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Hit The Suck Button!

It's the age old dilemma. You suck. You must be too loud to hear all those cool harmonics and feedback. And being loud takes you so far out of the mix that you suck! So, you turn down your amp. And now you can't stand the tone you got, so you suck even more!

So, how do you get those harmonics at the right loudness? Or in other words, how do you suck less?

Hit the Suck Button!

What's a suck button?

It's a little box that goes in the effects loop. You plug the input into the send of the effects loop, and then plug the output to the return of your effects loop in the back of your amp. It separates the pre-amp from the post-amp legs of your amplifier by adding resistance between what's coming out of the pre-amp, so you can turn your amp up to 11, but the output signal is lower giving you less volume.

In plain English, it's called a power soak. The idea was dreampt up by Tom Scholz of Boston. The way Boston was recorded, was with the amps turned all the way up. But they were so loud that it was hard to record. So, Tom added very precise resisters (very hard to find in the USA these days) between the preamp and power amp tubes.

For me (I use Carvin X100B) amoung other amps, the device goes beween the 12 AX7 and the 6L6 GC tubes. These are the same tubes as my Peavy 6505+.

And you have to crank it all the way to the right, to get as much resistance as possible. The more you crank the button to the right, the more you can turn your amp all the way to 10.

But you have to be careful. Most suck buttons can only take about 60 Watts of power. So you must match the impedence (Ohms) of the speakers your driving to the power soak.


OK just look at the pictures.

a cheap version of a suck button
Output Tamer

The input of your suck button (e.g. Output Tamer) gets plugged into your amp's output jack. Or if you use a combo amp, into the "send" of your amp's effects loop. You plug the suck button's output into your speaker jack, or the "return" of your combo amp's effects loop.

Of course, you'll have to remove any effects you have in the loop. Or you'll put this at the end of the line in that loop.

To suck the least, turn the suck button all the way to the right. You'll be less loud. You should still get all the harmonics and feedback.

And then, completely disregard the warning. You know the one that says, "WARNING: UNIT MAY BECOME HOT WITH USE"?

There's no "MAYBE" about it. Your suck button IS, WAS and ALWAYS WILL BE HOT!!


Well, the suck button has resistors in there. Just like your electric stove. And just like your electric stove, the more juice you put in, the hotter the coils get, right? So, when you crank it all the way to the right, it's going to heat up. See the photograph below. This version has a big wire mesh around it so you won't touch the electronics with your bare hands.

Now, I have two of these units. The Output Tamer, and the Power Soak by Rockman. The Rockman is huge, and I use it in the studio. The Output Tamer goes on the road.

legendary power soak
The original Rockman

Doing these little tweaks only costs a few hundred bucks, or if you pick up a bargain on ebay, even less.

At the end of the day, you get the tone you want, the saturation you want and the harmonics and ease of play you want. Your band, neighbors and studio cat won't have bleeding ears or perminent hearing loss at the end of the day.

So, ROCK flame keepers, do us all a favor, huh? Suck less! And ROCK ON!

Love & Rockets,


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