I’ve just picked up a second-hand Brownface Deluxe Overdrive pedal off eBay. What do I think of it? Here’s my first impressions.
When I stuck the right pedal in front of it to act as a boost, the Brownface Deluxe rewarded me with the nicest Strat bridge pickup lead tone I’ve ever had.
Why Did I Buy It?
There’s a couple of reasons why I’ve bought this particular pedal.
- I’ve had quite a few of Lovepedal’s Amp-In-A-Box (AIAB for short) pedals. So far, I’ve really enjoyed the ones that I’ve had.
- As I’m honing ‘my’ sound, it seems to be the sound of old Fender amps. Well, the sound of pedals that are chasing that sound, at any rate.
I haven’t seen too many of these in recent months, so when it turned up on eBay for a reasonable price, I decided to grab it.
I’m glad I did.
Strat Bridge Pickup Heaven
It took me about 10 minutes to work out that this pedal is voiced for the bridge pickup of a Strat. That’s its sweet spot, and it’s very sweet.
No matter how much you crank the gain knob, I couldn’t hear any actual drive until I also ran the bass knob past 12 o’clock. I can’t think of another pedal I’ve tried that works like that. Normally the drive is in the mids or upper mids.
It’s nice to find something that offers a different option.
I Heard That It’s Low Gain?
If you do an online search for reviews of this pedal, you’ll find quite a few forum posts from people who’ve had one, but didn’t hang onto it. They were after the sound of a cranked Fender brown face amp. This pedal definitely does not deliver that.
There is some breakup if you dig in. Once I discovered that, it didn’t take long for me to stop digging in just for a bit of grit. The pedal’s really dynamic, with a significant volume jump whenever I dig in.
This is a pedal that needs to have the frontend slammed.
Pick And Choose Your Signal Chain Carefully
To my ears, this pedal does not like being second in the chain behind anything that’s bright. And that (sadly) includes the Klon with its bright internal buffer.
Part of the problem is that the EQ controls on the Brownface Deluxe don’t take any prisoners. Anything outside the 10 o’clock-2 o’clock range quickly sounds wrong, honky and horrible in a way that my brain just says “nope!” to. It doesn’t leave a lot of scope to adjust this pedal to whatever is hitting it.
The other part of the problem is that this pedal filters the top end and boosts the low end. That’s what makes it sound so good with a Strat neck pickup. Stick a bright pedal in front of it, and the filtering strips out what makes that pedal work. The result varies from flat to uncomfortable.
I found I was much better off running the Brownface Deluxe’s tone controls between 12 noon and 2 o’clock, and adjusting the guitar and pedals in front of the Brownface Deluxe instead. When I did, I thought the results sounded fantastic.
I’d go as far as saying it might just be the nicest Strat bridge pickup lead sound I’ve had to date.
Boosts That Go Well With The Brownface Deluxe
Okay, so I didn’t like it with the Klon. What do I like boosting it with? I’ve tried boosting it with a few other pedals, and got great results out of:
- Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor (this thing is great for goosing amps and other pedals)
- SviSound OverZoid OD1 (I love this pedal so much)
- MP Audio Blue Brit (such a fantastic boost pedal)
- Keeley Super Phat Mod (Boss BD-2 Blues Driver on steroids)
- Keeley 1962x
- Lovepedal Tchula Black Mamba
I’ve also had good results out of:
- Xotic EP booster
- Ibanez Mini Tubescreamer
- Keeley Oxblood
- Timmy v2
- JHS Morning Glory v4
The main differences between the two groups were how the upper mids sounded, and how stiff the overall rig suddenly felt.
They’re all very good and very usable, but I’ll be using the Brownface Deluxe with either the Tchula Black Mamba or the SviSound OverZoid OD1.
What Is It Like With Humbuckers?
I’m finding the pedal’s a bit dark for humbuckers. It chops off the highs and boosts the lows, and ends up sounding dull and muddy with humbuckers.
I’ll come back and explore this a lot more another time.
I’m currently working on an (overdue!) demo of my Elite Strat, before it goes into the shop for a pickup swap. I’m going to be using Fender’s MTG for the lead parts with my Strat’s neck pickup.
I didn’t have a Strat neck pickup sound for the demo. Now I do.