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Another NOOB in the DC area

Good story?

  • Total voters

David Howard

New Member
Hello I am David, owner of an AXE-FX Std as of 10-2016.

Glad to be here and meet everyone. I figured I would share my story about how I acquired this unit and the uncommon things that happened. I would think most people place an order, wait a few days, and receive their system. Then they unbox and start to use it. Well, my story is quite different, from the price I paid, to the lengths I had to go through to actually have the unit in my hands, to finding my unit was not working and having to repair it myself before I played my first patch. This is my story I will share with everyone if you care to read on...

It starts out with eBay. The cheapest unit I see listed was a standard AXE-FX being sold out of Canada. Other than the seller's low feedback of 54, it seemed like a this would be the best chance I would have to get a FX for less than $500. All the other Standards I saw were fetching $600+, but this guy started his auction for $380. What he also bundled with his was a FCB1010 MIDI foot controller. The way he listed it, it looked like he was selling the controller as the main item, with an AXE-FX as an add-on item. Why does this matter? When I searched for AXE-FX and Fractal items, his listing did not come up. When I searched for a FCB it did. So, this guy had low hits, and after a week, nobody bid on his item except me for $380.

At this point, I contacted the seller directly and said I wanted his item badly, and I would buy it for sure the following week once I got paid (I did not have the money at the time). I asked that he take his auction down, and I would buy it and pay in full in 7 days. He agreed, took the item down, and was very excited to be getting an FX. I told all of my friends, everyone I knew. I emailed sound clips to everyone; and went around my office directing everyone to YouTube to watch the clips. One of my favorites was the YouTube user who does "A History of Rock" on his FX standard. The video starts with guitar pieces from the 1940's and progresses to the early 1970's (in his 1st video, the series continues to present-day).

I guess I was so excited I forgot to brush my teeth? Why does this matter to my FX story? The very next day, I woke in the middle of the night with an unbearable toothache. First thing in the morning I went to my Dentist. She sent me to a surgeon for an emergency root canal. I could not afford $380 2 days ago, and with the co-pays, this was threatening my FX purchase. Root canal needed a follow-up 2 days later because he could not find all of my root. Also an out-of-pocket ultrasound to help him find where my root was cost an additional $325. After he fixed my tooth my wallet was $580 lighter. I did an IOU till Friday, which he was reluctant to do. I also learned our "new plan" sucks. After all, the visits cost me about $1k out-of-pocket.

Payday came, YAY! After bills, I was going to be short for the FX, which came to $450 with Canadian shipping. I went to my old source for money, Craigslist! I found things to sell, and priced them to move FAST! I contacted my eBay seller, and was ready to go! But wait, there's more...

I was the only bidder, and the seller ended the auction 1 day early. I assumed I was going to buy the FX for my bid price of $380. The seller assumed I was going to pay BIN price of $700. I barely had the $380+ship, so this was not going to work. I begged the seller, but he wanted his BIN price. I had cash in hand, but he was not moving! I thought, why not be honest with him? I took my dental bills, and explained my story to him, and sent him proof of everything. I even showed him the IOU I had to do with the surgeon because I could not even afford to pay him at the time of service.

YAY Canadians! While the seller never said OK, I got an email saying my Paypal invoice price had been adjusted! He took pity on me and honored my bid price! So, think this story is over? Not even close...

He was a nice guy, buy not the best communicator. Not a total mute, but he was a man of few words/emails. A few days go by, no tracking number, and no comms. Technically, this was not an auction. He ended the auction early, and never actually sold me the item through eBay. He just sent me a PP invoice, which was not tied to the auction in any way. Of course, desperate for the FX, I paid it. I did not want him to change his mind and re-list the item. So, with little to no options, I paid and hoped for the best. Luckily, 4 days later, he says he is ready to ship, and the following day I got a Canada Post tracking number. Online, the tracking checked out, he just took a few days to get around to shipping, no harm, no foul.

So, about 10 days later, a big box arrived in our shipping dept addressed to me, and it was marked Canada Post. SUCCESS!!! And wow, this box was huge. I thought the AXE-FX was a 2 rack unit item, and the FCB controller was not that much bigger than my Line6 Shortboard? The box was the size of a guitar case, and heavy? So, I took the box back to my desk and opened it. As I took the contents out of the box, it actually was a guitar case and a nice one at that. I thought "wow, he used a guitar case to protect the AXE-FX, how nice of him, and I get to keep the case too?". Well, once completely out of the box, I open the case to find a NEW condition Carvin DC747 7-string guitar? Um, why do I have this? Is another box coming? For a moment, I thought maybe the guy wanted to unload this guitar, and while he did not want to totally rip me off, he sent me an item worth about $400. That way, I cannot claim I got totally ripped off, and I would have to contest the entire thing with him to get my money back. Man, that would suck! I called my local guitar pawn store (we have one of those in DC, a MUSIC INSTRUMENT ONLY pawn shop) to see what I could get for this guitar, which was about $350 cash, or $375 in trade. If I did this, I would lose about $75 in the end, but still no AXE-FX, which is what started the whole scenario...

So, I emailed the nice-yet-tight-lipped Canadian to ask what happened? I was relieved to hear that there was a mixup, and the Canada post shipped me some other guys guitar, both originating from the same seller. Now, I am tapped out, so no money for shipping anything back. Also, I again do not want him to change his mind either. He seemed pissed from his emails, not with me, but with the Canada Post folks. I asked where my AXE-FX went, and I was sad to hear "RUSSIA". PHUCK!!! this totally sucks, I am never going to get an AXE-FX now. However, there was a stroke of luck here. I remembered the seller auction's said Canada and US shipping only, so how could my AXE-FX be going to RUSSIA? Simple: the Russian used a FREIGHT-FORWARDER. For those that do not know or understand this term, people in Russian, Europe, and all over the world use special companies with US addresses so they can buy US eBay auctions, and then have their items shipped to these US-based warehouses who in turn FORWARD their items overseas. Kind of like Mailboxes ETC. for 3rd world countries. Having dealt with these types of companies before, I know one thing about them: THEY are extremely slow to forward. Partly because of the paperwork and customs, I knew the item would not be on the boat yet, and I had time to get this fixed. I emailed the Canadian and asked for the name and phone number of the forwarder, and explained that he would have to call them first and explain what happened, then I would call next and arrange the exchange of packages. This went down extremely easy, and the forwarder was ready to do the swap once they had the 7 string. Same problem again: I have no money to ship this, and I do not want to upset the seller. So, again, a stroke of luck! Being in DC, and going to Russia, Mr. Dimitri used a New Jersey-based forwarder. The address was a 3-4 hour drive from me! I also drive a Prius, so driving is very cheap for me (9 gallons for about 500 miles). At this point, my AXE-FX was 199 miles away from me, and all I had to do was go swap the 7-string for it!

Other issues:
#1) Prius has over 200k of miles. I am not comfortable driving outside of the DC area due to the chance of a mechanical problem. Oh yeah, my engine light has been on for awhile now.

#2) The wife has no knowledge of any of this. She knows what a guitar pedal/effects are and if she heard I was going to spend $400 on an effect she would not be happy.

It is time to take some risks and drive to NJ and swap these so I can enjoy my AXE-FX! I plan to go on Friday, the forward is open 9-5, with limited hours and staff on Saturday. They said no Saturday for a swap like this, so Friday it was going to be. Also, I get paid at midnight Friday, so I would have money to make the trip and pay the tolls. For those that do not know, the tolls between DC and NYC (the part of Jersey the forwarder is located is basically on the NYC border) are about $50, each way! I also explained this to Canada and being a super-nice guy, he Paypal'ed me $100 for gas and tolls, so I was ready to ROCK! the only problem at this point is the wife... what to do? I used the excuse that I had to go in early, which would work because she sleeps in on Fridays and does not start her work until 9am anyway. She would not know if I left at 4am, 5am, or 7am. so, 4am it was and I set my alarm and slept in my clothes to save time in the morning. I had to make stops for gas, 7-11 items to eat and drink on the way. I also had to get the guitar from my work (I would not dare bring it home and risk her seeing it, then having to explain what was going on). All being said and done, I was on the road with everything in hand by 0500 with an ETA of 0830 to NJ.

So, that is my AXE-FX story. When I talk to my friends, I can say that my experience to get a Fractal Audio system was a little more than clicking the BUY-IN-NOW button online :)

Last edited:

David Howard

New Member
I ran out of room on the original post, but the seller most likely sold it cheap because of the main pot, the VALUE one, was horribly dirty to the point it was almost not usable.

I used contact cleaner from the outside, and it fixed it some. In the end, I had to take the entire front panel part off and squirt a ton of cleaner inside and twist a bunch until it was clean. Once it cleaned up it works perfectly.

Anyone else had this issue? I was thinking of making a guide/tutorial on how to do it. I labeled the wires/plugs inside so I knew which order to put them back, if I did not do this, it would have been much harder.

I am excited to try the PC software and see how much easier it makes it for making patches.

How many active users of Standards or Ultra's are on the forum on a regular basis?

Thanks for my 1st reply :)



Fractal Fanatic
Be honest with your wife, she will find out. for all that trouble it may have been cheaper to order a new one from Fractal. I have an ultra, for me the editor was not its strong point. the editor was great but keeping it connected, well that's another thing.

David Howard

New Member

I just got AXE-EDIT working. What is this about keeping it connected? I have to admit:

I am an IT Engineer with over 20 years in the industry, and I spent a good chunk of that doing Windows/MAC and server support. Installing Operating Systems for me is as easy as taking a pee for you, really. No really, I started back in the MS-DOS 2.0 days, BEFORE we had hard drives and it was all done from floppies.

So, I have experience with USB-MIDI adapters. All the Line6 stuff DEMANDS the M-AUDIO UNO adapter, while I personally prefer the Roland UM-ONE. However, both are equally good USB-MIDI adapters. The $5 Chinese knock-off works too (not tried with my AXE), but not for everything, they are basically good for E-Drums and not much else. (this has to do with the way their hardware uses its buffers, which causes time-outs for SOME devices).

So, 1st try with the Roland UM-ONE, AXE-EDIT found it immediately, and I started editing my patches. I am now downloading all the patches and backing them up. Shame, I should have done this first and got all the edits from the previous owner, but from what I can tell he did not use it much and got the POT so dirty he probably did not use it for the last 6 months+.

I did this on my Music-PC which sports a QUO motherboard, so I have 5 hard drives that I can boot any OS from XP to Windows 10, and OSX 10.5 up to El Capitan. (Google QUO motherboard if you have an interest). So, what is the problem with staying connected? Is this going to get worse? What should I be looking for in the way of errors?

I have a hunch, maybe even 50%, that the connection problems might have been people not knowing their software, having messed up PC's with malware infected OSes, and bad hardware that people neglected to replace. Or, am I just lucky it all worked right away? I am curious, and if I can help troubleshoot issues with the editor, consider me at your service. I use a program called "Teamviewer" to do remote troubleshooting, we use it at my work and it works flawlessly, even for fixing your Aunt's PC in Nebraska :)

Thanks for the replies (if I get anymore?).

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