I am really pleased with the sound of my Blues Junior after performing my sweet BillM mods this summer. It has improved bass response, punch, and clarity, yet it still has one flaw. It’s too damn loud.
For me, the optimum sound, or sweet-spot, has the master knob at 12 and the volume knob around 4.5, with the fat switch off. At that setting, the Blues Junior pushes aver 116 decibels of volume. My ears can’t handle that much volume in my little 12′ x 16′ studio. I needed to find a solution.
Initially, I dismissed the idea of an attenuator because I’ve heard horror stories about their terrible sound. In the guitar world, an attenuator is a device that soaks up some of the power to be sent to the speaker so that it doesn’t sound quite as loud. Conventional wisdom says that attenuators invariably leach the quality from the tone. Consequently, I was resigned to buy a new amp for day-to-day use, relegating the Blues Junior to gigs.
But a new amp is expensive and it sounds different than my beloved Blues Junior. So, I decided to find out for myself, once and for all, if attenuators were the evil tone-mosquitoes that they’re made out to be. After doing some research, I found Dr. Z’s Brake Lite. Many forum posts claimed that it was the most transparent attenuator around. For $170, that’s way cheaper than a new amp, so I gave it a try. The results are impressive. The video below will make you a believer too:
The fully-attenuated sound is very much identical to the unattenuated sound. For this particular attenuator, I can safely declare that the notion that attenuators are tone-killers is a myth. My amp is way quieter and sounds just as good. If your amp is too loud, attenuate it!
For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give in and around Baltimore, visit www.ewguitar.com.