Other guitar-y things

Attenuators?

1

I’ve amassed an amp collection that’s primarily focused on small wattage amps of the past. Mostly around 15 watts and under with a few outliers. And I like to play them. My justification (?) was that I could drive them harder and not draw unwanted attention from my neighbors. I do live in a rather rural area, and have gotten by in the past just fine. Until the other day...my neighbor asked about taking guitar lessons (not from me) and when asked why he’d ask me, mentioned he could occasionally hear me play and thought I might know a teacher in the area (or was he suggesting that I need lessons?).

My thoughts immediately drifted to attenuators, a topic that I know very little about.

So I ask the experienced and knowledgeable members here for advice.

Are they any good? Do they color the sound. Does my amp feel the same.

Your collective knowledge is requested.

thrive

2

I tried an attenuator (Rivera Rock Crusher) with my Standel 25L15 a few years ago. The amp is very powerful when used at home.....

To me the attenuator did not do what I hoped it would. It just sounded the same as when I turned the amp's volume down which (IMO) detracted from the amp's tone. It was not worth its cost ($500) to my ears so I returned it. Thank you Sweetwater!

Long story short -- I ended up buying a Nocturne Dyno Brain which gave me the results I was looking for. Here is the link to the "review" I posted on the Nocturne product:

http://gretschpages.com/for...

3

Attenuators are useful if you want to drive the power tube section of the amp at lower volumes. But please keep in mind that other factors like speaker break-up add to the sound - which is lacking with an attenuator. Many players tend to hate them, stating they "steal the tone" but especially when it comes to high frequencies (the "issue" that comes up the most) that's either nothing your amp's EQ can't level out or often the Attenuator device even has got a treble knob/switch.

I have tried several units and like the Weber Mass series. No, it's not the same but for certain applications it just works totally fine.

4

It's much better, cheaper, & easier to just lower the power of a tube amp.

5

When I was younger, I made the mistake of thinking that my cranked Marshall half stack sounded so incredible because "it was the power tubes working", etc. I purchased a Marshall Power Brake, which was a great attenuator. But the lower I adjusted the volume, I heard less of what was so magical about the cranked amp. At a very low practice level, it lost all character. Incidentally, I tried that same Marshall Power Brake at a music store, they let me (surprisingly) connect it to a Plexi reissue. I noticed the same thing. This was when I realized that a major contributor to what we perceive as awesome tube tone is the sheer volume and sound pressure levels that we are being slapped upside the head with.

I discovered that the closest thing I can get to a the tone of a cranked tube amp at a practice volume is with a digital modeling amp, which is designed to emulate a cranked tube amp. At a low volume it is still lacking the "smack you upside the head" factor, but tone-wise it's pretty close.

I also discovered recently that a cranked low-wattage tube amp, four or five Watts or so, is still way too freaking loud to be considered "bedroom levels".

6

I also discovered recently that a cranked low-wattage tube amp, four or five Watts or so, is still way too freaking loud to be considered "bedroom levels". stratman

Wattage is a funny thing, 100 watts is only twice as loud as 10 watts, and 1000 watts is twice as loud as 100 watts.

10 times the power = +10dB...

1/10 power = –10dB...

So your 5 watt 'bedroom' amplifier is half as loud as a 50 watt amplifier.......still pretty freaking loud!

7

I've been trying a few setups for headphones, which has been problematic especially with distortion. The clean sound is fine when you put an IR in the signal chain, and even just the Weber Mass 100 on its own sounds pretty good.

Taking a few dbs off is what attenuators do well, but getting to bedroom levels is difficult, experimentation needed.

I haven't heard of any attenuator that is universally loved. Everyone seems to think maybe the next most expensive one will work.

The Weber Mass series is cheap enough to give a try. https://tedweber.com/minimass/

8

Thank you everyone for your input.

9

Maybe a dumb question, but would the results be just as disappointing in a solid state amp such as a Fender Tone Master which has a factory installed attenuator?

10

I have 2, a Weber Mini Mass and a Swart mini night light. I do not gig or record, I have them to let me get a bit of preamp overdrive without waking up the family. I prefer the Swart, it does not seem to roll off the highs as you turn down the volume. It also mounts inside your amp if you want. The Weber is a bit more deluxe and flexible as you can choose speaker impedance and it has a line out but it does mess with the EQ, enough so that they add a switch to bring back some of the highs. Honestly though for the money it would probably have been better to get an OD pedal or two for my purposes, but I really like the natural break up of my amps.

11

Anyone here have any experience with the Bad Cat The Unleash Amplifier / Attenuator ? Different take that would seem to do the trick. Seems like someone here mentioned it recently. Link


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