If you are a guitarist that uses a tube amp, you probably know already how well a guitar sounds at higher volumes. But what about low volumes?
Can you use guitar tube amps at low volume?
Yes. Guitarists can use tube amps at a lower volume but if you are looking for an overdriven tone the sound may not be as good. It really depends on the amp you are using, but generally you need higher volumes to produce the desired overdriven sound.
But there are ways to get the tone you desire at lower volumes.
Getting Great Low Volume Tone From A Tube Amp
But tube amps are power hungry. There are also a lot of misconceptions about tube amps regarding their usage at low volumes. It is because most people believe that tube amps can only be used at high volumes or even at full blast for that matter.
But this is not the case. Tube amps are quite versatile, they can be used at high volume as well as at lower volumes. If you want to achieve the overdriven tone that you would normally hear on most tube amps, it is best to use a tube amp at higher volumes.
This means that you have to find ways to get the overdrive tone you want without necessarily going for high volume levels.
How Can You Get The Tone You Want On A Tube Amp?
The most basic thing you need to do is to determine the tone that you are looking for. Once you have the tone in mind, it will be easier to find ways to achieve it at lower volumes. The only way you can get this tone is with a tube amp and yet tube amps have a lot of options, so there are quite a lot of options available when it comes to tone and volume levels.
Let’s take some examples.
Humbucking pickups are a classic choice among guitarists and they produce a tighter, warmer sound. They offer better clarity than single-coil pickups and they produce a very distinctive tone that most people would love to hear. But single-coil pickups can also be used on tube amps. There are many different types of combinations you can use with both humbuckers and single-coils on tube amps, but at lower volumes the humbucking pickups will create a more aggressive overdrive tone.
The same goes with the volume of the amp. Higher volumes will give you a more aggressive and loud sound, while lower volumes will produce a much warmer sound. This is because tubes can actually control their bias through resistor networks. This means that the tubes are actually able to get more overdrive at higher volumes and this has been used by a lot of people who want to create overdriven sounds at low levels or even recording in a studio.
Do Tube Amps Have To Be Loud?
Tube amps are a lot of fun to use because they have a lot of options and they can be used at different volumes. The most important thing is to find the right tone and volume combination that fits your needs, stage conditions and musical style. There is no rule that says that you need to play your amp at high volumes or even full blast. Sometimes it would be better to play your amp quietly in order to get the tone that you are looking for. Of course, you will also have to take into account the volume of your surroundings and the audience.
How To Overdrive a Guitar Tube Amp At Low Volume
There are many things you can do with tube amps and a lot of options that you can use but if you still want to achieve a great overdrive tone, it would be best to use it at higher volumes. You can try using multiple pedals for your tone but this would mean that you would have to carry around your pedals.
The other alternative is to use the tube amp effects that you have. You can get great overdrive tones from your guitar effects by using a tube amp with your effects pedal and this will give you a single tone that can be used for all of your effects. This way you will not have to set up different pedals for different tones and at the same time, you will not have to worry about carrying around extra pedals.
Reactive Load Box
While, this is quite a bit more expensive than using an overdrive pedal to get your tone, a reactive load box is a great option.
A reactive load box, like the Universal Audio Ox Amp Top Box allows you to set your amp’s settings at what you feel is the “sweet spot” for tone while allowing you to keep the amp at a lower volume.
This will allow you to get a high-quality tone at lower volumes. The reactive load box takes away some of the power from your amplifier so it can therefore be used at lower volumes while still getting high-quality, overdriven tones.
*Want some good options for the best guitar amps for low volumes? Take a look.
Smaller tube amps, like the Orange Micro Terror 20, is a great option and will allow you to get a wide range of tones and lower volumes that will produce an overdrive tone.
You can get great tones at low volumes with small tube amps because of the fact that you have so many options. You can choose from different types of tubes, from different speakers and then form your own sound by adding pedals to create the custom tone you are looking for.