Many of your customers are influenced
by Robben Ford and Larry Carlton. Is that
where you’re coming from as a guitarist?
In the ’80s, I was in a punk band and wanted
to be a rock star like everyone else. We
did a record with Alternative Tentacles,
who were on the Dead Kennedys’ label.
That’s a far cry from Larry Carlton. But I
always dug Carlton and guys like Al Di
Meola—fiery guitar players. Many guitarists
who use our amps play rock or blues.
They just don’t have that many clips up on
Can you describe your product line?
|Brown Note founder Moss Hudson (middle), his 17-year-old son, Mick
Lionheart (left)—who is helping Hudson develop a high-tech amp for
Pete Anderson—and lead tech Joe Zicaro in the company’s tone lab.
It starts with the low-wattage offerings like
the Lite 18, which only has a volume and
tone control, and its juiced-up sibling, the
Dirty 18. Then there’s the Foxy 18—which is
like an AC15, but with more power and tonal
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
pretty intuitive. If you can call and talk to
somebody and have a custom-made amp
tailored to your specific needs, that might
be a factor in your decision. I remember
reading about Dumbles in the early ’80s
and thinking, “What is that all about?”
Then I had the opportunity to hear one,
and I thought, “Man, that doesn’t sound
anything like I thought it would.” I had my
1971 Marshall Super Bass 100 and, to me,
that was it. There’s no doubt that Dumbles
are awesome, but it could also be the
case that you don’t dig that sound. Maybe
you’re more of a 50-watt Marshall guy.
A Brown Note D’Lite Blue Monkey 88 Reverb head and Celestion G12-65-loaded 1x12 AdLib cab, Lite 18 head with a Vintage Compact 1x12 cab loaded with
a Celestion G12M, a D’Lite44 ODE with a Compact cab featuring a Celestion G12-65, and a Foxy 33 head and Compact cab with a Tone Tubby Alnico speaker.
What are some benchmark amps?
I know there are a lot of amps that should
probably be on this list that I haven’t played,
but based on personal experience, some
great amps are the Ampeg G12, Bogen CHB-
10A, Burman Pro 502, Dumble Overdrive
Deluxe, Fender Super Champ, Fender 6G9
Tremolux, Fender 6G11 Vibrolux, Magnatone
421, Magnatone 460, Marshall Super Bass
100, Masco MA-25, Selmer Zodiac Twin 30,
and the Trainwreck Rocket.
Where do you stand on the point-to-point
versus printed circuit board debate?
I’m not a real Nazi about that stuff. If you do
it right, straight point-to-point can be really
awesome, but I have nothing against printed
circuit boards. We use everything—point-to-point,
tag board layout, turret boards, eyelet
boards, and PCB boards. What we do with
the PCB board—and this makes all the difference—
is use a board that is 1/8" thick.
It’s completely rigid and has the tracers and
circuitry basically embedded in it. And on top
of that, it has the eyelet, so you have a really
solid anchor for the components to attach to.
That’s just bulletproof.