CMATMODS Brownie vs BSIABII

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by doug reichert, Jan 28, 2008.


  1. doug reichert

    doug reichert Member

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    I own the BSIABII. I like it a lot but here are the issues.

    1. Not enough bottom end.

    2. Sounds great at low (home) volume, but at band volume gets lost in the mix.

    3. Very noisy.

    Would the Brownie be any better with regard to these issues?


    Main Guitar: Partscaster EBMM EVH w/Guitar Fetish PAFs. Surprisingly, the pedal sounds best (most Van Halenish) with my stock Mexican Tele, but alas, no whammy bar.

    Amps: Peavy Classic 30 for low volume situations.
    '71 Super Lead for louder situations- but run at pretty clean- volume at 3 or 4. (I almost never have the opportunity to crank this one up or I wouldn't need the pedal, right?)

    Same issues apply with both amps.
     
  2. rockford

    rockford Member

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    I would sur like to hear the two side by side... because: stock, the bsiab2 does not have enough bass or low mid, and I had to md mine and experiment quite a bit to get it in the right ballbark .I wonder if the bsiab si voiced for hot humbucking pickups that have very little high end ? anyway, I for one would
    be interested to hear the brownie next to the bsiab2.
     
  3. gang twanger

    gang twanger Member

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    I can't remember who, but someone from TGP has a CMAT Brownie w/ certain mods that supposedly sounds awesome, blows all the others away, and also has awesome, tight bass response. If I can remember or find out who, I'll let you know.
     
  4. Analog Assassin

    Analog Assassin Senior Member

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    Check diystompboxes.com and do a search for "bsiab mods" there are plenty there. Upping the value of C8 increases bass. Change the 470pf cap bypassing the 470K resistor with a 560pf silver mica or polystyrene cap. It increases upper mids and should help you cut through better.
    Someone else had mentioned using mpf102 fets in the Q1 and Q2 for less overall gain but more dynamics.
    I don't understand how it's noisy. For all the gain it has, it's a pretty quiet pedal. Is it still noisy when you turn your guitar all the way down? Otherwise, it's just amplifying all the noise in your guitar. It has a lot of gain, so it makes noisy guitars sound noisier.
     
  5. orogeny

    orogeny Supporting Member

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    It should be called the fr8_trane browne:AOK

    Re: Your CMAT Brownie
    CMATMODS did a couple mods for me free of charge. Basically I asked him to make it with all 2n5457 transistors (lower gain configuration than stock circuit) and he offered to socket them so I took him up on it. I ended up swapping 2 radio shack MPF102's for Q1 and Q2 to reduce the gain even more because I thought the pedal was overly compressed even with all 2n5457's. Now the pedal has an appropriate amount of dynamics, sounds good at lower gain settings, and works for lead AND rhythm. The only thing I lost in the trade was a bit of sustain and feedback on command but I gained versatility and a better overall sound.
     
  6. kevinabb

    kevinabb Member

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    My buddy and I just finished a three-hour stombox comparison, and the CMATmods Brownie smoked everything else. My buddy verified my observation that the Brownie dead-on nails one classic Marshall tone after another. I bought this pedal about two months ago from a TGP'er. I wonder if it could be that legendary "Magic Brownie"?!! :dude

    My buddy's a big TS9 fan; that's his main pedal. After hearing my Keeley TS9DX at a jam last weekend, he came over to audition it because he was pretty sure he wanted one. He was really digging it until I switched to the Brownie for comparison. Two hours later he told me to find him a Brownie!

    We played it between a Les Paul Faded (with early VanZandt humbuckers) and my faithful KT66-loaded Custom Vibrolux Reverb, a very clean amp. In the course of our testing we both felt the Brownie nailed ZZ Top, Dickey Betts, James Gang-era Joe Walsh, AC/DC, EVH, even a credible Eric Johnson (which I'd never dialed in before on the Brownie.) My buddy made the unprompted comment that it was "a Marshall stack in a box."

    I've not heard the BSIAB pedals, so I can't tell you how they compare. I can tell you that my Brownie has loads of low-end thump, and wonderfully reproduces the characteristic "thud"-like pick attack on a cranked 100-watt Marshall. To hear what I mean, check out the first few bars of Dickey Betts' solo (the very first solo) on "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" from Fillmore East. The Brownie nails that note attack like nothing I've heard before.

    The Brownie also avoided fizziness over the entire range of its tone control, and it sounded good at bedroom volume levels as well as stage volumes. (Yes, we turned things up quite loud to make sure the pedal was stage-worthy!) It does not generate a lot of treble, even at high TONE settings, but it isn't lacking for upper-mids. If you're a fan of bright or fuzzy distortion, this pedal might not be right for you. I like lots of upper-mids with reduced treble; I set the Brownie's tone about halfway and it's perfect for me.

    The only thing we wanted to change - and we both felt this - was to get more granularity at the lower end of the DRIVE knob's range. Almost everything but AC/DC and EVH was found with the DRIVE knob between 8:30 and 9:30, which is like having 90% of your favorite radio stations packed into 10% of the dial's range. There are probably a lot more great tones in there that we couldn't access without a more-precise pot.

    I'm going to either change the DRIVE pot to a different taper or value, or experiment with dual-concentric pots - one for a rough DRIVE setting and the other to fine-tune it. I've never needed to do this before, but the pedal has so many different and great tones that I need fine-tuning to find them all!
     
  7. gang twanger

    gang twanger Member

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    Great review. I have a Brownie on the way (should be here today). I hope yours is the stock version. You mentioned a lot of tones that I would'nt think could be gotten from the Brownie, considering it's such a high-gain pedal. I think I made a huge mistake posting what fr8_trane had PM'd me about his, but hopefully he's OK with it. Someone mentioned that he had a modded one that just killed every other "Marshall in a Box" pedal out there, and said I should PM him to find out what mods he had done to it. He said that the bass response was just perfect for a distortion like that, and said it also nailed the EVH sound, among many other tones. I bought mine used, and I'm pretty sure it's stock. According to the person that sold it to me, it's a one-off that the CMAT guy made right after he stopped making them for a while. And for $80, it seemed worth it considering all the hype this thing's gotten. But people that own these seem to swear by them.
     
  8. gang twanger

    gang twanger Member

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    This is great to hear because I'm saving up for a Custom Vibrolux. Are the KT-66's stock for that amp? I thought they came with 6L6's (I honestly don't know)
    I just listened to the sound clip for the Lovepedal Purple Plexi. I hate to say it, but the clip that's supposed to sound like Van Halen to me sounds like Dokken.
     
  9. Unabender

    Unabender Member

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    Mine is the most quiet high-gain pedal I own... I would say based on my experience and on the DIY effect forums, the BSIAB2 is NOT noisy. Can't really comment on the bass issue, as I haven't really tweaked mine and it is good enough.

    EDIT: I DID also remove one of the resistor/cap pairs at the output... I think stock BSIAB2 is made for bright Fender-type amps.
     
  10. Bucksears

    Bucksears Supporting Member

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    Since I've built about three BSIAB's at this point, I have a couple of questions and a few comments.

    1) Doug, did you build your BSIAB II or did someone else build it for you?
    2) Has anyone take a CMATMODS Brownie apart? Since it's just a BSIAB II w/mods, shouldn't be that difficult to see what was done.

    As far as tone goes, EVH's sound from VH1 throuh 1984 was bright and midrangey; not really known for it's bass attributes, so in that respect the BSIAB II does what it's supposed to. But if you want more bass, go for it; just a cap change. I still might try this for kicks.
    NOTE: I DID clip the two .0022uF caps at the end of the circuit. That increased the treble in the tone control and kept the bass/mids; some of the guys at diystompboxes.com have and have gotten the same results.
    I recently swapped out the 470pF cap for a 560pF and can't tell THAT much difference; I'll swap them back and compare again.
    I also swapped out the J201's in Q3 and Q4 for 2N5457's (keeping the J201 in Q5). This lowered the gain a little, but gave the BSIAB II an almost Vox-like quality to the distortion. Very midrangey with nice crunch. I'm building a second one just for this sound.
    Stock (3 J201's, 2 2N5457's), it has swayed me from thinking about an Egnater M4 rig. I'm not saying the BSIAB II is as good as an Egnater, just that it's satisfied my Marshall needs quite nicely. A lot of gain, nice harmonics, excellent range of distortion around the dial. I have bragged to my cousin that it can go from low-gain Santana (BSIAB tone rolled back and using a neck humbucker, of course) to early AC/DC, to 'Back In Black' AC/DC, to early Van Halen, to G'nR.

    I have to also agree that even with the number of wires I have in mine (it has a 2nd independent gain control wired up to an additional footswitch so I can have two different gain settings), it is very quiet. I notice a little more 'air noise' when the gain is maxed, but that's about it; no humming/buzzing or anything.
    I have little interest in other 'Marshall-sounding' pedals at this point; I can't imagine them sounding better for how little this thing cost to build.
     
  11. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    OK for the record the Brownie IS a Licensed version of the BSIABII. It even uses the GGG board.

    I had CMATMODS make mine with all medium gain 2n5457 transistors (which apparently the only difference between the now discontinued Kaden Brown Creeper and the BSIABII).

    When I got the pedal I thought it was too gainy and compressed even with the medium gain trannies so I swapped Q1 and Q2 for MPF102's from radio shack. This decrease in gain opened the pedal up dynamically and made for a much better rhythm pedal. However I lost the incredible sustain and feedback on demand. For my taste, the improved versatility was was worth the trade off. BTW it still has plenty of gain and I never use it above noon even with my strat.

    In terms of tonality I think the bass response is just about perfect. Its big but tight (unlike the Box of rock which I felt was a box of mud at hi gain). Keep in mind I'm not talking Nu Metal big and your signal does not have more bass than what you started with. The hi mids cut in a very similar fashion to a real marshall probably due to the fact that the pedal incorporates the EXACT treble peak circuit found in the amp. I find it a bit on the bright side with a great raw texture (especially compared to many other OD's which seem to do the smoooth thing). The thing is... this is first pedal with a treble edge that doesn't annoy the **** out of me (unlike, say, every boss pedal ever made with the exception of the OD3).

    Because of the bass response and cutting upper mids the pedal does seem to sound a bit scooped. I get my favorite tones from stacking the brownie with the timmy. The timmy set for mild gain adds a bit of midrange that just brings the brownie forward in a really good way. BTW, I use a strat, a tele and a HB guitar into a heritage victory which is a fendery clean machine. The brownie sounds good with all of them and with HB's you can get 80's metal or GnR quite easily.

    Anyway, Ive had the pedal for a couple months and I don't think I've been this happy, this long with any OD pedal except the timmy. Neither one of them is going anywhere.
     
  12. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    Swap the trannies out for lower gain versions and you will get what you are looking for. :BEER
    On my pedal the lower gain tones are found between 9:00 and 10:30. VH, GnR, and metal is at 10:30 to noon.

    After you remove the old ones install transistor sockets (small bear has 'em) so you can swap without resoldering.
     
  13. serviviente7

    serviviente7 Supporting Member

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    i do not want to go off topic here but i am in the process of bsiab pedal myself. I love my cmatmods comp. that thing is dead quiet and was thinking about the brownie but the OCD is also in my mind. Are they 2 different complete sounds or are they both going for the same thing? I want an amp sound in a box, i do not want a pedal sound and I am looking for that marshall sound.
     
  14. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    I had an OCD v.3. It had an amp-like texture and dynamics. I thought the treble was a bit harsh in one mode and the bass was too much in the other. It also lacked sustain and midrange (more scooped than the brownie).

    I'd like to try a v.4 because I thought the pedal had promise but the Brownie is already there and is every bit as amp like as the OCD. The brownie is NOT as dynamic as the OCD but it has much better sustain making it good for rhythm and lead whereas the OCD worked better as a rhythm pedal. The Brownie is also capable of much better hi gain tones where the OCD excels at low-med gain.

    For marshall tones I think the brownie is the better choice.
     
  15. Cary Chilton

    Cary Chilton Senior Member

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    how would chatmods Brownie compare to MI Audio's Crunch Box?
     
  16. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    I had a CB briefly and just recently I got to A/B a V.2 with the Brownie.

    The Crunchbox has MUCH more mids and is more compressed than my Brownie. The mid bump is roughly similar to a TS and the CB is smoother overall. Its much better suited to lead tones IMO and has a JCM800 sorta vibe. I didn't like the low and Med gain tones nearly as much as the brownie and the decay on sustained notes and chords sputtered in a similar way as the Boss BD-2 which is a deal breaker for me.
     
  17. serviviente7

    serviviente7 Supporting Member

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    ok that is good to know...i do not want compressed dist....i want "raw" distortion. It looks like it going to be the brownie....but I will talk to cmatmods to "customized" to my needs.
     
  18. kevinabb

    kevinabb Member

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    Man, you guys all rock!! :dude When I posted at 2:30 this morning (PST) I wondered if anyone would even care, because this thread had gone cold. Woah!!

    FR8_TRANE: My buddy just read your replies and we both want to buy you a beeer - do you live anywhere near San Diego? :BEER You've answered all of our questions, and more.

    gang_twanger: I don't know whether or not my Brownie is stock. I PM'd the guy I bought it from on TGP; hopefully he'll enlighten me and I'll post the answer here. But whatever it is, for me it's the pot of gold at the end of the Plexi rainbow. :D

    [Answer to OT question that was posed: The KT66 are NOT stock in the Custom Vibrolux Reverb. A stock CVR does use 6L6. I bought my CVR from a guy who installed the KT66, and sent me the 6L6 separately. The swap should involve a re-bias for obvious reasons, although I don't think it's mandatory from a safety standpoint. (But don't take my word for that - find someone who knows for sure!) I have a '70 VR that's tweaked to full blackface specs, along with an original 1965 VR. :drool Both of them sound a little more rich and full than the KT66 CVR for clean tones, which is probably due in part to CVR vs. BFVR and in part to KT66 vs. 6L6. But the KT66, to my ears, complement the tight low-end response of the 2x10", especially for attack on single-note stuff. Always wanted to try some KT66, and they sound exactly as I imagined: Very sweet and unique attack/bloom pattern. Think Duncan Alnico II Pro vs. Duncan '59. But the clean tones are still plenty rich, definitely in the Fender BF neighborhood.]

    - Kevin
     
  19. kevinabb

    kevinabb Member

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    The Brownie has taken over my life! I've decided this is the pedal from which to cook up a monster. :stir Comments & suggestions welcome! Here are my plans for the two BSIAB2 kits I'm ordering today:

    One will be for experimental purposes. First mod: make it a five-knob: VOL, TREB, BASS, GAIN 1, GAIN 2. Not sure how I'll swap the TONE pot into TREB + BASS. Anyone try this? The goal is more combinations of low-end thump vs. feedback/harmonics. Maybe see if I can find suggestions online for Marshall two-knob tone stacks.

    Two GAIN knobs: my intial thought was parallel pots - one for broad tuning, another nested for fine tuning. But FR8_TRANE got me thinking about the mid-gain/hi-gain transistor thing. I love the idea of a lower-gain tranny mod, but I want to retain the full-bore mayhem capability the pedal has now. :YinYang (Think Joe Walsh "Walk-Away" train wreck ending, or VH "You Really Got me".)

    Does it makes sense to try series gain pots, one for Q1+Q2 (keeping them as high-gain trannies but dialing in current/signal flow), the other for Q3/4/5? Kind of a pre- and post-gain concept: Q1/2 as preamp, Q3/4/5 as power amp.

    Another approach: physically switch (via push-pull or a second stomp button) Q1 and/or Q2 from high-gain to med-gain trannies? Literally have 6 or 7 trannies in the box and switch the early one(s) in and out.

    The second Brownie kit is going INSIDE my CVR! Those three useless knobs on the left of the CVR (for the useless NORMAL channel) will be the three control knobs for the stock BSIAB2 guts; VOL pot will be a push/pull that switches BSIAB2 in/out. And useless input jacks next to useless knobs? One will be a footswitch jack for BSIAB2. If I come up with good switchable gain structures on BSIAB, it'll be a two-button jack: one for in/out, the other for high/low gain. (The other jack will still be useless ... unless I convert it into a buffered effects-loop patch! :rolleyes: )

    This concoction will (hopefully) give me my dream amp: a $650 non-vintage package with 2x10", 40 watts (just right for jams), Fender cleans, full range of Marshall dirt, light weight, and no stomp boxes needed. Just a footswitch and a guitar cable. Kinda like a Fender HRD (my current fave grab-and-go amp) but with two-speaker richness and 10" tightness. And a better range of dirt tones. And less weight. :D Oh ... and knobs on the front, where you can actually freakin' see and reach them while playing. :BITCH

    Finally ... is this level of tech talk OK for this forum? Or should I be posting it elsewhere?

    - Kevin
     
  20. Bucksears

    Bucksears Supporting Member

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    My main BSIAB II has four knobs: Volume, Tone, Gain1 and Gain2. The gain controls are completely independent of one another and are the same value; one is set for high gain, the other low. Existing tone control works fine for me.
     

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