why do you vex me so? The very nature of gearheads is that we're never content. There are fortunately some items that fulfill their role well and so remain one of the pillars of our sound construction. For me, several of my guitars fit that role. The Les Paul, Strat, Suhr, and Jazz Bass are unlikely to ever get swapped out. They do their job as intended and they do it well. Okay, I might swap the EMGs out of the Suhr, but the guitar itself is brilliant. Most of the elements in my signal chain have also met my expectations (after much trial and error) and so the overall setup is fairly stable at this point. As my primary tone shaper, the Fractal Audio AxeFx is probably the best option for the foreseeable future.
I would never say permanent since technology continues to progress at exponential rates. The pinnacle of sound modeling five years ago now falls woefully short when compared to the AxeFx. Along those lines, my current vexation is related to speakers/cabinets. I originally was running the Axe through cheap M-Audio monitors. When I upgraded to the Atomic wedge, it was a revelation. Not long after I had purchased JBL EONs for my keyboard and other FR PA needs and before long I decided I liked the stereo FR option compared to the wedge.
My Mesa 4x12 had been gathering dust for the past few years but I kept the option open to run it as my cab with the Axe amp modeling running and the cabinet modeling bypassed. When I saw Pete Thorn's demo of the Matrix GT1000FX, I was sold on pursuing that route. I had been thinking I needed a more traditional amp/cab look/sound if I was going to play with a band. After experimenting with the Mesa 4x12, I've found that while it's possible to dial in great tones, I feel limited since I was so accustomed to running all the custom cab options with the AxeFx.
I think I've finally come full circle and I plan on selling the Mesa and embracing FRFR only. I plan on selling the Mesa, and perhaps even the JBL EONs and replacing the Mesa cab with an FRFR cab or equivalent. My vision is to have the Atomic as my smaller gig amp and the new Jet City FRFR half stack as my larger/louder venue amp. I can see myself selling the JBLs and M-Audios, and replacing them with a good set of studio monitors. The Jet City would be the more powerful large venue option, and the atomic would be for smaller venues and/or acoustic with the small Roland ac-33 for the smallest size venues.
Of course, we eventually want to build our permanent home in the next few years so I may find the JBLs will be needed if I'm going to ever host band practice or equivalent. Having a constantly shifting set of desires and needs is part of what keeps it interesting I suppose.