Vintage James B Lansing JBL D130 speakers in C38 speaker cabinets, $20.

Sure, there are plenty of speakers to be found out there, and most of them are trash, even the older ones. However! Vintage JBL speakers can be a powerful 'sweet spot' for you because they cost a bundle to buy new, buyers on eBay are still after them today, and most importantly, they're actually out there for you to get hold of!

The small plaque that says 'James B. Lansing Sound, inc.' on the back of these speakers is a very important sign that you want to pay more attention to these speakers. 'James B. Lansing' is not used on JBL's modern speakers and audio equipment.

Another thing I always pay attention to is the material the cabinets are made from. Are they thin, lightweight cabinets, or are they thick and heavy duty? Are they finished in veneer, or cheesy woodgrain vinyl? These boxes were very thick and covered with real walnut veneer, and the quality joints were finished very nicely.

I felt the speakers through the front grille covers and noticed immediately that the low frequency woofers measured a very large 15 inches across. I was a little confused when I felt the tweeters, because they seemed to have a point on them. I couldn't get a look at any of this stuff at the time, because the grilles were actually nailed to the cabinets and I didn't have any tools to remove them.

As you can see, this whole thing was essentially a crap shoot. Not only was I not able to determine if all the original speakers were still there, but I didn't even have any way to test them before buying them. But for this price, I was more than willing to take the chance.

After I got home, I immediately got to work removing the grilles, hoping that the original speakers hadn't been replaced with lower-quality pieces sometime in the past, which happens all too frequently.

Whenever you're trying to inspect speakers that are still inside their cabinets, always do your very best to get a look at the back sides of the speakers. As you see more and more of these these older speakers, you can often tell if the speaker is the real thing or not by just looking at its front side. But the back side is where you'll find the important information you need to make sure you're really getting what you're paying for. Keep in mind that many owners of older speakers sets like these, oblivious to their real value, ripped out individual speakers and replaced them with cheapo crap. Maybe I've been scarred by all the Radio Shack replacement speakers I've found in vintage JBL speaker cabinets, I don't know. But... the last thing I want is for you to get home and find that the pricey speakers you were expecting to find have been replaced with cheap garbage. Don't let it happen!

I was very pleased to discover that all of the speakers were not only the original items, but they were in beautiful shape all over! I was also surprised to find the most unusual tweeters I've ever seen, which I've since found out are known as 'bullet' tweeters.

Now comes the decision. Do I sell these speakers as a set, or should I maybe tear them apart and sell the pieces separately? Are the speakers as a whole worth saving and more valuable if left as complete units, or would I make more money selling the individual components? Although I decided to just leave them intact and sell them as a set, It's very important for you to know that old JBL speakers like these can be, and frequently are, taken apart and sold speaker-by-speaker, because even the individual speakers are very sought-after among audiophiles. This will always be a decision you'll have to make for yourself.

The bottom line here is that although you may never run across a set of these identical speakers, you will eventually run across old JBL speakers, so do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with their look, and especially with the design of the badge on the back sides of the speakers.

These speakers ended up selling for $820.

Photo of James B Lansing JBL C38 D130 speakers