Magazine article Guitar Player

Power Attenuator Project

Magazine article Guitar Player

Power Attenuator Project

Article excerpt

I'VE NEVER SEEN PLANS OR KITS FOR building a power attenuator. How would I go about making one myself?--Dave K. via email

A power attenuator is a device that's placed in the signal path between the amplifier and the speakers so that you can turn up the amp until it sounds its best, and then attenuate the signal going to the speakers to control the volume. Not only does this allow for a great overdriven tone at an appropriate volume level, but, when used in recording situations, an attenuator will remove most, if not all, of the hiss and hum from your pickups and amp. When you attenuate a few db, the first thing to go is the noise.


Here are the plans for making a two-stage power attenuator at a cost of about $85. Besides the true-bypass configuration, this design features two toggle switches that each attenuate the output signal by 6db or 12db total attenuation with both switches on. And since the load impedance is kept constant regardless of which switches are on, your amp will "think" it is operating normally.


SW1 and SW2--DPDT toggle switch. Mouser part # 691-2BL62-73

J1--Input jack. Mouser parts 502-11

J2--Output jack. Mouser parts 502-12A

Chassis--Metal enclosure. Mouser part # 537-138-P

Heat sink compound--Mouser part #5878-CT40-5

Hook-up wire--About two feet or less. Use 18 gauge.

For 4[OMEGA] version:

R1 and R3--2[OMEGA] 100-watt wirewound resistor. Mouser part# 284-HS 100-2.0F

R2 and R4--4[OMEGA] 50-watt wirewound resistor. Mouser part# 284-HS50-4.0F

For 8[OMEGA] version:

R1 and R3--4[OMEGA] 100-watt wirewound resistor. Mouser part# 284-HS 100-4.0F

R2 and R4--8[OMEGA] 50-watt wirewound resistor. Mouser part# 284-HS50-8.0F

For 16[OMEGA] version:

R1 and R3--8[OMEGA] 100-watt wirewound resistor. Mouser parts 284-HS 100-8. …

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