HOLY CRAP! Brown Note Brown Fox Lite Kit

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Fuzzdawg, Feb 14, 2009.


  1. Fuzzdawg

    Fuzzdawg Member

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    I have been thinking about getting a new amp for a few years, and actively looking for over a year. I realized recently that almost all of my early (and even current) gear decisions had been made because of a heavy musical influence of a few musician-friends of mine. I never really though about how heavily influenced I was by my musical mentors until recently, and in a big way, I'm grateful. These friends pointed me in the direction of boutique effects, great vintage (or modern hand-made) tube amps, aftermarket pickups, etc. Anyway, I decided that I wasn't going to rely on what I gleaned from those friends anymore, and that I was going to pursue my own tonal desires.

    And I wanted an amp. A more rock-ish amp than my blackface Princeton. I wanted something low-wattage-ish, so I could still try and pass it off in church. Wanted an amp with a gain control (so I could add a little dirt to the basic tone, unlike on my Princeton). Something British-ish like a Vox style sound. Maybe EL84's, maybe not. But not a Marshall type sound. Just not what I’m looking for, you know? And probably most importantly, since I didn't have a lot of cash available, and also am an avid guitar diyer, I wanted something that was available in kit form.

    After asking around, and thinking, and researching for ages and ages, I decided on Voxybrown kit by Brown Note (also known as Brown Fox/ Foxy Brown/ Fox Lite/ Vox Lite… I will refer to it as the Voxybrown, since that what the front panel says). It's definitely not the cheapest kit on the market (although I believe the price to be pretty competitive), it looked like it supplied EVERYTHING I was looking for.

    I got it last week, and was able to hammer it out over the weekend. Had it running by Sunday evening.

    According to moss's recommendation i turned it on for an hour without playing it, then turned it off until the tubes cooled before i began testing it with a guitar. (this burns in the EF86)

    The controls are: volume (master), hi cut (an spst switching pot, when engaged activates a high-end roll-off), notch (a 6-position rotary switch. This is basically like the range cap on a wah or screamer. The bigger the cap, the wider the tonal range gets; more mids, more bass., Etc), tone (this is a master tone and functions like a tone knob on a guitar effect: ccw is muddy, cw is bright), and gain (preamp gain).

    I first plugged it in with all the knobs set to the lowest setting. I turned up the volume knob and nudge the gain knob a little (turn it to 8:00) and...

    I hear my guitar (IT WORKS!!!). I'm using my strat (franken-strat with WCR singles in the neck and mid pos and a fralin blues with a bass plate in the bridge. I did the volume mod [keeps highs as you turn the volume down], and also have a switch to turn on the bridge pickup at any time for all seven pickup combination.) And i hear it coming through the cab. So i reach up and turn the volume to 10:00. I'm a little sad because there is a little noise coming from the amp... Until i start to play. Then i realize that the noise is so quiet in comparison to the guitar signal that it's not even worth complaining about.

    And it sounds good. Sounds like a strat. Sounds like the audio clips on the website. I notice that the tone is pretty thin (good, but thin). So I start fiddling with knobs. High cut works and helps tame the highs. Notch works and helps further tame the highs and fattens up the tone. Tone knob works and wow! The tone knob must directly power something... There is a huge change in overall tone between 10:00 and 2:00. More gain, more fullness, more volume... And more highs.

    As I play I begin to realize why there are basically three knobs that all affect the highs. The amp has LOTS of highs. I don’t know why it is, maybe inherent to the design. It's not like there's nothing but highs, but they are definitely a factor.

    Then I turned the volume down a little (I mean it was 10:00 in the evening on a Sunday, and I was playing through a 2x12 + 1x10 cab), and turned up the gain knob. First of all, you can't even tell that the gain was being turned up just by listening to the amp. No humming or buzzing, no added noise. Turned the gain to 10:30, and played a little. Great "low gain" sound. Breaks up just a bit when hit hard, etc. Turn it up to 2:00. More of the same. Turn it up to full. This is not a high gain amp. So turning up the gain won’t make it sound like a boogie. But turning up the gain, using my strat, brings to mind the tones of u2, brian may, etc. Great crunch, great chime, nice rounded gain tone. Not hard rock, but deffinetely rock. My strat loves this amp.

    But it's definitely preamp gain. And everybody knows what preamp gain sounds like... But the thing is it sounds really different than preamp gain that I’ve heard on other amps. In fact, I will venture to say that the preamp gain is better than I’ve heard on any other amp. Maybe it's the EF86 in the preamp. Maybe it's the EL84's power tubes back there pitching in. Maybe it's the controls, or components, or design. Just sounds better than preamp gain i've heard on other amps. Less dirt, more chime, more original tone shining through.

    Since then I have tried the Voxybrown with my SG (Fralin hbs), and with my Strat-O-Sonic (Lollar p-90's). It definitely likes the strat the best. One thing I noticed is that the settings for each guitar need to change. On my Princeton, I use the same settings for any guitar. Volume at 3.5-5, trebble at 9, bass at 8, depth and tremolo at 0. On the Voxybrown, With the SG, I don't need the notch so high, and I can turn the tone knob up more. With the SOS, I don’t have to turn the gain up as much since the pickups are so loud.


    On Monday I was able to really open her up, volume wise.

    Everything works great. The power tube gain on this amp is perfect. Exactly the tone I was looking for. With the volume down a little and the gain turned up about 30% it's perfect for my basic tone.

    But there's so much more available. When I first tested it out, I didn't like it as much with my SG or my Strat-O-Sonic (p-90s). But today I found that with some tweaking all are great (though the amp still likes the strat the best).

    My initial impression was that it wasn’t much of a rock amp. I was WRONG. With max volume and gain this thing is rock city. Tie your mother down, all right now, back in black, 60's vox rock to the max.


    Then the final test. I know that people who have actually played this amp have said on multiple occasions: no pedals necessary. See, but I am a "pedals" guy. I had to see how it would work with my pedals, and I have a fair amount. The result? Pretty good. I mean, obviously the amp gain is going to sound better than pedal gain, but the amp sounds so good already that having a little tubescreamer doesn't hurt it. The Voxybrown absolutely loves my clean boosts. It likes my lower gain tubescreamer, especially for bluesy stuff, and it love the screamer with the diodes lifted. It doesn't really like my high gain rock screamer (it takes over too much). It doesn't really like my tremolo, and is indifferent to my delay. That's not true... On my delay, the repeats are a little loud... Guess I could just turn them down.


    Lastly, I was able to take her to band practice

    This amp is not what I had hoped for; it is 10 times better! (maybe 100x) The volume level is exactly what I was looking for: can cut through the drums, but has a controllable volume (I hate amps that you can’t turn past 1.5 or they’re too loud for any venue). The tone controls are very interactive yet it's easy to dial in GREAT tones, the preamp gain is SO much better than any other amp I've ever heard, the power amp gain is Vox heaven. It's plenty loud enough while still having lots of usable volume range.

    And I seriously don't know why, but this amp eats my strat alive. EVERY TIME I plug in my strat I freak out. It's so wonderfully chimey and transparent and beautiful, even with lots of gain. It doesn't matter the amp setting, my strat sounds like a strat. I can hear the pickup combinations, pick attack, nuances. I have played so many amps that when played at higher gain levels it wouldn't matter if you were playing a thinline telecaster or a jackson with EMG's.

    But seriously; I don't know why the amp likes the strat so much better than my humbucker guitar and my p-90 guitar. Maybe it likes lower-output pickups (I'm thinking of lowering my pickups in those guitars to find out).

    Then, there was the ooh's and ahh's from my band-mates and pasersby. The other guitar player in my band has built a few amps before, most recently a weber "Trainwreck" copy. Both him and the guy he built it for (as well as the other band members) were freaking out about my amp. The best part, however, was that I let someone play the guitar (volume and gain maxed, no effects) while I was running out to the car to get the rest of my gear. As I was walking to and from the car, the sound was pouring out of the practice room, and filling the shop... And it was beautiful. Absolutely perfect.



    If you are, like me, looking for a Vox-ish sound, with lower wattage, available in kit form, I, personally, would highly recommend the Brown Note VoxyBrown/ Fox Lite Kit. It’s the first gear purchase I’ve had in ages where there isn’t one thing I’m disappointed in. Everything exceeded expectation… by a lot.


    I am not affiliated with Brown Note in any way, other than being a VERY satisfied customer.
     
  2. Fuzzdawg

    Fuzzdawg Member

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    sorting out and twisting PT leads:
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    twisting and soldering OT leads:
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    (i know i wired the speaker jack wrong. i fixed it later)
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    wiring heater wires
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    Last edited: Feb 14, 2009
  3. Fuzzdawg

    Fuzzdawg Member

    Messages:
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    zip ties wires
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    Wiring switches and filter cap
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    pre-wiring of pots
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    Flying Leads
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    Final mount
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    and the tube side
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    and the final product
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    and the cab i plan to use it with!
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  4. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    i got to play one of these at last year's ny amp show and it was amazing!
     
  5. jspax7

    jspax7 Member

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    Nice build!

    Moss knows what he's doin'...

    I built a D'Lite, and I still remember the thrill of hearing the amp for the first time.

    I'm a big fan of Brown Note, and lower powered amps with killer tone.
     
  6. Unabender

    Unabender Member

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    You probably should remove that printed layout picture... :) But a very nice build, and great pictures.
     
  7. phalanges

    phalanges Supporting Member

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  8. Rob E

    Rob E Supporting Member

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    Once I get around to finishing my Metro 50W, this is my next build.
     
  9. Fuzzdawg

    Fuzzdawg Member

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    why? it's posted on the BN forum. but ok.


    you WON'T REGRET IT!
     
  10. Madison

    Madison Supporting Member

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    Good review and pics...I admire you guys that can do that, unfortunately I don't have the patience OR skill! Had a D'Lite 22 for a while, great sounding amps.:AOK
     
  11. andrekp

    andrekp Member

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    Nice job! When you're feeling moddy, you might consider changing the two PI load resistors to carbon comp, and if you installed them as a 100K/82K pairing, as on the layout, maybe try a 100K/100K and see what you think. In the 18 watt, which is largely the same curcuit at this point, some (like myself) find it sounds a bit better. I tried all the combinations, 82/100 & 100/100 in CC and carbon film. I found that 100K/100K CC sounded best.

    The 100K/100K combination will unbalance the PI and make it a bit more tone-ful. The reason for the CC resistors in this position is that relatively close to their power handling ability (half-watts work well here) you maximize how they vary resistance their resistance according to frequency. So you can get mojo from them. (some people argue with this - I happen to believe it and my ears agree) YMMV.

    Good luck - that's a nice amp.
     
  12. CitizenCain

    CitizenCain Member

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    Sweet! It sounds like just the amp sound I like. I might have to check into one of thse.

    Congrats!
     
  13. Fuzzdawg

    Fuzzdawg Member

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    yup, a buddy of mine, for no apparent reason other than being an awesome friend and a great guy, is going to build me a dark-cherry-colored-stained mahogany head for it, and basically just charge me for materials.

    he even whipped up a plywood rectangle i could keep it in during the meantime. complete with handle and everything.
     
  14. shark_bite

    shark_bite Member

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    This is super cool. I just discovered these last week and I really want to do one now. Out of curiosity, was this your first full-on amp build or have you done others?
     
  15. Unabender

    Unabender Member

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    Oh sorry, I didn't realize that. I remembered BN has the schematics linked directly to the amps pages earlier and since the links were now gone I thought they were now only available with the actual kits.
     
  16. John Ward

    John Ward Member

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    I think you should do something about the cement power resistor that runs from the can cap to the plates on your EL84s. At least put some insulation on the leads because it looks like it is about to short out. It would be good to secure it so it won't flop around.
    Also, religious scrap paper?
     
  17. spyeman

    spyeman Supporting Member

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    Do you have to know how to solder to build that?:bong
     
  18. Fuzzdawg

    Fuzzdawg Member

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    this was my first amplifier, and i had no real issues. the forum was helpful (although sometimes not as speedy as i would have liked) with any questions i had. however, i have built many effects, almost all byoc.

    yeah, before i get it in the permanent head i'm going to insulate that sucker. Moss mentioned it.




    no clips yet... i've been a little busy becoming a father.
     
  19. Amadhunter

    Amadhunter Member

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    no clips yet... i've been a little busy becoming a father.


    WOW! You got yer priorities right, and if you can make clips, and do the marital business at the same time! You da man!!! ;) :) :) :BEER
     
  20. cdaloia

    cdaloia Member

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    One of my favorite amps ever!

    Chuck
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014

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