Ask Eddie: Open vs. Closed Cabs


For this installment of our Ask Eddie feature, Eddie Van Halen fields a question from Justin Ross in Glen, N.H.

Ross tries to discern what type of cabinets the Van Halen guitarist prefers. We’ll let him ask the question himself.

Ross: Hey Ed, what’s your stance on closed vs. open cabs? A buddy of mine is building a cab and we could use some insight. Thanks!

Van Halen: Hi Justin, Eddie here.

So your buddy is building a speaker cabinet, and you want my opinion/preference on open back as opposed to closed back cabinet? Hands down – CLOSED BACK!

Closed back cabinets, of any size, whether it’s a 4×12 cabinet or even as small as a 1×12 cabinet, have a much “tighter” bottom end. They “thump” and hit you in the gut in a way no open back cabinet can because all of the sound pressure is being forced forward. With an open back cabinet, half your sound pressure comes out the back, and that’s not what I like. I am not saying that open back amps/cabinets are bad or serve no purpose, but definitely not for rock n roll (in my book, anyway). For the last time, a closed back cabinet has the ability to push all the sound forward and make your body vibrate and make your arm hairs move. And to me, that is what rock n roll is all about, not just hearing it, but feeling it. That’s why I prefer closed back cabinets.

Hope that answers your questions and helps you with your cabinet project.

All the best,
Eddie VH