Structural control can be used to mitigate dynamic structural response and prevent structures from reaching their limit states. Typical active vibration systems utilize large electric motors, and expensive hydraulic pumping equipment to provide force inputs to a structure during a dynamic event. The work here explores the effectiveness of low power, inexpensive semi-active control hardware to provide vibration attenuation, for structures. While there are a number of electro-mechanical devices that might provide semi-active control forces, the investigation here analyzed the use of an automatically adjustable hydraulic actuator (i.e., a shock absorber). The variation in damping characteristics is accomplished by using variable orificing. While semi-active hydraulic actuators are a relatively cheap means of providing smart damping for a structure, the development of effective closed loop control strategies for these devices is not a completely resolved issue. The paper develops a dynamic model of a semi-active actuator. Two inner loop controllers are then suggested, for the operation of the actuator. The control of a simple structure is then simulated. The paper closes with a comparison of the performances between a semi-active (clipped optimal) control and active control of a three story structure that is subject to an earthquake.