Gear talk for the GAS-afflicted.

5 Min Review: Friedman BE100 – THE Hotrodded Marshall Amp

5 Min Review: Friedman BE100 – THE Hotrodded Marshall Amp

Aug 23, 2015

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Actually, does this review even need to be 5 minutes worth? Cos that pic up there pretty much sums it up.

Face. Melted.

Holy crap.

Okay so let’s backtrack real quickly. If you haven’t heard of Dave Friedman, in a nutshell, he’s regarded as the KING of the super hotrodded Marshall, with notable names using his mods and amps including Eddie freakin’ Van Halen, Jerry Cantrell and Steve Stevens.

Today, I was lucky enough to spend a precious half hour with the Friedman BE100.

The BE100 is basically the Mac Daddy of the Friedman amp range, taking a Plexi platform and incorporating most of the major mods that Friedman Amps are famous for, including:

  • The Brown Eye (BE) – your classic hotrodded Marshall crunch, juicing your gain up to roundabout Van Halen levels.
  • The Hairy Brown Eye (HBE) – yeah, he’s a funny guy who loves mature references (don’t we all – don’t forget to check out the Friedman Pink Taco…). The HBE is the BE plus another gain stage. More gain stages = more better, right? I certainly think so, haha.
  • SAT – the Saturation mod adds diode clipping for your Tubescreamer pushing the front end of a roaring Marshall 80s thing.
  • FAT – oh I’m sure you guys can puzzle that one out!
  • C45 –  a voicing mod similar to the BE but smoother.
  • Probably some other stuff that I’ve forgotten or never knew. This thing has SO MANY features.

Anyway, who cares if it has a million switches if it doesn’t sound good, right?

WELL IT FREAKING DOES.

From the first note that I hit, it was just everything you imagined the best damn hotrodded Marshall would be, plus a whole lot more.

The gain is thick, aggressive and somehow still organic at the same time. Every voicing switch offers a variation on a central theme – the central theme being, pure awesomeness.  I’m actually lost for words as to how to describe how good this thing sounds. I’m considering washing my mouth out with soap even as I type this, but it might even be better than my Marshall AFD100 (though slightly comforting is the fact that it costs like, twice as much, straight up). And the most ridiculous thing is that it cleans up really well with your volume knob! How… I don’t even know.

Oh… and this amp actually has a clean channel too. Easy to forget about that, cos, who cares right? Well, the clean channel is surprisingly decent for a gain-monster head (Bogner Uberschall, you should be ashamed of yourself). It’s a non-master style clean channel, which is an interesting choice for a high gain head. It’s got a strident, warm tone to it, with a few voicing/bright options to vary to your taste, but in general it’s pretty solid. Because it’s non-master it’s not going to be overdriving easily before your ears start to bleed, but that’s what the dirty channel is for, really.

Okay, I’m done gushing. Sorry, this isn’t really a review but a short love letter to my new favourite hotrodded Marshall style amp.

BE100, please be mine this Valentine’s Day. I’ll start saving. I WILL BE WORTHY OF YOUR LOVE.

xoxo, Ed.


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