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ATTENUATER OR DEVICE W/VOL. IN LOOP?

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Hi again~~  In trying to get a usable volume out of my 20 watt non-master beast of an amp, & being disappointed with power soaks (see previous post), I tried inserting a device w/ volume control into my FX loop, & voila!!,,,, The question is, what is the better option if trying to retain the signal integrity, a soak or gain pedal in the loop?  This FX loop fix seemed to be okay, but what's the better sonic solution to my goal? Thanks!!

 

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In the loop, it's essentially acting as a master volume.  That will let you push the preamp section harder, and you'll get more preamp distortion. You won t get any power tube distortion though. If thats what you are after an attenuator would be better. 

That's why I got one. The amp I use it with has el84 power tubes and that's where the good saturation is on that amp.

How do you think it sounds? 

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Yeah, MrBrown.,,, that's precisely what I wanted to know,,,,if I'm compromising my signal path & depriving the tubes of signal push, and it sounds like I would be if using the loop. It sounded okay this way, but just okay,,,,,it was missing that power tube saturation that my amp is capable of.....Thanks

🕉

 

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You wont be hurting anything running it that way. If anything the hiss/noise might be a bit higher because the power amp runs at max and you're simply feeding it a lower signal level. 

If you want more flexibility you can put a volume pedal in the loop so you can find the level that works best when you're playing.   

You can also emulate some tube sag by putting a compressor in the loop. Most comps have volume/gain controls too so you can dial up the loudness and dial up how much sag you want. 

The best option however hasn't been mentioned.  The reason the sound is too loud has nothing to do with the wattage, it has to do with the efficiency of the speaker.  Most guitar amp speakers have an SPL  95dB depending on the brand and type. Some go as high as 110dB.  Rule of thumb. With every 3dB increase in SPL the speaker will sound twice as loud to your ears.  Likewise, every decrease in SPL by 3dB will cut the volume in half. 

What I recommend you do is spend 10 to $15 on a low SPL speaker and build a small cab for it.  Doesn't need to be fancy, and it doesn't even need a back cover, it can be open backed.  Find an old wooden box and cut a hole for the speaker, mount it and wire it to a cable.   I'm not sure what kind of amp you have but I can probably recommend you a speaker  that will do the job. 

Example, These aren't exactly guitar speakers, they are small PA speakers,  but they do have a good enough frequency response to handle guitar (45 to 7K Hz) I bought a pair years ago on sale and found their SPL of 92 to be a bit optimistic. They can take up to 125W so I'm able to feed them with a 100W amp head and sound like I'm playing through a small 15W amp.  No Attenuator and no crap stuck in the effects loop. I simply run the am through the speaker and crank it up.  When I want to play out I use the amps normal speaker.   https://www.parts-express.com/pyramid-studio-pro-wh10-10-woofer-accordian-surround--290-262

 

They even make one that's an 8" with even lower output of 89dB which is half the volume of the 10" Compared to a normal guitar speaker that's about 3 to 9X lower in volume.  Shouldn't have much problem bothering people with something this low in volume.    https://www.parts-express.com/pyramid-studio-pro-wh8-8-woofer-accordian-surround--290-260

Another brand I've used on that site are Dayton Speakers. These again are PA or paging speakers or possibly Hi Fi replacement speakers. They get allot of bass from them in a properly sized and Ported cab and are typically connected along with Mids and tweeters through a crossover.  You don't need the highs for guitar nor the crossover because guitar produces mostly midrange.  These speakers aren't ideal of course, but given the fact you can crank the head up they are still probably better then attenuating the signal with a power soak.  I've never been an advocate of using a resistive load over an active piston.  Its not only sounds weird they don't change resistance when frequency changes like speakers do and can burn your tubes out prematurely. 

Lastly if you find the speaker makes the tone you want you can resize the cabinet to get what you need. Larger for more bass, open backed for more mids, smaller for less bass and more highs. Its actually a pretty good educational experience too. Many of my first guitar cabs were home made beginning with car speakers I scavenged from a junk yard. Sounded pretty decent too until I got a lesson in speaker impedance. I must have been 10 years old and had 16 car speakers connected to an 8 ohm amp in various series parallel combinations  before it blew crap out of that head and smoked its output transformer.  Too bad too, it was an excellent old Bogen Tube Hi Fi Head that had an instrument input.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 12/19/2019 at 1:40 PM, WRGKMC said:

You wont be hurting anything running it that way. If anything the hiss/noise might be a bit higher because the power amp runs at max and you're simply feeding it a lower signal level... 

With the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe I find the opposite to be true.

The so-called 'Master' Volume control in the HRD is early in the pre-amp circuit. In order to get a decent signal to noise ratio, the Volume controls on the amp need to be turned up. This, of course, causes the amplifier to be too loud. Putting a gain control device (I like to use a compressor to tame the HRD) in the effects loop (Pre Amp Out / Power Amp In) allows the pre-amp to be turned up, resulting in a much better S/N. By attenuating the signal via the effects loop, the "hiss/noise" generated in the pre-amp gets turned down too.

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Saw this Fender master control module for the HRD. About $30 

Wondered if it would work on a Princeton Chorus as well

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