A Question For The Low Wattage Amp Guys

Discussion in 'Marshall Amps' started by RickyLee, May 29, 2019.

  1. RickyLee

    RickyLee Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    What aprox. wattage output setting would be equivalent to the sound level coming off an electric guitar that is being played and not plugged into an amp?

    I am figuring 1/2 watt or even 1/4 watt has got to be louder than this as well. I have been trying to find one of my amps that will much less even set to this type of quiet level, to begin with. Then if it is close to that level, sound somewhat decent to inspire me to play and noodle around on my guitar. The lowest wattage amp I own is 15W. And it sounds fuzzy and muffled at that volume level. Then I have a few bigger wattage amps that actually sound decent at real quiet levels, like my JVM 410H for one, but then that notch in the volumes that goes from OFF to just putting out sound is much louder than this setting I am seeking.

    I almost pulled the trigger on a used Marshall SL-5 a few months ago. But did not even go try it out to see if it would sound good at real quiet settings.

    Anyone know of any amp models that can do this? Like maybe some of these new 1 watt amps on the market?
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
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  2. Len

    Len Well-Known Member

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    A Marshall 1W amp at the 0.1W setting and max volume is still a little louder than TV volume. I doubt you’ll find an amp lower wattage than 0.1W.

    If that type of amp is still too loud for you then I suggest you get a re-amper (Unleash, Power Station, Ultimate, etc..) so you can get good tone out of any amp at any volume.
     
  3. RickyLee

    RickyLee Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    What I am getting at is the master volume settings and notch in the taper of the pots. Do these 1W amps have an overall master volume? Then, how do they sound in their respective low setting taper as compared to a 50W amp? On some bigger amps, when the master volume is set extremely low, you get this added fizz and distortion in the signal. I am not talking distortion as in the preamp clipping of the desired type of saturation. But this is more of bad clarity in the audio signal at extreme low settings. A tubby fuzziness to the sound. Hopefully I explained myself OK on that one.

    :D
     
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  4. Georgiatec

    Georgiatec Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Looking for something I don't remember what.
    I play unplugged most of the time. Half the fun of coming up with a good riff (unplugged) is then trying to come up with the amp tone I hear in my head.
     
  5. JohnH

    JohnH Well-Known Member

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    I know what happens with attenuators, which might give a clue to your question. I sometimes play my VM, at about 6 on the dial, but attenuated to the max, which is -31db in my case. The amp is putting out maybe 20W, so I'm hearing about 20mW! Its still clear and louder than if unplugged.
     
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  6. Alter

    Alter Active Member

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    At a volume level that low, your best bet would be a solid state amp.
     
  7. John BNY

    John BNY Well-Known Member

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    My 50th anniversary JVM1C in 0.1 watt mode can get decent tones at a very low volume. It's a combo with an 8" speaker.
     
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  8. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    All methods kill the tone when the loudness is reduced except one:
    The method that solves the problem is a Fluxtone speaker.
    The Fluxtone is the most expensive method, but also the state of the art solution which overcomes the limitations.

    The 1 watt amp is still pretty loud ! (you might be surprised how loud)
    The key to reducing loudness and maintaining tone at the same time is to reduce the speaker efficiency. (just because) it's efficiency that makes it loud, not wattage.
    So don't get hung up on the notion that watts = loudness. Without speaker efficiency, there is no loudness.

     
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  9. tce63

    tce63 Well-Known Member

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    I have the JTM1 Offset, and it can be really loud in 1w settings, i run it by a 2*12 with Greenbacks.

    In 0,1w it is significantly higher than TV volume.
     
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  10. MK333

    MK333 Active Member

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    I have the SL 5 and on the 1 watt setting with that 12" vintage it blows my socks off.
     
  11. Sailindawg

    Sailindawg Active Member

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    @OP

    I have been wrestling same issue. How to get cranked amp tone at low volumes. I have seen it as a decibels problem, not a amp wattage problem. Best advice, get a sound pressure level meter or decibel meter, same thing, just synanyms for the same thing.

    Target the decibel range you're looking for. Loud singing is about 80 dB. Conversation can be 60-70 dB, depending on how loud your voices are. A 1 watt amp will put out 100 dB easily depending on speaker efficiency and how closely you are sitting/standing to the amp. 0.1 watt can put out 80 dB which may still be too loud. The fluxgate speakers are excellent, but are very costly. Emminence makes a similar product that is voiced after a greenback speaker, but only knocks down the volume 10 dB vs the fluxgate. But the Emminence speaker can be had for less than $150. Not too expensive for an experiment that you may not like the outcome of.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
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  12. scozz

    scozz Well-Known Member

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    I’ve owned numerous tube amps at 5 watts or less, currently I own 2, one 5 watt that has 1watt mode and .1 watt mode, and the other amp is a Marshall Dsl1hr and it also has a .1 watt mode.

    I agree with @Len @RickyLee, I’ve never seen an amp that has a lower mode than .1 watt. Loud is subjective,....but in the .1 watt mode, dimed is much, much louder that playing a electric guitar not plugged in. You’d have to start in the .1 watt mode, and turn the volume down from there to get where you want to be.

    Now at 1/2 volume @.1 watt, might get you there. I’m guessing, but somewhere around 1/4 to 1/2 volume @.1 watt would do the trick.
     
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  13. MoreAmpsPlease

    MoreAmpsPlease Active Member

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    Think I can help, I started getting ringing in my ears years ago so I had to find a solution for this too. A good room setting that isn't going to rattle things and wreck my ears more.

    1. I found I needed a really good compressor pedal to compensate for the compression your tube amp puts out at volume. Most pedals are way over the top at even the lowest setting, my Xotic is on around 2 to 3. First pedal was a Route 66 and it sounds great, but the compression as low as it can go is overkill.

    2. I use an attenuator so the amp can be at 2 or 3 instead of 1. May not sound like that would do much, but it honestly helps.

    3. It's only going to sound as good as the speakers. Stock combos with stock speakers? Do not expect tone nirvana with that. Most combos now are like Ferrari engines with Pinto drive trains, the speaker has become where the final cost cutting measure happens. You need a great speaker in a good cabinet. Any good cabinet makes any amp sound better. I've got a Blackheart Ant (1W) and it sounds great through my 4x12 marshall cab.

    I also have one of those Yamaha portable amp things that looks like a small boombox. That's probably the simplest solution. It's got all kinds of FX on board to dial in whatever you want and fun to play with. I can dial in a pretty decent approximation of the Gilmour tone for Comfortably Numb. We lost power for 5 days, so i used that every day on battery power. totally got my money's worth out of it.

    Cheers!
     
  14. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    I can easily play at whisper volume through my 2204 and a pedal and it sounds great, I do it all the time in the middle of the night when everybody is sleeping. I don't know if you know this but you can plug headphones or earbuds with an adapter into any OD pedal (or any pedal for that matter) and get instant headphone amp and it works well. :yesway:
     
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  15. fifteenohms

    fifteenohms Well-Known Member

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    Hendrix became Hendrix without an amp.

    He said in interviews, he would practice to record players with his ear or jaw to the guitar body vibrating as he played to learn songs.

    I tend to think an amp gets in the way of string tone but, whatever, if you want a practice amp try a Smokey
     
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  16. Objector

    Objector Member

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    For years all I had was a superlead. I didn't know much about amps,but I remember getting an acceptable sound at really low volume with a pedal in front turning the level way down.
    For playing at home now,I use a fender mustang. It's never going to sound like a loud tube amp,but nothing else will.
     
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  17. EndGame00

    EndGame00 Well-Known Member

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    My 12-watter tube amp is surprisingly loud, however, the more I dial the MV above 6, I lose some of the headroom....
     
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  18. gw247

    gw247 Member

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    ONCE I got to a gig before the club was open. I killed time practicing with my strat in the truck. It was crowded and the headstock resting on the window raised the volume. I imagine this volume and tone might be what you're looking for, (distortion free). It was memorable.
     
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  19. Biff Maloy

    Biff Maloy Well-Known Member

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    I advise you should look for one of the 50th Anniversary Marshalls. I think it's a bit of a tall task in what you are wanting and still stay tube but I understand what you are asking. Any of the models are as good as it gets for low wattage Marshall tone. I have all of them. Too many variables to suggest which but the master volume ones are a good option for various volumes. But, reading your question, I thought of how many times I bring my JTM1C in the living room while watching tv. It's usually in .1 watt mode and volume around 9 o'clock. Sounds good to me and I have no issue noodling like this.
     
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  20. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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