Brownface Amps - What Am I Missing?

Mark 6120

Gretschie
Nov 5, 2020
129
DFW
@LesB3, a brown Deluxe, if that is truly what this amp is under the hood, has the single knob tone controls. This type of circuit is very different than the familiar bass-treble or bass-mid-treble of the higher power browns and blonds, which is different still compared to ab763 tone controls. The single tone control affects only the treble and it always needs to be set relative to the volume control. If you get the tone set where you like it at a certain volume, you will have to turn the tone control up if you turn the volume up.

It is a bit harder to manage the mids in such an amp without some major surgery on the circuit. Adding more tone controls will likely sacrifice gain - tone controls throw away signal to have their effect.
 
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charlie chitlins

Synchromatic
Aug 4, 2008
634
The Berkshires
Brownface are great club gig amps.
Mids-forward...kind of strident and in-your-face. If you want them to smooth out you have to turn them right up...then they sound Marshally to me.
I like tweeds and browns for this...silverface, too.
I have a '73 Deluxe, and I'm old enough to remember when this was a small, basic, ham-and-cheese amp. I sometimes forget that it's a KILLER!
A brown Deluxe had a stronger bottom than a tweed.
The only blackfaces that do it for me in clubs have a 2x10 or 4x10.
A 1x12 or 1x15 blackface is too beamy and mid-scooped to sit well in an un-mic'd mix.
I miss my brown Deluxe.
It was too minty to gig.
Of course, I sold it just before prices spiked, so I didn't replace it.
There are cheap and easy solutions for too loud.
Turn it around to face the back wall and/or a plexi shield.
This makes my 4x10 Bassman a fine club amp.
I can turn it up to the sweet spot in all but the smallest rooms.
 

loudnlousy

Gretschified
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 18, 2015
12,745
Germany
When I think of "La Grange" I would guess that there is a Marshall at work. So maybe that Fender-ish amp might not be the best contender for it.
Anyway: There are amps that seem to be made for special guitar models in mind.
I stumbled over a rare vintage Reußenzehn model 9 which has a very dark tone. I toyed with it for a long time and nearly gave upon it.
Then I found out that this is the perfect match for Fender Stratocasters if you are after that 70ies Ritchie Blackmore-heavy-rock sound. I love it!
 

Uncle Daddy

Friend of Fred
Jan 19, 2012
5,924
Maldon UK
Brownface amps at low volume need the tone knob around 8-9 to make them come alive. Me brown Deluxe is scarily loud at 4, so backing off the volume seems to lose top end. I use a DR Z brake like to lose a few dB and still keep it in the zone.

Or I wind up the Princeton. I'm building another right now with a lower voltage PT to get to the brown sound a bit earlier on the dial. It's hard to get a bad sound out of one of these.

P1020392.JPG
 

Lucky Jim

Gretschie
Oct 16, 2020
266
Kent, England
My main amp is a 1963 blonde Fender Tremolux with 2x10" cab (Eminence Legends). I concur totally with Uncle Daddy's comments. This amp loves Dynasonics. I had a '65 blackface Tremolux on loan for a while and, through the same 2x10 cab, they were chalk and cheese. I didn't warm to the scooped and more hi-fi sound of the '65 and didn't miss it when it went back to its owner.

I also have a Fender '65 DRRI as my backup amp. It has built-in power scaling so I can run it at it's sweet spot (about 7) at reasonable volume but it still doesn't have the tone that I love about the '63 Tremolux. Brownface rules! :cool:
 

Snorre

Country Gent
Feb 12, 2009
1,176
Walkersville, MD
I'm just berserko over Fender brownface amps. As shown.
View attachment 195816 If I had the bux to get them zero-timed, they'd go to work. They all sound a little different each from the other, but all my gits love'em.

Great family photo and love the Bugs picture, too! Love your Concert - it's at the top of my amp GAS list despite the protesting of my old back.

Yeah, I'm a huge brownface amp fan. Here's my current amps:

'63 Fender Showman - previous owner re-tolexed the head in brown tolex with chocolate grill cloth, so I did the same to my Beaver Bottoms 1x15 Tone Ring cab with JBL D-140F speaker with my Hallmark 65 Custom and SurfyBear Classic Reverb Unit...

jrHTqs0.jpg


Showman with my Milkman Creamer 20 Watt head & cab, Gretsch G5410T Rat Rod (modded with Fralin Hum-Cancelling Dog Ear P90s), Gretsch G6196T-59 Vintage Select ’59 Country Club, Gretsch G6120BS (modded with TV Jones T-Armonds), and now gone Gibson ES-135...

cmaQoxR.jpg


'62 Fender Band Master - currently in an export black tolex head from previous owner - I've got a 2x10 combo cab (i.e., Fender Super) being built for it...

fS80L4O.jpg


'62 Fender Pro and '64 Fender Reverb Unit with the '62 Band Master

LnEcmTO.jpg


As shown in my previous post, my Fender '62 Princeton Chris Stapleton Edition with SurfyBear Classic Reverb Unit...

4FLZUMA.jpg


Honorable mentions...'95(?) Fender "Custom" Vibrolux Reverb and '90 Fender '63 Reissue Vibroverb...

lkrG3sl.jpg


Might as well post my other non-Fender amp, a 2014 Vox AC15C1TV with my Squier Paranormal - modded with Fender Pure Vintage '65 pickups (bridge & neck) and Fender AVRI ’62 Jaguar pickup (middle) and refinished in rose gold glitter sparkle...

3ayZzDM.jpg


Also...these... 🤓

HJPYUF8.jpg


pC0GAbx.jpg
 

DavyH

Electromatic
Aug 11, 2022
78
Aurora, Colorado
Great family photo and love the Bugs picture, too! Love your Concert - it's at the top of my amp GAS list despite the protesting of my old back.

Yeah, I'm a huge brownface amp fan. Here's my current amps:

'63 Fender Showman - previous owner re-tolexed the head in brown tolex with chocolate grill cloth, so I did the same to my Beaver Bottoms 1x15 Tone Ring cab with JBL D-140F speaker with my Hallmark 65 Custom and SurfyBear Classic Reverb Unit...

jrHTqs0.jpg


Showman with my Milkman Creamer 20 Watt head & cab, Gretsch G5410T Rat Rod (modded with Fralin Hum-Cancelling Dog Ear P90s), Gretsch G6196T-59 Vintage Select ’59 Country Club, Gretsch G6120BS (modded with TV Jones T-Armonds), and now gone Gibson ES-135...

cmaQoxR.jpg


'62 Fender Band Master - currently in an export black tolex head from previous owner - I've got a 2x10 combo cab (i.e., Fender Super) being built for it...

fS80L4O.jpg


'62 Fender Pro and '64 Fender Reverb Unit with the '62 Band Master

LnEcmTO.jpg


As shown in my previous post, my Fender '62 Princeton Chris Stapleton Edition with SurfyBear Classic Reverb Unit...

4FLZUMA.jpg


Honorable mentions...'95(?) Fender "Custom" Vibrolux Reverb and '90 Fender '63 Reissue Vibroverb...

lkrG3sl.jpg


Might as well post my other non-Fender amp, a 2014 Vox AC15C1TV with my Squier Paranormal - modded with Fender Pure Vintage '65 pickups (bridge & neck) and Fender AVRI ’62 Jaguar pickup (middle) and refinished in rose gold glitter sparkle...

3ayZzDM.jpg


Also...these... 🤓

HJPYUF8.jpg


pC0GAbx.jpg
Love'em all, but especially the Milkman. My PS-300 does great double duty for pedal steel and six-string. Here's a stage pic Stage Rig 18.JPG
 

DavyH

Electromatic
Aug 11, 2022
78
Aurora, Colorado
Brownface amps at low volume need the tone knob around 8-9 to make them come alive. Me brown Deluxe is scarily loud at 4, so backing off the volume seems to lose top end. I use a DR Z brake like to lose a few dB and still keep it in the zone.

Or I wind up the Princeton. I'm building another right now with a lower voltage PT to get to the brown sound a bit earlier on the dial. It's hard to get a bad sound out of one of these.

View attachment 195824
Uncle Daddy has the MOST exquisite taste!
 

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Maguchi

Gretschie
Aug 11, 2022
183
Lalaland
I have the opportunity to grab a Suhr Hombre combo for fairly cheap from a friend of a friend, who has decided he wants to firmly stay in the Marshall camp. It's supposed to be a clone of a brownface deluxe (or thereabouts) and all of the descriptions / videos that I have read / watched, seemed to indicate that this is the amp I've been looking for all my life. The amp is with me at the moment, so I have had quite a bit of time to "try" before I "buy."

First the good stuff: looks great and seems extremely well-built. The tremolo is delicious and might even be the best I have ever heard. It is extremely sensitive / dynamic, maybe even the most dynamic I have played. As a result, it is also unforgiving, so harder to hide poor / sloppy technique!

Now, the rest...

1. This thing is LOUD. No, really. The volume is on "2" at the moment. I know I have to "push" the amp to get it's signature sound, but I don't honestly see a way to do that without noise violations / severe & permanent hearing loss. Should I clear out a closet, line the walls with old carpet, and let it live in there instead?

2. CLEAN sounds seem a bit muddy, and remind me of the "wet blanket" sound that my Peavey Classic puts out. I have tried this thing with Les Pauls (P-90 and Humbucker), my 6119-RW, my 6128, a Casino, and a Guild w/ DeArmonds (so far), have not tried it with the Tele or Strat (yet). Results have been pretty much the same. I usually like a lot of mids, but this might be a touch too much. the TONE knob is pretty much all the way to the right.

3. This amp doesn't like any of my preamp / drive pedals, nor distortion / fuzz. I've tried / tweaked my Atomic Brain, JR Barnyard, Tubescreamer, Rat / Ubangi, Fluid Drive, etc. It all sounds either too thin or like a moutain of fuzz, never in between. Depending on the guitar, the Atomic Brain --> Fluid Drive gets close. Maybe I don't have the right pedals / settings for this thing... I have an OCD, DS-1, and a few others in the closet, maybe I'll try them today.

I have been able to coax "Setzer-ish" sounds with this amp fairly easily, with just a Mystery Brain and my 6119. In fact, I found that I had pretty much dialed that sound in within the first 10 minutes of playing it by dumb luck. But I'm looking for more dirt, more "ZZ" than "BS." I (briefly) tried jumping the channels, and have plugged into both the NORMAL and BRIGHT inputs as well. I've tried the lower gain inputs on both channels too, but that ends up solving one problem (clean tone) but makes others (dirt) harder / worse.

I know that there's a chance that this "just ain't for me" but, on paper at least, this should be exactly what I'm looking for. Any suggestions from fellow-brownfacers would be appreciated! I am specifically looking for that "La Grange-ish" bark from this amp, but can't seem to get what I'm looking for. Most online videos I see have the players playing with the Volume on 7 (or more), so maybe an attenuator is the ticket?
Yeah the Brownfaces are known for really good sounding tremelo. I have a Brownface Super and it is also very touch sensitive and dynamic. Well, about the unforgiving part, not sure what to say about that. Maybe adjust the knobs. As far as the too thin or a blanket over the amp, try dialing in your perfect sound without pedals first using the amp knobs and guitar knobs. I know it sounds simplistic, but there's a lot of variation there. Then add any pedals. The Brownface was designed for the ideal sound of the very early '60s before there were any pedals available, so if you get a good sound sans pedals, tweaking with pedals after getting a good sound with the amp only might work.

20220603_193723.jpg
 
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wildeman

I Bleed Orange
May 10, 2015
16,374
norcal
Great family photo and love the Bugs picture, too! Love your Concert - it's at the top of my amp GAS list despite the protesting of my old back.

Yeah, I'm a huge brownface amp fan. Here's my current amps:

'63 Fender Showman - previous owner re-tolexed the head in brown tolex with chocolate grill cloth, so I did the same to my Beaver Bottoms 1x15 Tone Ring cab with JBL D-140F speaker with my Hallmark 65 Custom and SurfyBear Classic Reverb Unit...

jrHTqs0.jpg


Showman with my Milkman Creamer 20 Watt head & cab, Gretsch G5410T Rat Rod (modded with Fralin Hum-Cancelling Dog Ear P90s), Gretsch G6196T-59 Vintage Select ’59 Country Club, Gretsch G6120BS (modded with TV Jones T-Armonds), and now gone Gibson ES-135...

cmaQoxR.jpg


'62 Fender Band Master - currently in an export black tolex head from previous owner - I've got a 2x10 combo cab (i.e., Fender Super) being built for it...

fS80L4O.jpg


'62 Fender Pro and '64 Fender Reverb Unit with the '62 Band Master

LnEcmTO.jpg


As shown in my previous post, my Fender '62 Princeton Chris Stapleton Edition with SurfyBear Classic Reverb Unit...

4FLZUMA.jpg


Honorable mentions...'95(?) Fender "Custom" Vibrolux Reverb and '90 Fender '63 Reissue Vibroverb...

lkrG3sl.jpg


Might as well post my other non-Fender amp, a 2014 Vox AC15C1TV with my Squier Paranormal - modded with Fender Pure Vintage '65 pickups (bridge & neck) and Fender AVRI ’62 Jaguar pickup (middle) and refinished in rose gold glitter sparkle...

3ayZzDM.jpg


Also...these... 🤓

HJPYUF8.jpg


pC0GAbx.jpg
I friggin LOVE that brownized Showman, the amp that should've been, they look good white too but that is killer.
 

LesB3

Gretschie
Silver Member
Aug 17, 2021
376
Philadelphia, PA
Maybe adjust the knobs. As far as the too thin or a blanket over the amp, try dialing in your perfect sound without pedals first using the amp knobs and guitar knobs. I know it sounds simplistic, but there's a lot of variation there. Then add any pedals. The Brownface was designed for the ideal sound of the very early '60s before there were any pedals available, so if you get a good sound sans pedals, tweaking with pedals after getting a good sound with the amp only might work.
Thanks! Been playing with it off and on the past few days and have been slowly getting there. I ditched the Chinese speaker for a Warehouse Veteran 30 I had lying about and I think that's a much better speaker for me with this amp. It's been fun playing around with it.
 

TV the Wired Turtle

Gretschified
Jul 25, 2009
14,715
Sandy Eggo
Took another stab at things, channelled my former "I only need one pedal, the green one" self, and pulled everything out of the loop except a Fluid Drive. Started with a Les Paul Classic and went from there.

Counter-intuitively, I raised the volume (now on 4), and lowered the tone (4.5) -what a difference. The single TONE knob has a dramatic effect on volume, but tweaks the EQ ever so slightly. All the way down (1) is listed as "warm and fat" in the manual, all the way up (10) is "bright and cutting." I think it works more like a PRESENCE knob, turning it down cut the upper mids and resulted in a (perceived) volume drop. Very cool.

With the amp breaking up slightly and some help from the FD, I was getting the ZZ Top sound I was looking for.

Switched to a Goldtop with P-90's and now it was more Thorogood than BFG (not a complaint) and maybe even approaching Social Distortion. A few more tweaks and next up was a 90's Guild Bluesbird that was loaded with Seymour Duncan Psyclones, now we're getting there. Finally switched to my RW Tenny (FT's, not HT's) and a bit more knobby-nudges and I think I've arrived where I wanted to be. I've got it dialed in just a bit hotter than Setzer on "Switchblade 327" and it even plays a lot better with my pedals now, even the Tubescreamer.

As stated before, the trem is killer -if this amp had reverb, I don't think I'd need anything but an O/D.

And all I had to do was play with the TONE knob. 😖
dont forget in trad fender amps that 2nd input is magic with hotter guitars, and preamps. Its dB- pad is often what I want when Im using P90s.
 


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