Everything you need to know about tube amp attenuation

Universal Audio Ox Box
(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

All tube amps have a sweet spot where they’re at their most touch-sensitive, notes begin to sustain effortlessly and dynamics start to compress. 

In an ideal world, our amps would always be dialled into that sweet spot, but that risks incurring the wrath of bandmates, sound engineers, and the local constabulary. So, how can we crank our amps but never exceed acceptable volume levels? One solution is to use an attenuator. 

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Huw Price

Huw started out in recording studios, working as a sound engineer and producer for David Bowie, Primal Scream, Ian Dury, Fad Gadget, My Bloody Valentine, Cardinal Black and many others. His book, Recording Guitar & Bass, was published in 2002 and a freelance career in journalism soon followed. He has written reviews, interviews, workshop and technical articles for Guitarist, Guitar Magazine, Guitar Player, Acoustic Magazine, Guitar Buyer and Music Tech. He has also contributed to several books, including The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pittman. Huw builds and maintains guitars and amplifiers for clients, and specializes in vintage restoration. He provides consultancy services for equipment manufacturers and can, occasionally, be lured back into the studio.