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Best Power Amp & Cab for Axe-Fx III


New Member
Hi everyone,

I've been a die hard tube amp guy for ages, but am just about to order an AxeFX III & would like to ask the Axe FX veterans what the best cab & power amp combo would be for the best real life amp tones & most importantly, best amp feel.

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.


I get all the amp feel that I could wish for from my studio monitors

but if I learned one thing here in the forums, it's that there is no one-size-fits-all solution: some like studio monitors, some prefer FRFRs, some prefer guitar cabs with tube power amps, some even with power amp simulation and cab simulation on... so I guess you will have to experiment and find out what works best for you


Ah the perennial question...


As a new AxeFX user, I did heaps of research and found there is no simple formula, as noted above. However I have gleaned some wisdom from these forums.

First, there are three main ways of producing sound from the unit:

1) plugging it into a guitar amp's power section (and mic'ing this for FOH if you need to)
2) plugging into FRFR monitors (and typically also sending it to FOH as a direct signal)
3) using headphones.

Second, there are two purposes for producing sound from the unit:

1) practicing and dialing in sounds;
2) playing live.


For purpose number 1, I have learned that headphones just don't cut it for dialling in accurate tones, unless you spend more than I am willing to part with on cans. Additionally, you have to dial them in at or close to gig volume, because the bass and treble will be heard differently at this volume. Get into a hall somewhere and crank it.

So for dialling in tones, you sort of have to choose whether you plan to use a traditional amp cab, or FRFR, as each setup will require you to dial in the presets differently. Probably obvious, but you shouldn't dial in tones in FRFR mode and then play through a cab.

As for the guitar cab vs FRFR thing, this is entirely a matter of personal taste, and in a less civilised forum than ours, could probably become a religious war :) We have a very healthy community where this has been discussed respectfully, if ad infinitum.

One objective truth, however, is that a cab will really only sound like itself, whereas FRFR can sound close to any cab you like. However, FRFR is a different experience to a live cab. It takes some getting used to and adjusting. Don't get sucked in to the 'Amp In The Room' (AITR) rabbit-hole. With FRFR, you will hear what 99% of people have only ever heard: the sound of a recorded/mic'ed guitar. Only us guitarist have ever had the serene ecstasy of standing in front of a cooking tube amp, and if you don't want to let that go, consider running a cab - but unless you are playing in a small venue (where you can't cook the tubes anyway) you are the only person that will hear it. I prefer FRFR because I hear what the audience hears, and I can change it if it sucks.

I would recommend going with FRFR and adapting what you expect to hear. It sounds *amazing*. I don't miss my tube amp at all. Even though I spent 15 years getting it just right, it only had that sound. As for speakers, I ended getting the JBL EON 610s, which aren't bad, apart from being a bit too shrill in the high end. I use them as stage monitors and run through the PA. Currently the CLR monitors are considered the very best, if somewhat heavy. I have also heard good things about Xitone and Matrix wedges (I'm thinking of getting two FR10s next). While it depends on your budget, you should get the best you can afford, even if you have to wait. However, to temper that, I personally wouldn't get too anxious about having the absolute best monitors available: if they are just for my stage sound, they can be 'good enough', and I will trust the FOH tech to make it sound good.

For dialling in presets, I just got a Presonus Eris 4.5 monitors. They sound good. Headphones sound like crap. Lesson learned.

Some people also use in-ear monitors and have no stage sound at all - I haven't tried this and probably won't, so I can't comment on that. YMMV.



I use a Matrix GT1600FX, It plays well with the Axe FX power amp sims. Really any of the matrix power amps should be good to go. I've heard good things about the Seymour Duncan PowerStage but I have not personally used one. If you want to go with tube power amps The Fryette Power Station is supposed to be really good and transparent.

I got the Matrix and loved it right away. As a result I didn't try any other power amps. I got it used for 600USD from Guitar Center. If I had to pay full price I would have tried one of the Duncan or Fryette models to save a few bucks compared to the Matrix.

As for Cabs I'm still using my Mesa slant cab with Celestion Century Vintage (the discontinued speakers not the new ones) I knew nothing about speakers or cabs when I purchased it but I liked how they sounded and still do. I have the cab in stereo and the Matrix can get loud if you need it to.


Reading your post, you'd probably be best served with traditional amplification of the modeler.
Which means a power amp and a guitar cab.

You can also decide later to go FRFR, which is more flexible but also requires much more tweaking and takes time getting used to.

For playing live with backline only (without going direct to FOH): Fryette Power Station (v1 or v2, doesn't matter), with a guitar cab.
I haven't come across a better-sounding setup. You get the benefits of amp models, and the response of a (neutral) power amp and guitar cab.

Important: using the Power Station requires some adjustments in he Amp block, which makes it not the best choice if you also need a direct signal to go to FOH. The Fryette also isn't light and quite large.

- Seymour Duncan PS-170: mono, very portable, very capable. I'm using it (sits on top of my Axe-Fx III)
- Seymour Duncan PS-700: stereo version, 19"
- Matrix GT800 or GT1000: stereo, 19"


Power amp and cabinet will color the sound significantly, so everything you play will sound like that cab. Therefore there is no “best”, becasue just like with traditional amps, some guys like a 4x12 with green backs, others like v30’s, others like smaller cabs. No best, just subjective taste

I’d probably suggest using a cabinet your used to, as it will sound most familiar


Power User
If you prefer combo amps get a Celestion F12-X200, an open back housing and a lightweight digital poweramp....best of both worlds. It sounds like a combo but is FRFR.

I don't know yet what would happen if you put 4 of these F12-X200 in a 4x12 housing, maybe stellar, maybe boring, who knows.


Or do both.

I'm running a GT1000 into Mesa Thiele cabs w/ EVM-12L's backline. My CAB block is after the output to the backline and tweaked for FOH. I hear what 'feels right' on stage, the audience gets a representation of the 'recorded' guitar sound. For creating/tweaking presets I generally use the guitar cabs initially, then adjust the CAB block using studio monitors (backline turned full down). Then both mixes together. It's a process.

If you prefer combo amps get a Celestion F12-X200, an open back housing and a lightweight digital poweramp....best of both worlds. It sounds like a combo but is FRFR.

I don't know yet what would happen if you put 4 of these F12-X200 in a 4x12 housing, maybe stellar, maybe boring, who knows.
those have been backordered through to the end of may and pushed back 3 times already. I have 4 on order since Feb. I got a pair of K12H speakers for splitting V30's and one K12 in each of my 2x12 speakers.

I use a Matrix GT1000FX single rack and love it! My main speaker is a Marshall 1936 with the above speakers stereo cabinet.
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