Awhile back, I'd put together what was at the time my ideal pedalboard. It used some sneaky wiring schemes to create three separate signal paths that could be switched between with a single button press. It was, and remains, the best way I've found to use a clean platform amp, and get the core sounds I want with minimal button pressing.

But the Tube Amp Expander has changed the calculus.

With the TAE, I don't need emulate channel switching with a clever wiring tricks. I can play the way I really want to play: Turn up a nice vintage-style tube amp until it gets a killer crunch sound, and then use the guitar volume, my picking attack, and a boost pedal to get cleaner and dirtier sounds. What the TAE adds is the ability to accomplish this at any volume level with minimal effect on tone quality. And that, among other things, makes it a game changer for me.

This has allowed me to simplify the pedalboard a lot. No more loop switchers and multiple signal paths. I have a single signal path with fewer pedals and patch cords. The TAE also provides delay and reverb, so I could get rid of those pedals too. All of that freed up some room on my board to bring back my volume pedal, which is great.

I've been playing with this setup for a few months now and every time I plug in, I'm tickled with how good it sounds, how versatile it is, and how controllable the volume is. Now, I don't have any illusions that this pedalboard configuration will last forever. I'm far too fickle for that. But I can say that this is the best I've ever sounded.