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Guitars & Accessories

Best Guitar Power Attenuator

There’s a good chance that you could poll a random selection of guitarists, and half of them are probably not entirely familiar with what a guitar power attenuator is and what it does. Yet the attenuator plays a very important role in any guitarist’s rig. The guitar power attenuator essentially plays the middleman between the amp and the speaker; this device diverts excess power that comes from the amplifier to control the volume of the speaker. It essentially allows your tone to remain intact, even when you lower the volume on your speaker. Here are the best guitar power attenuators, with each one we've chosen featuring a rugged, durable build that will allow you to take it on the road without worrying about causing any damage, they each provide a transparent effect on your signal in that it won’t alter or color your tone unfavorably, and they also feature additional controls to shape the frequency range and output of the guitar signal.

Bad Cat Unleash Attenuator Booster

Bad Cat’s Unleash V2 guitar power attenuator doesn’t do anything to color your guitar’s natural tone, but it will help keep things under wraps for when you need to quiet down but don’t want to lose the character of a fully cranked amp. The Unleash V2 can also take in a second channel and an effects loop, thanks to its input points on the rear of the device. The unit itself is very tiny, and can be easily moved around with its metal handle. Unlike most attenuators, this thing also can work in the opposite direction thanks to its boost; conversely, now your tiny amp can get huge sounds that it could never achieve on its own. The DI element to the Bad Cat allows you to easily route your signal directly into a recording interface or soundboard, making it the perfect tool for studio sessions that run late into the night.

Rivera RockCrusher Power Attenuator

One thing that sets Rivera RockCrusher apart from its contemporaries is its internal reactive load network, as opposed to the more resistive load that is utilized by other attenuators. This setup provides a proper impedance and inductive/capacitive reactance between a guitar amplifier and speaker, which of course results in tone that goes without compromise in the attenuation process. Low and high frequency EQ selection also provides players with a more defined control over how their signal will sound. The RockCrusher can be installed in a road case, but its rubber feet also allow it to sit atop your amp. With its bright purple appearance and sturdy build, this unit not only looks great but serves to retain the feel and spirit that we love when we blare our amps into oblivion, only at a much more contained/subdued level.

Two Notes Audio Engineering Torpedo Reload Advanced Attenuator

For the guitarist who wants to capture their performance through their amplifier yet keep things at low levels in the recording studio, the Two Notes Torpedo Reload guitar power attenuator is a must-have. This device allows you to play quietly yet capture a full-blown sound, and does so without coloring or negatively taking away from your natural tone. Re-amping, which is a popular process used in recording by guitarists who want to be able to tweak their amp sound in post-production, is also a feat that can be achieved using the Reload, thanks to its functionality as a re-amp unit. The Reload also comes equipped with a Wall of Sound III plug-in, which allows you to select multiple virtual microphones and cabinets to use in the re-amping process. You can mix up to 100 different cabs in a single plug-in instance.

Radial Headload V8 Speaker Load Box with Cab Simulator

If you’ve ever played onstage with a band, you know that maintaining a controlled stage volume is absolutely essential for a performance to go well. The problem is that this often results in having to turn down your amplifier on your guitar, which can detrimentally affect your tone and individual performance. With the Radial Headload V8 guitar power attenuator, you can still maintain the sound you love, all while keeping your speaker volume under control. This piece of gear also doubles as a DI box – Radial’s JDX Reactor DI, to be precise. This DI has been used by a variety of acts, including Radiohead, Aerosmith, and Rascal Flatts. This function captures the signal coming from the guitar amp head and blends it with the reactive load from the cabinet’s speaker to create a more natural and realistic sound. The DI box can also blend the direct feed with a microphone signal.

Suhr Jim Kelley Guitar Power Attentuator

Suhr Jim Kelley Guitar Power Attentuator

With its rugged looking, utilitarian design, the Suhr Jim Kelley guitar power attenuator clearly looks like it takes no nonsense when it comes to taking the signal of a guitar amplifier and taming its volume without neutering its sound. The unit itself is versatile, able to function with many different amplifiers up to 100 watts at four and eight ohm loads. A simple and prominent knob gives you a hands-on approach to dialing in the proper decibel dropping. Because music at lower volume can often lose some of its high-end, the Jim Kelley also features a treble boost switch that compensates for top-end dynamics when the signal is played at lower volumes. An activation footswitch allows you to easily activate the unit in a hands-free setting.

Sean Kramer
I'm a guitarist/music producer with 18 years of experience playing on-stage, in the studio, and everywhere in between. I have toured and recorded on projects both independent and major, in styles such as rock, pop, funk, hip hop, electronic, and more. My axe of choice is probably always going to be the Fender Stratocaster, but I've been known to pick up other guitars when the music calls for it. I'm a big fan of using a multitude of effects (both hardware and software-driven) to manipulate the sound and atmosphere of an instrument. In addition to playing on records, I have also contributed to the score/soundtrack for shows and spots on MTV and ESPN, as well as for a variety of independent films, web series, and television shows.
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