Fender or Marshall? The Best Pedal Platform Amplifier

Fender or Marshall? The Best Pedal Platform Amplifier

When most people think about pedal platform amplifiers they think of Fender.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Marshall clean tones.  The Marshall might be the most underrated clean tone of all-time.

If you are deciding between a Fender and a Marshall for running pedals into this article is for you.  I will cover this topic and question from experience owning both the Marshall DSL40CR and the Fender Blues Deluxe.

Please note: Everything “tone” is totally subjective to what you like best.  I am going to explain my preferences as heard and seen in my video below.

Marshall vs Fender - Pedal Platform Amplifier Comparison
Marshall vs Fender – A Pedal Platform Amplifier Guide

For a Tubescreamer Style Overdrive

Both the Marshall and the Fender sound great with a Tubescreamer-style overdrive. To my ear, the Fender struggled with the headroom a lot sooner than the Marshall.  I could hear more distortion at the same settings on the pedal than in the Marshall.

While the Fender amp sounded like it had more of a natural breakup, this is a sound people love. The Fender also works great with the Tubescreamer because it has a little bit more of a scooped sound when compared to the Marshalls “fat” mids.

I used the Maxon Overdrive Pro (OD-820) as the Tube Screamer pedal.  This is a great pedal and if you like the sound of it check my article about Tube Screamer pedals here.

The Bottom End

The bottom end on the Marshall stayed a light tighter.  What this means is there’s less of a distorted or “flabby” sound on the low notes.  This means you get more note definition on the bass strings when plugged into the Marshall.

Higher Gain Pedals

In terms of higher gain pedals.  The best pedal platform is the Marshall.  Something about the “niceness” of the Fender doesn’t handle the thicker, more modern tones. The Marshall DSL40CR has 2 amazing drive channels and when you use a high gain pedal it handles it beautifully.

When the Fender amplifiers get pushed too hard they start losing a lot of top end tone.  The Marshall handles the top end much better never losing it too much when pushed.  The majority of Fender amplifiers suffer from this problem.  While they are amazing pedal amps, the harder you push them the less treble you’ll have in your tone.  This is also very apparent in amplifiers like the Princeton and Fender Deluxe Reverb.

The pedal I used for the higher gain tones was the Keeley Super Phat Mod overdrive pedal.  This is a higher gain modern overdrive pedal that delivers killer tones.

Keeley Super Phat Mod

Check it out on Thomann

Transparent Overdrives for Rhythm Tones

In the video above I chose to use the SviSound OverZoid GE.  This is a very “amp-like” pedal that will give you very solid rhythm tones without transforming the tones of your amplifier. Both the Fender and the Marshall did this extremely well.

What to look for in a Pedal Platform Amplifier?

Depending on how loud an amplifier you need the rule of thumb is “clean headroom”.  What clean headroom is, is how loud the amplifier can stay clean before it gets dirty.  The cleaner and louder the amplifier is the more easily it can handle the effects pedal pushing the preamplifier.

Most gigging musicians will generally use a 30 or 40-watt amplifier.  Amplifiers at this wattage are generally loud enough for gigs at bars, clubs,  or pubs.

The Fender Twin, for example, is 100 Watts.  The reason this is such a popular amp is that the tone stays very clean even at loud volumes. This is a great pedal platform but please be warned, the amp is very heavy!

What about the Hot Rod Deluxe?

The Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is a great clean channel amplifier.  It is very similar to the Fender Blues Deluxe amplifier with more of a modern sound.  The cleans on the Hot Rod Deluxe are fantastic and work great with almost any overdrive pedal.  The Fender Hot Rod is a little bit more scooped in the mids than the Blues Deluxe but also has a big warm sound people love.

Which Amplifiers to Avoid

The Best Pedal Platform Amplifiers are generally over 30 watts RMS.  Anything under this gives you far less headroom.  This is also the case for amplifiers like the Fender Blues Junior, or VOX AC15.  I love both of those amplifiers but they have very little headroom for overdrive pedals. Sure, you could get away with them at smaller gigs but they a

Good Fender Amplifiers for Pedal Platforms

There are so many great amplifiers that work well with pedals on the market.  If you’re a Fender guy I can suggest the following depending on your needs.

  • Fender Super-Reverb
  • Fender Deluxe Reverb
  • Fender Hot Rod Deluxe/DeVille
  • Fender Blues Deluxe
  • Fender Vibrolux
  • Fender Princeton
  • Fender Super-Sonic 22/60/100

While the Fender Princeton is only rated at 15 watts. If you are looking for a good small pedal amplifier it’s a really great choice.  I would not suggest it for really loud gigs.  For home users and small cafe gigs, it would be a perfect choice.  It also has more clean headroom than other 15-watt amplifiers I have tried.

Marshall Pedal Platform Amplifiers

If you’re into the Marshall sound check these amplifiers out.

Other Amplifier Brands to Consider

  • Supro Royal Reverb
  • Supro Rhythm Master
  • Peavey Delta Blues
  • Peavey Bandit 112 (Solid State Amplifier)
  • Peavey Classic 50 4×10
  • Paul Reed Smith Sonzera
  • Yorkville Traynor YCV-50
  • Two-Rock Crystal 50
  • Musicman RD50/130

I hope this article has been helpful.  If you have any further suggestions for amplifiers that are great pedal platform amplifiers please let me know in the comments.

My suggestion is usually to buy a 30-40 watt amplifier or louder if you want to use pedals.  Higher headroom amplifiers will represent the sound of the pedal a lot more than lower watt amplifiers.  Those amplifiers under 30 watts are generally not great for high headroom clean channels.

Check out some pedal platform amplifiers out at Sweetwater

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