Tony Bruno Cow Tipper 35
Product Reviews by Ray Matuza
Reviewed by 20TH Century Guitar Magazine in the December 1999 issue.

"Through his mods, customizing and, over the past fifteen years or so, designing his own line of hand-wired, custom amps, Tony Bruno has gained a reputation as being the amp tonemaster in the New York area.

It wasn’t too long after the word got out that this reputation started traveling around the country as well as overseas. Heck, Guitar Player Magazine lauded his Underground 30 as the best in a boutique amp shootout a few years back.

So a recent visit to Tony’s lab left me like a kid in a candy store with the former acting as the only too cooperative store keep.

While its looks wink at Marshall attire with the white piping and similarly styled grill cloth, the Cow Tipper combo definitely speaks a vibe somewhere in the blackface territory. Two 6L6 bottles churn out 35 watts into two 10” Eminence speakers housed in an open-back pine cabinet with thirteen-ply Baltic birch baffle board. Three I2AX7 tubes handle the preamp duties with a 12AT7 for doin’ the phase inverter thing and a second one for driving the two-spring Accutronics long pan reverb.

All components are immaculately point-to-point wired on brass eyelet loaded G10 glass epoxy circuit board material which eliminates the possibility of any snap, crackle and pops that can occur on typical fiber circuit board material due to moisture. Wire dressing is nice and neat with all wire routing well thought out for optimum performance and lowest noise.

A high and low gain input along with the requisite volume, treble, middle, bass and reverb controls adorn the Cow Tipper’s front panel presenting straightforward simplicity at its best. But this is where that simplicity ends. Plugging into the high-gain input immediately reveals the signature Bruno clean sound - rich and full with more complexity and sparkle than a blackface Fender. The bottom end is tight and punchy with a very evenly pronounced amount of low frequencies through the 2x10” configuration. Although I’m not a 10” kind of guy, I preferred their sound over a pair of 12” Bulldogs we happened to plug into for kicks.

All tone controls more than adequately add their own spice without clouding up the sound. Whether playing complex chord voicings or doing finger-style jazz, the Cow Tipper displayed an amazing amount of string to string definition with complete transparency between the voices. Adding a pinch or so of the Accutronics reverb sweetens the mix with a warm depth, albeit past the 10 o’clock position, I found it to be a bit obtrusive.

Cranked up, the Cow Tipper lived up to its bovine namesake - big, beefy and juicy without robbing any tonal characteristics away from the instrument, or amp, for that matter. Notes remain full and robust with the attacks being definitive and right on. There’s a power amp section workin’ here, mates! If you don’t think a blackface Fender’s tone can be improved upon, think again - Tony’s nailed it!"

This article appears with the permission of 20TH Century Guitar. Copyright 1999 Seventh String Press Inc. All rights reserved.