Power attenuators

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Power attenuators

Postby ProfessorPeewee » Mon May 05, 2008 4:22 pm

Someone in another thread mentioned that they are using a THD Hotplate attenuator. Anyone else using one of these, or a similar product?

I'm playing through a 50W Valve King 112, but in the little venues we play I can never turn it up past 12:00, which is just where the sweetness starts. I've been thinking of trading it in on a lower wattage amp, but my bandmates tell me they love the tone I'm getting now and I don't want to shell out a pile of money for something I might not like.

Can I really preserve the high output tone at lower volumes with something like a Hotplate?
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby songdog » Mon May 05, 2008 8:05 pm

Yeah, IMO the Hotplate and others work pretty well. They seem to be expensive though for what you get but still most likely cheaper than shelling out for a new amp. If you're a solder slinger, one can be scratch built for real cheap.
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby watertore » Mon May 05, 2008 9:02 pm

Hi: I am using a thd hotplate. I have had it for a few years and love it. I play through a deluxe reverb reissue amp and it is about 80 times louder than my needs. I record a lot and as a 1 man band, everything is within a couple feet of each other. The hotplate makes it doable. Listen to the latest song on the link below. That is the with the amp at about whisper volume. Walter
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby ProfessorPeewee » Mon May 05, 2008 9:35 pm

watertore wrote:Hi: I am using a thd hotplate. I have had it for a few years and love it. I play through a deluxe reverb reissue amp and it is about 80 times louder than my needs. I record a lot and as a 1 man band, everything is within a couple feet of each other. The hotplate makes it doable. Listen to the latest song on the link below. That is the with the amp at about whisper volume. Walter


Thanks Walter; I'm in a five man group, but some of the stages we play on ain't big enough for one man band, so it's either turn the amp down or deafen the drummer...but then I lose that snarl.


I gave your link a listen, now I can't get this big grin off my face... :mrgreen:
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby ricochet » Mon May 05, 2008 11:42 pm

Drummers are mostly deaf already.
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby rustyslide » Tue May 13, 2008 11:45 am

You should check the Weber attenuators out.
I've got a 25W Weber MiniMASS on my Epi Valve Jr, and it works great.
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby Troubleman » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:07 pm

I've found that no one attenuator works best for all amps.... weird.
I have a 4 ohm THD Hotplate that I use with a Budda SuperDrive 45. Works GREAT. I've a Marshall Jubilee 2555 hundred watt head that seems to prefer a Dr Z AirBrake to the Hotplate. I used to have a Marshall Power Brake - Marshall Plexi (reissue) amps liked it; my Jubilee worked better with the Dr Z Air Brake...
I have a little Fender Pro Jr that has a Weber MiniMass living in its (combo) back permanently. It works wonderfully with that amp - it should be standard equipment. I tried it with a Budda Twinmaster (another 15-18 watt EL84-based amp). Not so much.... Go figure.


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Re: Power attenuators

Postby Troubleman » Sun Oct 05, 2008 3:12 pm

ProfessorPeewee wrote:Someone in another thread mentioned that they are using a THD Hotplate attenuator. Anyone else using one of these, or a similar product?

I'm playing through a 50W Valve King 112, but in the little venues we play I can never turn it up past 12:00, which is just where the sweetness starts. I've been thinking of trading it in on a lower wattage amp, but my bandmates tell me they love the tone I'm getting now and I don't want to shell out a pile of money for something I might not like.

Can I really preserve the high output tone at lower volumes with something like a Hotplate?


I've found that I can get away with two levels of attenuation before I start to lose that je ne sais quoi thing that happens with tube amps when the power amp stage starts to do it thing. To really get that "break" happening, I went to a less efficient speaker (Brit-made Celestion G12M Greenback in my 2x12 cabs, Celestion G10L-35's in my 4x10 Marshall cab) in addition to the Hotplate. It did lower my headroom a bit, but I'm not known for pristine cleans with either of my bands. I do add a bit of compressor to the front end of my amp for more pristine clean tones. That, coupled with the Hotplate at the back-end, and I'm really happy with my tone.

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Re: Power attenuators

Postby Little Tina » Mon Oct 06, 2008 5:50 am

Please correct me if I am being stupid (I'm afraid I am) but wouldn't a master volume be the cure? As I recall, in early 90's I played some thru a Pro Jr. (directly to the amp) and did not ever get a satisfactory dirty tone. Now that I have a Peavey Classic with master vol., I am totally happy with the tone...no, that is not quite so, I still miss some low-end punch but I suppose I need a bigger speaker to get that. But the distortion is good, even at very low volumes. And no pedals needed, I am gonna get rid of that tubescreamer :P

I have to admit, so far I haven't gotten to dime the master volume too so I actually don't know if the tone would be much different then. Would it?
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby Troubleman » Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:18 pm

Little Tina wrote:Please correct me if I am being stupid (I'm afraid I am) but wouldn't a master volume be the cure? As I recall, in early 90's I played some thru a Pro Jr. (directly to the amp) and did not ever get a satisfactory dirty tone. Now that I have a Peavey Classic with master vol., I am totally happy with the tone...no, that is not quite so, I still miss some low-end punch but I suppose I need a bigger speaker to get that. But the distortion is good, even at very low volumes. And no pedals needed, I am gonna get rid of that tubescreamer :P

I have to admit, so far I haven't gotten to dime the master volume too so I actually don't know if the tone would be much different then. Would it?


It depends upon the design of the amp and how its being used.
For may designs, installing a master volume post phase-inverter is an acceptable option. For some amp designs - lots of the tonal palette is actually derived from the power amp and output tubes; a MV would steal too much drive to the power section. If you're not pushing the tubes to the point of break-up and harmonic distortion, you're missing out on the amp's heart and soul. For those amps that derive more of their sound from the preamp (many of the amps from mesa boogie come to mind), MVs are a good option. Honestly, if you've really gotten into playing a non-MV amp at the point where the power tubes are being pushed hard and really delivering the mojo, it's hard to give up. That's where post phase-inverter MV's shine... as much as possible anyway. One of my all-time fav amps - a Marshall Major from the late 60s. It ran KT88 tubes at screaming high plate voltage, and produced in excess of 200 watts (bear in mind - these are MARSHALL WATTS). The complexity of its tone, the feel and sensitivity of that amp when it was cranked up are unparalleled. Unfortunately, it could hurt people. STUPID LOUD. Installing a MV in that amp killed its mojo. Even with the MV wide open, it's still in the signal path and it robs tone. In cases such as those - attenuators. Neither is a perfect solution.

I fall into that category of people who (and it is absolutely unintentional) prefers non-MV amps - Budda Twinmasters, Marshall Plexi's, and Fender Super Reverbs is pretty much where I live. I like to push their front end with a clean boost (Catalinbread Super Chili Picoso or Xotic RC) and use an attenuator at the back end to semi-tame their output. That said - I do own/gig a Marshall Jubilee 2555 - MV amp, and a Budda SuperDrive 45 - MV amp. I love them both, but for me - the ones that really get the squishy-organic, OMG tones (think Hendrix/SRV/Eric Johnson): non-MV.

Nobody said it'd be easy :mrgreen:

pEAcE,
jb
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby ricochet » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:01 pm

I'm with Little Tina. I'm no purist that has to have a certain "tone." Overdriving the output stage of the amp is a cool and different sound from overdriving the so-called "preamp" stages of the amp, but it's something you do when you can crank the thing, and you can't all the time. It's great fun, I'm sure, to take a Turbo Carrera out on the autobahn and put the pedal down, but you can't do that all the time, either. When I need less volume, I'll turn the volume down on the amp and be happy with how it sounds. That's why the amp has a volume knob. No way I'm fooling with attenuators. I have built such for those who just have to have their "cranked amp tone" but foolishly bought amps too big to crank under practical circumstances.
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby Troubleman » Mon Oct 06, 2008 3:06 pm

ricochet wrote:I'm with Little Tina. I'm no purist that has to have a certain "tone." Overdriving the output stage of the amp is a cool and different sound from overdriving the so-called "preamp" stages of the amp, but it's something you do when you can crank the thing, and you can't all the time. It's great fun, I'm sure, to take a Turbo Carrera out on the autobahn and put the pedal down, but you can't do that all the time, either. When I need less volume, I'll turn the volume down on the amp and be happy with how it sounds. That's why the amp has a volume knob. No way I'm fooling with attenuators. I have built such for those who just have to have their "cranked amp tone" but foolishly bought amps too big to crank under practical circumstances.



That's why I favor lower-powered non-MV amps - power tubes and output tranny can do their thing, and I've full dynamics, sensitivity, harmonics, and scorch the amp can offer. It's sorta holistic - you (ok - I) need enough drive to get the power tubes working, AND enough to get the speakers to square up (if you're using that type of speaker - i prefer celestions, so yeah, i do...). I think I've tried just about every attenuator out there (blown up a few amps in the process - if i ever meet tom scholz, he's a dead man..) and probably the vast majority of overdrive units. NOTHING compares with a pushed front end and over-driven power tubes. If you're gonna push power tubes, unless it's a lower-powered amp - attenuator...

pEAcE
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby ricochet » Mon Oct 06, 2008 3:54 pm

I agree, if you want cranked tone, low power amps are the way to go.
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby rustyslide » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:35 pm

ricochet wrote:No way I'm fooling with attenuators. I have built such for those who just have to have their "cranked amp tone" but foolishly bought amps too big to crank under practical circumstances.


I live in an apartment - an attenuator is the only way to do "cranked" even with a low-powered amp, sadly. Mostly I play my nice sounding Tech 21 at reasonable volumes.
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Re: Power attenuators

Postby grady » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:38 pm

I don't use Attenuators. They're a waste of money IMO.
There are so many other ways you can get that "cranked" sound that are much less expensive.
For the price of a Attenuator, you can buy,

1- a small amp
2- Guitar Amp Software that'll do ANYTHING (My AmpliTube Soundclip proves that you can get great tone from software)
3- a FullTone Fat Boost that'll give you a very full cranked sound at any volume

There are so many other options.

Also, whenever someone says they have to turn it up to a certain volume level or they have to have a 4-12 cabinet in order to get "their" sound, it always makes me laugh.
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