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Axe-fx vs Tube Amps... my first experience.

mortega76

Fractal Fanatic
-I posted this on Rig-Talk and I thought I would share my experience...

A big thanks to Matt (mhenson42) for inviting us over to his house... it was a pleasure meeting you and your family. Crazy thing is that his buddy (Paul) showed up and after we got to talking a bit we found out that we've jammed out with a couple of the same folks... Such a small world...

Again... big thanks to Matt for the invite... it was an eye opening experience.

I've used the Axe-fx for over 2 years and it's been my go to amp since I've gotten it... before that I had a Vetta II HD and before that I had a Marshall Valavestate 200. When I got the Axe-fx it was on 5.1x and I was not crazy about it... my band mates were telling that I should have stayed with my Vetta II HD... and at the time I completely agreed with them even though I only ever told them that I just needed some time to get acquainted with it. Well, it didn't get any better (for me) until 7.xx came out and the power amp modeling got a big boost from Cliff's voodoo magic code. 8.xx only updated the drive blocks so it didn't affect my tone... then 9.xx came out and the power amp modeling got another big update. 10.xx came out and via my headphones everything sounded soooo much better, but when I had my last practice, everything sounded so much more fizzier... not necessarily a harsh digital fizz, but just a fizz in general... I defaulted the amp parameters, lowered the gain, upped the master, upped the presence and I could not find a way to make it sound "brewtal" enough for me. That's where I'm at with the Axe-fx as of now... powered by my QSC GX5.

Matt had a great line up of amps... Bogner Ubershall, Diezel Herbert, Axe-fx Ultra, Mako Mak4, along with SLA2, Fryette 2/50/2 and the Fryette 2/90/2 and his buddy brought over a ENGL SE that he was going to re-tube for him... pretty much every piece of gear I've ever wanted to hear was there. All this gear was going to go through two awesome looking (and sounding) Mills cabs with V30/G12K-100 X-pattern.

First up was the Diezel Herbert that I've really wanted to play ever since I heard the Cancer Bat song "Hail Destroyer" and someone here on Rig Talk said they used this amp. Well, I was playing on Channel 3 (thinking this should be the best of the three) and I had a hard time trying to make it sound good... I don't have any experience with tube amps so I ask why the tone was "jumping" and why it was a bit "compressed" on the low end, maybe a bit of "pumping"... little did I know that this is exactly what tube amps do... they interact with your playing.

I stopped playing that amp because the ENGL SE was ready to be tested. Well, that amp sounded thick as fuck!!! Brewtals galore!!! He played that for a while and I was initially blown away... After he stopped playing the ENGL I asked if they could A/B it to the the Bogner Ubershall... the Bogner sounded very smooth and no where near as brewtal as the ENGL so, but together they sounded pretty good... I really didn't adjust the Ubershall all that much.

I came back to the Herbert and tried Channel 2... waaaaaay better sounding that Channel 3... much more open and tighter distortion sound.

Well, then we come to the Mako Mak4... Matt connected it to the Fryette 2/90/2 and put it on the Dorado channel... gain around 8-9 o'clock, low to around 11 o'clock, mid at noon, and high to around 2 o'clock and volume to taste. It was the best high gain distortion I have ever heard in my life. That sucker was a buffet of upper frequency goodness. I played that amp for 20 minutes straight and every so often I would pick up my jaw off the floor and tell the guys how awesome this setup sounded. For the first time I really thought of selling my rig and getting a Mako Mak4 and Fryette 2/90/2.

I then asked them to A/B the Mako to the the ENGL SE and it was no comparison... the ENGL SE had a great low end (but very round) and the mids and highs were just ok (after hearing what the Mako sounded like). Together they sounded very very good... the Mako did lack a bit in the lows so the ENGL combo was perfect. Maybe putting a PEQ in the chain would have helped. The Mako was tightest, thickest, meatiest, most brewtal tone I have ever heard... it just needs a bit more low end but damn that setup was phenomenal, I cannot stress that enough...

Finally we connected the Axe-fx with my QSC GX5 and on my best patch it sounded as if the top 25% of the high end (harmonic) juicy goodness was just gone compared to most of the amp sims I tried... we used the SLO, Recto's, Bogner's, Das Metall, and only the Peavey 5150 came close... but still it lacked the top 25% of the goodness that the Mak4-2/90/2 had. The Mako clean channel was a great sounding channel as well... the Plexi, sounded similar to an over driven Plexi amp sim from the Axe-fx without the 25% goodness.

We then disconnected the QSC and connected the SLA2 and it sounded even worse... I've always heard folks saying that it sounds great but it really sounded bad... I don't get what folks hear in the SLA2.

So if I had to rate them...

1. Mako Mak4 with the Fryette 2/90/2 (we tried it with the 2/50/2 as well but I preferred the 2/90/2)
2. This was really a toss up between the ENGL SE and the Herbert Channel 2... but I gave it to the ENGL SE
3. Herbert Channel 2...
4. Bogner Ubershall... this amp was the one I really wanted to hear and was a bit disappointed compared to the Mako.
5. Herbert Channel 3...
5. Axe-fx... this is another big disappointment... maaaaaaan... I had no idea was I was missing... I really want to buy a Fryette 2/90/2 and run it with my Axe-fx and see if I get better results than what we got at Matt's... I didn't get a chance to try any of my patches with the Fryette 2/90/2... maybe next time. I was lucky that the warden... I mean... my wife didn't get mad at me for staying so long at his pad so I didn't want to push the issue... hahahahaha

Very short review to an awesome day at Matt's house... thank you so much for inviting us into your home.

P.S. Cliff... if you are reading this... please... please... please model the Mako Mak4 Durado channel... that channel is the ultimate in metal brewtalz.

P.S.S. Two things I didn't like about the Mako were that the sucker is big (but still light) and the old school knobs... give us some chrome!!!!

P.S.S.S. Anyone from Mako want to send me a Mak4?!?!?? Please!?!!!? Pretty Please?!?!?!? ;) :D

P.S.S.S.S. Matt had some of the best beer I've ever tasted... wow. I think he said it was imported from heaven!
 

paulmapp8306

Fractal Fanatic
You see - that "top 25% of the high end (harmonic) juicy goodness" you were missing with the Axe/QSC/SLA combo? Thats what i was missing too when a/b ing my Axe/ART rig with my VHT Pitbull and a friends Orange Thunderverb.

Now - once I didtched the Art and replaced it with a VHT 2:50:2, that 25% came back :)
 

mortega76

Fractal Fanatic
I really wish I would have had more time to try out the Fryette with my Axe but... I had already been there for 6 hours!!! hahahahaha

I could not believe how much of the high end "tube" tone is just not there with my QSC or the SLA2... it literally felt like I had a high cut filter on every patch. Crazy...
 

Jay Mitchell

Fractal Fanatic
In a nutshell, this review says one thing: you never had a clear idea of what you were going for tonally, nor any idea how to achieve it. Had you had prior experience with tube amps, and had you really learned how to tweak them, you'd have been able to find what you were looking for when you first got your Axe-Fx.

Bottom line: what Cliff said. The Axe-Fx just isn't for you, IMO.
 

Scott Peterson

Global Moderator
Moderator
You bought the ultimate paint kit without first even knowing how to paint.

Own some amps, learn how and what you like. Learn the shortcomings. User your Axe-FX for effects. Then later, give it another go around.

It's like riding a mini-bike, then getting a warehouse of mechanics tools and every frame, engine, and welding setup and expecting to ride like the big dogs.

You need to know, going in, what and how you like to make your signal chain work.

I'm not condescending, I'm not ripping on you, I'm not patronizing you. I'm telling you that you have the wrong tool set for the job you need to do.
 

DieSchmalle

Inspired
mortega76 said:
I really wish I would have had more time to try out the Fryette with my Axe but... I had already been there for 6 hours!!! hahahahaha

I could not believe how much of the high end "tube" tone is just not there with my QSC or the SLA2... it literally felt like I had a high cut filter on every patch. Crazy...
Did you use poweramp sim when trying out the fryette or did you turn it off?
 

dk_ace

Experienced
Scott Peterson said:
You bought the ultimate paint kit without first even knowing how to paint.

Own some amps, learn how and what you like. Learn the shortcomings. User your Axe-FX for effects. Then later, give it another go around.

It's like riding a mini-bike, then getting a warehouse of mechanics tools and every frame, engine, and welding setup and expecting to ride like the big dogs.

You need to know, going in, what and how you like to make your signal chain work.

I'm not condescending, I'm not ripping on you, I'm not patronizing you. I'm telling you that you have the wrong tool set for the job you need to do.
As I was reading the OP, my thoughts exactly.

I have actually given this advice to a few other players who really like my tones. They were asking what I used and asked if they should get one. I told them spend a few years with tube amps, pedals, and rack gear first to hone in their ears and figure out how to get the tones they like. Without that baseline as a reference, I doubt very seriously they would get great results out of the Axe-FX. I don't think I could have.

D
 

mortega76

Fractal Fanatic
paulmapp8306 said:
You see - that "top 25% of the high end (harmonic) juicy goodness" you were missing with the Axe/QSC/SLA combo? Thats what i was missing too when a/b ing my Axe/ART rig with my VHT Pitbull and a friends Orange Thunderverb.

Now - once I didtched the Art and replaced it with a VHT 2:50:2, that 25% came back :)
That's what I'm hoping for when I can (someday soon) get a Fryette 2/90/2 or maybe another great sounding tube power amp!
biggness said:
So with all that being said, what are your plans now, as far as gear goes?
What I really would like is for Cliff to Model the Mako Mak4 Durado channel... that was the best sounding high gain channel I've ever heard... and I would love to run the Axe-fx into (possibly) a Fryette 2/90/2.
FractalAudio said:
I think you should sell it.
Cliff, you know I have love for you (and your genius) along with the Axe-fx... but this is just a childish response.

Scott Peterson said:
You bought the ultimate paint kit without first even knowing how to paint.

Own some amps, learn how and what you like. Learn the shortcomings. User your Axe-FX for effects. Then later, give it another go around.

It's like riding a mini-bike, then getting a warehouse of mechanics tools and every frame, engine, and welding setup and expecting to ride like the big dogs.

You need to know, going in, what and how you like to make your signal chain work.

I'm not condescending, I'm not ripping on you, I'm not patronizing you. I'm telling you that you have the wrong tool set for the job you need to do.
Honestly, I don't think owning a tube amp is a requirement to knowing what "good tone" is... It's kind of like saying you have to go to culinary school to known what good food is and to properly enjoy it.

In retrospect... it may have been "unfair" comparison because I was comparing the "awesomeness" (is that even a word?) that was coming out of the Mako Mak4 Durado into the Fryette 2/90/2 and I was trying to achieve "that" sound with my Axe-fx - QSC GX5 setup. That setup was close to the Deizel Herbert, Bogner Ubershall and maybe even the ENGL SE (which initially was a great sounding amp until the Mako unleashed it's fury vengeance). I also never said it was a "review"... just a comparison... But as I said before, I really wish I would have had more time to test the Axe-fx with the Fryette 2/90/2.

Just a question to whom this may concern (and I don't mean any disrespect): Have you guys ever thought that maybe you don't know what a great "brewtalz" tone might be? From the clips you guys have posted you definitely have the classic (recorded) rock and jazz tones down to a "T". But the "brewtalz"... not so much.

DieSchmalle: We didn't get a chance to use my setup with the Fryette.
 

Scott Peterson

Global Moderator
Moderator
I never said you needed to own any such and such an amp.

You are misunderstanding what is being said to you.

The Axe-FX is not like a final gourmet meal to enjoy. It's the kitchen, utensils, cookware and ingredients to CREATE the end dish. And indeed, anyone can learn cook a burger on a propane grill, but if you want to craft something extraordinary, you need to understand how, why, when, and where to put things. So, yes, you might indeed need some 'culinary' school learning before you can understand what the heck you are doing.

I don't play the 'brootalz' style, but I have engineered, mixed and mastered professionally. I can tell you coming from that side of the equation too, that so many guys try their hand without any schooling on how, why, when and where to do things recording, mixing, live sound, etc.. that 'think' they do... and fail miserably.

My point to you is get one of those amps you dig (borrow it, whatever) and learn to use it. Try it in different situations to understand what works live, in recording and so forth. You are the one posting the thread admitting you could not dial the Axe-FX within "75%" of a given amp after owning it for years. That says, honestly, that you need to learn your craft better.
 

mhenson42

Inspired
lol. on RT you were cheered for saying the tube amps won. Here you get tarred and feathered. :lol: Don't know why it has to be an either or.

Funny thing is, I hated that Mako the first day I got it. Same goes for the Axe FX. That's until I learned to tweak them just right. Next time you come over Mo, we're gonna run just the Axe through the Fryette power amps. I personally like the 2/50/2 better with the Axe vs. the 2/90/2. The 2/90 might fit your tone/style better - with the down-tuning and all.

If I only had the Axe and the 2/50/2 I'd be perfectly happy. On days when I go back an forth comparing the Axe to my amps, some days the Axe wins, some days the Amps win. On those days, I spend more time trying to tweak the Axe and generally make it bette sounding to me.

I'm gonna try to see how close the Axe can get to the Dorado channel of the Mak4.
 

GuitarDojo

Moderator
Moderator
mhenson42 said:
I personally like the 2/50/2 better with the Axe vs. the 2/90/2. The 2/90 might fit your tone/style better - with the down-tuning and all.

If I only had the Axe and the 2/50/2 I'd be perfectly happy. On days when I go back an forth comparing the Axe to my amps, some days the Axe wins, some days the Amps win. On those days, I spend more time trying to tweak the Axe and generally make it bette sounding to me.
I have a 2/50/2 and wondered about getting a 2/90/2. I gigged with the Axe-fx and a Mesa 2:100 for a year.(Genz Benz 212 Gflex)
I had a hard time choosing my VHT over the Mesa but at the time had to let one go ($$$$). "Choices" is the big factor for me but the axe-fx has been the centerpeice. Sometimes I think my "tone" is centered around my mood. ( sometimes back problems) :p
My main rig now is the Axe-fx > 2 Atomics and FBT's (still waiting to try the wedges)

What is it about the 2/50/2 that you prefer over the 2/90/2?
 

mortega76

Fractal Fanatic
Scott: Don't get me wrong... I appreciate your input in this post... I definitely need to get more high gain "tube" experience. But as it stands right now... the Axe-fx does not have a Mako Mak4 Durado equivalent. Throughout the process I was telling Matt, "Damn... all this goodness for only $1000!?!?!? Wow!!!!" I would still prefer to have a Mako Mak4 Durado (damn I need to shorten that) amp sim in the Axe-fx's arsenal.

mhenson42 said:
lol. on RT you were cheered for saying the tube amps won. Here you get tarred and feathered. :lol: Don't know why it has to be an either or.

Funny thing is, I hated that Mako the first day I got it. Same goes for the Axe FX. That's until I learned to tweak them just right. Next time you come over Mo, we're gonna run just the Axe through the Fryette power amps. I personally like the 2/50/2 better with the Axe vs. the 2/90/2. The 2/90 might fit your tone/style better - with the down-tuning and all.

If I only had the Axe and the 2/50/2 I'd be perfectly happy. On days when I go back an forth comparing the Axe to my amps, some days the Axe wins, some days the Amps win. On those days, I spend more time trying to tweak the Axe and generally make it bette sounding to me.

I'm gonna try to see how close the Axe can get to the Dorado channel of the Mak4.
Matt, I cannot stress how great of a host you were to us... thank you for inviting us into your home and allowing us to demo your gear. Can't wait to do it again!
 

mhenson42

Inspired
mortega76 said:
Scott: Don't get me wrong... I appreciate your input in this post... I definitely need to get more high gain "tube" experience. But as it stands right now... the Axe-fx does not have a Mako Mak4 Durado equivalent. Throughout the process I was telling Matt, "Damn... all this goodness for only $1000!?!?!? Wow!!!!" I would still prefer to have a Mako Mak4 Durado (damn I need to shorten that) amp sim in the Axe-fx's arsenal.

mhenson42 said:
lol. on RT you were cheered for saying the tube amps won. Here you get tarred and feathered. :lol: Don't know why it has to be an either or.

Funny thing is, I hated that Mako the first day I got it. Same goes for the Axe FX. That's until I learned to tweak them just right. Next time you come over Mo, we're gonna run just the Axe through the Fryette power amps. I personally like the 2/50/2 better with the Axe vs. the 2/90/2. The 2/90 might fit your tone/style better - with the down-tuning and all.

If I only had the Axe and the 2/50/2 I'd be perfectly happy. On days when I go back an forth comparing the Axe to my amps, some days the Axe wins, some days the Amps win. On those days, I spend more time trying to tweak the Axe and generally make it bette sounding to me.

I'm gonna try to see how close the Axe can get to the Dorado channel of the Mak4.
Matt, I cannot stress how great of a host you were to us... thank you for inviting us into your home and allowing us to demo your gear. Can't wait to do it again!

No problem. I had a great time. Too bad my friend with the SLO and the Friedman Modded Marshall couldn't make it.
 

dk_ace

Experienced
mortega76 said:
paulmapp8306 said:
You see - that "top 25% of the high end (harmonic) juicy goodness" you were missing with the Axe/QSC/SLA combo? Thats what i was missing too when a/b ing my Axe/ART rig with my VHT Pitbull and a friends Orange Thunderverb.

Now - once I didtched the Art and replaced it with a VHT 2:50:2, that 25% came back :)
That's what I'm hoping for when I can (someday soon) get a Fryette 2/90/2 or maybe another great sounding tube power amp!
biggness said:
So with all that being said, what are your plans now, as far as gear goes?
What I really would like is for Cliff to Model the Mako Mak4 Durado channel... that was the best sounding high gain channel I've ever heard... and I would love to run the Axe-fx into (possibly) a Fryette 2/90/2.
FractalAudio said:
I think you should sell it.
Cliff, you know I have love for you (and your genius) along with the Axe-fx... but this is just a childish response.

Scott Peterson said:
You bought the ultimate paint kit without first even knowing how to paint.

Own some amps, learn how and what you like. Learn the shortcomings. User your Axe-FX for effects. Then later, give it another go around.

It's like riding a mini-bike, then getting a warehouse of mechanics tools and every frame, engine, and welding setup and expecting to ride like the big dogs.

You need to know, going in, what and how you like to make your signal chain work.

I'm not condescending, I'm not ripping on you, I'm not patronizing you. I'm telling you that you have the wrong tool set for the job you need to do.
Honestly, I don't think owning a tube amp is a requirement to knowing what "good tone" is... It's kind of like saying you have to go to culinary school to known what good food is and to properly enjoy it.

In retrospect... it may have been "unfair" comparison because I was comparing the "awesomeness" (is that even a word?) that was coming out of the Mako Mak4 Durado into the Fryette 2/90/2 and I was trying to achieve "that" sound with my Axe-fx - QSC GX5 setup. That setup was close to the Deizel Herbert, Bogner Ubershall and maybe even the ENGL SE (which initially was a great sounding amp until the Mako unleashed it's fury vengeance). I also never said it was a "review"... just a comparison... But as I said before, I really wish I would have had more time to test the Axe-fx with the Fryette 2/90/2.

Just a question to whom this may concern (and I don't mean any disrespect): Have you guys ever thought that maybe you don't know what a great "brewtalz" tone might be? From the clips you guys have posted you definitely have the classic (recorded) rock and jazz tones down to a "T". But the "brewtalz"... not so much.

DieSchmalle: We didn't get a chance to use my setup with the Fryette.
FWIW, I wasn't saying you needed experience with tube amps to know what great tone was. What I am saying is that it's very unlikely you'll be able to get the sounds you want out of the Axe-FX without knowing how to get them with the real world gear the Axe-FX models.

For instance, I couldn't make the 1987X work for me at all when I tried it. It was a muddy, flabby, overly bassy mess. Someone posted settings that mirrored how they would use the real amp (they had prior experience with it), and within minutes I had exactly the tone I was looking for. It takes real working knowledge of the models in question to get the results you want many times IME.

I'm not a player of brewtal music. I did own and love a triple rec for years though (I had heavier tastes then). My experience with both modern high gain tones and low gain vintage tones in the Axe-FX has been the same - it's a whole lot easier to get the tone in your head in the Axe-FX if you know how to get it with a real amp.

D
 

Scott Peterson

Global Moderator
Moderator
mortega76 said:
Scott: Don't get me wrong... I appreciate your input in this post... I definitely need to get more high gain "tube" experience. But as it stands right now... the Axe-fx does not have a Mako Mak4 Durado equivalent. Throughout the process I was telling Matt, "Damn... all this goodness for only $1000!?!?!? Wow!!!!" I would still prefer to have a Mako Mak4 Durado (damn I need to shorten that) amp sim in the Axe-fx's arsenal.
Hence my point. I never said anything about tube amps. I said get the gear you like using and learn it inside and out. Learn what weaknesses it has. Learn what you like.

Tube or not, you need real world experience to carry over to making the Axe-FX be 'it'.

So if the Mako is the shit, get the Mako and play that thing in all sorts of situations and learn what it does and does not do. That'll help you learn what works and does not work for you.

That has nothing to do with a "Mako" model in the Axe-FX. It has everything to do with learning to use your tool set.

It's just logic and straight up reason. No slam on you.
 

zack

Inspired
Well, if nothing else this thread has awoken my interest in Mako Amplifaction..... I'd never heard of it before...

Anyone else had any 1st hand experience?
 

sandmannn69

Inspired
Man, people are just so anal about their sound these days. I remember about 25 years ago, when all you had was a marshall tube combo, a cheap whatever stompbox for leads, maybe a chorus, or something for color, and you could play a 4 set gig with it, like 35-40 tunes-your sound was good, everybody had a good time. Nowadays, we've got sooooo many options, including an incredible device like the axe-fx, and folks still can't get THAT sound with crazy, expensive, "boo-teek" gear or with an axe-fx, for that matter. Most folks in a club wouldn't be able to tell whether your playing through a Marshall Valvestate or a Plexi re-issue after the first set (cause they're feeling good and having a good time), so what's the point in getting so anal about it? Just get an axe-fx, and be happy. Jeez.... :roll:
 
sandmannn69 said:
Man, people are just so anal about their sound these days. I remember about 25 years ago, when all you had was a marshall tube combo, a cheap whatever stompbox for leads, maybe a chorus, or something for color, and you could play a 4 set gig with it, like 35-40 tunes-your sound was good, everybody had a good time. Nowadays, we've got sooooo many options, including an incredible device like the axe-fx, and folks still can't get THAT sound with crazy, expensive, "boo-teek" gear or with an axe-fx, for that matter. Most folks in a club wouldn't be able to tell whether your playing through a Marshall Valvestate or a Plexi re-issue after the first set (cause they're feeling good and having a good time), so what's the point in getting so anal about it? Just get an axe-fx, and be happy. Jeez.... :roll:
Although these are very valid points in one light, people are allowed to be picky, especially when they enjoy their hobbies and toys, and when technology generates more options and capabilities. Just because we all used basic cell phones not too long ago doesn't negate the value and fun of concerning ourselves with the latest smartphones which can, and do, makes a lot of our lives easier. I couldn't perform in my business day-to-day life without my phone beeping reminders at me all day and night and searching the net via google speech recognition when I need to know a fact or two on the go.

Besides, although people care what the audience hears, chasing tones is personal, and achieving different sounds brings with it satisfaction.

I can't help but wonder if Gilmour's sound would have been so moving if he would have been satisfied with "a marshall tube combo, a cheap whatever stompbox for leads, maybe a chorus, or something for color."

Anyways, my $.02 :)
 
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