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Brownface Princeton vs. Swart AST vs. Allen Brown Sugar

ajoel32

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
387
I’ve been playing a Swart AST for years now, with no complaints. Got the itch for a new amp. Wondering if either the Brownface Princeton (probably Stapleton reissue) or an Allen Brown Sugar would be too similar? I’ve also got a ‘78 Vibro Champ.

Mainly for recording studio purposes.

I’m jonesing for something new.
 

BillyO

Member
Messages
190
Allen Hot Fudge with 12 inch speaker would seem to be the Fender Chris Stapleton Princeton equivalent, but about $400 cheaper

brown sugar also seems awesome

probably can’t go wrong with either
 

ajoel32

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
387
Allen Hot Fudge with 12 inch speaker would seem to be the Fender Chris Stapleton Princeton equivalent, but about $400 cheaper

brown sugar also seems awesome

probably can’t go wrong with either
I’ve got an opportunity to buy a used (but practically brand new) Stapleton Princeton for 1450 shipped.
 

thesjkexperienc

^^^ I made this guitar^^^
Messages
4,718
I’ve got an ast pro and a brown sugar. Very different amps at almost every feature yet both sound amazing. I would think the Princeton would be too much overlap with the AST. The Raw control on the brown sugar makes it a more versatile amp than you might expect. I have a 15” in mine and it will get great brown face tones, but crank the Raw and you have even more dirt than a tweed Pro.

I played the Brown Princeton at the store and wasn’t impressed compared to my AST Pro. It may have been that particular amp, but it was way too polite when cranked.
 
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ajoel32

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
387
I’ve got an ast pro and a brown sugar. Very different amps at almost every feature yet both sound amazing. I would think the Princeton would be too much overlap with the AST. The Raw control on the brown sugar makes it a more versatile amp than you might expect. I have a 15” in mine and it will get great brown face tones, but crank the Raw and you have even more dirt than a tweed Pro.

I played the Brown Princeton at the store and wasn’t impressed compared to my AST Pro. It may have been that particular amp, but it was way too polite when cranked.
Good info. Thanks.
 

TravisE

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,465
I had an original brownface princeton that I sold and replaced with an AST. They were very similar but the AST had “more”. The brownface tremolo is fantastic but those Princeton’s are not a favorite of mine. It’s rare that I prefer a black/silver over a brown but, in the case of Princeton’s, I do.
 

SRQGuitar

Platinum Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,896
AST gets more breakup that the brown Princeton and I would miss the reverb. The Allen is very versatile.
 

THiwaTT

Member
Messages
1,815
I haven’t played a Swart, but own a Stapleton Princeton and I think it’s great! Especially for the price you mentioned

I paid A hair under $1800 for mine (it was the only used one I could locate at the time)
 

ajoel32

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
387
I haven’t played a Swart, but own a Stapleton Princeton and I think it’s great! Especially for the price you mentioned

I paid A hair under $1800 for mine (it was the only used one I could locate at the time)
That’s the $1450 question though, right? What’s a Princeton like against a Swart?
 

John s

Member
Messages
134
I've played through Allen Brown Sugar, a Down Brownie, and a Stapleton Princeton and chose the Princeton for the tone , crystal "bell-Like " cleans ,liquid tremolo, and the BEST 6v6 overdrive I have ever heard.
The signal path on the Brown Princeton is pure and perfect. Switching from a LesPaul to a Tele just requires a slight adjustment on the tone knob and a Les Paul sounds like a Les Paul and a Tele Sounds like a Tele.
 

ajoel32

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
387
I've played through Allen Brown Sugar, a Down Brownie, and a Stapleton Princeton and chose the Princeton for the tone , crystal "bell-Like " cleans ,liquid tremolo, and the BEST 6v6 overdrive I have ever heard.
The signal path on the Brown Princeton is pure and perfect. Switching from a LesPaul to a Tele just requires a slight adjustment on the tone knob and a Les Paul sounds like a Les Paul and a Tele Sounds like a Tele.
Well, damn. I think I lost the Princeton deal cause I waited too long. I asked Kelly from Swart about what he thought, and he said the AST and Princeton are in the same vein, with the AST being " more transparent, open, touch sensitive, and harmonically rich but the Princeton might have a more thick take...A bit more syrupy."
 

ajoel32

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
387
The thing that gets me is that after all these years, there isn't really any demos of the Brown Sugar, aside from a few made by one or two dudes. And (no offense) but they don't do the amp any favors.
 

galibier_un

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,628
Can anyone comment on the Suhr Hombre? It's recently captured my interest as a compliment to my Vintage Sound 20.

I'm amazed they can deliver a hand-wired (turret board construction?) amp at this price without selling direct. Does John have a special stash of candy that he feeds the elves?

... Thom
 
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andrew00

Member
Messages
132
I have the Princeton '62, the Chris Stapleton and I love it. It does that really cool thing of sounding clean when you play softly, just a little warmer than a regular Princeton, but when you did in it just explodes in this really growly, gnarly way. I love it for garage rock sort of stuff. To me it sounds the most like 'the 60's' as any amp I've used due to it feeling a bit boxy and clean/mid-y. It's less of a blank canvas than a regular Princeton, but I really dig it.
 

wrxplayer

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,365
I had and AST and have a Brown Sugar. Had lots in between. By memory, I'd say the Allen has more pristine cleans naturally than the AST and sounds bigger, likely due to the 15" speaker (vs 12" in the AST). As mentioned, the RAW knob changes things dramatically.

One thing going for the Swart (if it matters): It's much easier to haul around.

Other things to consider: both the Swart and Allen can be run on 6v6 and 6l6 tubes without rebias (a change of rectifier is also required in the Allen). When you read reviews of the Brown Sugar, consider that I believe most (including me) run it with 6l6's for the most part.

If you prefer "amp distortion" over pedals for your recording, the AST is likely to get there easiest followed by the Allen (using the RAW knob) followed by the Princeton.

I've dealt with Michael Swart and David Allen. They're both wonderful people to do business with should you need to.
 
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Andy S

Member
Messages
172
I gigged with an Ast Pro for a while and loved it but often found it got lost a bit at certain venues because of the small cab maybe....wasn't a big deal because it was usually mic'd but I sometimes wanted a bit more headroom and volume from the amp/cab itself.

I now own a stapleton Princeton and while I haven't gigged with it ( damn pandemic), i have had the recent opportunity to jam with bass and drums and I was shocked at how loud and clean it stayed unmic'd. Totally kept up and had plenty of volume and sounded much bigger than the cab would suggest. I think the speaker is super efficient the amp comes with and is really well voiced for the circuit. Sounded fantastic with some choice pedals.

Both are great amps. I'd say there are some similarities but the brown Princeton is definitely thicker and a bit more in your face and immediate, but still forgiving with it's transient attack. The trem is tear iinducing on the stapleton Princeton it's so good. I do miss the AST reverb when playing solo only ( but use a reverb pedal at home so not a biggie to me)....I find reverb gets lost in a band mix anyway and rarely use it at a gig...

But keep in mind its a loud amp which could be good or bad depending on your situation.
 

ajoel32

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
387
I gigged with an Ast Pro for a while and loved it but often found it got lost a bit at certain venues because of the small cab maybe....wasn't a big deal because it was usually mic'd but I sometimes wanted a bit more headroom and volume from the amp/cab itself.

I now own a stapleton Princeton and while I haven't gigged with it ( damn pandemic), i have had the recent opportunity to jam with bass and drums and I was shocked at how loud and clean it stayed unmic'd. Totally kept up and had plenty of volume and sounded much bigger than the cab would suggest. I think the speaker is super efficient the amp comes with and is really well voiced for the circuit. Sounded fantastic with some choice pedals.

Both are great amps. I'd say there are some similarities but the brown Princeton is definitely thicker and a bit more in your face and immediate, but still forgiving with it's transient attack. The trem is tear iinducing on the stapleton Princeton it's so good. I do miss the AST reverb when playing solo only ( but use a reverb pedal at home so not a biggie to me)....I find reverb gets lost in a band mix anyway and rarely use it at a gig...

But keep in mind its a loud amp which could be good or bad depending on your situation.
Would you think redundant to have both? I don’t gig these days. This would be for recording purposes.
 




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