Knock-Out Tones – Brown Amplification Unleashes a Haymaker on the Amplifier Market

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Brown - Family of Amps

Brown Amplification is the husband and wife team of Ryan and Dee Brown, who began slinging solder and running leads in 2014 down in McKinney, Texas (town motto: “Unique by Nature”). Though everything is bigger in Texas, Brown Amplification is keeping things hands-on and personal.

Ryan and Dee 2“I’ve set this up as a family operation,” Ryan Brown recently told TheToneKing.com. “My wife (Dee) and I are partners in the business. She helps me build the amps. We both have worked in high volume as well as low volume and custom manufacturing, and we know what it takes to build a quality product. That gives us a strong edge in being able to make reliable amps that last a long time. When you have a hand-built amplifier, that builder has put a lot of time, effort, and love into that amp.”

When Brown speaks about time, he’s not just talking about the time and attention that goes into every Brown amplifier. Both Ryan and Dee have extensive, years-long experience in the electronics industry. Ryan got his start as an aviation electronics technician in the United States Navy, a job which he credits towards developing a common-sense approach to electronic design, while Dee brings 15 years of assembly and quality control experience to the table, making sure every Brown Amplification customer is getting a top-notch product.

Brown Amplification’s entry into the amplifier world is the formidable Haymaker 50, a 50 watt, two-channel amplifier head with an old school influence that goes beyond aesthetics.

“Basically, it’s a mixture of an old Bassman, a Plexi, and an Orange,” Ryan said. “I’ve really loved the Fender clean tone as long as I’ve ever been playing, so I wanted my tone stacks to be able to model that. As far as the gain structure, I kind of went after a gritty, Marshall-y sound, but I went beyond a traditional Marshall in that there’s more gain available.

“The amplifier that inspired me as I was walking down the design path on[the Haymaker 50] was the old Marshall Super Lead 100, and specifically Angus Young’s tone,” Ryan said. “I’m a big AC/DC fan. I wanted my overdrive channel to be able to do that, but not just do that…also go beyond it.

assembly“The gain structure is adjustable to where if you want to play AC/DC you can nail it all day long, but if you want to play heavier, go for it. If you want to go light and bluesy, you can do that too.”

While the Haymaker 50 easily works for all decades and styles, it’s heart is thoroughly old-school. One area where this is readily apparent is in the oft-overlooked phase inverter, the component of the amp that feed the signal from an amp’s preamp to the power section. There are several phase inverter designs in common use by amplifier manufacturers today, and Ryan and Dee took their cue from the cathodyne design used in old Fender, Ampeg, and Orange amps. The cathodyne PI design is considered to be a major part of the mojo behind the blooming, touch-sensitive nature of those classics. “I just love the simplicity of the cathodyne and I love how Orange used it,” Ryan said.

Ryan and Dee also combined the labor- and skill-intensive method of point-to-point wiring with turret board construction common to many vintage amps and modern boutique builds.

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“One of the main principles of point-to-point wiring is keeping your signal path as short as possible. I use point-to-point where it really matters, like the tone stack, and I use the turret board more when I’m interfacing directly with the preamp tubes.

A turret board is about as rugged as you can get. NASA, for the longest time, when they were building satellites that would be blasted into space on a rocket, they used turret boards. It can handle a beating. By combining them, I get the best of both worlds.”

Clearly, the Haymaker 50 has a ton of design expertise and consideration behind it. But as a true “mom and pop” shop, easily reached via Facebook, the Brown Amplification website (the number on the site takes you right to the man himself), or their very own Reverb.com storefront, Brown Amplification can help a player impart their own personality and look into the amp.

“I’m a perpetual tinkerer. Each Haymaker 50 is a little bit unique…If you want tweaks to the circuit: a more transparent effects loop; a little less gain; a little less bass; I’ll go ahead and modify the circuit to that end,” Ryan said. Additionally, customers can work with Brown Amplification to dress up their Haymaker 50 head in a variety of colors and styles.

“If you want a unique color or color combination, I’ll get it done for you,” Ryan said.

This is just the beginning for Brown Amplification. “I’m definitely not stopping here, but this is the out-of-the-gate product for me,” Ryan says of the Haymaker 50. Though a professed fan of big, high-wattage amplification, Ryan and Dee are exploring lower wattage designs as well as integrating power scaling, which Ryan considers more toneful and effective than traditional amplifier attenuation, into future products. In the meantime, Brown Amplification is gearing up for some guitar shows in their home state of Texas, impressing pro players with the tone and versatility of the Haymaker 50, and establishing themselves as a top brand in the world of modern amp builders. If you haven’t already, do log some time with The Tone King’s in-depth review of the excellent Haymaker 50, then drop a line to Ryan and Dee and get your Angus (or anyone else for that matter) on.

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