Can You Use a PA Speaker as a Guitar Cab?


If you have a PA speaker, you are probably wondering whether you can use it as a guitar cab if you don’t have one.

In other cases, you are in a situation where you need a guitar cab, but only a PA speaker is available.

Regardless of the circumstance, you want to know if the PA speaker will serve the purpose.

The good news is that a PA speaker can be a good guitar cab but only for acoustic guitars.

However, using a PA speaker as a guitar cab for electric guitars is a bad idea unless you have additional equipment, such as a cab simulator and a preamp pedal.

Most guitarists even find them better than acoustic guitar cabs, which means they do an excellent job for this type of guitar.

It doesn’t come as a surprise given the versatility of a PA speaker, thanks to its wide frequency response, ideal for almost every sound.

An acoustic guitar produces a natural sound that a PA speaker can reproduce excellently.

Whereas PA speakers are great acoustic guitar cabs, how you connect the two depends on the type of guitar.

For instance, if your acoustic guitar is electric, you can plug it directly into a PA speaker, which will amp the sound output.

On the other hand, a non-electric acoustic guitar requires you to use a microphone.

The purpose of this microphone is to capture the guitar’s sound output before routing the signal using a mixer into the PA speaker.

Why Can’t You Use a PA Speaker as an Electric Guitar Cab?

Whereas a PA speaker will work excellently as an acoustic guitar cab, it is a different case when dealing with its electric counterpart.

After all, electric guitars can’t handle various sound sources, especially weak ones.

Consequently, the design aspects render the PA speakers ineffective if dealing with an electric guitar.

The common way of powering electric guitars is usually through amps and speakers.

So, the role of the speaker in the setup is to emit audible tones.

In the case of an acoustic guitar, connecting it to a PA speaker is meaningful since its signals don’t require more processing to correct the sound output.

An amp is unnecessary in this setup, and the acoustic guitar will produce excellent tones even in its absence.

Here are further details on why a PA speaker isn’t an excellent choice for an electric guitar.

No Coloration

People assume that the only work that a guitar amp does is amplify its signal and increase the volume of its sound.

However, that’s far from the truth since it does more, including amplifying the guitar tone.

It introduces compressions, harmonics and distortion whenever necessary, thus enhancing the sound of the guitar.

It further processes the guitar’s signal, eliminating some frequencies and amplifying others.

This processing is known as coloration, and its significance in determining the sound of a guitar, especially an electric one, is indisputable.

Unlike guitar amps designed for this purpose, a PA speaker cannot fine-tune the sound output.

On the contrary, it repeats the source religiously, and the lack of this alteration makes it a bad choice for an electric guitar.

See also  Can You Connect a Guitar to a Bluetooth Speaker?

This type of guitar’s signals requires further processing for excellent results.

It Lacks a Preamp

Equally important, a PA speaker differs from a guitar amp since it lacks a preamp.

It is another important feature in ensuring the amplifier adequately boosts the electric guitar signals’ volume.

It is also not a secret that guitar signals are relatively weak since they fall into instrument-level signals.

Due to this weakness, regular speakers often find them too low to reproduce, and that’s where a preamp comes in.

Its role is to strengthen the guitar signals enough for the speakers to reproduce them excellently.

Again, the absence of a PA speaker makes it unsuitable for the occasion.

The weak electric guitar signals aren’t strengthened, so the PA speakers can’t reproduce them excellently.

How Can You Use a PA Speaker as a Guitar Amp?

A PA speaker isn’t as excellent as a guitar amp, but you can improve its quality when serving this purpose.

All you need are the right accessories which include the following;

Cab Simulator

The frequency of a guitar cab is designed especially for the musical instrument.

That’s why it plays a huge role in determining the sound the guitar produces.

On the other hand, a PA speaker is versatile and designed for various sounds.

That’s where cab simulators come in since they produce a sound similar to a guitar amp.

As soon as you connect the cab simulator or taxi sim pedals, as other people call them, the PA speaker’s sound will be similar to what a guitar amplifier produces.

Preamp Pedal

A preamp pedal is another game changer when using a PA speaker as a guitar cab.

See also  Are Gaming Speakers Good for Music?

One must admit that combining it with a cab simulator makes the sound output even better.

It is one of the reasons why a guitar cab stands out compared to a PA speaker since it has an inbuilt preamp pedal.

Therefore, introducing one makes the sound output of the PA speaker similar to what a guitar amp offers.

Expect tone and volume controls resembling those of a guitar amp on these pedals.

They are also perfect for coloring the sound and making it as realistic as possible, not forgetting other sound effects.

Can You Use Any Speaker as a Guitar Cab?

The role of a guitar cab is to amplify the instrument’s signal before they are played through the speaker.

It also alters the sounds and adds various effects, including distortion, accordingly.

Unfortunately, not all speakers can handle this process explaining why you must be careful when choosing one.

Can You Plug a Guitar Head into a PA System?

You can plug a guitar head into a PA system but not directly.

That’s where the DI box comes in, and its purpose is to convert guitar amplifier output characterized by unbalanced high impedance to a low impedance signal that a PA system can reproduce.


More to explore

Does Guitar Build Muscle?

Playing guitar can be an excellent form of exercise that builds muscle mass. Although it may not provide the same benefits as