How To Spot Fake Celestion Pre-rola Greenbacks

How To Spot Fake Celestion Pre-rola Greenbacks

Unfortunately there is a lot of fake vintage gear floating around on the used market, most of which can be traced back to one notorious dealer in UK.

In this blog post I will be going over a few basic pointers for identifying fake Celestion speakers, and hopefully this will prevent a few people from getting stung.

Why Bother Faking Speakers?

You are unlikely to see fake pre-rolas for sale on their own. Speakers are parts, and they would be doctored to suit the fake Marshall amplifier or speaker cabinet they were destined for.

For example, a non-valuable speaker model – lets say a T1614 from 1972, might be ‘turned into’ a far more valuable T1221 from 1966, then fitted into a fake Marshall bluesbreaker amp. So, spotting fake speakers inside a vintage Marshall is an important warning sign.

Fake pre-rola
Fake pre-rola with date stamp ’25ML’ – Xmas Day 1966!

The main hotspot for fake Marshall gear is the pinstripe period: mid 1965 to early 1968, and therefore this is the period of Celestion speakers we need to be most vigilant about.

The rest of this blog post will focus on the small details we can use to identify fake speakers. Fairly tedious and nerdy sorry (leave now if this freaks you out) but is the only way I can do it.

Fake Ink Stamps

Location

All genuine Celestion speakers made betwen 1952 and March 1968 had their date stamps printed on the front gasket of the speaker. Fake date stamps will usually be printed on the chassis leg instead.

So any greenback speakers with date codes earlier than March 68 stamped on the chassis leg are likely to be fake.

Genuine vs Fake - 1967
Genuine (left) vs Fake (right) – June 1967

Chassis Leg Stamps

From April 1968 onwards, Celestion date codes were stamped on the metal chassis instead. However, any fake date stamps printed on the chassis are still very easy to differentiate, based on the following characteristics:

  • Horizontal Print vs Vertical Print – Celestion stamped their date codes horizontally on the frame from April 68 to Dec 68, then vertically from the beginning of 1969 onwards. Fake stamps are usually printed vertically.
  • Black Ink vs Grey Ink – Celestion only started using black ink on the frames from about mid 69 onwards, before this it was a pale grey. Fake date codes are usually in black ink.
  • Circular stamp – The circular quality control stamp will always be present on a genuine speaker. It will be missing on about 90% of fake speakers.
Genuine vs Fake - 1968
Genuine vs Fake – August 1968

Inspection letter

From the beginning of 1969 to late 1976 Celestion included an additional ‘inspection letter’ with the date code. For example you might find the date code ‘GB17 Y’  with the ‘Y’ being the inspection letter.

Some fake speaker date codes include the inspection letter way too early, such as with a 1967 or 1968 date code. Somebody recently showed me a 1968 date code with the model code ‘T1281 Z’ next to it. Pretty wierd looking, and I would love to add the photo here but the owner would not give me his consent to use it.

Wrong Chassis & Solder Terminals

Celestion used two main types of chassis; the ‘one tab’ and the ‘four tab’.

The earliest I have seen the four tab chassis is May 69 (EB date code) on the Vox silver alnico. On greenback speakers I have not seen it any earlier than July 69 (GB date code). It has a ‘tab’ on all four sides, and a small cutout at the sides of the solder terminal:

The '4 tab' chassis with solder terminal cutouts
The ‘4 tab’ chassis

The earlier one tab chassis does not have the extra tabs or the solder terminal cutouts:

The '1 tab' chassis with no solder terminal cutouts
The ‘1 tab’ chassis

Watch out for fake speakers that have the four tab chassis, but with a pre-69 date code:

Fake 1967 date code on a 1969 or later chassis
Fake “12th Feb 1967” date code on a 1969 or later chassis

The ‘Marshall T1217’

Watch out for the T1217 model speaker with a white Marshall label on the back. Marshall have never used the T1217 to my knowledge.

Fake 'Marshall T1217'
Fake ‘Marshall T1217’
Full quad of fake T1217 speakers
Full quad of fake T1217 speakers

The fake white labels are fairly difficult to differentiate from the genuine ones, but usually the fake ones show very little signs of ageing. The genuine ones can sometimes go a bit yellow and transparent over the years.

Genuine Marshall white labels
Genuine Marshall white labels

Fake and Repro Labels

Notice the impedance shown on the labels:

The 15 Ohm pre-rola labels were standard from 1966 onwards and were phased out from Aug 1968 onwards. These are the 20 watt G12M and 25w G12H labels:

Genuine 15 Ohm label
Genuine 15 Ohm label

The 16 Ohm pre-rola labels first appear in Aug 1968 and were phased out from April 1971 onwards. These are the 25w G12M and 30w G12H labels:

Genuine 16 Ohm label
Genuine 16 Ohm label

Fake labels will often have the wrong impedance on them:

Fake 15 Ohm label
Fake 15 Ohm label (25W G12M should be 16 Ohm)

The heritage series labels are easy to identify by their glossy finish. There are also some very obvious repro labels around with a wierd looking sloping font. Notice both of these label types also have the “incorrect” 15 Ohm impedance:

Heritage series label vs Reproduction label
Heritage series label vs Reproduction label

Fake Cone Stamps

Watch out for any peculiar looking cone stamps. Often accompanied by a white smudge – probably an attempt at removing the original cone stamp.

Genuine Pulsonic cone stamp
Genuine Pulsonic cone stamp
Fake pulsonic cone stamp
Fake pulsonic cone stamp
Original cone stamp rubbed away
Original cone stamp rubbed away

Dont Get Stung

So, hopefully you have picked up a few pointers here. The main thing to look at is the date stamp and the type of chassis – they really stick out like a sore thumb once you know what to look for.

When buying vintage gear always make sure you do your homework on the item, but more importantly – always research the guy selling it!

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