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Volume Attenuators: What are the options?

A volume attenuator reduces volume.

But, when used correctly they can have a number of uses.

If you have an amp that is too loud on the lowest setting then you might want to consider one of these. Push the amp a little bit louder and dial back the volume using an attenuator. With an attenuator in the mix you can have your amp pushed as high as you want and then dial back the output to keep it whisper quiet. An attenuator will act as a master volume, giving you more control over the amps volume, so whether you like your amp clean or crunchy theres a use for an attenuator for you.

There are 2 kinds of attenuators Lazy Bear has in store at the moment. Simple volume controls that go in the effects loop of your amp and power soaks that go in between you amp and speaker and reduce the volume of your amp but maintain the impedance.

So how do I find the right attenuator for my amp?

First, take a look at your amp and see what your amp has to offer, I would check if your amp has an effects loop first.

Effects Loop Attenuators

The effects loop attenuators are to be plugged in to the effects loop on your amp and allow you to control the volume at the final stage of the amp, before the power tube section. These are the simplest and often cheapest solution because they don't need to maintain a constant load like the power soak attenuators. These are basically a volume pedal in a handy enclosure that can either sit on your amp or pedalboard and reduce the volume leaving the preamp and entering the power amp.

Your tone won't suffer from the volume reduction as it might if you were to use a volume pedal between the guitar and amp, this is because you have already amplified the signal produced from your guitar.

Power Soak Attenuators

If your amp doesn't have an effects loop then you may want to check your amp to speaker connection. If you have a separate head unit and speaker then this will be obvious as there will be a speaker lead between both units. But, some small combo amps do have a connection tucked away that can be unplugged and a power soak can be placed in the chain.

Some combo amps are hard wired however, meaning there is no lead that you can unplug between the amp and speaker. Just take a look if you don't know already and see what you find. You'll then need to check the amp's impedance, which is usually noted by the speaker out jack, and find an attenuator that is suitable to your amps impedance and maximum wattage.

So if you need to tame your amp or need extra control to find the sweet spot then check out your amps specs and take a look at whats on offer in the Lazy Bear store.


  • Will this work with my amp?

The effects loop attenuators work with most amps effects loops, so long as the effects loop is in series with the amp. If you don't know whether your amps effects loop is in series or parallel then have a look on your amp and see if theres an effects loop blend control, if theres one of them then it's parallel. If you're not sure just give your amp a quick search online and you should find the answer in the manual.

As for power soaks, you just need to check what wattage and impedance your amp is and choose one that is suitable. The impedance needs to be correct and the wattage on the power soak should exceed the amp, to be on the safe side.

  • What is the maximum load this will take?

The power soaks I build will always have the maximum load listed in the description. The effects loop attenuators don't actually take a significant load and will work on any suitable amp.

  • Will this work with other effects in the effects loop?

Yes. All you need to do is make sure the attenuators is last in the chain so the tone of your effects are unaltered.

  • Will this work before the amp?

My effects loop attenuators work as a small volume control before the amp and can be used for a number of reasons on a pedalboard.

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