A guitar amp could be too loud because you are using the dirty (distorted channel) with too high gain or simply because the master volume knob is cranked too high on either the amp or your guitar.
I remember having this issue when I first started. Turns out my guitar volume knob was cranked up too high. I assumed that once connected to the amp, the master volume of the amp will take over. Boy was I wrong.
If this is not the case for you, then fret not. There are many other reasons why your amp could be too loud and I will discuss them all in this article.
Specifically, I will talk about the reasons why your amp is too loud, how to fix them and also discuss how loud is too loud, really? If you play in a band, maybe the other instruments are too quiet instead. Let’s see.
4 Reasons Why Your Guitar Amp Is So Loud
- Using the wrong channel. Some guitar amps come with multiple channels that you could switch around for different sound effects. It is possible that you are using the dirty channel with too much gain – causing your tone to be distorted and loud (not what you expect).
- Master volume knob is too high. An amp and guitar have their own master volume knob. Make sure you turn these master volume knobs down. Personally, I would crank the master volume on the amp a little higher and use the volume knob on my guitar for finer adjustment.
- Plucking too hard. It is possible that you are so used to playing hard – that you produce much louder sound than intended. Sounds obvious but not really – this habit can easily be started and stuck with you for a long time. Try to pluck the string with less force – if you get the sound you desire, that is a simple fix.
- Incorrect amp. Some amps are very sensitive to volume adjustment. A little turn and the volume increases significantly (for example a Blues Jr. amp). If this is the case, then there’s nothing really broken. Your amp is simply designed that way.
As you can see, not all the causes of loud amps can be easily fixed. Sometimes the amp just behaves that way and you cannot change it.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Let me talk about this topic next. How could you quiet down your amp?
Related article: Guitar Amp Buzzing & Popping: 6 Common Reasons & Fixes
4 Ways For Quiet Amp
- Reduce the use of gain and heavy distortion. Too much gain can easily make your amp sounds too loud and destroy your tone. Always start with the lowest gain possible and increase it little-by-little until you find the right spot.
- Play with lesser intensity. Try plucking your strings softer than you usually do. If you like that volume, then you can build a habit of playing with lower intensity. This could be an easy fix without having to tinker with your amp.
- Use an amp modeler. If your amp is just loud from the factory, then there’s not much you can do. I suggest getting a cheap audio interface and connecting your guitar to a PC or phone. Then from there, you can try out any amp model you want (loud, soft, different effects, etc.). You can even choose to ditch the amp and play with your headphones instead.
- Use an amp attenuator. Attenuator is a device that could reduce the sound signal from an amp – providing you with a lower volume. Attenuator is usually used because most amps produce great sound only when driven hard. Attenuator allows most musicians to crank up their amp but still keep the volume down. If interested, you could look into Dr.Z BRAKE-LITE. It’s very easy to use.
Related article: Is Audio Interface Better Than Amp: Differences & Sound Quality
How loud is too loud for a Guitar Amp?
From my personal experience, recording at 90 to 110 dB is standard; if the volume of your guitar amp is between 50 to 70 dB, the guitar amp is considered a low volume.
If your guitar amp pass the 110 dB mark or 120 dB mark, you will get a lot of compression from your microphone and your amp
However, there are a lot of issues this can cause; a guitar amp above 110 dB mark or 120dB mark may damage your guitar amp; at this volume, you lose a lot of qualities and also affect the sound produced from your guitar.
Before you determine how loud your guitar amp is, it is necessary to consider what your microphones can afford and what kind of tone you are aiming for; as mentioned earlier, it is essential to consider the microphone; each microphone has a threshold regarding the threshold it can stand
Every guitar amp has its preference for tones and sounds because of the difference in styles, sounds, and tastes. However, guitar amps sound better at a lower voice than maximum volume. When the guitar amp is at a low volume, the speaker is not affected easily.
In most cases, a guitar amp gets too loud due to some mistake (either wrong channel or master volume is turned up too high.
If you are living in an apartment and need to play quietly, then I suggest playing with headphones instead. It allows you to jam hard and use software modelers to create countless effects – without ever bothering your family members or neighbors.
If you insist on using an amp, then the best solution is to make sure the volume knobs on your amp and guitar are correct (low volume and low gain) and play with lower intensity.