Pete Thorn just nailed Eddie Van Halen's Fair Warning 'brown sound' guitar tone with only two pedals

Pete Thorn
(Image credit: Will Ireland / Future)

When it comes to Eddie Van Halen's guitar tone and playing, few can deliver the authenticity of session man Pete Thorn. The nuances and flair are all there – he's a true aficionado and sublime player. He's also a successful YouTuber earning some of his living demoing products for brands, but he doesn't really need to say anything about the new UAFX Lion '68 Super Lead Amp Simulator Pedal here, because the sounds he gets speak for themselves.

The pedal offers three different flavours of Marshall Plexi amp, and one is based on the Variac-incorporating Super Lead  Eddie used to fuel his 'brown sound' on Van Halen's classic early albums. The mode is even called Brown, and it really does live up to it here. Just take a listen to this… 

This performance of Mean Streets features Pete Thorn's EVH Frankenstein and an MXR Phase 90 into the Lion '68. That's it. Oh, and there's Pete of course – that helps. But this really helps to illustrate how far the modelling of tube amps has come, and how much homework UA's amp guru James Santiago and his team have done with this pedal. And by his own admission, it only took Pete "five minutes" to dial in the settings. 

Universal Audio Lion '68

(Image credit: Universal Audio)

UA describes the Lion '68's Brown amp as "employing several signal chain changes including a Variac to reduce the voltage, an EQ pedal with customized settings, and an EP-III preamp, to create a classic hot-rodded sound that countless players have sought out over time." It sits alongside a 100-way Super Bass emulation that's great for higher clean headroom and big bottom end, and a Lead amp that captures a choice example of the classic 100-watt Super Lead.  

You can find out more about the process behind the pedal in the video below and order the Lion '68 Super Lead Amp Simulator Pedal at Andertons, Sweetwater and Thomann.  

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.