#1
I'm frustrated I have to switch my amp up so incredibly loud to get good sounding distortion. There are pedals that digitally emulate the sound but I don't see why you can't just get an old freezer or something and put your amp in there to dampen the volume that way?

That way you'd have the authentic overdrive sound with the volume knob switched up really high, but muffled by the box to a level that won't get you evicted or cause hearing loss. Is this a stupid idea? Does something like this already exist?


Thanks.
#2
What amp/setup are you using?

I don't think this would really work. Putting it into a box that purposely dampened the sound would attenuate certain frequencies and alter your tone. Maybe you could get something that controls the volume between your amp and your cab/speaker?
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#3
Quote by Robbin'TheHood
What amp/setup are you using?

I don't think this would really work. Putting it into a box that purposely dampened the sound would attenuate certain frequencies and alter your tone. Maybe you could get something that controls the volume between your amp and your cab/speaker?


I just have a cheap solid state amp, I've always played acoustic so don't really know much about the gear you need for electric guitars, but from googling huge (relative to acoustic) volume seems to be a prerequisiste for good distortion on any amp.

Would something that controlled the volume between the amp and a speaker work without diluting the tone? The thing is the only thing that interests me about the electric guitar is distortion, I play anything that doesn't require it on my acoustic.

Thanks for helping.
#4
I thought this was an interesting solution to an annoying problem and I'm surprised more people don't have any advice for me. Oh well.
#5
Google isolation cabinet (guitar) -- you'll find a lot of options, many of them commercial.

One of the easiest is just to build an isolation cabinet that includes just an extension speaker (unplug the one in your amp and plug in the extension instead). Usually you put a mike in the box with the speaker and then run that out to whatever you're using for recording, or to a mixer, etc. They use these things for churches and for recording a lot.



There ARE isolation boxes for the entire amp, but the problem there is the heat buildup from the amp itself. The other issue is making adjustments on the amp -- you have to open the isolation box each time.
Last edited by dspellman at Nov 24, 2013,
#6
Quote by guitars$$$
I thought this was an interesting solution to an annoying problem and I'm surprised more people don't have any advice for me. Oh well.


Dude. Seriously? You gave this a whole HOUR before you gave up on it?
#7
You don't need anything suggested in this thread.

You need an amp with a 'gain' channel.

You don't need to turn amps up ear breaking loud to get distortion any more.

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#8
What you are describing is a very common approach to getting good tone at low volumes. I play in a church praise/worship group, and stage volume in a church setting is always an issue. A lot of P/W guys put their amps in a box and mic them. If you don't mike it, it will just sound muffled. Miking it allows you to crank the amp and yet keep the volume to acceptable levels.

Doing this with a solid state amp doesn't work as well as a tube amp... Most tube amps sound much better cranked... not usually the case with solid state.
#9
Quote by guitars$$$
I just have a cheap solid state amp, I've always played acoustic so don't really know much about the gear you need for electric guitars, but from googling huge (relative to acoustic) volume seems to be a prerequisiste for good distortion on any amp.

Would something that controlled the volume between the amp and a speaker work without diluting the tone? The thing is the only thing that interests me about the electric guitar is distortion, I play anything that doesn't require it on my acoustic.

Thanks for helping.


learn more about amps and getting good tones.a cheap SS amp probably won't sound all that good at any volume. what you need is a better amp not more volume. what is your idea of a good distortion sound?
#10
Quote by guitars$$$
I just have a cheap solid state amp, I've always played acoustic so don't really know much about the gear you need for electric guitars, but from googling huge (relative to acoustic) volume seems to be a prerequisiste for good distortion on any amp.


No. And generally not with a solid state amp, and *definitely* not with a cheap solid state amp. With some tube amps there's an addition to the overall distortion that you can get if you crank the amp full on and drive the power tubes hard. When you do that, however, you need to know that you DO shorten tube life and risk damage to the amplifier.

These days, pedals, FX and gain stages on amplifiers have mostly substituted (and pretty well, actually) for power tube or even speaker breakup. Fact is, higher end modelers like the Axe-FX, Kemper profiling amp and the Line 6 Pod HD500x have done a pretty good job of replicating those subtleties and reproducing them through full-range speaker systems (like a PA) or on a recording. You'll always get an argument from people who have a sizeable investment in a tube amp, however.


Would something that controlled the volume between the amp and a speaker work without diluting the tone? The thing is the only thing that interests me about the electric guitar is distortion, I play anything that doesn't require it on my acoustic.


1. There are attenuators that claim to maintain the tone while curbing the volume. These generally have "tone" controls, however, designed to reclaim the tone they've lost. Most are banks of huge resistors that dissipate amplifier power as heat. Others use speaker voice coil hardware, still others have electronic solutions, and your degree of satisfaction with them will vary according to how badly you want it to work <G>.

The one solution that works really well isn't an attenuator at all, but a fairly pricey speaker that substitutes a variable electromagnet for the fixed magnet. By reducing the efficiency of the speaker, you can drop the volume level by up to 25 dB without affecting the vital transformer winding <-> speaker voice coil interaction on a tube amp. This is the equivalent of turning your 30W amp into a 1/8th watt amp. Google Fluxtone Speaker. Again, pricey, and that's the reason you don't hear about it much outside a recording studio.

2. Other things that should interest you about the electric guitar are ease of play, ease of bending and vibrato, wider range (up to two octaves per string), note sustain, the ability to play extremely quietly (headphones) and the ability to play extremely loud. If you have your electric guitar action set the same as your acoustic, and if you're beating on it as you do your acoustic, you're missing a lot of the fun.
Last edited by dspellman at Nov 24, 2013,
#11
TS listen to dspellman he hit it on the head
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#13
Quote by JustRooster
THD Hotplate, bud.

Nah, those are tone suckers. The Bad Cat leashed or unleashed are much better.
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#15
Get a better amp,rather than buy an attenuator or a flux capacitor speaker

My valve amps range from 1-50w and they all sound excellent at tv volume.

You don't say what amp you have but it doesn't sound like it meets your needs
#16
Quote by Vendetta V
well for 550 for a fluxtone speaker. I guess if it was me I could go on a little compromise and buy a smaller amp for practice/recording with less wattage. also a valid option


Told ya it was pricey. ONLY $550? I think mine was over $850. They're really only useful on a tube amp, of course. The smart buy is to get the extension cabinet version, which can not only be used on more than one amp (assuming you have more than one tube amp), but can be sold separately if/when the time comes.
#17
Quote by -Ed-
Get a better amp,rather than buy an attenuator or a flux capacitor speaker

My valve amps range from 1-50w and they all sound excellent at tv volume.

You don't say what amp you have but it doesn't sound like it meets your needs



One, he's a beginner, so whatever he has probably exceeds his needs (or budget) at the moment.
Two, I'm guessing you're not driving any of your valve amps into power tube distortion at TV volume.
#18
Quote by Vendetta V
well for 550 for a fluxtone speaker. I guess if it was me I could go on a little compromise and buy a smaller amp for practice/recording with less wattage. also a valid option

Eminence Reignmaker and Maverick have built in attenuators and they are $150ish new
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#19
Quote by Robbgnarly
Nah, those are tone suckers. The Bad Cat leashed or unleashed are much better.


The Bad Cat is a resistor-based attenuator, same as the THD Hotplate, right? Explain "much better," then, in terms of tone suckage.

The Bad Cat is designed to attenuate a tube amp, allowing it to develop hyperdrive while the Bad Cat attenuates the power. Then the Bad Cat, with a built-in solid state amp, amplifies the tone of the amp to whatever level you like. In my very limited experience with it, the attenuator side of things is pretty ordinary and it does modify the tone of the amp.

I've run into just one or two attenuator designs that really did a good job, and I came very close to buying one of those (now out of business), but the cost of the thing was a large chunk, and I found the Fluxtone speaker was a bit more but made a whole lot more sense for my existing tube amps.

The issue with attenuators is that while an attenuator *can* be designed and built that will have almost perfect transparency, the cost would be high enough that sales would be limited and the market wouldn't sustain the company.
#20
Quote by dspellman
The Bad Cat is a resistor-based attenuator, same as the THD Hotplate, right? Explain "much better," then, in terms of tone suckage.

The Bad Cat is designed to attenuate a tube amp, allowing it to develop hyperdrive while the Bad Cat attenuates the power. Then the Bad Cat, with a built-in solid state amp, amplifies the tone of the amp to whatever level you like. In my very limited experience with it, the attenuator side of things is pretty ordinary and it does modify the tone of the amp.

I've run into just one or two attenuator designs that really did a good job, and I came very close to buying one of those (now out of business), but the cost of the thing was a large chunk, and I found the Fluxtone speaker was a bit more but made a whole lot more sense for my existing tube amps.

The issue with attenuators is that while an attenuator *can* be designed and built that will have almost perfect transparency, the cost would be high enough that sales would be limited and the market wouldn't sustain the company.

My brother has the THD and the Bad cat unleashed. There is a pretty big difference in the tone you get from each. The bad Cat sound more like the actual amp IMO.
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#21
Quote by Robbgnarly
Eminence Reignmaker and Maverick have built in attenuators and they are $150ish new


This requires a bit of explanation.
These are Eminence speakers (speaker only) that do NOT have "built in attenuators."



Instead, they reduce the efficiency of the speaker, passively moving the magnet in relation to the voice coil by means of a dial on the back of the speaker. While this would appear to be similar to the Fluxtone at a much reduced price, there are major differences.

1. You get 6-9 dB of volume reduction with the Eminence speaker. Every 3 dB is like reducing your amplifier by half the power. If you start with a 50W amp, a 3 dB reduction will approximate a 25W setting, another 3 dB will approximate a 12.5W setting, and another 3 dB reduction will approximate a 6.25W setting. That's still too loud for apartments/townhouses/picky neighbors. In my experience the reduction doesn't necessarily amount to 9 dB (actually measured, with a meter), but is usually at least 6 dB.

The Fluxtone, with active technology, takes that down to about 0.185 W equivalent.

2. Moving the magnet/voice coil changes the tone -- in fact, this is covered in the Eminence speakers' manual, which suggests it's a "feature." The truth is, the tone change isn't all that much, but it's audible. Because the speaker coil/magnet physical relationship on a Fluxtone doesn't change, tone doesn't change.

3. To change the tone/efficiency of one of the Eminence speakers, you adjust a dial on the back of the speaker. This generally precludes the use of a closed-back speaker system. To change the tone on a Fluxtone, you adjust a dial on the outside of the speaker cabinet.


In short, these haven't been enormous market successes largely because they don't do that much in terms of volume reduction, and because they DO change tone.
Last edited by dspellman at Nov 24, 2013,
#22
Quote by Robbgnarly
My brother has the THD and the Bad cat unleashed. There is a pretty big difference in the tone you get from each. The bad Cat sound more like the actual amp IMO.


The THD Hotplate (those resistors dissipate power as heat, thus the name) is one of the very first attempts at a compact attenuator that was successful in terms of the market and in terms of producing acceptable tone for most guitar players. There were other attenuators (the Marshall Power Brake *really* produces tonal changes) that didn't work very well. The THD remains popular (largely thanks to shelf positioning at Guitar Splinter <G>, but hasn't changed much, if at all, since its inception.

Explain to your brother that it will, however, keep his coffee warm.
#23
^ nice post.
Yeah I have never used the eminence speakers, so I have no idea if and how much they will change tone. I was just throwing out another option that is much cheaper than $550.
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#24
Thanks for all the helpful replies! There are too many to quote so I'm just going to reply to the points raised.

So there are boxes like I described (insulation cabinet), would it be much cheaper to build one than buy one? I ask because they seem very expensive.

I knew buying the cheap solid state amp wouldn't give me an amazing tone or anything but I'm just dipping my toe into the water and seeing what electric guitar is like. Even from the limited playing I've done recently it's very different, things like muting the strings becoming far more important.

The issue of getting good distortion without incredible volume and instigating an angry mob seems to be an issue with all amps regardless of quality?

I'm not a beginner at all at the guitar, but when it comes to electric guitars I am a complete beginner and I appreciate all your help. So the recommendations I see are

A, to buy an insulating cabinet and put the amp straight in,
B, to buy an insulating cabinet and buy a speaker which I connect to the amp and then to put that inside the box.
C, to put the amp or speaker in the box and then put a microphone in their and connect that to a speaker outside the box so I can avoid the tone having a muffled sound?
D, buy an attentuator which will somehow give me good sounding distortion at a reasonable volume but some of you say this spoils the tone quality?
Last edited by guitars$$$ at Nov 24, 2013,
#25
If the amp has built in gain/distortion use that and the volume knob. You do not have to blast an amp to get good tone and most SS amps do not sound good at extreme volumes like a tube amp can.

If your amp has a headphone out, get a decent set of studio headphones
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#26
Quote by guitars$$$
There are too many to quote so I'm just going to reply to the points raised.

So there are boxes like I described (insulation cabinet), would it be much cheaper to build one than buy one? I ask because they seem very expensive.

The issue of getting good distortion without incredible volume and instigating an angry mob seems to be an issue with all amps regardless of quality?


Okay -- vital point that needs to be reiterated.

You have a solid state amp. No need for any of this.

While some of the old timers will tell you that you have to have a tube amp for true tonal bliss, the truth is that modelers have come on so strong in the last couple of years that this seems to be the obvious direction that things are going. If you want to get the best of what a tube amp has to offer, the very best solution is to find a place where you can crank it unfettered.

But getting good distortion without incredible volume is simple if you're working with a modeler or a decent modeling amp.

There are DIY (Do It Yourself) plans and instructions for building iso cabinets out there (Google will find them for you or click on this: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=DIY+iso+box ) that will save you lots of money.
#27
Quote by dspellman
No. And generally not with a solid state amp, and *definitely* not with a cheap solid state amp. With some tube amps there's an addition to the overall distortion that you can get if you crank the amp full on and drive the power tubes hard. When you do that, however, you need to know that you DO shorten tube life and risk damage to the amplifier.

These days, pedals, FX and gain stages on amplifiers have mostly substituted (and pretty well, actually) for power tube or even speaker breakup. Fact is, higher end modelers like the Axe-FX, Kemper profiling amp and the Line 6 Pod HD500x have done a pretty good job of replicating those subtleties and reproducing them through full-range speaker systems (like a PA) or on a recording. You'll always get an argument from people who have a sizeable investment in a tube amp, however.


It does sound a million times better loud though. The difference is night and day, even though it's just a cheap solid state amp. When I switch the gain up all the way I can get distortion at any volume but it just makes a horrible noise at low volume. The actual tone that is getting distorted doesn't seem any good until I switch it up really loud.

The thing about those digital effects that give you the distortion sound is wouldn't it just be like playing an electronic keyboard?



1. There are attenuators that claim to maintain the tone while curbing the volume. These generally have "tone" controls, however, designed to reclaim the tone they've lost. Most are banks of huge resistors that dissipate amplifier power as heat. Others use speaker voice coil hardware, still others have electronic solutions, and your degree of satisfaction with them will vary according to how badly you want it to work <G>.

The one solution that works really well isn't an attenuator at all, but a fairly pricey speaker that substitutes a variable electromagnet for the fixed magnet. By reducing the efficiency of the speaker, you can drop the volume level by up to 25 dB without affecting the vital transformer winding <-> speaker voice coil interaction on a tube amp. This is the equivalent of turning your 30W amp into a 1/8th watt amp. Google Fluxtone Speaker. Again, pricey, and that's the reason you don't hear about it much outside a recording studio.

2. Other things that should interest you about the electric guitar are ease of play, ease of bending and vibrato, wider range (up to two octaves per string), note sustain, the ability to play extremely quietly (headphones) and the ability to play extremely loud. If you have your electric guitar action set the same as your acoustic, and if you're beating on it as you do your acoustic, you're missing a lot of the fun.


The ease of play thing isn't really an issue for me because I've always practiced on my acoustic which is really well set up with a low action, the individual strings having more range isn't really an issue for me either because I tend to play vertically rather than horizontally along the strings although the handful of extra notes on the high e strng is nice.

The extended notes and vibrato are part of that distortion sound I was referring to so yeah that's exactly what I'm looking for from the electric guitar. The funny thing about the bends and the ease of playing thing is I'm so used to manhandling the acoustic I find myself having to be very careful not to bend chords out of tune or massively overbend when I bend. I guess whichever you're used to is what you find easier.
Last edited by guitars$$$ at Nov 24, 2013,
#28
Quote by guitars$$$

The thing about those digital effects that give you the distortion sound is wouldn't it just be like playing an electronic keyboard?


No.
#29
Quote by dspellman
No.


So is it a real sound or a fake digitally emulated uncanny valley sound? When I listened to popular pedals demoed on youtube it sounded really different to me.
#30
Quote by guitars$$$
The actual tone that is getting distorted doesn't seem any good until I switch it up really loud.


Welcome to the Fletcher-Munson Effect. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=fletcher+munson+effect

This isn't the amp, it's your ears. It's all of our ears. We're just not as sensitive to highs and lows at low volumes. There's a whole system of recording and playback EQ tied into this. And this may be one of the best reasons for using headphones; you can listen to things as loud as you like.

In addition to Fletcher-Munson Effect, you're going to want to know about ear fatigue -- after about 20 minutes of listening at higher volumes, the tone of everything you're listening to is going to begin to change. Again, it's not the amp or the headphones. It will be your ears.
#31
Quote by guitars$$$
So is it a real sound or a fake digitally emulated uncanny valley sound? When I listened to popular pedals demoed on youtube it sounded really different to me.


You can get both sounds, depending on the pedals.

Once again, I've mostly moved to high-end modelers, which have "real" sounds (as well as some fake digitally emulated uncanny valley sounds when you want them).

Never make buying decisions based on YouTube sound samples. Ever.

The corollary to that is: Never make buying decisions based on factory presets. Ever.

They're there to show you how far afield you can take the effects. You usually have to tweak, in person, a lot.

IMHO. YMMV, Hike Your Own Hike, etc.
Last edited by dspellman at Nov 24, 2013,
#32
Quote by dspellman
Welcome to the Fletcher-Munson Effect. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=fletcher+munson+effect

This isn't the amp, it's your ears. It's all of our ears. We're just not as sensitive to highs and lows at low volumes. There's a whole system of recording and playback EQ tied into this. And this may be one of the best reasons for using headphones; you can listen to things as loud as you like.

In addition to Fletcher-Munson Effect, you're going to want to know about ear fatigue -- after about 20 minutes of listening at higher volumes, the tone of everything you're listening to is going to begin to change. Again, it's not the amp or the headphones. It will be your ears.


Maybe that's what it is, but when I listed to AC/DC or Aerosmith quietly on my ipod it doesn't sound absolutely terrible, it just sounds quiet. When I play my amp quietly the tone is truly revolting.

That' was a very interesting read though. It explained to me why music sounds great really loud and why this effect wears off after a while.
#33
Quote by guitars$$$
Maybe that's what it is, but when I listed to AC/DC or Aerosmith quietly on my ipod it doesn't sound absolutely terrible, it just sounds quiet.


Right. Those devices have EQ built into them to compensate for lower volume settings.

Ever see a "Loudness" dial on an old stereo preamp? It doesn't make anything louder; it's just there to compensate for low volumes by raising the lows and highs while leaving the mids untouched.
#34
Quote by guitars$$$
Maybe that's what it is, but when I listed to AC/DC or Aerosmith quietly on my ipod it doesn't sound absolutely terrible, it just sounds quiet. When I play my amp quietly the tone is truly revolting.

That' was a very interesting read though. It explained to me why music sounds great really loud and why this effect wears off after a while.

The music doesn't sound terrible because there's lots of instruments playing at the same time and the recording is done with quality equipment.

I think your amp sounds pretty bad but at loud volume it gets better. If you had a better amp, it would sound good at low volumes and great at higher volumes.

Tube amps don't need to be cranked to sound good. My Laney VC30 sounds good at bedroom volumes. You only need to crank a tube amp if you are after power tube distortion. But today most amps have master volume controls which allow you to achieve distortion at lower volumes. This is pre-amp distortion and sounds a bit different but for some styles it works perfectly.

What you need is a new amp.

Or the cheapest option is to wear earplugs.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#35
Quote by dspellman
Right. Those devices have EQ built into them to compensate for lower volume settings.

Ever see a "Loudness" dial on an old stereo preamp? It doesn't make anything louder; it's just there to compensate for low volumes by raising the lows and highs while leaving the mids untouched.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
The music doesn't sound terrible because there's lots of instruments playing at the same time and the recording is done with quality equipment.

I think your amp sounds pretty bad but at loud volume it gets better. If you had a better amp, it would sound good at low volumes and great at higher volumes.

Tube amps don't need to be cranked to sound good. My Laney VC30 sounds good at bedroom volumes. You only need to crank a tube amp if you are after power tube distortion. But today most amps have master volume controls which allow you to achieve distortion at lower volumes. This is pre-amp distortion and sounds a bit different but for some styles it works perfectly.

What you need is a new amp.

Or the cheapest option is to wear earplugs.


So the amp is the problem? When it comes to amps I really know nothing about them, the prices go up well into the thousands. Can you get amps that sound reasonably ok without spending megabucks?

And thanks for all these replies, it must be annoying explaining all this stuff that is incredibly basic to you, but if I went into a guitar shop and asked these questions they would just scam me.
#36
Quote by guitars$$$
So the amp is the problem? When it comes to amps I really know nothing about them, the prices go up well into the thousands. Can you get amps that sound reasonably ok without spending megabucks?

And thanks for all these replies, it must be annoying explaining all this stuff that is incredibly basic to you, but if I went into a guitar shop and asked these questions they would just scam me.

Yes you can.

Where are you located?
what is your budget?
new or used?
do you gig or play with other people?
What type of music do you play/want to play
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#37
Quote by Robbgnarly
Yes you can.

Where are you located?
what is your budget?
new or used?
do you gig or play with other people?
What type of music do you play/want to play


uk, I suppose up to 500 is the most I could pay., don't care if it's new or used at all as long as it sounds good, I'm happy with my acoustic for "clean" guitar, the only thing I'm interested in with an electric is getting a good 70/80's classic rock overdrive sound like slash, joe perry or jimmy page etc, I've no interest in gigging, I've always pursued classical/jazz self contained chord solo type guitar pieces on the acoustic, I just want to have fun playing some electric style stuff.
#38
Look for a used Marshall JCM2000 DSL401, in your budget and it will do the tones you want.
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
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Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#39
Quote by Robbgnarly
Look for a used Marshall JCM2000 DSL401, in your budget and it will do the tones you want.

I've just been checking that out on youtube. Looks ideal thanks!