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Amp Model or Tone - What's Important to You?


Power User
For as long as I've been on this forum, I've seen a lot of guys who seem to focus on the specific amp models in the Axe-Fx more than they do the tones they get out of this magic black box. I see guys trying to copy a famous guitarist's sound by using the model of the same amp the artist uses - even duplicating the knob settings in their quest to sound just like their guitar hero. Or guys who spend days/weeks/months trying to get the FrickenFracker XRM69 model in their Axe-Fx to sound just like the real FrickenFracker XRM69 they played at their buddy's house 7 years ago. (Or some YouTube video they saw once.) Or guys who are ashamed to admit they really like the HeeberJeeber models, because they play some other genre of music where HeeberJeebers are generally looked down upon. (A HeeberJeeber for death metal? Ha!)

Personally, I don't have a ton of experience with all the various real-world tube amps, especially the esoteric boutique amps. I grew up with a Fender Deluxe Reverb and a Music Man 65 watt 210 combo running into a Music Man 412 cab. I did use a Marshall once in the studio 30 years ago, but for the most part I'm inexperienced when it comes to the differences between the various amps (and therefore models). I play in a cover band, and I try to get tones that resemble the tones on the recordings of the songs we cover. Not necessarily match exactly, but at least capture the feel. When I'm creating a new preset, I'll start with a general idea of what I want (clean, crunchy, open back combo, closed cab, etc., but I don't pay any attention to what amps, speakers, or specific effect boxes the original artist used. I just click through the list of applicable amp and cab models until I find something that comes close to the sound I'm looking for. Then I'll tweak the basic controls until I'm happy with the sound. And if I can't find the sound I'm looking for after 5 or 10 minutes, I'll move on to another amp or cab. Sometimes I'll be an amp for one style that generally isn't used for that style. (A Marshall model for twangy stuff, or a Fender model for very distorted stuff.) I'm sure my tone isn't an exact match to the recording, but I'm happy, my bandmates are happy, and the audience seems to be happy. (I get compliments on my tone at virtually every show.) I don't pick an amp model just so I can tell my friends "On that song I use a model of super-rare Glockenspieler that was once owned by Eric Johnson himself." I pick it because I like the way it sounds.

So my question...how many of you focus on the specific amp/speaker models, and stay with the same combination your heroes use come hell or high water, and now many of you are agnostic when it comes to the specific brands the models are emulating, just finding combinations of amp and IRs that sound good to you?

I'm not saying one way is more "right" than the other...different strokes for different folks and all that. Plus, how someone else approaches their tone quest really doesn't affect me one bit. (One of the beauties of the Fractal products is that they allow so many different paths to the same goals.) And I'm not trolling here, I'm just genuinely curious.

tl;dr - Are you more obsessed with the models or the tones?


Tone is way more important.
I retract all my past wishes for Fractal to add more amps (except maybe bass amps), and instead wish they'd focus on performance and new features.

I am however, guilty of pretty much always going for cabs with v30's because I like the sound pretty reliably.


The tones are the entire reason that I bought this thing, and it hasn't let me down. I've explored the models of amps I've never played through just to hear what they sound like, and had fun trying to recreate tones from artists that I know, but that hasn't been my primary aim at all. I've tried every amp in the box but haven't had time to tweak them all extensively yet, and that's fine. I've found the handful of amp models that I really like to use and it's saved me thousands of dollars and the good will of my wife and neighbors when I'm playing at home. It doesn't bother me at all if I get something that sounds Gilmour using some amp model that's not a Hi-watt, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could get a delicious ODS HRM type tone from a FAS Boost into a FAS Hot Rod amp model into a stereo cab block loaded with factory Tweed cabs (Blue and Deluxe incidentally). Who knew? I haven't found anything yet that gives me glorious cleans better than the Deluxe Verb, but I won't be disappointed if I do.



I gravitate towards the Plexi's (and all it's variants.)

I scoff at the concept of trying to match by finding the 197* version of the amp that was modded by the guy who had 2 White Russians, and spilled a bit of that on his south London germanium on the transformer...oh, while the humidity level was 49% and wind blowing from the east.

Pick an amp, spend more time picking the cab that's close. If you have to work it for more that 5 minutes, move on to another option.

The model gets me in the ballpark. I keep my mind open for things that *may* work, but in the end, I end up with variants and a few ones that are predecessors (the Bassman can ROCK if you let it...going with the Plexi theme). The SmallBox is absolutely killing it for me right now.

You really don't lose if you are obsessed with models...but as with everything, you'll have to work to get them to fit that tone in your mind. When you start to let that go, and find a few things on the fringe, you find magic...IMO.


Power User
Got a marshal 65r valve state 1x12 combo in 1997 (sold it in 2012 when I realised all I was doing was using Guitar Rig)
So I've never owned a proper amp IMO. Part of the promise of buying the Axe is that it sounds and reacts just like the real thing so it's only logical to look at what your heroes are using and go from there.

Guilty as charged though. I've spent countless hours zooming in on videos and copying settings from live performances and get IRs that match the microphone used and it's general position. It's ended in nothing but failure but that's part of the journey.

Last week I realised I've had this thing a year and everything I've made is shite. It was time to just play with good tone and stop emulating others. So I took the step of deleting all my presets (I was up to around 670 presets including the stock ones) and I deleted my IRs.
I then pulled out Yeks guide on iPad and flicked through till I saw something I was interested in then dialed a tone in based on suggested cabs and real world amp controls.

I have a new found respect for the stock cabinets.
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For me it's all about Tone. The Axe Fx II is a giant playground. I started with the factory presets, found some that were close to what was in my head and adjusted by ear until I got somewhere (I won't say "there" because it's a moving target). I read a lot on this forum, and when something I see gives me an idea, I chase it. I have also played with specific "famous" amps played by famous people... but if I can't get something satisfying pretty quick (20 min is about my limit) I drop and go on. I'm thrilled with my current tones - and so are my band mates. In any case, whatever you dial in at the home studio won't be quite the same in different venues, try taking your rig outside, or from the bedroom studio to the concrete garage to see what I mean. The brilliant thing about FAS is that whether you chase specific models or specific tones, there is something spectacular for everybody. You can get "somewhere" chasing models or chasing tones. And there's a lot of great somewheres in there.


Fractal Fanatic
For me its always been about the sounds and effects. Playing it correctly. If a song had a crazy interesting sound, that's what I wanted to emulate. Like Edge's delays, or Tom Morello's pterodactyl noises. That my clean and dirty sounds don't exactly match up, I couldn't care less. To me most distortions and cleans sound the same anyway. Also, how you play a song, with the right kind of feel and energy matters more then the correct equipment. 99.9% of any audience is not listing to how correct your guitar tone is. They will hear it if you play it wrong and even that can be forgiven if you have the right feel and energy.


Fractal Fanatic
I think they are the same. Focusing on a certain model or settings are just a means to an end which may or may not work.


Fractal Fanatic
Tone. I use the amp models to get specific tones I am going for. I have owned several Marshall amps, and love the way they play and respond, so when I am going for the Marshall sound, I don't use a Boogie, I use a Marshall. Likewise, I have owned several Boogie amps, and really like them. In fact, I just sold my last Boogie (a Lodestar Special) to one of my guitar students last year. With the Fractal, if I want the Boogie sound, I use a Boogie amp model. That is the point of playing Fractal gear. I can build virtual rigs to meet a wide variety of tones, and they all sound good. To achieve that with real tube amps would be impractical for me, as this week is the roadie's week off. He was off last week too, and he'll probably take next week off as well.


I don't give a flying fig about the model other than where it might help me narrow down the time in which it takes to target some specific tone I might be chasing.

I was never a Fender/Marshall/Boogie guy in my traditional choices, so why would I now?

There is a clear lineage and history of circuit "stealing" since the beginning of tube amp history, anyway!

For me, it is all about getting the tone in my head and how the model responds to my playing.


I want whatever gets the tone I have in my head...I don't care what the name on it is. period. AxeFx or real-world. That being said, there are brands I consistently don't vibe with at all, and that's also both real world and AxeFx.


Power User
Actual playing... then tone. Don't care what amp model it ends up being. But man that playing is 99% of it for me.. don't care how good the equipment is, etc.


Fractal Fanatic
Tone. Most of the time I'll start w/ something in the ballpark, and go from there. I'm more interested in something that sounds good than trying to totally nail a sound. Plus, if I tried to nail the tone in every song we played, I'd have 35 different presets - which makes FOH that much harder to deal with. I'd rather have fewer good tones that give a relatively consistent sound throughout the night.

OTOH, after the AFD models were released I went straight to that for Sweet Child because - well, why not? :)


Of course tone - however - I will say that if I am covering a song and really want to try and come close to the original tone of the record, one of the first things I do is to google what amps/guitars were used in the making of the record. I find that it is typically a very good starting point. Just goes to show how close this thing gets to the actual amp.


I'm good with a few amps and a bunch of cabs. I have 'my' sound .... I may be deluding myself but usually no matter what amp I'm playing I make them sound similar / close enough. Funny, I like the Fender Bassman and that was the inspiration for the JTM 45 which evolves....in the end, you can make nearly any amp get you in the ballpark


Tone all the way.
A great tone, which will always inspire your playing, is all that matters to me as far as Model vs Tone in the AxeFx....

Having said that, we are VERY fortunate to have SO many starting points(Amp Models) to seek said tone...;)


Power User
This topic is the very reason I wish the F switches on the right side of the AX8 would default to MODEL SELECT UP/DOWN - when connected to AX8-Edit.

Because FAS gear does such a great job representing real amps , and their characteristics , they respond to individual guitars differently , as they SHOULD. Thus , the need to audition 80% of the amp models each time I dial in a different guitar ; with different tone woods , or different pickups , or for a different degree of breakup , creates the burden of "mouse clicking" -VS - a "toe tap".
The same can be said for finding the right IR.
Again ; because this product is SO good , the need to continually experiment and explore different amp models and IR's ( in IMO ) will ALWAYS be a necessity.
Many times I've chosen amp models I've never heard , purely for the heavenly tone they produced with a particular guitar.
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