control—and the higher-gain Wreck Lite,
which has Treble, Mid, and Bass controls.
In the 30-watt range, we have the Foxy 33,
Lite 33, Foxy 2+ 2, and Space Cadet. The
Foxy 2+ 2 is unique: It has a single set of
controls, but two separate preamp stages
driven by either a 12AX7 or an EF86 tube,
and two power stages driven by a pair of
EL84s or a pair of EL34s that you can switch
between or combine. The Space Cadet runs
a pair of EL34s at about 35 watts and has
reverb. They’re all single-channel amps that
you crank up and control with your picking
dynamics and guitar’s volume knob.
Then there’s the D’Lite 22/33, which can
switch between a pair of 6V6s at 22 watts
or a pair of 6L6s at 33 watts, the D’Lite
44 GTO, which has more power and can
run 6V6, 6L6, or EL34s. The D’Lite Blue
Monkey 44 is a nod to the Overdrive Special
Bluesmaster. It has a bouncy, low-headroom
American clean tone, and an overdrive tone
that can go from a Texas purr to a Brit-like
screaming lead. At the New York Amp Show,
we introduced the ODR 100, a 100-watt
reverb head. These amps have footswitchable Clean, Overdrive, and Boost controls.
They also include a passive effects loop
with no send and return level controls. If
you want to add active controls, our tube-buffered Little Dummy effects-loop unit has
send and return levels, as well as a bright
control that can be useful for shaping EQ
and overdrive character. It can also drive the
effects loop signal down long cable runs to
and from a pedalboard. We can also build
the tube effects loop into an amp.
If money and resale value were not issues
and someone wanted that sound, should
they choose a Dumble or a Brown Note
That’s a valid question. Several of my customers own Dumbles and also have Brown
Note amps because they like them and
because they can leave their Dumbles at
home. What makes this amp better than
that amp? With any amp, we’re all working
with the same tools. You’re either going
to be influenced by the marketing, the
website, the clips, or you have a friend that
recommends it. Besides all that, people are
A story on Brown Note would not be complete without giving props to Hudson’s
teenage son—electronics genius Mick Lionheart—who helps at the Brown Note factory by, according to Lionheart himself, “mostly doing circuit changes and spec’ing
out optimum values.” We checked in with Lionheart to see how a 17-year-old kid
who cites Bob Moog as an influence views amp design.
You probably have a different sonic sense than your father. What are your references for good amp tone?
My dad’s probably more of a guitar player than me. I’m more of a synthesizer kind
of guy. I’d like an amp to be as clean as possible so it makes a good audio platform,
although it would definitely need a good gain channel. I place higher importance on
the clean channel than the gain channel.
What’s an example of a good clean sound?
My ideal for a clean channel is a flat frequency response—perfectly linear amps.
That’s a little difficult to achieve with vacuum tubes. I’ve considered solid-state
designs, however the tube sound is noticeably warmer. I spend a lot of time getting
the sound filtered correctly and in the right stages. The filtering before the preamp
is what I find important. The filtering between the preamp and power amp is slightly
less important, but still very significant.
Brown Note amps are associated with vintage design. If you implemented some
of your designs that stray far from traditional circuits, would your amps be
released as a Brown Note product?
If it were something fully solid-state, it might be part of a special line sold by Brown
Note or even under a different name, but backed by Brown Note.
Will you make Brown Note amps your career?
I see myself contributing to it, although I also have a lot of my own projects that are
mostly software based. Also, I’ve been working on building synthesizers and some
borderline physics experiments.
Do you and your dad have any distinctly divergent views on audio?
I notice he’s more analog minded. I definitely like analog sound, but even in a
fully analog amp, I find there are places for digital circuitry—more on the control
side, less on the audio amplification side. I’m working on an amp now, and I have
yet to see anything remotely similar to it. If it catches on it might change the
amp market. I’m trying to find the balance between great sound and not having
a ridiculous price tag.
Brown Note founder Moss Hudson’s son Mick Lionheart is helping develop the outboard BNMC12, which will
bring programmability to the new tube amp the company is creating for blues-rock guitarist Pete Anderson.