet Eric Johnson?  Has your relationship changed over the years?

George: The phrase “it is a long, strange trip” comes to mind with EJ. I remember a decade before becoming friends with Eric, sneaking backstage at a gig in Philly and standing back there with all his gear. I was in awe of all the gear, but never touched anything. I was walking around back there, got caught and escorted all the way out.

A decade later, I was introduced to him by a mutual friend and we became friends. Eric is very controlling about his gear, more than his reputation would lead you to believe. I respect that, I am the same way about the tools of my trade. There is a reason he is as good as he is, and it is not from being lazy and settling for good enough. I am very good at what I do because I put in the time and it is my gift. (Do not ask me to play guitar, not my gift). After years of testing the waters, Eric has let me do what I do and now we have a symbiotic relationship. I have definitely learned things from him because you never know everything and he definitely looks at things from a different perspective than my analytical  mind.

There is nobody like Eric, he brings something unique to the table. Whether genius or insanity he has a trained ear like no other.

Eminence: How did the idea of an Eric Johnson signature speaker design come about?

George: In general, the artists in my world feel there is nothing quite like the gear from 40-55 years ago. Eric primarily plays the old Marshall heads into old Basketweave cabs with all original speakers in them, in conjunction with a Fender for the clean tones. The problem is he plays 100’s into a single 4×12 with 44 year old speakers. It is hard to find perfect examples of these cabs and many have been reconed. We go through a lot of speakers to find ones that work perfectly and then after touring, they start acting up. This is not a good scenario with a touring artist, to have your gear failing and parts not readily available.

The signature speakers came about because of this frustration. At the time we were working on a ’58 Tweed Twin that I had just serviced and put an original set of P12N speakers into. The amp sounded angelic. Eric got it and 30 minutes later blew out one of the speakers, the other followed shortly thereafter. Got another set of vintage cone speakers and same scenario. Because I still service vintage amps, blown speakers come up often. I have had lackluster success with all the reconing companies out there, so I had to learn to do it myself. By doing it myself, I can match up the parts more accurately and fine tune them if needed. I sent Eric some of my reconed P12N speakers, they worked. Months passed and he started blowing some of the recones (by now he had a ’59 Tweed Twin along with the ’58). I already had three Alessandro speakers manufactured by Eminence for me so I suggested we try designing a new speaker for the Twins. Since Eric knew I could make an old speaker sound proper with new parts, we thought we should be able to make a new speaker with the new parts. We prototyped a few speakers and started dialing something in. The prototype was not strictly American or British and because we were starting with a clean slate, we kept making changes till we dialed it in.

Eminence: You obviously know Eric’s tone very well, having worked intimately with us to achieve the tone Eric was after.  How would you define the tone of the EJ1250?

George: After we dialed in the speakers, I started installing them into the High Power Tweed Twins. You can definitely tell where my ear was during the development of the prototypes, they sound like Leo designed the amp for these speakers. Since Fender never intended players to use the amps the way Eric does, turned up way into full distortion, the stock speakers fall far short from allowing the amp to voice properly. Eric’s setting is Y-corded into the amp with both controls on 11 7/8 (turn it up to 12 then back it down a notch). With the new speakers, the amp can now voice properly clean, dirty and flat out. I built a recreation of his amps, blueprinted from his amps and another 100% original ’59, and installed the new speakers. The combination of a strong, tight, proper recreation Twin and the new speakers, is pure tone. These are desert island amps, giving all the choices out there. This is the one amp to be stuck with for life.

We did find that like all speakers, this speaker is not for every application. Like Marshall in ’65 who stopped using Alnico speakers in closed back 4x12s, we found with 100W Marshall amps, it was not a perfect match. I have not tried every cabinet configuration, but in general this speaker voices wonderfully with American amps and lower power British amps.

Eminence: In your opinion, how important is the loudspeaker’s role in the overall tone chain?  Do you feel this is often overlooked?

George: Without the speaker, you aint got jack. A bad or mediocre speaker will kill the best rig. On the flip side, an efficient, revealing speaker will bring out all the flaws in a mediocre amp. There are speakers out there with a super rolled off top-end that guys are raving about. I can’t use them because they kill my amp’s tone. If there is something wrong with an amp, the fix is not a muted speaker. A good speaker is efficient, balanced and has an airy top-end. There are different flavors of chocolate out there for different tastes, same as speakers, but dynamic should be a component of every speaker.

The reason I struck up a working relationship with Eminence is because years ago, I felt like someone tied my hands and would not allow me to make a proper sounding amplifier. The companies I was using had quality control issues and special order from others was not an option. Eminence stepped up to the plate, prototyped what I asked, and now they are my go to speakers, and now on stage with the biggest names in the business.

Eminence: What’s the best advice you could give a young guitarist who is searching for their tone?  Do they have to spend a lot of money to sound great?

George: It really is all in the hands, and a good rig will make you sound worse if you don’t have the tone in your hands. Simplicity is best, have a good tube amp with a proper speaker, plug straight in and play. Add effects in front if needed, but do not rely on them for the tone, it should come from the heart, the hands and the rig.

Eminence: We always enjoy working with you and hope to collaborate on more projects in the future.  Aside from that, what other projects/products do you have on the horizon?

George: I’d like to see some new signature speakers with new artists (and some with the “old” ones). I’m working on possibly producing the amp that spurred this project and we have a light-weight speaker cabinet line on the horizon utilizing the Alessandro speakers.

Learn more about Alessandro products at

Need help identifying an old or custom OEM Eminence Speaker?

Tech Talk With Big Tony October 18,2012

One of our most frequently asked tech support questions goes something like this:  “Hey I’ve got this old speaker and I’m pretty sure it’s an Eminence.  Can you tell me what the power rating, impedance, and other specs are?”  In this video, Eminence Speaker Tech Anthony “Big Tony” Lucas points out how to find the information on the speaker he will need in order to help you.