Attenuator Y/N ?



I recently bought a Fender HRDx even though I don't gig with it, or play with other electrics. OK, it was a good price, but now I'm faced with wanting the tube tone at something at low volume. The HRDx can't pull that off, it's just too loud, too quick! I've read pros and cons about attenuators and just want to know what you guys think. Someone mentioned a Weber Load Dump. I'll wait for the input. Thanks


Attenuators are really good for helping an amp sit better in a live band mix. Like if you need just a little more volume to push your amp into its sweet spot, but doing that would put you too high in the mix...

Keep in mind that a tube amp that's cranked to where it's meant to be operated is going to push out 110dB or more. Attenuators set for more than about 10dB attenuation seem to have a bad effect on amp tone. So you can get down to about 100dB with your tone intact - that's still stage volume.

If you want to throttle your amp down to a level where it can peacefully coexist with other family members and neighbors sharing a common wall, you're talking about SPLs in the neighborhood of 85dB or so. No attenuator is going to cut that much volume without affecting the tone. On the other hand, most attenuators have a control that lets you dial the volume all the way down to zero. You could try it, and see whether you're happy with the resulting sound.

Seriously, if you want conversational-level volumes try a modelling amp or a modelling preamp through your home stereo. Tube amps sound best loud.

Kevin Raine

I run a THD Bivalve with an inbuilt THD Hotplate attenuator and I firmly believe that any tone compromise at lower levels is mainly speakers just not pumping air in the same way as at higher volumes. I am very happy with the attenuated sounds and can use it at room volumes no louder than a television set.

Cheers - Kevin


Its possible to eyeball an amplifier and get a feel for how well an attenuator will work with it. Just my observation: attenuators seem to work better with output transformers that have lots of iron.


Silver Supporting Member
I had a Hot Rod Deluxe. It's a loud amp. Two options:

1) Attenuator. Caution: These really work well ONLY if you are taking the "obnoxiously" off "obnoxiously loud amp."

2) Replace the power tubes with Blackjacks, THD Yellowjackets, or other power tube converter. You'll get true power tube disto at around 15-16w levels. I had a set of these in my HRD. Surprisingly, it still sounds pretty much like your Fender amp.


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