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Old 02-15-2013, 06:20 PM   #1
gumbilicious
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NGD: CEC Brigand

no tease photos, just straight high end amp porn.

as some of you may know i ordered a CEC Brigand from Craig





*pic is from his website, i am not some weird stalker



Craig produces fantastic amps featuring original designs, custom parts and quality components. i have been anticipating it's arrival and i am glad it is in my possession. Here is a pic of my Brigand




*no baby head aesthetics here, this amp is a big boy


when you turn on the amp the Ultra Bright Lights (UBLs) are activated. the amp is capable of having as much as 4 different colors of UBLs at once. this looks really cool in the dark.

[seriously, those lights are bright]

now some baby pics







Craig's amps take life as tiny circuit boards evidently (each one is smaller than your thumb nail). he sends off to have some circuit boards etched (or he has some in stock) and the he populates the boards with components

after he populates the boards he gets a chassis and starts attaching jacks, tube sockets, pots, etc





the work is very clean


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Last edited by gumbilicious : 02-16-2013 at 02:14 AM.
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:20 PM   #2
gumbilicious
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next the boards are mounted and connected





last steps are the transformer and the vacuum tubes. the amp uses a custom order set of American transformers, they make this amp very responsive (more later). the tubes chosen for the amp are also from various manufacturers and some are even NOS.

3x NOS JAN-Philips 5751
1x Tung-Sol 12AU7W (new production)
1x Tung-Sol EF806-S Gold Pin (new production)
1x NOS JAN-Philips 12AT7WC
1x JJ ECC803-S (new production)
2x SED "Winged C" KT88 (new production)

even very nice amps like Diezel or Orange wouldn't run such a varied selection of tubes. just finding sources for a NOS tube for a big manufacturer's product line keeps them from running this type of tube set.

Craig did one hell of a job selecting the parts for this amp. here are other specs for this amp:

• 2 completely independent channels with 2 modes per channel
• Channel 1 features clean and crunch modes utilizing 5751, 12AU7, and EF86 tubes
• Channel 2 features high gain rhythm and lead modes utilizing 5751 tubes
• Individual level controls for balancing the signals from each channel
• Channel and mode switching controllable from included footswitch
• Tube buffered effects loop can be configured parallel or series, and can be completely removed from the circuit with a single switch
• Crunch mode level boost/cut control on channel 1 and Lead mode level boost/cut control on channel 2
• Mid frequency sweep control on channel 2 for finite shaping of the high gain distortion character
• 80 watt, dual KT88 power section with switchable negative feedback and presence & resonance controls
• Rear panel power tube bias check and adjustment points
• Accepts 4, 8, or 16 ohm speaker cabinets
• Custom wound O’Netics transformers and filter choke
• Auricap signal capacitors
• Vishay low noise resistors
• 1/2″ baltic birch ply cabinet with corner protectors and top edge mounted handles for optimum durability and ease of transport

another pic



lots of switches and dials but the flow is pretty easy, from left to right:

-power and standby switches
-master volume knob
-presence and resonance controls (defeatable)
-channel selector with independent volume controls/knobs for each channel (1 and 2)
-each channel has two voices/sub-channels
-Channel One has Clean and Crunch
-Channel Two has Rhythm and Lead
-each sub-channel is selectable within the channel via a switch
-Top Row of knobs control Channel One
-Bottom Row of knobs control Channel Two

Channel One (knobs and review)

-Crunch Boost/Cut: provides independent volume control for the Crunch channel so you can customize/control the volume ratio between the Clean and Crunch modes (which is very convenient of course).

-Clean and Crunch Gain: controls the gain of the individual voices/sub-channels

-Bass, Middle, Treble Knobs (TMB): these knobs are shared between Crunch and Clean modes.

-Pre-Drive: controls how hard you drive the 12AU-7 (i think), also shared between channels. it works like a really badass 'Body' knob, more Pre-Drive gives more body. incredibly effective.

-Bright Switch: does what it says. you hit the switch and the signal sounds 'brighter' (has more high end) for all of channel 1.

Review
first off, i set the amp up at 'high noon' with the bright switch off. the amp sounds incredibly Flat… not in a bad way though. there is not much harmonic candy but it treats each note very evenly and balanced. you flip that bright switch and it sounds more like the standard cleans you'd expect from a guitar amplifier. these two diverse clean tones are going to be incredibly convenient when recording guitars for songs as i will be able to have two very different clean sounds available without having to change amps.

gain controls have a great range of tones, but don't provide much of what normal guitarists would consider 'gain'. i have problems getting any crunch out of the crunch channel at all unless i at least use humbucker pups. all this headroom allows for quite a bit of clarity, complex chords sound clear, fast runs of notes sound distinct. you can hear when your guitar is out of tune just a tiny bit.

when playing with a band i do usually end up rolling off a bit of bass with mids and treble at around 1 o'clock. honestly, this amp's second (high gain) channel is also really good, but i bought this amp mainly for it's stunning clean tones.

here is a clip of a HSS strat, a les paul and a PRS through an orange PPC212 with the amp's stock eminence speakers utilizing channel one's clean voicing

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/15421780/N...0Eminence.mp 3

here is a clip of the PRS playing a blues progression on the crunch channel. (the PRS had the hottest pickups out the group and therefore got the best crunch tone out of all the guitars, that is why i decided to use it for the crunch tone test).

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/15421780/N...ues%20ditty.mp3

Channel Two (knobs and review)

-Lead Boost/Cut: provides independent volume control for the Lead channel so you can customize/control the volume ratio between the Rhythm and Lead modes

-TMB: standard treble and bass controls, but the mids now have a sweep knob that allows you to sweep your control from low to high mids. nice

-Gain and Body: Rhythm and Lead modes have independent Gain and Body controls. the Gain controls act as you expect: they control gain for the channels. the Body controls evidently control how much low end/bass/low mids gain is included. this allows you to makes you gain wooly or sharp and can be quite useful

Review
i once again started off with all controls at 'noon' (except Gain, which was around 8 o'clock). the gain was still quite noticeable and good sounding but a but thin so turned it up to around 10 to 11 o'clock. the gain sounds full, quite a bit of high end content (that the body knobs helps you balance out). the gain tones are articulate, precise, and percussive. this channel is just as demanding and revealing as the first channel though.

i really like how the more subtle notes don't just get drowned out by the other notes. here is a couple of clips of a PRS, a HSS strat and a les paul sound, 2nd clip is a high gain setting with celestion G12K-85 speakers.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/15421780/N...%20LP%20PRS.mp3

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/15421780/N...p%20-%2085k.mp3

The Back of The Amp

the back panel houses quite a number of goodies

-5 pin connector for foot controller

-effects loop: series or parallel, able to be bypassed when in parallel mode. send and receive both have their own level controls. tube buffered with 12AT-7's. no wet/dry mix (you use the pedal's mix knob).



-speaker outs: 4, 8, or 16 ohm outputs. you will need cabs with parallel inputs is you want to run/daisy chain multiple cabinets as there are no parallel speaker jacks on this amp (but you can facilitate quite a few impedance arrangements).



-bias controls: nice and easy bias adjustment controls. right now the tubes are running on the cold side and i think i'll just keep things like that.

the effects loop is very nice i must admit, i normally bypass it but if i want to use it then it is nice to know is sounds good and has the flexibility i want. you can use the effects loop as a direct out to a sound board, etc.

i held off on doing this review in order to get a few clips and some play experience, unfortunately i didn't get as many clips as i'd have liked. i ended up getting called out of town for work so i dropped the amp off at my mom's house (she makes custom covers for my amps) so i haven't had the Brigand around to make any better sounding track recordings. i will update later with more clips when i make them.

here is a couple of live clips i got to play with the amp.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/15421780/N...nd/live%201.mp3

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/15421780/N...nd/live%202.mp3
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Last edited by gumbilicious : 02-16-2013 at 02:17 AM.
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:34 PM   #3
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Dang.......
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bburritt1
Dang.......


it's a little more explicit than that, it's more like ****, ****, or *********
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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I am incredibly jealous. Given my limited playing skills there is absolutely no way I'll probably ever be able to justify an amp of this quality, but that doesn't stop me from wanting one to the point of stupidity.

Congratulations to you and Props to Craig, who in a world of Boutique amp builder flakes and nutjobs actually does what he says he will and runs his business AS a business.

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Old 02-15-2013, 06:38 PM   #6
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awesome

don't have time to check the clips tonight, will check them tomorrow
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gumbilicious
it's a little more explicit than that, it's more like ****, ****, or *********

thank you....but prefer it my way.......Sorry i had to do it Lord of war style
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:41 PM   #8
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The brighter the better

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Old 02-15-2013, 07:03 PM   #9
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that is absolutely sexy!
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bburritt1
thank you....but prefer it my way.......Sorry i had to do it Lord of war style

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Old 02-15-2013, 07:15 PM   #11
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That amp is no joke. CEC is the real deal.

Thanks for the clips Gumbi and have fun playing the shit out of it!

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Old 02-15-2013, 07:55 PM   #12
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Oh, wow. It's so beautiful.

But... no matching cab?

=/

HNAD!
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:00 PM   #13
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about half way through the clips.

it sounds great.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathByDestroyr
Oh, wow. It's so beautiful.

But... no matching cab?

=/

HNAD!


i have never been hung up on matching gear. i really like ppc212's.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:51 PM   #15
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that cab looks like it's wearing a comfortable pair of jeans.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:02 PM   #16
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:13 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by gregs1020
that cab looks like it's wearing a comfortable pair of jeans.


that was my first 4x12 back when i was in college. i ended up selling it to my buddy. it is late 80's peavey loaded with G12K-85's. it was a rock'n 4x12 but i traded it to my buddy who is now looking to sell it.

it normally sits on a pair of PPC212's. i tried to find a pic of it sitting on the orange cabs, but i don't have one. i'll take a pic of the amp tower when i get back in town.

did find a pic of guitars we used on the clips though.

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Last edited by gumbilicious : 02-15-2013 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:38 PM   #18
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Congrats! Gotta snag one before he goes boutique pricing.

Does it sound good with a Tele?

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Old 02-15-2013, 09:43 PM   #19
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classic looking prs.

i like the beat up 412.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:51 PM   #20
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Very nice man. Loved it when I heard Matt's. HNAD!
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