I’ve already mentioned that the treble-boosted Vox-style distortion a la Brian May is one of my favourite higher gain tones. The other being Eddie Van Halen’s Signature Variac-attenuated Marshall distortion with added flanger and phaser. I like this sound so much I have a number of dedicated pedals for this purpose - compact and mini. The first foray into this was the Mad Professor #1, then Suhr Riot, Bogner Burnley, and for the longest time now - my favourite - the V2 MI Effects Super Crunch Box which is still in scant supply this side of the pond! I also get an excellent Brown Sound distortion out of the superb Boss JB-2 Angry Driver, where I still probably intend to get the Andy Timmons @+ pedal at some stage - with its separate boost footswitch.
For mini pedals the first I acquired was the OneControl Anodized Brown Distortion, followed by Xvive’s really cool Golden Brownie. I would really like to add two further mini pedals to the selection - the excellent Suhr Mini Riot, and the rather tasty 015 Brown Sound Mooer Micro PreAmp - based on Eddie’s original Peavey 5150 amp. The other Mooer Brown Sound PreAmp (005) is the newer MXR-made EVH 5150 MKIII. A lot of metal players are now using one of those two mini 5150-style PreAmps plus Mooer’s equally tiny Cab Simulator - the Radar. With those two tiny pedals they can go direct into the venue mixer and onto the venue sound system / PA. There’s a cool interview on Thomann’s YouTube Channel about how Cradle of Filth use this exact combination / setup:
The other two pedals listed here are typically considered the main go-to Brown Sound Pedals - of course the signature EVH 5150 Overdrive, and Brian Wampler's superb take on the same sort of thing - the Pinnacle Deluxe - with the usual separate footswitch of that type of medium enclosure pedal. Both those pedals work superbly, but I can get even more overall variety out of the Super Crunch Box, which still remains my own one to beat. For extreme collectors - there is also the rare Japanese 320 Design Brown Feather Distortion pedal - that's literally rare as hen's teeth these days!
As one of my absolute favourite tones, I will probably keep collecting the various varieties of Brown Sound pedals as and when I feel like it - or they if the can be had at decent prices. I definitely intend to have all of the listed ones eventually. The Pinnacle with its lesser width will probably be accommodated on rotation sooner, but likely I will add the Mini Riot first. There's also a rumour that Robert Keeley will fairly imminently be releasing his sort of Dark Side / Monterey - all-in-one pedal - this time based on EVH's essential effects - so will obviously include distortion, flanger and phaser at the very least!
Pedal's are listed by enclosure size - small too large:
I already have the full size version of this which I love. If you don't want to spend quite that much you can get the really decent Mooer clone - the Solo for around 1/3 of that price, Mooer also does a copy of the older MI Effects Crunch Box called the 'Cruncher'. I have two great Brown Sound mini's already as mentioned - the OneControl Anodized Brown Distortion, and the Xvive Golden Brownie. As also mentioned in the intro - are the 2 Mooer Brown Sound Micro PreAmps - the 005 EVH 5150 MKIII version and 015 Peavey 5150 MKI version - available for around half the price of the Suhr Mini Riot. The advantage the PreAmps have is that they are 2-channel pedals with mode switch alongside full 3-band EQ - so if it's tone-sculpting control you want - go for the the PreAmps. I will likely have both eventually for rotation and will find a way to dial in optimal / preferred sounds on each.
I'm shocked that this amazing pedal still isn't available in the UK - I got mine very early on release from Haar Guitars in the Netherlands. And I feel that Dan and Mick of That Pedal Show fame somewhat fluffed the demo of this pedal - which does take a little more attention to dial in initially. The best way to adjust it is to select the Gain Clipping Mode and the Headroom / Compression mode options first - via the 2 3-way selectors, then you adjust the volume and gain - add Presence until appropriate degree of sizzle is achieved, and then tweak the 3-band EQ to adjust to taste. Note that the EQ is very dynamic and has amazing range - so you need to move the dials judiciously. If you treat the pedal right though it's output is stellar - possibly more for 'Tweakers' though than set and forget types - you have other pedals for that. I still occasionally rotate with the Mad Professor #1, Suhr Riot, Bogner Burnley and Boss JB-2 - and would still like to add the new Andy Timmons JHS @+ at some stage.
Wampler's Pinnacle Deluxe is rightly lauded by EVH fans as the only other acceptable option for dialling in their favourite sound. They pretty much accept the Pinnacle as an equal to the official EVH 5150 Overdrive. The Deluxe has the same Medium/Vintage and Boost/Gain switches as the standard, but has in addition 3-band EQ, additional Sag Switch and additional separate Boost footswitch and boost level control. I feel that there is slightly more control potential here over the EVH 5150, which is why I favour this Pinnacle over the EVH 5150 - while both are of course great pedals for that task.
Obviously you can't go wrong with the EVH-approved official signature Brown Sound pedal - which I still feel could still benefit by separate Boost footswitch over the tiny button. Admittedly the 5150 does have a built-in gate with a control dial on the face of the pedal. I would really prefer this in the more vertical style format as is, if it gets a separate footswitch it can keep its landscape format! Just a final note to touch on the 320 Design Brown Feather Distortion with the dials along its front edge - the largest of these mentioned pedals and supposedly a must for Brown Sound aficionados.
For my I can't have to many Brown Sound pedals - it just matters which order I acquire them in, and which is overall best suited to me. I really really love the MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2 but also have a number of pedals already that I can rotate with.
As mentioned previously too - I will be likely getting the Suhr Mini Riot next - then a couple more of those mini pedals - before snapping up the Pinnacle Deluxe, and I will probably leave the EVH 5150 til last. Of course if Robert Keeley finally does what he's been threatening for a few years - then that pedal obviously jumps to the top of my list.
If you're into this sound you will find lots of pedals that will serve you well - at different sizes and price-points - plenty of discounted and second-hand bargains to be had too. Also remember that this is your version of the sound - how you recall it, and how it works best for you. There are a myriad of minority variable Brown Sound tones all with different nuances - I tweak mean regularly based on prevailing mood - sometimes I prefer it harder and more high-gain, sometimes I actually use my Phat modded Blues Driver on High Saturation - for a softer style of this sound. The Mad Professor #1, Suhr Riot, Bogner Burnley and Boss JB-2 Angry drive all deliver excellent but slightly different versions of this sound.