Today, @silverstatic asked if I had any recommendations for attenuators. I’ve thought about picking these up in the past. Basically, for people out there that don’t know what they do, they site between your amp and speaker cab. They sucks some of the power so you can overdrive your head or crank it, but the volume from your speakers are bearable.
I’ve been playing a Rivera Knucklehead 100 watt amp forever, and they’re great amps, but the problem is that they’re crazy loud. Just to give you an idea, when I practice at my house, I pretty much have to get the master around 1.5 to 2. For live stage settings, the amp is right around 2.5 or 3 on the master. At 3 your pants are vibrating when you’re in front of it (honestly, I like that feeling.. a lot). I don’t think I’ve ever played a show without the sound guy telling me to turn down, and it sucks.. if I turn it down to where he wants it, my power tube section is barely getting the love it needs.
With a attenuator, you can crank that head to 3 or 4 to get things heated up, but you can control the level of volume coming out of the speakers to a level that sounds guys like. There have been some issues.. and these are the reasons why I’ve never bought one.
- Often known to alter your tone
- Can damage your amp
I’ve been hearing about the Dr. Z AirBrake as something that is truly ‘transparent’ as far as tone goes, and with technology improvements, amps are getting fried in the process. I initially recommend this to @silverstatic as popular answer to the question, but @worshipking14 came back with the Bad Cat “The Leash” Attenuator as the item to get.
First of all, I think Bad Cat stuff is fantastic (I also think the same as Dr. Z), but I’ve had some experience with the Bad Cat 2-tone pedal.. and it’s pretty awesome. So I wanted to look seriously at this.
Over at PremierGuitar.com they had a article about the “The Leash” and it really addressed some of those early issues I brought up. Mainly having a ‘reactive’ load feature which is safer for amps by managing the impedence. This box also comes with a fan, since managing that power load will get things hot. That’s a nice solution as well. The article above also discusses some tone tests. They bring up a good point of not cranking your amp, and playing it at very quiet volumes expecting it to sound the same.
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