Talk to me about Attenuators

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Snake Hips
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Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by Snake Hips » Mon Mar 01, 2021 11:21 am

Hey everyone, tell me about some attenuators that are like a good price and versatile. Am I overthinking it or can I just use a volume pedal that doesn't color the sound. I am looking for something that doesn't need to go into an effects loop maybe just between the amp and the speaker.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by MayTheFuzzBeWithYou » Mon Mar 01, 2021 1:05 pm

Hey Snake Hips!

I might have at least some insight.
First of all, what do you need it for? Cabsim/DI-out? Dummy load/silent recording or just to tame your amp‘s volume?

Some years ago I had the Tube Amp Doctor Silencer - which was alright. Had some cool and useful features - I sold because it limited the dynamics and the overall peak (I could‘t boost my volume for a solo for instance).

I also had the EHX signal pad/passive attenuator - it‘s really cheap. It‘s passive. The LED is the only thing that needs power. It‘s cool if you have a one channel amp that you want go push and enable a „second channel“ with the pedal. It somehow colored the sound a little though.

Recently I acquired the Surfy Industries Blossom Point which combines the features of an attenuator (input and output volume to either boost to tickle the amp‘s tubes or to tame it) and a Brownface amp-like presence control.

And yes, if you just want your amp a little quieter: you can also use a volume pedal or a simple volume box (like those made for the HotRods and their likes). Or: change the V1 tube to a lower gain one (like from an AX7 to an AY7 or even lower) this allows for „more way“ before it‘s too loud.

I hope this helps a little! :)

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by Maggieo » Mon Mar 01, 2021 2:14 pm

If you want one that hides in a cab, the Swart Nitelite is great.
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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by Snake Hips » Mon Mar 01, 2021 3:41 pm

I might have two but similar used cases. I have an Orange OD120 it is loud, how can I get that thickness of a think cranked but quieter. Basically, I am turning the guitar volume knob real low and it is not the same

I have a 68 Fender Princeton. Yes, it is quieter than the orange but it sounds good with the volume at 4 and that sparkle breakup. How can I make that quieter.

Blossom Point Pedal looks really interesting. All the suggestions are helping for sure.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by marqueemoon » Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:35 pm

Maggieo wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 2:14 pm
If you want one that hides in a cab, the Swart Nitelite is great.
You ever use the line out on yours?

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by Telliot » Mon Mar 01, 2021 7:28 pm

marqueemoon wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:35 pm
Maggieo wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 2:14 pm
If you want one that hides in a cab, the Swart Nitelite is great.
You ever use the line out on yours?
I have one as well, and love it. It's been awhile, but IIRC, I found the noise level to be a bit too high for recording with the line out (if that's what you're thinking). I can try again to confirm this, if you're considering one.
The cool thing about fretless is you can hit a note...and then renegotiate.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by marqueemoon » Mon Mar 01, 2021 8:08 pm

Telliot wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 7:28 pm
marqueemoon wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:35 pm
Maggieo wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 2:14 pm
If you want one that hides in a cab, the Swart Nitelite is great.
You ever use the line out on yours?
I have one as well, and love it. It's been awhile, but IIRC, I found the noise level to be a bit too high for recording with the line out (if that's what you're thinking). I can try again to confirm this, if you're considering one.
Thanks. Yes, recording would be one potential use so that would be good to know.

It will probably be at least summer before I’m in a position to buy anything like this, so no hurry.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by marqueemoon » Mon Mar 01, 2021 8:20 pm

If you just need attenuation and not a lot of bells and whistles Weber makes a bunch of options.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by Maggieo » Mon Mar 01, 2021 9:01 pm

Telliot wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 7:28 pm
marqueemoon wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:35 pm
Maggieo wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 2:14 pm
If you want one that hides in a cab, the Swart Nitelite is great.
You ever use the line out on yours?
I have one as well, and love it. It's been awhile, but IIRC, I found the noise level to be a bit too high for recording with the line out (if that's what you're thinking). I can try again to confirm this, if you're considering one.
I've only used it on my Secret Agent amp.
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I am not an attorney and this post is for entertainment purposes only. Please consult a licensed attorney in your state for legal advice.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by HarlowTheFish » Mon Mar 01, 2021 10:58 pm

The Webers are great for just turning down the volume while keeping the power tubes running hot, and not crazy expensive. If you want a really good solution though, especially for recording, the Two Notes Torpedo stuff (the Captor is under $300 from Sweetwater) is pretty much the gold standard, and you'll really want some kind of reactive load solution.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by Snake Hips » Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:14 am

If the Mass 200 am I in trouble with a 120-watt amp? The recommendation is 100 watts or lower.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by Dr Tony Balls » Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:25 am

Snake Hips wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 3:41 pm
I have an Orange OD120 it is loud, how can I get that thickness of a think cranked but quieter.
This is the real meat of the issue.....how much quieter? You have a very loud amp and almost any efforts to make it significantly quieter are going to sacrifice a lot of the tone. Attenuators work best when you just need to shave off a little bit of volume, and the more you shave off the more they affect the sound you hear. If you're talking about getting it down to practice or bedroom level it can happen, but you likely wont be happy with the sound.
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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by beninma » Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:25 am

If you already like your Orange maybe look at some other Oranges that have power attenuation/variable power built in.

It might be no more expensive or even cheaper than a separate attenuator. There are a lot of options there across the product line and across the different power levels.

TH100 is probably similar loudness to yours but can go down to 30W. Still really loud though.

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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by andy_tchp » Tue Mar 02, 2021 3:05 pm

Snake Hips wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:14 am
If the Mass 200 am I in trouble with a 120-watt amp? The recommendation is 100 watts or lower.
If you crank everything you'll burn things up. They warn of this on the product page and also their attenuator FAQ

https://tedweber.com/mass-200/
https://tedweber.com/attenuator-faq/
High gain amps such as Marshall or clones are hard on attenuators. Unfortunately, an amp’s volume dial is not a good indicator of how much power is being produced. Many amps can reach full power at 3 or 4 on the volume dial, so it is a good suggestion to get an attenuator with 4x the power handling. For example, if you have a 50w high gain amp, you should opt for the MASS 200. If you have a 100w amp, you should still go wtih the MASS 200 but you should not crank the amp.

1) do not attenuate too far down. this puts a lot of power through a very small section of the volume rheostat which can cause it to fail

2) also do not turn your amp all the way up. even if you’re just knocking a little off the top with the attenuator, it’s a good idea to keep the amp somewhere in the middle at most. it’s best to find the lowest volume on the amp that is the acceptable tone to you, and then use the attenuator to bring it the rest of the way.

I fully agree with Tony's reply. If you're trying to attenuate something like a 120W Orange beyond taking it from 'way too loud' to 'still a bit too loud' it'll probably sound like a busted arse.


Buy a smaller amp.
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Re: Talk to me about Attenuators

Post by Dr Tony Balls » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:40 am

2 x 6V6 OR/OD 120 clone with a pentode/triode switch would be 1) 15/7 watts and sound proper, and 2) awesome.
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