Friedman BE50 Deluxe Review

Discussion in 'Reviews of amps and cabs' started by JaiRamana, Apr 9, 2019.

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  1. JaiRamana

    JaiRamana Member

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    The Friedman BE50 is basically a 3-channel, loaded with options, 50W version of a Friedman Flagship BE100.

    I've owned the amp for almost exactly 1 year now. It is a very versatile amp and I've come to think of it as like having 3 (or 7?) amps in 1. 3 because each channel could be virtually used as a stand alone amp with pedals and your guitar volume because each channel has quite a range and all accept pedals very well. 7 because with the powerful gain structure switch in the back for the BE (channel 2) and HBE (Channel 3), it kind of makes those channels each 3 amps in one. (And if you factor in the Sat option, it's kinda like even more)

    Clean first: Clean Channel is based on the Buxom Betty 1 channel amp and goes from a Fendery, American/British hybrid clean to a medium break up channel. Cleans here are glorious to behold with single coils and even humbuckers. (I play strats and les pauls through it). Even the bridge humbucker of my les paul is very musical and useful, even with tone full up. It sounds so good in fact that even dry I've had people swear I had reverb on or something. It's just a spanky, sparkly, very dynamic clean which also takes drive pedals (and other effects) extremely well. For example, the BEOD pedal sounds heavenly through this channel for big metal tones!

    3-way toggle Bright Switch (Clean channel only). This is the right-most 3-way mini toggle in front of the amp in the clean section. It really has a huge range in dark/bright sound. I tend to leave mine in the brightest setting, unless I feel like doing some jazz. But very usable switch. Furthest right is brightest, middle darkest, left is middle ground.

    My only real complaint on the amp is I wouldn't have minded a master volume for the clean channel instead of just a gain here. But it's not like I would probably use it much in a practical sense either, so it's a very minor complaint and probably good Dave didn't have one more knob, as it is I believe the amp has 13 or 14 knobs on the front!

    BE Channel. The 3 position gain structure (VOICE) switch (1st small 3-way toggle on the back of the amp to the right [when facing the amp]) AND the SAT switch (next in line in the back of the amp moving to the left when facing the amp) are key to the BE and HBE channels' range and dynamics. With the gain (voice) switch in the middle position, you have the least gain. This together with the gain knob will take you from a beautiful almost 100% clean Marshall Plexi tone with a SSS Strat, to an early metal tone with a Les Paul. When I want a real Hendrixy vibe with a Strat, depending on master volume settings, the gain will be 2-5 with the voice switch to the middle position (least gain). This is just glorious, buttery, incredibly dynamic classic plexi territory. 9 times out of 10 with a Strat, the amp just stays set there and I do the rest with guitar volume, pick up selection, and tones. So articulate, dynamic and sweet! A little more gain takes you into SRV territory (no TS808 required!). You can also think of this Voice setting as kind of the 50-60s gain, but there's more on-tap than that suggests, depending on where your gain is. As I said, Strap on the Les Paul and dime the gain, and the amp will do (old school to some) Metal tones even on the lowest gain voicing. Back off on the gain you can still find AC/DC.

    Voice Switch Position 2 (up toward the ceiling): This is like Friedman Modded Plexi tone to JCM800 territory. Again, the gain gives you a wide range here, but position two is more like 80s hot rod Marshall. With a Strat this takes you from a dirty, throaty clean with sweet break up (huge dynamics, hit light it's pure clean, hit heavier and it breaks up gloriously) to really more gain than you need on a SSS strat. If you have an SSH it will be even more usable of course. Plug in a Les Paul and this is EVH to GNR to 80s metal and beyond.

    Voice Switch Position 3 (down toward the floor) is a brighter, more modern voice. But again, the gain knob can take you from more vintage to more modern. If you want more modern metal, you'll probably want the Voice in the full-down position, gain 8-10.

    NOTE: This also works in tandem with the front, left-most small 3-way toggle that is kind of like a fine-tuning of your brightness. Middle position here is brightest, the other two positions give you darker flavors, but the differences are pretty subtle, a fine-tuning if you will.

    SAT Switch: Basically this is of course a saturation switch....another gain voicing if you will. 2 positions here (on and off). I've come to think of switch as mostly for helping you get where you need to be in gain/saturation depending on your overall volume/desired application. If you are playing full blast with your metal band, I'd imagine most the time you'd want to turn the SAT off. Off you get more volume (more dBs) and Less saturation, which when playing loud, you don't really need. But if you are playing at lower volumes or 25W vs. 50, for example, you probably want the Sat switch on. That said, just know there's a lot of gain on tap here and even with the SAT on, amp at high volume, gain dimed, this amp still manages great articulation and dynamics.

    Fat switch (2nd from the left 2-way mini toggle). Big picture I imagine this switch is mostly for single coils. But in essence it's two more tonal EQ options for your guitar signal. When FAT is engaged it does make your signal sound/feel thicker, fatter. But also a tad less bright. Off is more bright and sharp. I can tell you both ways sound great and feel great, so it's just a mood and band mix kind of thing. Many will just set it on and forget it. I have done both. I still seem prefer it off most the time, but when I leave it on it's glorious too.

    HBE. On the BE50, the 3rd channel HBE is not only a more gainy version of the BE (channel 2) it's also voiced differently so it has a different character, but similar to BE. It is like a different flavored, higher gain BE channel. Both have master volumes that are glorious. This is your max gain, and different flavor version of the BE. In truth, other than my BEOD on the clean channel, I don't feel any need or use for my OD pedals as the BE and HBE just have so much range, so much gain, and so much articulation and dynamics that I don't GAS for help from a pedal.

    EFFECTS LOOP: It really is a transparent and wonderful effects loop with it's own master volume in the back. Every time I engage the Eventide H9 through this amp and loop I get that sense of how over-the-top good sounding it all is. I battle here, because in truth, the amp sounds so damn good by itself. You almost feel like effects can't help here, they can only hinder. It is surprising how much I turn off the effects just to hear the dry amp. At the same time, since I set up a wet-dry using another tube PA, it just doesn't get any better when I do want effects. I used to think that effects is where modelers really shined. But I feel like my H9 through this amp is a much more higher end, hi fidelity sound than you could ever get with the best of modelers. (Don't get it twisted, that's how I feel and what I hear, but that's of course subjective and you may not agree).

    GLOBAL knobs (THUMP, RESPONSE, and PRESENCE): These are also key pieces of the vibe and versatility of this amp. PRESENCE we all know and love. I keep it 11 to 1 o’clock most the time. THUMP is in essence a “bass presence”. Fine tunes especially the chunk...think palm muting, percussive response. It’s brilliant. With my Strat, I tend to put it in 10 o’clock region and sounds like a “normal” amp. With the less Paul and gain I tend to turn it up around 1-2 o’clock. Impact of this also interactive with your bass setting. RESPONSE is a magical knob that effects your cut into the mix and the feel in your hands. Essentially this also determines how stiff or spongy you want it to feel/sound. With my Strat I tend to put it 10-11 o’clock. Les Paul more like 1 o’clock. Will be a powerful knob for recording.

    So often you hear the hype and watch all the vids on a product and it finally comes to you when you pull the trigger and it has a lot to live up to. That's never been more true than when I bought this amp. It sounds so killer in the videos I had very tall expectations. But I'll be damned if this thing didn't sound like all that AND more in real life. It really has been such a gloriously satisfying experience for me, the guy that once quit playing electric for many years because I was so struggling to find the tone in my head and so disappointed in the search. This amp is now my rock.

    I did end up upgrading some pick ups and going through a mini pilgrimage to find the right speakers. One has to realize that the amp and speakers together form about 75% of your electric guitar sound. They are HUGE and IMPORTANT. Speakers are about 40% of that. Pete Thorn has said the speakers are your final filter of the sound and he's so right about that. I was ultimately not happy with Greenbacks or Vintage 30s or Scumback M75s. Each had their moments but none of them could cover every style I play so I ended up having to solve that. In the end, I came to the new Celestion Alnico Cream at 90W and I am done. My search is over. Life-long tone agony is solved and cured. I'm focusing on the music now, as it should be, and in large part, together with the right speakers, the Friedman BE50 has been the cure.

    I run the amp using a Boss ES-5; my main guitar is a Fender American SSS Strat with upgraded Lollar Blonde pups. My 2nd main guitar is a Vintage Brand Les Paul Lemon Drop with glorious stock PAF style pups that sound incredible in this amp.

    I have an H9 and some OD pedals in front of the amp and an H9 in the loop. The ES-5 controls the rest including switching amp channels by setting, changing the H9s with MIDI, and turning on or off loops of pedals. I find I don't really need a lot of settings and don't use the ES-5 or H9s but here and there. Wet-dry has been a god-send (first time in all my years I actually set one up) as I still get the dry amp sound now with whatever time based effects and it's glorious, it really is. As a buddy of mine calls it, it's just SICK. Using the H9 when I do want effects I can control, patch by patch, how I want to configure the wet/dry, dry/wet, or stereo. I feel like there's literally nothing I can't do and I could probably write a 1000 songs. It's just too fun!

    The Friedman is dead quiet when you want it to be and everything else when you need it to be. You can't go wrong with anything in the lineup probably, but if you want staggering versatility in an AAAAA grade tube amp, look no further!
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
    Darkburst likes this.
  2. Brian Johnston

    Brian Johnston Member

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  3. JaiRamana

    JaiRamana Member

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  4. JaiRamana

    JaiRamana Member

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  5. Brian Johnston

    Brian Johnston Member

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    Nice... is that you playing?
     
  6. JaiRamana

    JaiRamana Member

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    No. All I can do is iPhone video right now and that just doesn’t do it justice.

    Here’s an excerpt of that (if I can get it to post).

     
  7. Brian Johnston

    Brian Johnston Member

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    Actually, a good bluesy tone considering it's a Friedman (used to the high-gain stuff)
     
  8. JaiRamana

    JaiRamana Member

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    This amp is a kick ass blues amp. But it can excel at virtually any tone/style.

    The phone does not do justice.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
  9. JaiRamana

    JaiRamana Member

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