“A verbatim sonic-twin of Dave’s all-time favourite amplifier”: Friedman Amplification’s Vintage Collection debuts with the PLEX – a 50W tube head based on Dave Friedman’s legendary ‘68 JMP

Friedman Vintage Series Plex
(Image credit: Friedman Amplification)

Friedman Amplification has inaugurated its Vintage Collection with one of the most eagerly anticipated tube amps of recent years, the PLEX – a high-end guitar amp based on Dave Friedman’s “all-time favourite.”

Now, Friedman is one of the world’s foremost authorities on guitar amps, and so when he says he has a particular favourite – one amp to rule ‘em all and so on and so forth – that’s a pretty special amp. And he does. It’s a ’68 Marshall JMP. And the PLEX is described as its “verbatim sonic twin.”

The PLEX has been on wishlists since January, when Friedman gave visitors to the Anaheim Convention Center a sneak preview of it at NAMM 2024. And there is a lot to be excited about here if your tastes in electric guitar tones are skewed towards hot-rodded old Marshall amps.

Even if they aren’t this might be the amp to change that. It did so for Friedman, and it is an appropriate first amp for the Vintage Collection, which will be comprised of new amps inspired by the amps that inspired him – a bit like the audio engineering equivalent of the Stones covering Chuck Berry. 

A 50-watt head, with Normal and Lead channels, the PLEX presents vintage tones with some modern updates. This has internal jumpering so you can blend the sounds of both channels. Both channels have their own individual Bright switches, their own individual volume controls. Bass, Middle, Treble and Presence serve both channels.

Crank up the volume on the channels and they will respond just as their non-master volume ancestors did in the late ‘60s, but Friedman has fitted this with a post phase inverter master volume so you can get that juicy drive and feel at lower volumes – if such a thing is an issue. Though the louder this is set, the more interactive the Presence control will be in adding/subtracting that high-frequency sparkle.

The Normal channel is what you could call the “bass channel” and if you are playing a guitar with single-coils such as a Stratocaster or Tele then this will help you fatten it up a little. The Lead channel has ample gain and the Friedman manual helpfully (irresponsibly!?) suggests starting at 10. Well, why not? It is a Friday.

Elsewhere on the control panel you’ve got a pair of High or low sensitivity instrument inputs. And just take another look at the power toggle switch. This is a three-way affair, offering high and low-voltage Variac modes for that ‘Brown Sound.’ 

Around the back of the amplifier you’ll find five speaker outputs (four, eight, and 16-Ohm. There’s no footswitch, no effects loop, nothing like that because this is the Vintage Collection. Just pretend its 1969 and stick your guitar effects pedals in the front end and turn it up. 

There are, however, high-quality US-made transformers. Under the hood you’ll find a pair of EL34s in the power section and a trio of 12AX7s in the preamp. The whole thing is made in the USA and judging by the demo video it sounds exceptional. 

Priced £/$2,799, PLEX is available now. See Friedman Amplification for more details. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.