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Dr Bonkers' Guide to Using Fractal Axe-FX 3 for Bass

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Hi All,

Thanks for letting me be a part of your community for so many years.

This thread will share some of the knowledge I've gained through my years in as a recording engineer and as a tinkerer with both the Axe-FX II and the Axe-FX III in order to get the most out of the unit for bass playing.

Here's a Google spreadsheet that I'm sharing as I'm updating bass presets to Cygnus to help dispel the widespread opinion that there are only 6 bass amps in the unit. If you make a little bit of an effort, you will find that you can find a world of bass tones and effects in this unit if you use your ears and alter some setting, just like you did on your real bass rig (no one just hooks into the amp without making some parameter tweaks to an amp).


Some caveats:

Just as all guitar amp sims do not play well with all guitar cab IR files, the same holds true for adapting amp models to bass.

The tonality of a particular amp model working for you depends upon a variety of factors:
Type of instrument
Type of pickups
Type of strings
Finger or Pick technique
String type and gauge
Playing style
Musical genre
Amount of gain used
Types of effects used
Instrumentation accompaniment
Musical arrangement
Speakers loaded in Cab captured as IR files
Mics used in IR capture (the EQ curves between mics make a huge difference to whether a cab is workable or not for the amp model)
Position of mic used in IR capture (some speakers really get dull at the edge position, some can floss your teeth in the cap position)
Design of the Cab
Monitoring volume
Type of monitoring used
Acoustical properties of your monitoring environment

I'm not including the bass amps in this list as most Fractal bass players have probably thoroughly explored those models already.
If you need to clean up some frequencies that bug you, use the 5 band Passive EQ in the amp block post power amp and BMT (don't be afraid to get aggressive with the controls).
All evaluations are based upon Cygnus FW16.00 and later.
As I go through updating presets to Cygnus, I will be updating the list.
Feedback is always appreciated as long as you are civil.
 
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dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
For drive blocks set in front of an amp model, the low cut and high cut parameters are crucial to experiment with to see if a drive works for you or not.


The mix parameter in the drive block is is also something you should play with. What may seem awful with 100% mix may become magical when setting to levels as low as 50 to 25%.

The drive blocks also work well when set up as a DI signal path for an emulation of hitting the recording or live console a bit hard.
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
If you are struggling with dialing out guitar honky mids in some of the Mesa amp models, find a cab IR file or mix that incorporates an Audix D6.

That mic has the deepest and widest mid scoop that I have ever seen in a properly functioning mic. If you still have guitar honk in your bass after using that mic, then you probably should switch to another amp model.
 

unix-guy

Legend!
The drive blocks also work well when set up as a DI signal path for an emulation of hitting the recording or live console a bit hard.
Another way: use the "flat" IR in conjunction with the Preamp page in the Cab block.

Hope you don't mind me adding a tip? I'm not a bassist but I play one on TV ;)

I did actually help my bassist / stickist (is that a thing?) dial in some great tones on his Axe Fx III.

If you prefer to keep the tips to only yours, I will totally understated and happily delete my post.
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Another way: use the "flat" IR in conjunction with the Preamp page in the Cab block.

Hope you don't mind me adding a tip? I'm not a bassist but I play one on TV ;)

I did actually help my bassist / stickist (is that a thing?) dial in some great tones on his Axe Fx III.

If you prefer to keep the tips to only yours, I will totally understated and happily delete my post.
That's great. Thanks for this.
 

RevDrucifer

Power User
Thanks, Dr Bonkers!

I’m anxious to get home tonight and try some of these out. I’ve already a couple of your bass cab IR’s that have been in heavy use lately, I recommend them to anyone working on bass presets! For you guys out there looking for bass tones, definitely check out his site as there’s some interesting stuff on there you won’t find elsewhere. I’m scooping up that 1x18 tonight because I’m really curious how that thing sounds!

The only tip I have to offer is what I’ve ’stolen’ from Dug Pinnick and discussed in the thread I made where I played that King’s X tune; for getting a killer distorted bass tone while still having all the low end, I use two different amps, a guitar amp and a bass amp. Bass amp is as clean as possible, no breakup or grit anywhere and I’m not boosting or cutting anything out of the ordinary. Then for the distortion, I run it into a Marshall JCM800 #34 with the bass sucked out entirely, it sounds terrible by itself, but great mixed it with a clean bass!
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Thanks, Dr Bonkers!

I’m anxious to get home tonight and try some of these out. I’ve already a couple of your bass cab IR’s that have been in heavy use lately, I recommend them to anyone working on bass presets! For you guys out there looking for bass tones, definitely check out his site as there’s some interesting stuff on there you won’t find elsewhere. I’m scooping up that 1x18 tonight because I’m really curious how that thing sounds!

The only tip I have to offer is what I’ve ’stolen’ from Dug Pinnick and discussed in the thread I made where I played that King’s X tune; for getting a killer distorted bass tone while still having all the low end, I use two different amps, a guitar amp and a bass amp. Bass amp is as clean as possible, no breakup or grit anywhere and I’m not boosting or cutting anything out of the ordinary. Then for the distortion, I run it into a Marshall JCM800 #34 with the bass sucked out entirely, it sounds terrible by itself, but great mixed it with a clean bass!
That's a great tip & thanks for your support

Are you using a crossover block to split the signal in parallel to the two amps simultaneously or are you running a path from the clean amp into the distorted amp on a separate path?
 

RevDrucifer

Power User
That's a great tip & thanks for your support

Are you using a crossover block to split the signal in parallel to the two amps simultaneously or are you running a path from the clean amp into the distorted amp on a separate path?

Just running separate paths, I haven’t even tried playing with a crossover yet!
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
I tried, but I dont think I set it up very well.

@dr bonkers any tips for how to set a crossover block?
@Budda & @RevDrucifer Here's some preset I threw together that gives you 8 scenes of variations with the crossover block, drives, and even a DI that is engaged in some scenes.

I put a volume block before the multiple paths. In case your pickups are way hotter than mine, you reduce the gain to everything so that you can get something other than blazing distortion.
 

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RevDrucifer

Power User
I started playing around with these last night, when I got to the Triple Crest, I was done for. I stayed on that amp for a good 2 hours. That amp covers a lot of ground and might be my new favorite. I certainly wasn't expecting that!
 

RevDrucifer

Power User
@Budda & @RevDrucifer Here's some preset I threw together that gives you 8 scenes of variations with the crossover block, drives, and even a DI that is engaged in some scenes.

I put a volume block before the multiple paths. In case your pickups are way hotter than mine, you reduce the gain to everything so that you can get something other than blazing distortion.

Oh shit! These are sick!!!!! I can't wait to try out scene 5 on something! Thanks, man!!!

Oh man, the envelope follower on the drive block is really clever! I never would have thought of doing that!
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
I started playing around with these last night, when I got to the Triple Crest, I was done for. I stayed on that amp for a good 2 hours. That amp covers a lot of ground and might be my new favorite. I certainly wasn't expecting that!
It's really amazing for bass.

How did you like it paired with the 5150 Blue?
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Oh man, the envelope follower on the drive block is really clever! I never would have thought of doing that!
I discovered that trick when trying to emulate the feel of my big muff in the Fractal, but it works with most drive simulations when trying to get a more dynamic feel to the drives.
 
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dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Another cool discovery for bass players that might not know this trick.

With delay, reverb, and modulation effects, if you have problems with those effects washing out the bass frequencies in your tone, then use the EQ or tone tab in the effect block.

Go to the low cut tab and crank that low cut control up to 200 Hz to 300 Hz.

I believe this was the secret to the Boss Bass Chorus pedal when I was trying to clone my Bass Chorus pedal years ago.

For the reverb block in the EQ section , since low cut control is pretty gentle, go to the low mid section. use the same frequency range, Q=0.707, and gain = around -9 dB for starters.

You will have the effect and your low end will return to your tone too.

BTW it works great for guitar too if you like your effects but still want to chug.

Line 6 never listened to me when I asked them to institute these controls in the Helix effects. Not to slag them, but they are up to FW 3.1 and they still haven't implemented this most basic tool. That's one reason I stopped making packs to support it and sold off my unit.
 
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Rex

Legend!
Another cool discovery for bass players that might not know this trick.

With delay, reverb, and modulation effects, if you have problems with the those effects washing out the bass frequencies in your tone, then use the EQ or tone tab in the effect block.

Go to the low cut tab and crank that low cut control up to 200 Hz to 300 Hz.

You will have the effect and your low end will return to your tone too.

I believe this was the secret to the Bass Chorus pedal when I was trying to clone my Bass Bass Chorus pedal years ago.

BTW it works great for guitar too if you like your effects but still want to chug.
Love it! If you don't want your effects to be muddy, don't give them any mud to play with. :)
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Hahaha I never made it past the Triple Crest. I pulled some showboating bass riff out of my ass and spent the rest of the night developing it. If I can actually play it eventually, it'll be really cool. :D
You should post a clip.

I would get a big kick out of it.
 
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