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That Pedal Show – Introduction To Guitar Amp Attenuators

Published on Sep 22, 2017

In this episode we venture tentatively onto the thin ice of attenuators for guitar amps. It is a contentious subject, so here we are simply discussing the common approaches as an introduction to the concept.
THIS VIDEO IS NOT ABOUT IRs AND DIRECT SIGNALS. It’s simply about making your really loud amp a bit quieter through your cabinet/speakers.

We discuss the concepts of active and passive attenuation, reactive and non-reactive loads, resistive power soaks and voltage attenuation. We’re not particularly scientific about any of the technical stuff, so if you want to understand the physics, please hit up any number of websites, not least Wikipedia. Many of those pages will go into massive technical detail and you won't hear a single guitar tone. We're trying to do the opposite.

“But why didn’t you include //insert every attenuator ever available here// because I think it sounds much better.”
Good for you. Please make a video about it and educate us with sound.

• An explanation about the mic preamp volume changes you’re hearing in this video…
A sound needs to be at a certain level in your ears for you to hear it, enjoy it, and sound ‘good’ for want of a better word. That’s why mic preamps exist: to bring the level of the source to an appropriate level.
For example, a Marshall Plexi may be putting out 118dB (as a random number). Then you stick a mic in front of that, and set your mic gain accordingly.
Now turn the amp (or attenuate it) down to, say, 95dB, and you will perceive the sound to be weak, thin and quiet if the mic gain remains the same. Increase the mic gain, and it gets louder, fatter and fuller in the recording. With apologies for the technically basic explanation, that’s what Mick is doing in this video. As the amps get quieter and louder from the speaker, Mick is turning the mic preamp gain up and down accordingly to try to level out what the recorder is seeing in terms of input level.
To balance that, there is a visual guide to the volume in the room with the dB meter on the pedalboard. It’s not accurate - this isn’t science, but it’s at least a guide.

Enjoy the video!

Attenuation devices used today…

• Palmer PDI06 - Please check you ave the correct impedance model
UK & Europe:

• Fryette Power Station

• Lazy J20

• Victory Sheriff 22
UK & Europe:

* Why do we have preferred retailer links? Find out here:

Pedals in this episode…

• TheGigRig QuarterMaster QMX4

• JAM Pedals Delay Fuzz Phrase
UK & Europe:

• Keeley D&M Drive
UK &

• Hudson Broadcast Dual Footswitch
UK & Europe:

• Boss MD-500
UK & Europe:

• TC Electronic PolyTune Mini - No longer made, link to latest version
UK & Europe:

• Kingsley Page DS

• Free The Tone Flight Time
UK & Europe:

Interesting bits and go-to sections…
- Introduction & background: 00:00
- What’s that click? 2:00
- What are we doing today? 2:40
- Palmer PDI06 MkII and brief info on a passive, resistive loads: 4:50
- Fryette Power Station and brief info on active/reactive loads: 8:30
- Power scaling? 11:20
- A summary so far: 13:00
- Our 50-watt Marshall 1987x: 13:40
- Palmer PDI06 sounds and functions: 17:45
- Reactions so far? 21:45
- Fryette Power Station sounds and functions: 24:03
- What is Mick doing with the mic preamp gain? 29:00
- The Fryette’s FX loop: 30:40
- …and with a Kingsley Page DS in the loop? 32:20
- Lazy J20 Attenuation: 38:50
- Attenuation? All you’re doing is playing really loud: 50:00
- Victory Sheriff 22 and 0.3 watts: 52:00 (54:15)
- Round up and closing thoughts: 58:20

Guitars in this episode
• Duesenberg Bonneville –
• Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster – watch Mick’s video at

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