Attenuators: worth it? ..or just more gear in the toy box?

XmasTree

Member
Messages
3,962
Ive never used one. Ever.
I just bought a Rivera Rockcrusher. (not even shipped yet)
I'm pretty sure this is a good one. (couldn't get a Fryette 'cause they're not available anywhere right now)
i play a V22, SD18 and Mini Rec - mostly at home
the Mini Rec is loud and the Budda Superdrive18 is extremely loud

is your attenuator a building block to your core tone that you use all the time?
..or just another metal box in a land of metal boxes?

I'm just trying to make sure i'm going in the right direction and it'll be used most of the time
(like an EQ in the fx loop)

thanks
 

JES1680

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,897
IMO its another piece of th e puzzle. All attenuators will alter your tone to some degree. There are some very good ones out now one of which is the Rockcrusher, they also tend to respond different to different amps similar to a pedal. I use an Alex and an Aracom. The Alex works great for Marshall style amps, and the Aracom seems to work better for Fenders, tweeds, etc...
I like the way these two sound and I couldn't use some of my amps without them as they are just too loud for everyday use.
However a friend of mine absolutely hates them, can't stand to listen to them. so :dunno
 

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,554
Ive never used one. Ever.
I just bought a Rivera Rockcrusher. (not even shipped yet)
I'm pretty sure this is a good one. (couldn't get a Fryette 'cause they're not available anywhere right now)
i play a V22, SD18 and Mini Rec - mostly at home
the Mini Rec is loud and the Budda Superdrive18 is extremely loud

is your attenuator a building block to your core tone that you use all the time?
..or just another metal box in a land of metal boxes?

I'm just trying to make sure i'm going in the right direction and it'll be used most of the time
(like an EQ in the fx loop)

thanks
There are times when you'll need to work your power section to open your amp up or get a new sound. The Mini Rec has a master volume. An attenuator is not required.

I have a Mark V and a RockCrusher. I won't use the attenuator on the MkV regularly, but some modes/sounds work better when the power section is clipping. So the attenuator just enables you to get more out of your amp. And yes, they affect the tone/dynamics and yes, you will wear your tubes down faster …so only use the attenuator when you need it -- not on by default.

Attenuators are also nice for gigging.

I wouldn't use an attenuator or EQ all the time. In fact, I rarely use the EQ on my MkV. Less is more. I'd suggest buying a different speaker/cab rather than using a global EQ in the FX loop. You can disable the FX loop and get a purer sound with fewer gain stages and less degradation.
 
Messages
2,582
I've been using my Hotplate for years, and wouldn't think of not having it. It's a tool that works great in some situations. I used it with a JTM-45 and it was wonderful. I now use it with my Mesa Blue Angel. These are both NMV amps, and that's where an attenuator can be a godsend for studio and home playing. When I had my Budda SD-18, I could not have lived without the Hotplate. Budda amps are really loud, and difficult to harness for home playing. As far as "tone altering" from using an attenuator, I have found nothing that can't be fixed with an EQ pedal, which is another tool I would not be without.
 

doctorx

Member
Messages
4,472
Ive never used one. Ever.
I just bought a Rivera Rockcrusher. (not even shipped yet)
I'm pretty sure this is a good one. (couldn't get a Fryette 'cause they're not available anywhere right now)
i play a V22, SD18 and Mini Rec - mostly at home
the Mini Rec is loud and the Budda Superdrive18 is extremely loud

is your attenuator a building block to your core tone that you use all the time?
..or just another metal box in a land of metal boxes?

I'm just trying to make sure i'm going in the right direction and it'll be used most of the time
(like an EQ in the fx loop)

thanks
You spent $500 on a device that you've never used, you're "pretty sure", it's a good one, and "trying to make sure it's the right direction"?

Ok then.
 

ldizzle

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,349
I've used attenuators live Big/small venues, in the studio, and at home for 5+ years... A necessity for me. Tube and cab rattle? Eliminated. Foh? They love me!
They're just an essential tool for me. It will change toanz. It can be compensated.
Also, I want my power toobz WERKIN
Ymmv imho all that!
 

dirk_benedict

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,468
Sorry, I'm uuuuge noob when it comes to attenuators. What's preferable from a "wearing out parts on the amp" standpoint - an overdrive pedal or an attenuator?

I had the house to myself for 5minutes yesterday and opened up one of my amps to near max. Wow what a sound!! I need more of that power amp distortion in my life!
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
25,365
every attenuator i've ever used has been different than the other, and in varying degrees.
 

markstullkc

Member
Messages
653
If you have a non master volume amp, it is a must. Also look into the variac.

I used to use a Marshall power brake in combination with a master volume to get the power tubes cooking.
 

sickboy79

Member
Messages
13,064
For my uses, a good attenuator is essential. I only play at home these days. Gigged for a few years and needed one as well for the amps I prefer to use.
 

guitarman3001

Member
Messages
11,069
Ive never used one. Ever.
I just bought a Rivera Rockcrusher. (not even shipped yet)
I'm pretty sure this is a good one. (couldn't get a Fryette 'cause they're not available anywhere right now)
i play a V22, SD18 and Mini Rec - mostly at home
the Mini Rec is loud and the Budda Superdrive18 is extremely loud

is your attenuator a building block to your core tone that you use all the time?
..or just another metal box in a land of metal boxes?

I'm just trying to make sure i'm going in the right direction and it'll be used most of the time
(like an EQ in the fx loop)

thanks
IMO, they are useless for multi channel amps and amps with some kind of gain or master volume control. I have a V22 and a MiniRec (ROV25) and an attenuator would be pointless for those. They both have good dirt channels that sound just fine at low volumes. I don't know anything about the SD18 so can't speak for that one. Also, amps like the Mini Rec are designed to get most of their distortion from the preamp, so pushing the power tubes harder won't have as much of an effect as say, a single channel non master volume 100 watt Marshall that doesn't break up until the volume is at ear splitting levels.

Every once in a while I think about getting an attenuator just because I see them being talked about here a lot but then I realize it would be a complete waste for me because all of my amps are channel switchers with dirt channels that sound fine at low volumes, and if I want a milder breakup, a dirt pedal into the clean channel would work perfectly.
 

stratotastic

Member
Messages
7,241
There's a huge flavor-of-the-month trend regarding attenuators around here. The latest one is always the best one ever...till the next one comes out. Stick around here long enough and every attenuator will be "the best" at some point. Right now the trendy one for the herd is the Power Station.

I've actually always done fine with "cheap" attenuators--had a Hot Plate for a while, now have a Weber Mass, which I like better than the Hot Plate. Sure they alter your tone, but so do the tone knobs on your guitar and amp, so if you have a good enough ear and know how to tease out a good sound, you'll be fine with whatever you get.

My main amp is a 50-watt JCM 800 (4104) combo, and like to plug in to the low input and dime both the pre and master as my base sound, mainly using my 52 Hot Rod Tele (stock neck pickup, Dimarzio DP421 in the bridge). Gives me a great crunchy sound, and a nice clean if I turn my guitar volume down a bit. I can also get a nice shimmery clean if I turn the master down a bit. I can achieve all sounds ranging from full volume all the way down to conversation levels using the Mass. It has a treble boost switch to compensate for any loss as you bring the level down, and my amp has treble and presence knobs I can use to dial up those frequencies if needed. I get surprising versatility out of the Marshall using the Mass. Could I do better with an $800 attenuator? Maybe, but I don't feel any need to find out.
 

Polvo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
739
I went by route of an Amprx Brown box, works great with both my old SuperLeads with PPIMV, and makes my AC30cc2 really sweet sounding.
 

Red_Label

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,201
I've got a couple of attenuators lying around. I don't care for the stifled tone that comes out of the amp when I use them. Fortunately the Splawn and Friedman amps in my man cave all have great master volumes, so they sound awesome even at lower volumes. I have no use for attenuators any more.
 

fusionbear

exquirentibus veritatem
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,919
For me, they are invaluable. When i am working on older nmv amps, i do test at full volume for very short period of times. But, when doing burn in, i can't have the volume otherwise my neighbors and the police will show up. I built my own. A couple of resistive types and one resistive/inductive type. Different amps respond differently to each. There is no best imo
 

cal1024

Member
Messages
318
Besides just the obvious volume reduction capability with NMV amps which is essential at home, I've found the PS makes things so easy to adjust your volume to band settings. Often I would need to raise or lower volume to adjust to the drummer or other guitarist and in doing so it would also change gain levels and feel. Now with the PS you can dial in your sweet spot for gain, dynamics, etc., and then take that exact feel and tone to any volume level with the turn of one dial.
The Power Station may be considered a flavor-of-the-month by some on here, but I'll bet not by people who have actually tried it. It is really, really nice. Also opens up a whole world of amps that didn't used to be practical.
 

XmasTree

Member
Messages
3,962
and you've never been in a similar situation?
you were never at any time "inexperienced" with any of your gear?

I've been playing for 22 years but I've never used an attenuator

what is this forum for?

You spent $500 on a device that you've never used, you're "pretty sure", it's a good one, and "trying to make sure it's the right direction"?

Ok then.
 




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