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There are few things more sought-after in the guitar world than the sound of an overdriven tube amp. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible to do without cranking the volume. That’s where power attenuators come into play.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your tube amp without annoying the neighbors or blowing away the crowd at a club show, you might want to consider adding a guitar attenuator.

What as a guitar amp attenuator?

A guitar amp attenuator is a device that gets your tube-driven guitar amp to the edge of breakup at lower volumes. It does this in one of two ways: by using a “power soaker” to absorb a portion of the power and dissipate it as heat or via a power scaling circuit, which lowers the voltage available to the tubes, which allows distortion at a lower volume level.

How do you use an attenuator on an amp?

To use a power attenuator on your amp, simply connect your speaker to the attenuator via a speaker cable, then your tube amp attenuator to the output your tube amp head via another speaker cable.

Can you use an attenuator with a combo amp?

Yes, you can use a speaker attenuator with a combo amp, as long as you can connect and disconnect the speaker itself from the power amp. Most combo amps allow for this. To use an attenuator for a combo amp, simply connect the speaker to the attenuator, then the attenuator to the output of the power amp.

Do attenuators really work?

In a word, yes! Attenuators really will get you that natural breakup sound with your valve power amp at lower volumes. Of course, all guitar amp attenuators are different, so look into some different brands to find the one that’s best for you.

Popular Tube Amp Attenuator Brands on Reverb

A few popular power amp attenuator brands on Reverb include: Dr. Z, Rivera, Jet City, Universal Audio, Bad Cat, and more.

If you're new to amp attenuators and would like more guidance on which attenuator might be right for you, check out our Attenuator Buying Guide right here on Reverb, and watch the video to see Andy Martin run through some of his favorite amp attenuator picks for all players.