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Any advice for a newbi on playing live

I am a newbie and am following alot of threads regarding people playing the AXE-FX by itself isolated in a room. When I do that ...so far...this thing makes me sound better than I actually am.

I would be curious as to how things changed for any of you cover band guys when you tired to apply your patches "live' with a band...in a big noisy club.

What I got out of the way the AXE was marketed is very similar to how BOSE is marketing their stuff, in that what we are after is a consistent sound everywhere, and that the “old model” of us hearing one thing standing in front of our amps, while the audience hears something, else is a flawed and obsolete thing. The audience hears drums/bass mushing together and the guitar and keyboard mushing together and this AXE + full range thing, lets you hear what everyone else is hearing,

It all seems to sound good isolated in the bedroom though. I got a $200 line6 a couple of years ago and was ready to sell all my gear. Then I played it with drums and it was so thin. Nothing like in my room. Then I got the POD HD500 and played thru studio monitors and it sounded great. Then I played a big club with a band, and had to play everything on the rhythm pickup and we pegged the mixers bass to full blast, and only then would 1 or 2 patches cut thru, as long as I articulated every note perfectly.

I hope this will not be the case with the AXE + ATOMICS, but we will see. I played thru direct rigs in the 80’s and 90’s, mostly motivated by laziness and at that time I was making a tradeoff (ADA-MP1 + quadraverb + H&K emulators) I got the AXE because it has the potential of being the direct into the PA rig that I fantasized about years ago, when I got tired of lugging my 3 channel Marshall around and futzing with all of its knobs with my back to the audience. If you are in your room, or recording or even playing a specific style of music live , you can have almost any amp, because you do not need to quickly switch sounds. It seems like the AXE has the most potential for the cover band guys, but I would love to hear how this has worked out for people or what you had to do to make it sound "right".


Fractal Fanatic
Many of the same approaches used in studio recording can work well with the Axe-Fx in a live context. Like in the studio, you will be looking to get the Axe-Fx to "sit" properly in the mix. Many players have found that this means using both Lo-Cut and Hi-Cut approaches to equalization, to define the sonic space (frequency range) that the guitar-through-Axe-Fx will inhabit.


Hey Marshall. The best advice I can give you at this point is to tweak at gig volume while accompanied by a CD for background. if you start tweaking at low volume and without any other instruments, you will likely get bummed out when you go to play live with your mates. If your tone is treble and bass heavy, it might sound great when it's just you, but when you play live you'll find that the bass guitar sucks all your low end away and the cymbals eat all your highs.

As xrist said, cutting some highs and lows make a huge difference. Once you can get a guitar tone going that cuts thru a cd, then bring it to a band practice.
For most styles of music, it's all in the miss (upper mids especially). If you're interested, let us know what style of music and what other instruments are in the band and we can give you more specialized tips.




I'm definitely no expert, but there's often a HUGE difference between recording and playing live.
What works in a studio does not always translate well on the stage - due to a host of environmental parameters that do not exist in the studio. The FM (Fletcher-Munson) effect is one of those.
As a "weekend warrior" my rig is pretty simple. OUT1 (XLR's) to FOH and OUT2 (copy Out1->Out2 "ON") to FRFR monitor on stage. I hear what goes to FOH, and can adjust monitor levels without impacting the FOH signal. Unlike many cover bands, we do NOT mix from the stage - as we believe it's important to our sound to have that controlled by someone whose focus is NOT trying to sing, play guitar and mix at the same time. YMMV.

I build my patches using near-field studio monitors, phones and FRFR at the house, over songs that we play. Volume levels don't always translate to stage volumes {FM effect}, so tweaking during rehearsals does occur. Beyond that, I do NOT tweak during a gig, as I know that FOH mix is up to soundguy.


Fractal Fanatic
It is all about tweaking. Years ago a used Dual Rec and actually got rid of it because it wasn't cutting through right and mixing well with the band. Years later I realized that although part of it was simply the way it was voiced another problem was how I set it up. I currently play in a Church who's building seats 10,000 (although average crowd size is 2-3,000 on a Sunday). We run a Piano, Keyboard, B3, Drums, Percussion, a Choir+ frontline and one of the bass players uses a 7 string. I go direct to FOH with stock amp/cab sims and I get a monitor feed back to me through a floor wedge and after some tweaking I just sit right in the mix and never get drowned out.


I'm in a similar position to you and I can tell you now, playing a patch at home is NOTHING like playing it live.
You will need to tweak and tweak and tweat and then you might just get it sounding ok. You will need to dedicate a lot of time to this unit.

I've had mine for about 5 months now and only just had the confidence to use it live at a gig, with disappointing results.(I was refining my patches during rehersals prior to the last gig.)
If you think you can simply download patches made by others and tweak them to suit then you'd be wrong. Some of these patches sound great on my near field monitors but live, they are seriously woeful. That thin POD sound you're describing is about right. Although there are pages & pages of advice and recommendations on dialling your 'killer" tone, there is no definative method or approach in achieving this, which due to the complexity, you can understand.

I took on one nice bit of advice and that is to concentrate on one amp/patch and work on it till it sounds great. After talking with a few of the regulars after my last gig, this "killer" patch I dialled up lacked the body & punch that they normally hear from our shows. It wasn't bad as such and sat well in the mix but just lacked that punch. So I'm either doing something wrong or some people on here are prone to hyperbole. :lol:

Like you, I was seduced by the notion of rolling up to gigs being able to carry all my gear in one hit! So maybe its just a matter of compromising from now on.

Either way, this unit is the pants as far as emulators go and you will get better results than from POD's etc.


I don't have the Axe, yet.... But, I noticed that when I set up some patches on my 11R at home that sound great, I have too much high end when I get it up to gig level. I thought I was setting them up with some volume, way above quiet home playing, and the patches also sound great recorded, but once I have it up to gig level it's too much treble and bass. I thought it was my cheap FRFR solution, but it's the same direct to FOH.

So, I guess what I'm saying is get your volume up loud when you dial in patches. That's one of the many reasons I want the Axe, global and parametric eq.


One thing to keep in mind when tweaking the Axe for live use is.. "Keep it simple!!!"
Start with an amp.. get it sounding they way you want it.
Then add a cab (or not).
You can stop there with many amp/cab combos, or you can add some delay, compression, a drive block or some reverb (tho' many suggest that there's plenty reverb in the average room and it's not needed).
There's lots of high quality effect blocks, so you can add what you want and pretty much get any sound you want.
Tweak and tweak. There is no ultimate recipe. It's what works for you.


My advice...

Before you head out to your next show, play your AXE FX however you'll do it live. If you're going to use a power amp and guitar cabinet, play it like this at home... LOUD. If you're going direct (FRFR), play it like this at home... LOUD. Try to get the patches that you plan to use for the show to all be (relatively) the same volume. Did I mention that you should do this LOUD? Try them at the volume that you will expect you'll set it at for the show. Go through each one & adjust each so that they're all the correct volume in relation to each other. But, you're not done, yet...

When you're there... if you have time for a sound check, have the drummer and bass player play a simple rhythm in an easy key. Play something over their jamming and quickly try each of your patches. If any seem like they're too loud compared to the others, adjust them to be a little lower and re-save them right then & there. If any are too quiet, adjust them to be a bit louder and save them. Check them again if you can to make sure that you didn't adjust any too much. The point is to make sure that you can hear each of them equally, or at appropriate levels compared to each other over the rhythm section. It never fails (after initially setting up new patches) that once you're loud & live on stage - your sounds aren't as balanced as you thought they were at home.

Another way that I've accomplished this is by playing a CD or MP3 of a song with drums, bass, and another instrument (a guitar, piano, etc.) through the same sound system with my Axe Fx and cranking it loudly. If my patches cut through that the same way as I step through them all, they usually cut through the band mix live the same way, too. In fact, I've used rhytm section tracks that I've made myself and sometimes mix in another guitar. Failing that, any decently mixed recorded song played back loudly with you should do the trick.

Good luck and have fun. Don't stress out and just play.


I have found when playing live I usually need to cut the lows way down, bump the mids and drop the highs on the Global EQ.


Power User
There's no magic bullet when it comes to playing live vs. recording/studio. It's all about dynamics, the hands, and eq. If everything is loud all the time, then there's no opportunity to sound/feel different. If you listen to any of the great recording/live performance bands (Zepp, Santana, etc.) they are full of dynamics and tonal shifts. The Axe-FX is totally capable of this. The "feel" is in the ears and in the dynamics/eq.


favance said:
There's no magic bullet when it comes to playing live vs. recording/studio. It's all about dynamics, the hands, and eq. If everything is loud all the time, then there's no opportunity to sound/feel different. If you listen to any of the great recording/live performance bands (Zepp, Santana, etc.) they are full of dynamics and tonal shifts. The Axe-FX is totally capable of this. The "feel" is in the ears and in the dynamics/eq.
Understood. Obviously, you don't want "everything" to be exactly the same volume. But, you DO want to be sure that when you play live and switch to a particular patch, it's not so quiet that it can't be heard. Similarly, you also don't want to switch to a patch that's way too loud compared to everything else and to how loud it's actually supposed to be.
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