2023 Review: Pedal Platform Amps

Rather than do a ‘best of’ style post, every year I’m going to do a rundown of what amps I’m using for pedal platforms, and why.

Previous years: [2019] [2020] [2021][2022]


Pretty much everything I’ve done this year has involved my Axe-FX 3 in some way. It’s become my pedal platform amp, and continues to be the FX processor for my Tweed Deluxe amp too.

Away from pedal platform amps, I’ve had a lot of fun comparing my Tweed Deluxe to a variety of other gear (with more of that to come next year). I’ve also learned so much. I’d love to the same next year with a couple of classic Marshall amps.

The Axe-FX 3 Has Taken Over

I’ve reached the point now where I’m only using my Fractal Audio Axe-FX 3 for my pedals.

I don’t think I’ve switched on my two pedal platform value amps – the Marshall DSL 20HR and Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 – once this year. They’re both great amps, and I still recommend either of them if you’re looking for a pedal platform amp for home use.

[Update: I sold the Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 hours after this post was first published!]

It’s just that it’s far far easier to record pedals through the Axe-FX 3. I don’t have to mic up my speaker cabs. And I find it a lot easier to get good tones out of the Axe-FX 3 than I did when I was using the Two Notes products.

I’ve also started building presets for my Axe-FX to use with my other amps.

Away From Pedal Platforms

At the start of the year, I had a lot of fun combining my Synergy preamp modules with a power amp emulation preset that I built for my Axe-FX 3. I think that convinced me that I may even prefer the sound of a Bassman over a Tweed Deluxe. We’ll have to see!

I’m at the point where I’m happy with the sound that I get when I run my Tweed Deluxe amp through the Axe-FX 3. I even managed to build a preset in the Axe-FX 3 that sounds almost identical to my real amp. Since then, I’ve gone on to build a preset that gives me an idealised Tweed Deluxe amp. If I haven’t already, I’ll share that in one of my Tuesday #TweedTone articles.

The release of the Marshall JTM Studio inspired me to build a preset in my Axe-FX that chases the sound and feel of my Marshall Origin 20 amp head. The preset might just be my favourite yet for Stratocaster tones. Once I’m stopped tweaking it, I’ll get it written up and released.

(I still haven’t finished writing up the long-term review of my Marshall Origin 20 either. Maybe next year?)

I’ve still got the Vox Mini-Superbeetle and the hand-wired JTM45 clone that I never really talk about. I haven’t switched either of them at all. It’s probably time to look at moving them on.

Any Other Plans For 2024?

I still dream of buying more tweed amps. This year, I think I’ve seen all of Fender’s reissue tweed amps appear on the second-hand market at one time or another. I was sorely tempted, but I have to be honest: if my beloved Tweed Deluxe doesn’t get much use, other tweed-era amps are just going to sit there looking pretty. Especially as there’s over 300 amp models in the Axe-FX 3 to keep me entertained!

That said … back in the summer, when I was trying the Paoletti guitar, I got to spend some time with a Cornell Romany 12 … and I absolutely loved it. I am sorely tempted to get one.

Top of my list, though, isn’t an amp as such at all. Back in the 90s, I went through a period of playing Roland’s guitar synth. Now that the Boss GM-800 is out, I’d love to get one and get back to mixing the sound of electric guitar and great synth tones.

I’d also like to get a couple more real Marshall amps: a Marshall JTM Studio amp and a Marshall Vintage Studio amp. I’ve loved having my real Tweed Deluxe amp to use in comparisons with other gear. I really fancy the idea of doing the same thing with those particular Marshall amps too. We’ll see.

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