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Why attenuate if a pedal with volume control can just make everything quieter?

Standby

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409
For example, if you boost a JCM800 100W you can use the volume on the Boss SD-1 to turn the volume down. A Volume pedal will do the same thing. Pedals with volume will do the same thing in general.

If you get your distortion from the Master Vol on the amp shouldn't that distortion still carry through with the volume down using a pedal?

So what gives? Is it more like turning the volume on your guitar down and things just get cleaner?

Or is it a problem with the FX Loop still being too loud? Wouldn't a volume pedal in the loop solve that issue too?

So what is the big drawback with pedal volume control as opposed to using an attenuator?
 

Bonesaw

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72
If you get your distortion from the Master Vol on the amp shouldn't that distortion still carry through with the volume down using a pedal?
Distortion at any particular section in the signal chain of an amp relies on enough signal moving through that section. If you use a pedal to lower the volume in front of the amp, you're not able to push the amp as hard and achieve that preamp or power amp distortion.

Or is it a problem with the FX Loop still being too loud? Wouldn't a volume pedal in the loop solve that issue too?
This is a relatively common alternative to an attenuator, when you just want to push the preamp, but lower the volume before it hits the power amp. The JHS Little Black Box is essentially just a volume pedal made to be placed in the loop.

If you really want to push an amp and squeeze as much out of it as you can but keep it quiet, the volume control has to come after the amp. And placing an attenuator between the amp and speaker means that you miss out on speaker distortion, which is another layer on its own.
 
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I think it depends on whether you’re getting your gain from the front end of the amp/the pedal, or wanting to push your power tubes & output transformer.

A master volume is usually a volume control for the power amp (somewhat similar to having a volume pedal in the FX loop), so if you’re getting your gain from the preamp you can then throttle the volume back and achieve a similar result but quieter. If you’re getting your gain from a pedal you can crunch the pedal and turn its volume down for a similar effect. But if you want the power tubes to be blooming and the transformer to be saturating, the only real way to make that happen is to crank the amp up super loud - therefore attenuating after the power amp is the only real way to do that at lower volumes.

(How Master Vols work in amp circuitry can vary - but that’s the general gist.)
 




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