Bogner Brixton Inside & Out Amplifier Review

Bogner is well known for his quirky amps... but is the Brixton cutting the mustard? just how good is this small amp? is it worth buying?

The Bogner Brixton Inside and Out Amp Review

bogner-brixton

Click for larger view

Reinhold Bogner has always come across to me like one of those really great amp makers that certainly has that 'voodoo' to make amps but has a really quirky outlook on everything amp related that he does. Now that might not be a bad thing on the overall scene these days and he might just be able to make amplifiers that other makers have little or no clue about. Yep... that's Bogner.

Bogner made high gain amplifiers but let's face it, while Germany can be a very nice place in reality the 'big guns' of amplification come from California. So basically he moved there! While Bogner are famous for a number of models, the Brixton is not really one of them. It's the sort of amplifier that when you see one of these that you looked at the price and immediately laughed. It looks like some old fashioned 50's radio (or something) but it's far and away from what you might know about incredibly high gain amplifiers for guitar... right?

There really is little to see with the Bogner Brixton. That is unless you KNOW what you're looking at by way of the Bogner Brixton amp and what demon's it has pent up inside. This amp was designed to rock for sure, but at an original cost price of around $1700 or £1600 in the UK I could guess that there were not that many takers. I bought this one from a Guitar Center as clearance for really silly low price... in fact I could have hardly bought the case and a set of tubes for what I paid.

With just 6 or 12 watts to work with is there really any point in this amp other than bedroom or studio use.

So what's the Brixton really all about... has Bogner finally 'gone over the edge' and made something that no one would ever want? Or is he the mad professor (not amp related) that has injected some magic in to this amp? Let's find out below.

Inside the Bogner Brixton

Transformers

power-output-transformers

Click for larger view

Taking a look at the chassis out of the casing it's immediately obvious that this amp is shall we say 'minimalist' by design. These two transformers, the big one is the power transformer and the other one for output are I guess pretty average par for the course and they certainly don't look anything particularly special that could even go any way towards that high retail cost of the amp.

Just below those on the front is the on/off and standby switches but little else.

Power Tubes

power-tubes

Click for larger view

Moving along we have the two 6V6 S power tubes. These are JJ which Bogner seems happy to use but they certainly are not my favorite brand and the only brand that has ever failed for me since about 1970 or so. These tubes should reflect the sort of Fender tones but later you will find out exactly why they really don't in this amp.

Pre-amp Tubes

brixton-preamp-tubes

Click for larger view

The preamp tubes are ECC83 S and again JJ tubes have been chosen by Bogner. When I recently examined a Goldfinger 45 amp head (to be reviewed on here) that amp had JJ, Chinese and Tung sol in there specifically chosen by Bogner in certain places for their specific tones for that amp. Like I said he IS quirky sometimes.

Volume & Tone

controls

Click for larger view

Notice on this amplifier that there are really very few controls indeed. So far we have seen the on/off and standby switches (which also selects the 6w or 12w output). Here on the right hand side of the amp is the volume and gain knobs... each flanked with the voice or  deep switch respectively. Volume and gain do what you might expect them to do, but the other two are as follows.

The voice  switch in the center is the 'normal' amp tone and to the right acts as more like a bright switch to bring out even more top end (as if you need it on this amp), while flicking this voice switch to the left can let all hell loose. When on the right the volume will typically reduce and the gain increase (seems to me by as much as double and its high to start off with). But if you think you know the meaning of sustain... think again because this little amp will grab you by the neck and bang you against the wall until you are dead!

pcb-inside-the-amp 

Click for larger view

Here's a quick shot of the overall PCB area and you can see how much they fitted in to such a small place. Also not how tidy it all is in there and those high quality components that are lacking inside many amplifiers today.

Internal Power Transformer

pcb-power-supply

Click for larger view

There's good new and bad news... first the good news. As you see in this image of the power transformer area the amp is extremely well manufactured and produced to a very high standard. But the bad news is, that if you want to convert this amplifier to a voltage for another country then unfortunately you will be buying a replacement power transformer because Bogner designed it so you will have to! I guess that's one way of controlling the flow of amps around the world to keep the prices high. If I ever convert this one I'll be telling everyone how to do it and what to replace... so there Mr. Bogner that will hopefully 'balance' the overall view somewhat.

Power Smoothing 

pcb-smoothing

Click for larger view

The smoothing capacitors used are Sprague ATOM and those are very high quality components... but remember to drain them of power before you go messing around in your amp or you just might not live to regret it!

Power Tube Area & Bias

tubes-and-bias-area

Click for larger view

Notice how those green wires at the back of the amp are very tightly would and very neat? That all helps with reducing the noise within the amp and may well help with specific tone some might say. In any case they spent time on it! Also note the BIAS adjuster down at the bottom of the picture for adjusting the bias of the power tubes. Unfortunately there is little info around regarding the biasing of tubes in the Bogner Brixton.

Preamp Area of the Amp

pcb-preamp-area

Click for larger view

In this area of the PCB it's easy to see those capacitors that go to the voicing of this amplifier. It's also very easy to change them out for different values! Indeed Bogner when you were ordering offered that to customers, but bearing in mind these amps have ceased production that's not an option anymore. But changing them yourself and experimenting with these components is! What a great amp for experimenting with tones and so easily done.

Tweaked Components

pcb-tweaked-components

Click for larger view

Looking at the area to the right of this image you can clearly see where four components have been fitted that replaced one in the original design. Count them! This was probably a factory fix before these amps went out for sale. I have seen similar in the Diezel Hagen.

The Back of the Amp

chassis-back

Click for larger view

Well there was plenty to see inside this amplifier but like the front the back is shall we say 'sparse'. Above we have the usual stuff - things like RoHS compliance, WEEE and CE markings that should always be on the device and not on some cardboard box as one character one tried to say. Then there are two 8 ohms and one 16 ohm speaker connectors. Lastly there is a warning and that's it for this side of the amp.

chassis-back2

Click for larger view

Lastly and concluding the back section here's a marking that claims EL34 or 6V6. This is likely there as manufacturing option because this chassis was made in to a number of different amplifiers including the also defunct 'Palomino' from Bogner. Then there are a couple of fuse holders and mains input. And that is your lot. If you think behind that black protruding plate there is something... there is! It's a hole used on other models. Notice there is no loop!

Why This Amplifier is Cool

Taking a look at the controls available on this amp and its minimalist approach you might really wonder with just two preamp tubes whether there will be any drive to play lead guitar or crunchy rhythm from it. The secret is actually because this amp has really got minimalist or no tone stack (that's bass mid and treble to me and you). You see, when an amplifier has those sort of things as most do these days, each step loses some of the gain (easiest way to think) so you end up seeing lots of preamp tubes to bolster the gain back up again and through that tone stack.

But this amp hardly has any tone stack and components are simply switched in or out with crude flip switches. There's nothing wrong with that approach and it leads the Bogner Brixton to be a pretty incredible amp for sure. Try and think of any quality amp using designs like this. And that's exactly where Reinhold Bogner makes himself known as an amp genius. He came along to this idea of removing the tone stack and bringing these older designs right up to today.

And as I have said, it makes the Bogner Brixton a modders dream. But even if you don't mod amplifiers and hate all that stuff, the Brixton will be bringing something to the table that you would probably never experience on any other amp except maybe its direct relatives such as the Palomino from Bogner.

Remember that this amplifier will probably not give you what you want if you play country music or similar because there is nothing like what we might call clean tones. Bogner suggests changing out the preamp tubes for 12AY7 on V1 and/or a 12AT7 on V2 but that won't give you Fender cleans for sure.

Play Rock? If you play blues rock or metal then this amp will cut it for you. Even djent stuff sounds really great. So anything rock related prepare to be blown to hell and back... and while this amp has a tendency for being toppy you could simply change those capacitors I showed earlier until you have the tones you need... its really not that hard.

Pricing

This amplifier is long discontinued but don't let that bother you in the least. I bought mine a year or so ago. Originally this amp was very expensive as I said above, but you can find these for low money these days and $600 might be a good deal. Obviously if its knocked around get some discount. But for that pricing you will have an almost bullet proof amp. Checking on eBay just there was a combo for as much as £1500 - which indicates that he has that money in to it, or he's mad... you choose. And even on Reverb the same basic combo was £950 ($1195) but I saw no heads.

Clearly these ARE rare heads and finding one might not be that easy, I'm really happy I have mine. But always check those places for a second user head (or combo if you're so inclined) as they do occasionally come up for low costs.

Rating

This amp is really quite an amp and anyone who has played on will attest to that. It's brash, loud (for its 6 or 12 watts) but can be controlled easily enough and can be had for a really great price. For rock those guys will love it, but its clearly not for every guitarist out there. Nevertheless I gave this amp a 10 out of 10 for the quality, sounds, design and so much more.

Here's what I liked

  • Highest quality amplifier
  • Unique tones
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to mod if you want to
  • Not too loud - great for studios
  • Bargain pricing if you can find one

And here's what I liked less

  •  Original Price
  • No loop

For any type of cutting edge amplifier and I believe this one was, you are always going to find some things that don't quite do everything... and this one has no loop. Not a problem to me, but it could be to some. However, I was really impressed with this amp and the plus marks far outweighed the minus marks hence a 10 out of 10 score.

Conclusions

It's a one channel amp. And some will say it's a one trick pony. But under the surface it's far from that and could be in the right hands a unique product that others will wonder where you got that tone from especially if you hid the head out of sight and sat a Marshall on the cab :)

I still have this one and I am not selling it any time soon because of its unique capabilities. I have over twenty amplifiers from meager ones to some of the best in the world today and |I can tell you that the Bogner Brixton still has a place in my arsenal of amplifiers. For guys that only have one amp, they might wonder, as indeed you might, why all of those amps? The truth is, for the most part the amplifier and speaker cab emit the most powerful changes of your tone that you could ever conceive. Some people think guitars... but one Strat pretty much sounds like another... and so do PRS, Gibson, Ibanez etc. but that power of masterful tone comes from the amp and speakers there is no doubt about that... speaker first but the amp a close second. And this amp takes it to another level.

Inflexible... yes! Tiny output power... yes! no loop... yes! incredible tones... yes! will sustain for hours... yes!

Enough said... try one if you can. The amplifier is played in the video review if you want to watch it there for the tones it produces.

Meanwhile here is the original video review I completed from my YouTube channel.

 

© A B Mckenzie 1997-2017. All Rights Reserved