Practice Amp or Attenuator?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by shane_m, May 23, 2006.

  1. shane_m

    shane_m Member

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    Which should I get a nice practice amp (I'm thinking Reeves 6, Savage Macht 6) or an attenuator for my Budda SD 18 (or.....a Reeves 18 w/ power scaling)? I want something that I can play at low volumes and still get a good tone (obviously). But I always hear that attenuators suck your tone and low powered practice amps have a weak tone. Anyone care to chime in?

    Shane
     
  2. mcormier

    mcormier Guest

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    I only experienced wih the weber mass, it eats up y tone terribly.
     
  3. JWR

    JWR Member

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    My personal preference would be the attenuator. I have a Hotplate and have not tried comparable units. My basis for this is, one day, I was in our guest room playing with one one of those little Marshall amps that use the 9 volt battery, (1 watt, 2" speaker) and my wife walked by and snarled "turn that thing down" THEREFORE, I submit to you that 90 db is 90 db no matter how many watts are behind it.
     
  4. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    i have a tweed champ that is far too loud to use as a practice amp unless it's attenuated. likewise the univalve w/ even a 6K6 output tube. i still have to use the attenuator. i have not tried the lovetone mini amp or zach vex's nano amp so i can't comment.
    there comes a point when tryna practice w/ an amp at low volumes (less than 80dB) where, unless U are a shredder, it becomes rather futile. if U set the amp/attenuator to give U decent grit when cranked and then U turn it down on the guitar to clean it up, U're cleans are so much quieter that it really makes it hard to work on that part of Ur technique.
    over the years, i have learned that it's a good thing to practice w/o an amp if U can't play thru an amp at low to moderate levels. it'll allow U to begin to really work on the tone that U make w/ Ur fingers and will also then really help when U plug in because U'll be more conscious of dynamics from Ur right hand.
    i AM curious about those super low watt amps, tho'.
    if i have to play and use an amp, i use a groove tubes speaker emulator and run that into the DAW. i can work at about 75dB and get great tones and it really isn't any louder than the TV or a normal conversation. i also use the line out of the hotplate into the DAW and then use the speaker simulator software in either guitar rig or GTR. the speaker simulations in these programs are actually pretty decent.
     
  5. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    How low volumes are we talking about here? If were talking about the kind where there is barely any volume (baby sleeping in the next room or low conversation volumes) then I'd propably go with a modeler and headphones.

    On the other hand if you can go up to loud TV volumes, you have more options. I've tried quite a few.

    I had a 15W Stephenson head with Power Scaling that I ran through a 1x12 cab. I felt it worked pretty well and sounded good at low volumes. I mainly sold the amp due to it's tone and especially feel (not tight enough for hard rock) not suiting my needs rather than volume issues. For blues/rock type tones it was great. Not much headroom though and it did sound better when turned up a bit, but didn't benefit significantly from cranking the amp due to Power Scaling.

    For fun I tried several other volume reduction methods with the Stephenson:

    1) Attenuator didn't work well. You need -12 db or more attenuation for comfortable, ear-friendly volumes and by then nearly all dynamics (and the Stephenson is the most dynamic amp I've ever tried) are gone and there's a noticeable treble/presence loss which can be partially combated with amp controls and might not even bother you if you prefer smoother, darker tones.

    2) Attenuator line-out -> separate poweramp -> cab. I used my Yamaha DG combo's 80W solid-state powersection as a separate poweramp. Actually what I used here was an Uraltone Line-out Box, but using an attenuator set to dummy load would do the same. I felt this was the next best thing to Power Scaling. The tone did get a bit more compressed and there was some high end loss, but not so much that it would bother me. Volume could be adjusted very accurately.

    Another option would be an amp with a very good master volume. These are out there, some better than others. You could always use a combination of the afore-mentioned methods.

    I'm now getting a Diezel Einstein 1x12 combo (50W) so it's back to bigger amps for me, I'm hoping it's master volume is good but if not, I'll propably employ the line-out -> poweramp -> cab setup.
     
  6. ungarn

    ungarn Member

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    Without a doubt...Dr Z Airbrake...super-duper attenuator that you can use with any amp you may have...
     
  7. Gear91

    Gear91 Supporting Member

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    Wow, I felt that way about a Marshall power break but I really like the Weber Mass (I have the Mass 150 if that makes a difference).
     
  8. Gear91

    Gear91 Supporting Member

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    I have heard great things but isn't it limited to 8 ohms and amps under 100 watts?
     
  9. opdev

    opdev Member

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    love the Weber MASS.

    However, I play at basement volume (not whisper volume). It reacts differently for different amps. Loves tweed, hates blackface.

    For super low volume I'd do a Vox AD series valvetronix
     
  10. trucks

    trucks Member

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    Check out the Aiken Tomcat. It has a built-in attenuator and sounds great at any volume.
     
  11. ungarn

    ungarn Member

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    It will handle any ohm...check the website, not sure about max watts...

    -Thad
     
  12. GuitarBrent

    GuitarBrent Member

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  13. mrbill

    mrbill Member

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    I have a Germino Headroom 100 going into a 2X12 cab with G12H Heritage Celestions, and use a THD Hotplate with great results - but not without a little tweaking. With the volume almost all the way up, and set at -16db for late-night playing, the sound was anemic - thin, nasally. Since this is a non-master volume amp, the power tubes are already saturated, but with the severe attenuation it just wasn't happening since the speakers were not able to contribute anything. The fix? I hit the amp harder with an overdrive ( Maxon OD-9 ), and a compressor ( Maxon CP-9 ) with the compression set mid-low and the gain set high. It seems to sort of simulate the tone you get when the speakers are being driven, even with the global master turned down all the way. For that level of attenuation, nice crunch and sweet lead tones! I'm very pleased now ( and so are my neighbors )!
     
  14. 6789

    6789 Member

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    I'd suggest an overdrive pedal. I've been dissapointed by the attenuators I've tried. even when turning the volume down 8db it's still too loud. and turn down more than that eats up the tone so you might as well just use a pedal and you'll probably get a better tone for bedroom practicing.

    my lovepedal 1/2 watt amp works great. I do need to use an Aphex guitar Xciter to add low end though.
     
  15. Gear91

    Gear91 Supporting Member

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    I was choosing between the Airbrake and the Weber. I asked the folks at Dr. Z if the Airbrake was safe with a 100 watt head like the DR103 and they said no, so I went with the Weber Mass 150.
     
  16. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    Did you buy a Motherload? I own a Richter and couldn't be happier. After owning 5 other attenuators this one finally delivers what I want. One attenuator that sounds good on any amp I put it on and sounds good at low enough levels and still satisfies.
     
  17. Silverboy

    Silverboy Member

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    I second Ted Zeppelin...I've owned 4 attenuators, and while they all work to varying degrees, at bedroom volumes I do best with a good overdrive pedal. Even my cheap Nobels overdrive gives my attenuators a run for the money for at-home volumes....
     
  18. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm currently looking for a used Univalve here in Australia for Pro Tools demos etc. I'm really kicking myself that I didn't buy one when I was working for a shop that was dealing with them.

    Anyway, good as the attenuators are and the Uni had a decent one, I found that lowering the wattage as much as possible with the tube choice, attenuating only mildly and kicking the front end with a clean boost gave me the most natural low volume recording tones. 3 step process you could say. The lower volume also enabled me to use a Valve condensor mic to capture a bit more of the good stuff too.

    Now. Anyone in Australia reading this want to sell me a Uni?
     
  19. songsmith1950

    songsmith1950 Member

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    For my own uses I prefer to buy an older, smaller, low wattage amp and then mod it slightly to turn it into either a champ clone or something close. A few mods and perhaps a speaker change if needed can do wonders.
    My favorites are a Gretsch Compact Tremverb which is now a Blackface Champ with rev and trem onboard and a 1938 Wabash which is a low power early tweed Deluxe with about 12 or 14 watts max.
    Many of the old types found on Ebay inexpensively can be easily fixed up to do the trick.
    You would be amazed at the pure tube tone you can pull out of the most unlikely looking amps.
    By the way, they all work incredibly well with pedals.

    Tom
     
  20. shane_m

    shane_m Member

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    Thanks for all the input guys. I think I'm going to try and attenuator. At least that way if I don't like it I'm only out $200 or so.

    Shane
     

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