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Amp tones from the ground up

JRkelley

Inspired
I'm in the process of creating basic amp sounds to use for my main go-to presets. Essentially a few distinct Fender and Vox amps, 3-4 scenes of varying degrees of gain/breakup, and then leveled to one another as closely as possible. I know enough to be dangerous, but I haven't come across a good starting point, methodology or tutorial- anything explaining the logical order. I'm good with investing some time to accomplish this, but I feel like I'm randomly stumbling in the dark and not really learning much in the process. Any suggestions?
 

JRkelley

Inspired
Probably.

First I want to at least attempt to do this myself for a handful of tones that I know I'll use. I'm guessing that the 3rd party amp presets would be even more useful if you have experience tweaking them.

I''ll bet there is a great post or tutorial with useful info on this that I have not found yet! I'll post it back here if I find it first...
 

GreatGreen

Forum Addict
First, the best way to treat an Axe-Fx is like an encyclopedia, not a novel. You're going to want to figure out what kind of tone you're looking for first, then you'll want to start building it. What are your favorite guitar tones, who achieved them, and how did they get there? What gear and techniques did they use?

After you figure that out, the first thing you'll want to nail down are the cab IRs you really like. That will help you establish a foundation for your sound, which will help streamline the tweaking process.

From there, pick out an amp that's interesting to you and start tweaking. Start with the basic controls and if you're not happy after adjusting them, go to the more advanced tabs and keep tweaking. If you're still not satisfied, maybe pick another amp. Don't be afraid to turn those knobs as far as they can go.

So basically, in this order:

1. figure out what kind of tone you want to get
2. figure out the best Cab IRs for that sound
3. Pick an Amp (or Amp + Drive block combo if needed) and tweak the basic knobs until it sounds good.
4. Adjust advanced Amp parameters if necessary (it's usually not but it can help really fine tune a sound if you know what you're doing)
5. add effects and stuff at this stage if you want
 
Every 3rd party pack I purchased needed tweaking, because my guitar was different, different pickups, different amps and speakers, etc..
So I create my presets from scratch.
Start by figuring out what tone you are looking for.
I start with a similar amp for the tone I'm want to achieve. Then I pick a cab. I make my adjustments and get that simple setup sounding the way I want it. From there I add my effects, WAH, compression, etc.
You could also sample the factory presets and when you find one in your area of tone requirements, tweak EQ and effects from there.
But again, don't hesitate to ask the Fractal Audio AXE FX community.
 
I'm in the process of creating basic amp sounds to use for my main go-to presets. Essentially a few distinct Fender and Vox amps, 3-4 scenes of varying degrees of gain/breakup, and then leveled to one another as closely as possible. I know enough to be dangerous, but I haven't come across a good starting point, methodology or tutorial- anything explaining the logical order. I'm good with investing some time to accomplish this, but I feel like I'm randomly stumbling in the dark and not really learning much in the process. Any suggestions?

Sounds like you may be interested in
The Complete Axe-Fx III Master Class with Cooper Carter
(Guess I cant post a link yet) Hearing good things about it and thinking about buying...
 

Rex

Legend!
This is what works for me:

1) Pick an Amp that's suitable for the kind of tone you're looking for. Dial it in for the amount of gain you want. Don't worry about much else at this point.

2) Find some likely candidates for cabs to suit the tone you're looking for. Try each of them until you find the one that most closely fits that sound.

3) Go back to the Amp block and finish dialing in with the tone and gain knobs.
 

phil92

Inspired
This is what works for me:

1) Pick an Amp that's suitable for the kind of tone you're looking for. Dial it in for the amount of gain you want. Don't worry about much else at this point.

2) Find some likely candidates for cabs to suit the tone you're looking for. Try each of them until you find the one that most closely fits that sound.

3) Go back to the Amp block and finish dialing in with the tone and gain knobs.
exactly! Since the IR (or combination of IRs) are responsible for so much of the final tone (I'd say as much as 60%), I start with an amp either at default settings or at settings that I know reliably work in the real world, then go cab hunting. Either with the looper, or just playing, nudging to the IR up and down using the arrow keys (axe edit). Once I'm pretty happy, I'll go back to the amp and fine tune.

I will however, depending on the type of tone, add a reverb block before to add some kind of room feeling.

Other effects are added after I'm happy with the base tone.
 
When identifying the various "components" to the amp tone I'm after, I find it very useful to use Yek's guide for a brilliant overview of the amp, with recommended cabs etc. I then search further on the web to find out more. The following website (for example) is really helpful when dialling in the Fenders:

http://www.thevintagesound.com/ffg/

For Marshalls I tend to use a few books I have such as "The History of Marshall" etc. The more you can educate yourself about the amp and what speakers they were intended to be used with the better. I also agree that working out your favourite IR's as a reference point is critical but also challenging to do in my experience (amongst thousands there must be just 1, or 2 or 3......!). I have nailed down my favourite 4x12 Greenbacks and 4x12 Mesa/High Gain cabs which suit a tone of Axe amps. I've also got some go to 1x12's for the Fender combo stuff.

I purchased some 3rd party preset packs when I had the Axe Fx 2 which are all but useless now I have the 3 so this time around I have held off and backed myself in to build my own. Watching Leon and Burg's Youtube channels is a goldmine and they have both given me gold nuggets I continue to apply. The free presets they upload to AxeChange are brilliant not only for what they are but for discovering how they are made.

Building amps on Axe FX is just so much fun! There is an art to building a preset and we are all capable of learning how. You just gotta dig deep and keep digging.
 

JRkelley

Inspired
There is also the strategy of set the amp controls where you know they should be in the ballpark, then in the cab picker, pin it, and use the arrow buttons to scroll through cabs until you hear what you are after. The Andy Wood method apparently.
Interesting, I'll look into how to do that. Picking a cab seems pretty daunting with all of the options. Frankly I don't get it. With 2000+ available, how is possible to assess that none of these are quite good enough, and you would need to purchase more from a third party? This was one of my concerns moving into the Fractal world.
 

phil92

Inspired
Interesting, I'll look into how to do that. Picking a cab seems pretty daunting with all of the options. Frankly I don't get it. With 2000+ available, how is possible to assess that none of these are quite good enough, and you would need to purchase more from a third party? This was one of my concerns moving into the Fractal world.
yes, it seems like quite a lot at first, but it isn't 2000 cabs really, but 2000+ IRs. Most cabs have 8-14 IRs shot with different microphones in different locations.

Most of the time you should be able to narrow it down to the type of cab and/or speaker and then it's just a matter of finding the right IR in that range of cabs.
 

Kamil Kisiel

Veteran
Yeah, I'll usually filter it down to a term like "4x12", then maybe seek out a specific range within that that I know has the sound I'm going for (eg: Mesa). Then I just select the first one and blindly scroll through them until it sounds good.
 

Milchek

New here
Thanks, this was really handy. I had no idea about the fact high gains sound better at lower levels:

"Master at 7.02 on the Recto model is WAY too high and will sound muddy. You should be around 3-4, maybe less. The reason the highs sound rolled off is because the Master is too high. As you increase the Master the highs get muffled. 7.02 for the Recto Master is ridiculous and will sound like crap."
 

Matt_B_77

Forum Addict
Thanks, this was really handy. I had no idea about the fact high gains sound better at lower levels:

"Master at 7.02 on the Recto model is WAY too high and will sound muddy. You should be around 3-4, maybe less. The reason the highs sound rolled off is because the Master is too high. As you increase the Master the highs get muffled. 7.02 for the Recto Master is ridiculous and will sound like crap."
That's not inherently true as different amps react differently based upon their design. Sometimes you want to crank the master volume and sometimes you don't. It comes down to knowing something about the amp and how it works and getting out of the mindset that cranking everything to 11 is required.

Also, I'd be careful about using the term "level" when dealing with amps and the Axe FX. You can crank the master volume of the amp to get the tone and gain you want then adjust how loud it is (its level). It's like having an amp and mic'd cab in a another room and adjusting its level at the mixer.
 

Rex

Legend!
Thanks, this was really handy. I had no idea about the fact high gains sound better at lower levels:

"Master at 7.02 on the Recto model is WAY too high and will sound muddy. You should be around 3-4, maybe less. The reason the highs sound rolled off is because the Master is too high. As you increase the Master the highs get muffled. 7.02 for the Recto Master is ridiculous and will sound like crap."
“Just enough” distortion at low volume can turn into “too much” distortion at high volume.
 
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