Nothing can be more special than hearing your precious tone.
But your pedals shouldn’t just run on any amp.
Read more to look at some of the best pedal platform amplifiers.
Almost everyone in the guitar community is well aware of gear acquisition syndrome or GAS. It’s a “condition” in which players are tempted to purchase gear so that they may be able to chase their tone.
Because of this, guitarists from all walks of skill levels and experience invest in what are called effects pedals – individual stompboxes or multi-effects units capable of producing unique and distinct sounds.
Usually, these units or pedals can be responsible for producing an artist’s signature sound and tone. Take John Mayer of Stevie Ray Vaughan for example. They are renowned for their signature single-coil tone, made responsible by an Ibanez Tubescreamer – an overdrive popular among guitarists for its mid-hump characteristics.
Another guitarist that relies on a specific pedal to produce his signature sound is the sonic architect from the band U2 – The Edge.
The Edge heavily relies on a delay pedal to produce pristine repeats on his notes. He also uses several overdrive or distortion pedals to add grit and presence to his sounds.
For our last example, Jimi Hendrix. He is globally known to incorporate fuzz pedals and wah-wah into his performances. The result? A gritty and flowy tone!
Now, all of this would be possible, thanks to an artist’s skill and talent! But one can’t simply disregard the factor of having effects pedals and good quality amplifiers to your favorite player’s tone.
Boost pedals or treble boosters, and even a fuzz pedal are commonly used at the preamp stage of amplification. If you’re a pedal fanatic, then classic tones are highly achievable through a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe or a VOX classic, right?
But pedals have always been there to help you with your tone stack, regardless of if you use a tube amp or valve amps.
If you’re new to the concept of amplification, then this feature can help you out!’
You may already be in the process of building your own rig of guitar pedals. Good for you! A pedalboard makes half of the tone chasing process easy.
But if you’re really into making the most out of your current set of pedals, then you need a good pedal platform amp.
Now, we know that choosing between thousands of options on the market can be daunting. That’s why in this feature, we will be walking you through some of the best pedal platform amps available on the market today.
What Are Pedal Platform Guitar Amps?
Simply put, pedal platform amps have a tendency to respond well when pedals are placed in front of them.
By “in front of them”, we mean going straight into amps while plugging in your effects pedals.
Now some experienced players will talk about how there is little to no difference between the amps, but there are still some who prefer to play with pedal-friendly amplification.
Take this case for example:
You have a 30-watt Fender amp, a Klon Centaur, and ProCo RAT – both respected pedals – and a Gibson Les Paul.
When you’re using good pedal platform amps, then chances are the natural tones from your pedals will be heard clearly and at a much higher headroom compared to when you plug into any usual amps.
Now I can almost hear you thinking, “Aren’t all amplifiers built the same?”
“Don’t all amps produce a similar sound?”
The simplest answer is no.
But there’s no need to worry!
You’re still able to carve your desired guitar tone from the pedals you’ve invested in. The secret is knowing what pedal platform guitar amp to look for!
When I use a good pedal platform amplifier, I look for the clarity of the notes whenever I engage an overdrive or a distortion. It shouldn’t muddy up your tone that much, and should still preserve how your guitar pedals sound. This is where an effects loop comes in. Effects loop help preserve your tone when plugging in pedals like a spring reverb or a clean sound pedal into a solid state amp or any other amps. The effects loop helps preserve your precious tone!
We’ve put together some of the things you’d want to look for when opting to buy a new (or your next) pedal platform amp.
Let’s get right into it!
Buying Guide (Best Pedal Platform Amp)
As always, the first thing you’d always want to consider when looking for the perfect amp is your budget. Some units and models can be expensive than others, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best one for you. Identifying and figuring out what you need in an amp first can save you headaches in the future.
Before you go all crazy knowing whether or not to pick tube amps, solid state amps, and all of that good stuff, one of the most important things you should always consider when choosing a pedal platform amp is the number of watts you are looking for. Most guitar players opt for amps with high wattage. High wattage amps allow them to produce more volume (or headroom) and power. This makes the high wattage amp perfect for any live gig setup, as you may need to rely on that extra power to be heard across the venue! High headroom amps with a boost channel can work best in a front of house PA. Two rock amps can also do the trick! You can always mess around with two different speaker cabs.
Of course, another thing you should consider is the amp having a built-in effects loop.
Imagine having dirt pedals (the Klon and the RAT stompboxes we were talking about earlier). You have them first on your signal chain (or the layout or arrangement in which your pedalboard is organized and plugged). Like any gear geek, you’ll also have your modulation and time-based effects, like a chorus, a tremolo, reverb, and delay.
When you run all of these stompboxes into the front of an amp and let’s say you engage both the drive and the delay at the same time, chances are your guitar signal can be muddy.
This is where the effects loop from pedal platforms comes in – it allows you to connect your modulation and time-based effects separately, through what is called a “send and return” function for a richer sound. Your dirt and gain pedals (and other dynamic pedals) remain connected to the front of the amp (or your amp’s normal input). By doing so, you are able to retain the clarity and repeats of your modulation and delays while still maintaining your pure drive tone. So always be on the lookout for amps with an effects loop. It could be stereo effects loop or the usual ones.
Lastly, you should always look for a good, balanced clean tone whenever looking for a pedal platform amp.
Most guitarists who have invested in good-quality pedals usually rely on their amplifiers’ clean sound to boost or amplify the existing tones that they get from the pedals. Think of the amplifier as some sort of canvas for the musician to paint his tone.
Although there are still some players who use dirt or overdrive pedals as a boost to already cranked-up guitar amps, it’s still a good idea to have an already decent sound when the clean channel from the amp is being used.
With all that out of the way, let’s get right into our list of the best pedal platform amps!
VOX AC30 (Friend of Guitar Pedals)
If you’re the sort of player who’s into those chimey and sparkly treble tones from clean guitar amps, then the AC30 is definitely something you might want to check out.
This offering from VOX is known to pair well with vintage-style pedals, producing a natural sound. It boasts classic circuits, all while having 2 channels with independent volume controls. The effects loop offers true-bypass and can handle most modern effects units to date.
The AC30 also incorporates some of the most popular effects onboard with it. It offers reverb and tremolo, all of which are controllable via dedicated knobs or a footswitch. Vox also offers the AC30 in either 12″ Celestion Greenback or Alnico Blue Speakers.
Some notable users of the AC30 are Slash, Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain, Eric Clapton, Billie Joe Armstrong, John Lennon, Keith Richards, and Brian May.
Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb
Arguably one of the most sought-after amps in terms of chasing that clean tone, the Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb makes it to number 2 in our roundup.
Boasting 22 watts of tube-driven tone, the ’65 Deluxe Reverb offers clean amp power to pedal aficionados.
The Deluxe Reverb series is known to offer some of the best clean signals in the amplifier world. They have often been cloned by makers and builders and have even been incorporated into several guitar pedals.
With black vinyl and a silver grille cloth making up its aesthetics, the vintage look of this amp is preserved – a feature that appeals to most guitarists.
Thanks to a pair of 6V6 Groove Tubes output tubes, one 5AR4 rectifier tube, four 12AX7 preamp tubes, two 12AT7 tubes, and one 12″ 8-ohm Jensen C-12K speaker, the ’65 Deluxe Reverb is a versatile choice for a jack-of-all-trades type of guitarist. To top it all off, it has tube-driven spring reverb and vibrato.
Some famous users are John Mayer, Chris Shiflett, and St. Vincent.
Roland Jazz Chorus-JC 40
Coming in at number 3 is a 40-watt offering from Roland.
The Jazz Chorus-JC 40 is Roland’s smaller solid-state offering, considering their JC-120 can be a bit too much for the average bedroom-studio-gigging musician. If you’re the type of artist who plays locally from venue to venue and you prefer to have a portable amp to rely on, this can be for you.
The JC 40 offers stereo inputs and outputs, and yes – it has an effects loop for all your pedal nerds!
It has built-in reverb, chorus, and vibrato, perfect for adding movement and character to your clean tones. Pair it with a distortion or overdrive pedal and it’ll give you enough dirt to stomp into some songs by Nirvana or Foo Fighters.
For extra tone shaping function, it also houses a three-band equalizer, being bass, middle, and treble.
Cory Wong is known to use a Jazz Chorus JC40.
PRS Sonzera 20
Making its way to number four in our roundup is a versatile offering from PRS.
Thanks to its 12″ Celestion V-Type speaker, the Sonzera 20 is known to balance the best of both worlds – chime and crunch. It boasts 2 channels capable of being toggled via an external footswitch.
In terms of sound, the Sonzera 20 balances the frequencies well without being too muddy – perfect for the blues all the way to the metal aficionado. And don’t let the 20 watts fool you – this amp can muster up tones to fill up a small venue.
But what makes this amp shine is its clean channel – providing a clean output for all your dirt, modulation, and delay needs.
It also has built-in reverb, with separate channels for dialing in gain and dirt.
The Sonzera also boasts speaker jacks and an effects loop for making the most of your board.
Wrapping up our list is one of the most iconic British amps in our roundup.
The Marshall JTM45 easily made its way into the rig of tone masters like Jimi Hendrix, John Frusciante, Angus Young, Joe Bonamassa, and Robben Ford.
Being known as the first guitar amplifier made by Marshall, the JTM45 first made its presence known in 1963. This model is also favored by musicians that play rock and blues, but can still cross certain territories like metal or hard rock. It has warm bass, smooth mids, and highs, and is capable of producing enough headroom for pedals.
If sustain and compression are your things, the JM45’s GZ34 tube rectifier should have you covered.
This powerful amp reissue boasts 30 watts in two channels, a 3-band equalizer, mid control, and high treble control. In terms of sound and tone shaping, the JTM45 can cover more than enough of your recording and live gig needs. Marshall amps has you covered.
The Wrap Up (Pedal Platform Amps)
For players and modern guitarists looking to squeeze all the tones they can from their pedalboard build into a studio line, then a pedal platform amp (solid state amps, tube or power amp) can be just the solution – just crank up the master volume. However, there are numerous things you always have to consider – and it may not always be the right amp (or a new Fender Hot Rod).
For starters, generally speaking, it may help to envision what sonic qualities and sound you really want to produce. You can use humbukcers or single coil guitars Once you have a clear tone in mind, exploring a few pedals, amp models, and guitar pickup configurations should help you figure out just that. Think of your favorite drive pedals, delay units, all of that good stuff.
Remember that the guitar amp can either be just a source of sound – or a source of tone in itself. You can always mess around with the clean and dirt channel of the amp. Just be sure to have fun when you explore your tones from your new good pedal platform amp!