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Fractal Audio AMP models: Friedman BE and HBE (Friedman Marsha and BE-100)



FRIEDMAN BE and HBE: based on Friedman Marsha and BE-100

Dave Friedman modded amps for famous guitar players. He now builds his own hand-wired amps, very successfully. Friedman amps are medium-to-high gain amps with really fat tones. He has built signature amps for Steve Stevens and Jerry Cantrell.

The Marsha was Friedman's first amp. He had to rename it after some pressure from Marshall. It was named BE-100 (Brown Eye, don’t ask …). It's what many call “the ultimate modded Plexi”, delivering a very fat and tight rock tone. The HBE mode (Hairy Brown Eye, don’t ask ...) switches to an alternate voicing with a preamp triode gain boost.

Single input, EL34 tubes, 100 watts. At NAMM 2016 it was announced that the tone will become available in a pedal too.


“The Friedman BE100 is a hand-wired, 100-watt, EL34 powered, multi-channel British-style amp. By merely adjusting the gain and master volume controls, the BE100 can produce a variety of tones, seamlessly transitioning from blues to classic rock or hard rock to metal. To say it is British-styled is just the start of describing this inspiring tone machine.

The BE100 is a critically acclaimed amplifier created for the many musicians who have longed for the Friedman sound in a 100-watt format, as seen on the stages of superstars like Alice in Chains, Pink, Bon Jovi, The Cult, and Foo Fighters.

Plug into to the BE100 and you will instantly notice the huge, tight low-end and rich harmonically detailed chords at any volume, made possible by Friedman’s superior Master Volume control.​

Single notes take on that Holy Grail singing quality all guitarists strive to attain but rarely can through most amps. The BE100 cleans up remarkably well with the guitar’s volume control, even with the amp on higher gain settings. For a more dramatic clean sound, switch over to the clean channel and dial in the bass, treble and three-way bright switch tone shaping controls.

All 3 modes (BE, HBE, CLEAN) can be accessed from the amp’s front panel or from the included 2-button footswitch. The BE100 was designed to take pedals and loves boosts, OD’s, phasers, flangers, tremolos and wahs, while the brand new ultra-transparent series effects loop handles your time-based effects pedals and rack units.
Play through the BE100 and you’ll see why this amp has received the prestigious Editor’s Pick Award from Guitar Player Magazine (Nov, 2013).”​

Premier Guitar:

“Compared to its companion, the Hairy input has a slight gain boost, yet when I plugged a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom into this input, I noticed more of a difference in feel than tone. The added saturation made it a little more difficult to coax dynamics out of the amp, but it was still possible to drastically change its response by rolling back the guitar’s volume knob.

First in line is a Fat switch, which thickens up the low end to help fill out rhythm parts. I liked this because it didn’t increase the gain at all. Engaging the Fat switch livened up the tone from a Tele without adding grit to its spanky sound. This simply helped the Tele project better across the room.

Adjacent to the Fat switch is another switch that controls Friedman’s Custom 45 response mod. Flipping this switch smoothed out the tone a bit more, while adding a bit of chime and openness to the highs.

When I was ready to hear what sorts of gain this monster could muster, the next control, Sat (saturation boost), helped me do so—in spades. Throwing the Sat switch, I immediately understood why Steve Stevens and Jerry Cantrell are using the Brown Eye in their rigs. The pure, raw aggression lunging from the amp was staggering, to say the least. Low notes were super tight and punchy, and the highs carried a really nice sting.

As far as midrange voicing, I think you’d be hard-pressed to best the Brown Eye’s overdrive.

With all the versatility and power it offers, what really sets it apart is its Presence control. The knob doesn’t simply boost highs and add shimmer, it adds more girth, dimension, gain, and perceptible volume. Taming the Brown Eye’s high-gain settings only required lowering the Presence knob, which softened the high-end response and eased off the screaming gain a bit. It’s as if you have a retractable muzzle, with the higher settings pulling back the mask to let the razor-sharp mids and highs bite through.

With the Brown Eye, Dave Friedman has packed decades of circuit design and modification know-how into a head that represents the finest Marshall-inspired tones he can muster. Players who gravitate toward amps with a strong upper-midrange spike and immediate attack should really take a look at the Brown Eye. If you love the pure aggression of a healthy, late-’60s plexi, yet demand modern features like channel switching, the Brown Eye is extremely hard to beat.”​

We’ve got BE and HBE models. Controls: Presence, Bass, Middle, Treble, Master, Gain, Voice switch. Switches: C45, FAT, SAT.

C45 is a treble boost on the input. It isn’t included in the models. To replicate this: put a Filter block before the amp: Type: Tilt EQ, Freq: 700 Hz, Gain: 4.5 dB.

FAT is replicated in our models (under the Middle control).

SAT is also available in our models. It was designed to be used in the BE or C45 mode to add gain, compression and saturation. Don't overlook this, it's a treat! (What also works well with the BE/HBE models: engage Boost.)

The Voice switch on the amp changes the tone slightly. In the right position the amp sounds slightly brighter with a bigger bass. In the left position the amp sounds slightly darker with more mids.

The non-V1/V2 models are based on the original Marsha amp. These models are rather dark and can be very bassy. Reduce Depth and/or Negative Feedback to handle this, or use one of the EQs.

There’s not a lot of tweaking required. The models sound pretty awesome at default settings. Like the Dirty Shirley model, the range of the gain control (Input Drive), together with the Master, enables you to cover everything from a mild crunch tone to very high gain. You can use a Scene Controller to vary gain across scenes, in the AX8 or Axe-Fx. And don't forget to try the SAT switch. The BE won’t let you clean up the gain entirely, you need to use the Dirty Shirley model for that. Dirty Shirley (5881/6L6) is more vintage, BE (EL34) sounds more modern.


"The old model is an original, hand-built "Marsha". It's MUCH darker than Mark's newer BE/HBE. In fact it's so dark and boomy I emailed Dave to make sure the amp was built correctly. Turns out the snubber cap is the wrong value. But even with the snubber cap corrected it's still very dark and boomy which made me question as to whether there are other components that are incorrect (the guy who built the amp smoked about a pound of pot a day). So we decided to redo the model based on Mark's amp which is the amp that was the demo model at Tone Merchants."​

"The BE/HBE has a fixed depth circuit that gives a lot of bass boost. The model defaults the Depth to match this."​

“These amps share the same aggressive low-cut on the input and then add bass back in the power amp. This gives clear bass response without getting flubby."​

The V1/V2 models are based on Mark Day’s BE-100 which has all the options. The V1 models are based on the amp with its Voice switch in the right position (brighter and more bass). The V2 models are based on the amp with its Voice switch in the left position (darker and more mids).


“We recommend starting the amp on the BE channel with the Bass on 10, the Mids at around 6 , the Treble at 5 and the Presence at 5. Set the Gain around 8 and then bring the master up to taste. After plugging in, you will notice instantly, the tight bottom end and rich harmonically detailed chords and single notes, that’s the Friedman sound. This amp cleans up remarkably well with the guitar’s volume control even with the amp on higher gain settings. For even more gain switch to HBE mode.”​

The amp has a Master Volume control. This means that the amp’s distortion is created in particular by the preamp tubes, not the power amp. The Master Volume, which works in the power amp section, is still very important to the tone and feel. Friedman amps sound great at low-to-high Master Volume settings. The default setting is a good point to start of course.

The BE and HBE work with a lot of speakers, including G12M, G12H and V30. You can also combine different speakers. If you want the sound of Mark Day’s cabinet which he uses with his Friedman BE amp, use stock cabs 60 and 61 (4x12 V30s + greenbacks).

Cab Pack 10 offers more IRs of Mark Day's 4x12 cabinet.​

If you want hear the sound of Fractal’s BE and HBE models, just search for Mark Day’s famous clips and videos.

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One of the first amps I tried when I got the axe fx II. Really cool amp, so easy to get some tight metal tones out of the original one. I still haven't tried the new one yet (maybe I'll update soon).


I was programming my rig for an upcoming show and accidentally recalled factory preset 23, BE, without noticing.

Started playing my Strat. And ended up jamming for 2 hours (FW 2.04). Wow I needed to revisit that amp. The factory preset 23 is giggable for me as is; no tweaks.


I use this amp on my Axe Fx 2 Mk 2 all the time. It's very flexible and bright especially if you tweak it.


I had played with this amp a little, and I went back to it after watching the video where Phil X was demoing it. Wow -- what an amp! I back off the bass quite a bit, and the when I added the Boost the magic kicked in for me. I quickly made two patches, one with the Drive around 3.0 and another with it at .5. The first tone has a monstrously big sound and the second is a perfect Marshall crunch.

I may be redoing some parts I had recorded earlier...


Power User
^ seconded, I think these amps actually shine when you "tune" then more like you would a metal amp than a classic rock amp, even if you're not playing metal.


Personally, I like lowering the Master Volume on the BE/HBE and Small Box models to 3. The default value of 5 makes them sound too dark/congested for my tastes. After several unsuccessful tweaks to Negative Feedback and so on, Master Volume turned out to be the key to really make these amps work for me.

When you lower the Master volume, are you doing anything else as well or just tweaking the tone knobs and that's it? I was messing with the depth knob the other day but not sure if its helping...I will try the MV tonight for sure.
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