Whether you’re a bedroom musician who needs to keep the noise down for the neighbors or a touring professional who needs to control volume and tone on stage, an attenuator has its place in the toolkit of most guitar players.

Our top attenuator is the Tone King Ironman II Mini, it’s a fantastic little unit that offers a lot of flexibility while performing and has a high-quality construction that’s sure to last the test of time. This unit is great for anyone who wants to run a medium power amplifier. if you’ve got more strenuous requirements you might want to check out something beefier like the Rivera Mini Rockrec.

Top Guitar Amp Attenuators

ImageGuitar Amp AttenuatorsActive / PassivePowerInputsOutputsImpedance
Tone King Iron Man...
Our Pick

$395.00 at Amazon
Active30W RMS maximum1 x 1/4"1 x 1/4" (line out), 1 x 1/4" (out to cab)8 ohms
BUGERA POWER SOAK...$149.00 at AmazonPassive100 W3 x 1/4" (powered signal in)1 x 1/4" (line), 1 x 1/4" (speaker), 1 x XLR (emulated mic)4/8/16 ohms
Rivera Mini RockRec...Price not available at AmazonPassive300 W @ 4 or 16 Ohm or 150 W @ 8 OhmTRS ¼ or Stereo ¼ jack3 outs which can be run simultaneously which include Direct XLR balanced out and¼ unbalanced out and line Out (NO EQ) unbalanced out.4/8/16 Ohm switch
JHS Little Black Amp...$45.00 at AmazonPassiveN/A1 x 1/4"1 x 1/4"N/A

Tone King Iron Man II Mini Attenuator

What’s good: Preserves tone really well. Great, functional design.

Not so good: Weighs quite a bit.

The Tone King Ironman II Mini is an active attenuator designed to seamlessly integrate with a guitar pedal setup.

The Ironman II mini was designed with medium power amplifiers in mind, supporting up to 30 Watts of power at 8 Ohms.

You’ll be able to crank up your amplifier as much as you want with the 6 step attenuation this unit offers. We really liked the reactive load feature that fully preserves tone regardless of the volume of your amp.

Tone King have been really receptive to the needs of gigging musicians. We especially like the guitar pedal design, with a little forethought you should be able to install one of these on your pedalboard. There’s even a foot-switchable solo mode that allows you to switch between two different volume settings.

Thermal management is excellent, rarely even getting to the point of feeling warm to the touch. Build quality is tank-like and should be able to stand the worst abuse that life on the road throws at it. The only downside to the quality construction is that it’s a little heavier than we’d have liked.

Bugera PS1 Power Soak

What’s good: Great budget-friendly model. Very good performance for the price point.

Not so good: Slight loss in treble when output is below 40%

The Bugera PS1 Power Soak is a passive attenuator for use with electric guitar amplifiers.

With the Bugera, you’ll be able to crank up your gain and experience the massive headroom that comes with that without annoying the neighbors.

Featuring three separate dedicated inputs oh 16 ohms, 8 ohms, and 4 ohms respectively the PS1 Power Soak is widely compatible with most tops and combos.

There’s plenty of power soak here, even for owners of large amplifiers up to 100 Watts.

Because this is a passive attenuator you don’t get the usual heat of active attenuation, the Bugera runs cold to the touch.

As far as outputs go you get a speaker-through output, a balanced output with microphone simulation, and a line output with volume control.

We did notice there was a slight reduction in treble when the output is turned down below 40%. We didn’t think that this was a big deal, and you can almost certainly EQ your amplifier to compensate for the loss in performance at the high end.

Rivera Mini RockRec Loadbox

What’s good: Very good performance for the price point.

Not so good: Slight loss in treble when output is below 40%

The Bugera PS1 Power Soak is a passive attenuator for use with electric guitar amplifiers.

With the Bugera, you’ll be able to crank up your gain and experience the massive headroom that comes with that without annoying the neighbors.

Featuring three separate dedicated inputs oh 16 ohms, 8 ohms, and 4 ohms respectively the PS1 Power Soak is widely compatible with most tops and combos.

There’s plenty of power soak here, even for owners of large amplifiers up to 100 Watts.

Because this is a passive attenuator you don’t get the usual heat of active attenuation, the Bugera runs cold to the touch.

As far as outputs go you get a speaker-through output, a balanced output with microphone simulation, and a line output with volume control.

We did notice there was a slight reduction in treble when the output is turned down below 40%. We didn’t think that this was a big deal, and you can almost certainly EQ your amplifier to compensate for the loss in performance at the high end.

JHS Pedals Little Black Amp

What’s good: An attenuator everyone can afford. Super compact size.

Not so good: No level markers on the control dial

The JHS Pedals “Little Black Amp” is a passive attenuator primarily aimed at hobbyist guitarists.

This wallet-friendly little unit offers up the core functions of an attenuator to anyone who just wants the basics. If you’re looking for more advanced functions you may want to consider one of the other boxes on this list.

The box itself is clad in an ultra-minimalist black housing. 6.3mm mono inputs and outputs give you the connectivity you need, with a simple volume dial on top.

Just because these are affordable doesn’t mean they don’t deliver quality results, the Little Black Amp is a great solution for anyone looking to crank their gain from the comfort of their bedroom.

Just like the Bugera PS1 Power Soak, this is a passive attenuator. You’ll see all the same benefits of that in this unit.

These boxes are so affordable that a great trick is to use them as a dedicated master volume for amps that don’t have one.

For some reason, JHS have decided not to mark any of the levels on the control dial. This can be a little frustrating if you have favorite positions you’d like to easily switch between.

Two Notes Torpedo Captor

What’s good: Lots of useful features for professionals. Really nice cab emulation function.

Not so good: If you just want an attenuator there are better units

The Two Notes Torpedo Captor is an all in one box featuring attenuator, speakersim, loadbox, and DI box functionality

First things first, the Torpedo Captor isn’t purely an attenuator. This is an all in one box featuring several useful tools, one of which is an attenuator.

The attenuator function in this unit is very basic. When enabled you’ll get an immediate -20 dB drop in volume. Unfortunately, this function isn’t variable, it’s -20 dB or nothing. Don’t let that put you off though, this is incredibly useful in a multi-purpose unit like this.

Where this box excels is its versatility, think of it as a sort of guitar player swiss army knife. The Torpedo Captor can operate as a direct box, a loadbox, a speakersim, and of course an attenuator.

With all of these features targeted at working musicians, it’s really nice to see that Two Notes have paid attention to the build quality. The solid metal housing feels like it can take a kicking, there’s also an internal fan to keep everything cool and running smoothly.

AmpRX BrownBox Tube Amplifier Input Voltage Attenuator

What’s good: Voltage attenuation protects your vintage gear

Not so good: Price may be a little high for hobbyists

The AmpRX BrownBox voltage attenuator is an active attenuator with an integrated voltage regulator.

Vintage tube amplifiers weren’t built with modern power grids in mind. Too much voltage messes with your tone at best and damages your amp at worst. So, what are you supposed to do?

Enter the AmpRX BrownBox. This little unit is unique on this list in that attenuates by adjusting the amount of voltage delivered to your amplifier. Reducing the voltage in a vintage amplifier is a bit like magic, it allows you to operate the amp just as the manufacturer intended in days gone by

Controls are very simple, there are only 2 dials on the face of the unit. A primary voltage selector allows you to choose from 120vac, 122vac, 124vac and 126vac power. A reduction level dial allows you to apply one of 4 different attenuation percentages.

Construction is high quality and should stand the test of time through even the most heavy-handed use.

Is this an expensive little box? For what it does we’d say it’s excellent value for money, but we can see how the price may place it out of reach of hobbyist guitarists with vintage gear.

Boss WAZA Tube Amp Expander

What’s good: A truly versatile professional tool. Supports very high power attenuation.

Not so good: Editor software is annoying, we’d like to have seen a smartphone app.

The Boss Waza Tube Amp Expander is an all in one box that features attenuator, loadbox, analog power storage, IR loader, and audio recording interface features.

This is a great choice of an attenuator for anyone with a serious amplifier, as the Boss Waza supports up to 150 Watts of power. Attenuation is clean and retains the dynamic range well.

The impedance is completely user-adjustable, allowing for accurate and natural tone reproduction. The tone production of this unit is truly fantastic.

Users will be pleased to find that there are 10 rig setups that are fully user-customizable to store your favorite presets.

The Boss Waza includes 22 different speaker box emulators. There are five close-mic types and three surround mic types. Additional slots allow you to add up to four speaker impulse responses of your own. This is a really great addition for home recording enthusiasts and pros alike, but when paired with the ability to use the Waza as an audio recording interface becomes game-changing.

If you want to use the Boss Waza to its full potential then you’ll need to download their dedicated editor software to your Mac or PC. We found this to be a little annoying in practice, maybe if there was a smartphone app it would be more practical for use on the go.

Radial Headload V8 Speaker Load Box

What’s good: A professional tool designed for professionals. Can handle seriously powerful .amplifiers

Not so good: Priced strictly for the pro-market

The Radial Headload V8 Speaker Load Box is a power attenuator aimed at professional musicians using high powered amplifiers.

The Headload V8 is a combo load box. This means that it can handle 130 Watts RMS, but also go all the way up to 180 Watts peak. This is a serious box for serious musicians with powerful amplifiers. The radial claim that you can attenuate down to as little as 1% power with the Headload.

A phaser tool allows for fine adjustments between a mic’d cab and a simulated cab. A built-in JDX box provides EQ, dual-band EQ, and high cut filtering for perfect tone control.

Construction is utilitarian in aesthetics, but you could probably drive a truck over this unit. The build quality is hyper durable for the working musician on the go. Front vents and a rear fan provide extensive cooling for when things get intense.

The only real complaint we have is that this unit is expensive. It’s not a lot of money for what you get, but it’s definitely not in the realm of casual hobbyist spending.

Attenuator FAQ

What does a guitar attenuator do?

An attenuator acts as a bridge between a speaker and an amplifier, this bridge serves to bleed power from the amplifier output. The unit takes the load of the powered amplifier and dissipates it through an integrated heatsink (attenuators can get very hot). This allows the tone to remain the same as a fully driven amplifier.

In practical terms, this means that you get all the benefits of a fully cranked amp without having to increase the volume.

Can an attenuator damage your amp?

Generally speaking, a well-made attenuator poses no risk to your amplifier. In fact, we think you’d struggle to find a modern built attenuator that is capable of damaging your amplifier.

Back in the old days, there were a lot of rumors that an attenuator would cause your amp to break down, whether or not there’s any validity in those rumors remains to be seen. Can you imagine what an outcry there would be if attenuators kept killing amplifiers in the social media age?

Most of the problems from attenuators come from people using them to drive their amps for too long for an extended period of time. At the end of the day, this is just accelerated wear and tear from running your amplifier at max power.

What is a passive attenuator?

Passive attenuators aren’t actually true attenuators. That doesn’t mean that passive attenuation is bad or anything, it’s just different.

While an active attenuator will take the signal from your amplifier and dissipates it in the form of heat, a passive attenuator only emulates that effect.

Passive attenuators are essentially a master volume control that goes into the amp loop.

One of the main advantages of passive attenuation overactive is that the units don’t build up so much heat reducing the signal from the amplifier.

Do attenuators degrade sound quality?

By itself, Attenuation doesn’t have any discernable effect on sound quality. Because an attenuator acts as a bridge between your amplifier and your speakers you may notice a slight difference due to the change in speaker vibration as they adjust to the difference in power level.

Volume has a direct effect on tone in speakers. By using an attenuator with your speakers the tone may sound unusual to your ear at first, due to the fact that you are used to hearing a slightly different tone at that specific volume.