2023 Review: The Blog

Rather than do a ‘best of’ style post, every year I’m going to do a rundown of what I’ve written about on the blog this year.

This is the first year that I’ve included this in my Annual Review series.


It’s been a quiet year for the blog; very quiet if you’re not here for my love of tweed tone!

In 2024 I’m hoping to blog more, through a mixture of some new blog post series as well as reviving some old series that have been a bit neglected in recent years. I’m also going to do a couple of things to improve the blog itself, including setting up a free newsletter for anyone who wants to keep up with the blog without having to manually visit the blog to see if I’ve posted anything.

Oh, and I might finally get around to doing that long term review of my Marshall Origin 20H too!

Something Different For This Year’s Annual Review

To be honest, I don’t tend to go back over my old blog posts. I write them to capture my feelings and experience at that moment in time. They’re … snapshots, perhaps, rather than any attempt at definite reviews like you’d see in magazines and the like.

The one time I do read old posts is when I’m researching something on Google and one of my posts appears near the top of the search results. I’m still surprised that that happens at all. I guess it’s because so much of gear culture content these days has shifted to Instagram and YouTube?

A Quieter Year For The Blog

Due to work commitments, I haven’t blogged anywhere near as much this year.

  • There’s only been two #CoffeeAndKlon editions all year, and one of them was simply drawing readers’ attention to an excellent video about the Klon that TPS put out!
  • My Studio Diary series hasn’t fared any better: I managed a grand total of 3 posts there, even though I’ve got a lot of learnings about the Axe-FX 3 that I still need to document before I forget them.

My Pursuit of Tweed Tone Shone Through

The second half of the year has mostly been post after post after post after post about tweed tone: looking at new (to me) gear, and/or comparing it to the sounds I can get from my real Tweed Deluxe amp.

Through those posts, I’ve learned a lot more about the kind of sound I want from my Tweed Deluxe amp, and how to get it. (The secret is all in the speaker choice, mic choice & mic placement!)

Plans For Next Year?

There’s a few things I’d like to do next year, if time allows.

Better Hosting And Newsletter

First off, I want to make a few tweaks to the blog itself.

  • I’m going to change how I’m hosting it, so that I can make it work over HTTPS. That’ll improve the search ranking on Google a little bit.
  • I’m finally going to setup a newsletter version of the blog, for folks who don’t want to keep coming back to the blog to check for new posts. It’ll be an email newsletter, and it’ll be completely free.

Publishing The Axe-FX 3 Presets

Every time I publish a post that includes an audio demo, I’m going to also add the Axe-FX 3 preset that I used.

I’ve built my own preset, and it doesn’t change very often. How I use it … that can change quite a bit from demo to demo, whether it’s enabling / disabling specific blocks to shape the guitar tone before that reaches the pedalboard, or tweaking the amp controls afterwards to suit what the pedal is sending out. The only way to capture those changes is to save and export the preset afterwards. So that’s what I’m going to start doing.

This will force me to curate my blocks library (something I’m crap at staying on top of), and I’ll publish that too on here.

New Blog Series

As I said earlier, I’ve really enjoyed creating my tweed comparison series of posts. That series is far from done, and it will be continuing in 2024.

I’d like to introduce a few more in 2024 too:

  • Monday Blues will be a comparison series, where I compare bluesbreaker-circuit pedals (and some others too!) against my Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal. Right now, Marshall Bluesbreaker + Les Paul is my go-to rig when I want something that isn’t tweed tone. I want to properly understand what the other bluesbreaker-circuit pedals can do, and what rig(s) they fit well into.
  • Fanboy Friday will be a series where I can just gush ad nauseam over my favourite gear. I want to really get into why this gear works for me. This is inspired by my attempt to do a review of my Axe-FX 3. There are so many different reasons why the Axe-FX 3 works well for me; too many to put into a single Review-type post. I think it’ll work better if I write each reason up in its own article. I don’t want it to be a Fractal-specific series (like G66’s Fractal Friday), so I’ll be sure to cover all of my favourite gear.
  • My Experience With will be a series where I talk about my personal experience with guitar and gear brands. The idea here is to capture the advice that I’d give someone if they asked me “should I buy from X brand?” This has grown out of the post I’ve been drafting about my PRS Paul’s Guitar. There’s some things I want to share about PRS the company that didn’t fit well into that particular review. I think it’s a topic that needs its own space in order to be easier to write about, and to be more helpful to my readers.

If circumstances allow (and right now, that’s looking like a big if, to be honest), I’d also love to do a Plexi Tone series, where I look at how plexi-tone / Marshall-in-a-Box (MIAB for short) pedals compare to the real amps. That’s something that I’d really enjoy, and something that I’d learn a lot from. But it might need to wait until 2025.

A Bit More Of What I Already Do

There’s a couple of things that I want to get back to doing in 2024.

  • I’ve been absolutely terrible at sharing what music I’m listening to / being inspired by. (The last time I did this was back in 2018!!) I also need to make more of an effort to seek out new (to me) music, so that I’m not just listening to the exact same stuff week after week. If I manage to do this, it’ll appear under the Listen To This category on the blog.
  • #CoffeeAndKlon has been sorely neglected in 2023 [and in 2022, and in 2021 … – Ed]. I just haven’t returned to this since I stopped live-tweeting them back in the day. I’m not returning to live-tweeting, but I do want to share my personal thoughts and opinions on a few topics. Oh, and I’m sure a deep dive into what different klone pedals offer is long overdue too.

Less New (To Me) Gear, Revisit More Gear Instead

Regular readers may have noticed that I’ve been writing fewer New Arrivals posts in 2023, and that those posts have gotten shorter and shorter. I’m expecting that trend to continue in 2024.

I prefer to buy second-hand gear wherever possible. Unfortunately, over the last couple of years, I’ve been struggling to find second-hand gear that’s interesting (to me), and to buy that gear at a price that works for me. As we get to the end of the year, I haven’t seen any signs that this trend in the UK is going to reverse any time soon.

So instead, I’ll probably go back over the old New Arrival posts, and start writing up all the missing First Impressions posts. There’s also some older pedals that I’ve never heard through the Axe-FX 3. I’d like to revisit those, and see how I feel about them now.

Should I Post More Industry News / Product Announcements?

Right back at the very beginning of this blog, I used to write posts that shared product announcement videos off YouTube. That stopped after a few months, when I got my Marshall Origin 20H and started writing about my own experiences with gear.

Is there any interest in me starting to do that again in 2024?

I can see how that might fit in well with the newsletter, and make it more interesting for my readers.

Finally Complete The Marshall Origin Long Term Review?

I’m just throwing this in as a reminder to myself: I still need to complete my Long Term Review of my Marshall Origin amp.

Both on here and on forums, I was big on this amp when it first came out. It was one of the first truly affordable valve amps from one of the major companies, and it was also interesting because it’s not a budget version of any of Marshall’s heritage amps.

Five years on, I’ve still got my Marshall Origin 20H. It’s been replaced as my pedal platform amp (first by the Blackstar Studio 10 6L6, then by the Marshall DSL 20HR, and now by the Axe-FX 3). I want to complete the story by explaining why I’ve moved on from it.

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