Looking for a guitar amp attenuator that’s easy to use, affects your tone minimally, and is affordable?
The Dr. Z Brake Lite fits the bill for any tube amp (45 watts or less) with a speaker output rating of 4, 8, or 16 ohms.
This attenuator screws into the inside sidewall of your combo amp, making it a snap to use and transport to gigs. It literally lives inside your amp.
The dial has 5 settings. The first setting of “0” bypasses the attenuation, and settings “1-4” offer varying degrees of tube amp attenuation:
- 1 = 2dB tube amp attenuation
- 2 = 5dB tube amp attenuation
- 3 = 8dB tube amp attenuation
- 4 = 11dB tube amp attenuation
So, how does it sound?
While this is up to personal opinion, we at SSS have direct experience with the Brake Lite. The attenuation on the “0” setting is pure true bypass. No noticeable tonal change is apparent (unless you have super-human ears and can hear differences in speaker cables…and Dr. Z uses top quality Belden speaker wire).
The first two settings offer the least noticeable tonal difference. With a 40 watt Fargen Blackbird (Fender style amp), the tone just sounds like the tubes are working harder with little tonal change. One might notice a bit of a tonal difference in that the speaker is not working as hard, but that’s about it. Guitarists are given more two degrees of earlier breakup that would only be achievable with louder volume without the attenuation.
Settings “3-4” offer the ability to drive even a 40 watt clean tube amp into tube overdrive at acceptable band rehearsal and gigging levels. Noticeable compression will occur, although that’s to be expected when tubes are pushed to the max. The “4” setting doesn’t quite provide bedroom-level volumes, and offers a bit more compression than some guitarists would like, but it’s still a very usable tone.
In the end, the Dr. Z Brake Lite tube amp attenuator will provide a wide range of usable tones at manageable volumes. A preferred setting is “2” due to the reduced volume and ability to get tube grit when playing with picking dynamics. And, at a street price of only $169, it’s certainly affordable.
Learn more at www.drzamps.com.