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Tong King attenuator troubleshoot

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  • Tong King attenuator troubleshoot

    This may not be a troubleshoot at all, but would like to get some advice. I bought a new Tong King attenuator for my Fender Princeton a month ago, since I live in an apartment. Always wanted to crank it but alas, my neighbors might not appreciate the sound of a wide open tube amp. Plugged it in correctly according to their instructions and triple checked it. My amp does have a number of pedals as well.

    So I've been messing round with it and the sweet spot seems to be around 7 or 7.5 volume, where you can hear the breakup prominently. I heard that SRV basically cranked his amps to breakup and used his tubescreamer on a really low setting to push it, to get his sound. Which I've been doing and it sounds great, but the low E is really flabby and undefined, like someone put a fuzz pedal on it. Is this normal? Bear in mind I've never had the pleasure to fully crank an amp cause i live in the city, but I always imagined cranking it would get me that 'thump' from the bass.

    Totally could be wrong here! Any advice appreciated.
    'Without music life would be a mistake'.

    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

  • #2
    where are you running the bass on your amp? as you turn the amp up, you usually need to turn the bass down. especially on a bf/sf fender style amp. a princeton isnt known for thump


    • #3
      Attenuator is a red herring here. You're hitting the characteristics of the amp and how you are setting it. Like Jeremy said.


      • #4
        When I had a 68 custom Princeton i left the bass at ten cuz it never produced enough bass to get boomy or woofy to me... especially with a tele bridge pickup, but lowering the bass thinned it out.

        but it also didn't have enough power to have much thump either.

        I like the thick snarling boxy sound but it gets too be a bit of a single trick animal when overdriven. It is a small amp in the grand scheme of things after all. Not designed to give thump at more than your bedroom or small studio.

        I hope you'll keep liking that amp though, I had to sell mine a while back and have been making do on a bugera since then and I got some of the thump you wish you had back but my reverb is GARBAGE so yes play her one time for me will you, thanks


        • #5
          There are downsides to cranking an amp through an attenuator. The first is that most attenuators don't really sound great at high levels of attenuation. The second is the way the amp actually sounds when it is cranked. Everybody thinks they love the sound of power-tube distortion, but the truth is that most never get the amp loud enough to actually achieve true power tube saturation. A lot of the extra grind that comes from cranking the amp actually comes from the PI distorting. When the PI distorts, the feedback loop begins to break down/fall apart and this can change the character of the amp a fair bit. When you finally do reach power tube saturation, the sound really gets snarly and rounded out ( perhaps too rounded out ), you could say woofy even depending on the amp. The attenuator doesn't help in this case, as it tends to reduce the highs most prominently. Another things thing to consider is the distortion that occurs from the speaker cones flapping away. Again, when you think you have actually achieved power-tube distortion, depending on the cabinet, the speakers may have already been well into their own non-linear operation.

          I designed an amp that can take advantage of both power tube and PI distortion to achieve its sound. The difference between the two is pretty stark. I don't want to be near the amp when it is loud enough to make the power tubes distort. Even at 18 watts or so, it is stupid loud. The grit that an 18 watt EL84 power section has is mean and more than loud enough. By the time you get the PI and the speaker singing along with the power tubes, it is a wall of angry pixies trying to escape the thing. Visceral doesn't do it justice as an explanation. And with an attenuator, the swirl is a thing. Many amps do it even if they are not EL84. That swirling sound is the power tubes crying bloody murder as the whole of the amp goes non-linear. High levels of attenuation seem to bring it out even more, while also rounding out the tone.


          • #6
            Doesn't help that this is a different phase inverter design on the Princeton that generates harder clipping distortion and is less efficient than on the bigger amps. It's a big part of the Princeton sound
            people with other amps featuring the same phase inverter circuit complain of farty, fuzzy, broken speaker sounds when they crank it. There's some other fenders out there, the vht 12/20, some 13 amps and others etc that will do it. The cure is often trading amps or some people try to mod their PI circuit.

            I've had a deluxe reverb ri, Princeton 68 custom, and super sonic 22. The DRRI and SS22 were way more SRV than Princeton. DRRI can handle the low E snap very well for a 20w amp. The supersonic was even better. Consider trading up when you get a chance!


            • #7
              its the same pi setup as a 5e3. only uses half a tube but its no where near as efficient as the long tail pair thats common in the bigger fenders