This time out of the box, Gibson Tone Tips is going to live up to its name very precisely by giving you a simple and direct tip that can instantly improve your tone, in certain circumstances. And in doing so, I’m going to lean on the expertise of one Mike Zaite, the man behind respected boutique amp company Dr Z. While talking with Zaite some time ago he passed this great little fixer-upper tip along to me, and it’s too good not to share.
In short, this is one fantastic way to perk up the sound of your amp by “reconditioning” its speakers — or you could say “reacclimatizing” them — without doing a thing to them other than giving them a short vacation from the dampness, moisture, and humidity of your current environment. Let’s let Mike continue in his own words:
“Speaker cones are weighted and measured in grams. It doesn’t take a whole lot of weight difference to really throw a cone off from sounding the way it should sound. Now, when you store an amp, the worst thing you can do is put it in a damp basement or in a situation where it’s going to be able to wick up moisture. It’s amazing how a speaker can do that, and now all of a sudden you have a dull, dud-sounding speaker, because it doesn’t take much water to throw it off. It’s amazing how just a few drops of water can really change the response and characteristic of a speaker.
“So what I do when I store speakers is [I] get the little silica bags that come with electronics components, throw one of those in the box, close it up, put that speaker away for a little while to let that silica soak up all the moisture of that cone. And you’ll be amazed how wonderful that speaker sounds after the moisture’s been taken out. It’s nice and dry and reedy sounding, and now you’ve got a cone that responds the way it was supposed to, with this earthy tone to it that’s just unbelievable. People use hot guns, they do this, they do that, and boy, you just never really get them right. But just put a couple of those little silica bags in and just leave it be, and it’s such a natural way of wicking the water out and drying the cone out nicely, without overheating the surround.”
The good Doctor adds that this isn’t just a good way to store speakers you aren’t using, but is also a great fix for a dull sounding amp, especially one that you know has been stored in potentially moist conditions, or one you have just acquired. Carefully remove the speakers, and box them up with some silica bags for a week or so as per his instructions, and chances are the newly dried out speakers will bring the whole amp to life. Try it out on your own amp(s), and see what kind of difference it makes.