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How I use my Ultra WARNING: Really long post

Larry Mitchell

Experienced
Hello Fellow Axe users.

I am not sure if this belongs in the GD or in the lounge. please feel free to move it need be. I have gotten a few emails from people in the last week about my Axe Fx use. Some from video confusion and some from this last clinic tour I just cam back from. I just wrote a long response to a woman in MN trying to clear how I am using my gear. I thought that i would post that reply here in the off chance that some else might want to know.
Please remember that I make my living from playing with and producing other artists with various styles of music. Most of the time I am not playing fast notes with high gain swirling around. :) That's just my stuff. :)
From my past with Tracy Chapman ('92) where maybe I played 6 solos a night (none high gain) to Rock'n very loud with Billy Squier ('91) where I played maybe 7 solos to the current line up of Native American artists with a lot of it is acoustic or big textures with delays a pitch type things. My gear needs cover a wide range also how I travel with these artist covers a wide range.

Below is my reply to one of the emails. WARNING: it's long winded. :)

I have only had the Axe FX Ultra since last May or June I think. The first video you saw of my rig on the Mirabal tour, I did not own the Ultra yet. I was using two small pedalboards that fit together to make one large one. Those where going into the two small Fender Pro Junior amps.

Since I've had the Axe Fx, I take that with me for the Mirabal shows, I don't usually use any amps on stage. I just go with the floor Monitors. So I just use the Axe FX direct with the Amp sims. I can hear my guitar through the floor monitors in front of me.

This is a Mirabal show with a Drummer no bass player. I am direct with no stage amps just stage monitors.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11pwwQ_p4vI

That has changed a little bit with Robert lately as we have started using a drummer and a bass player at some of the bigger shows. So that cuts down the amount of available stage monitor mixes, so i can't always have two (left and right) stereo monitor mixes. So I use some kind of amps for monitors. This is the same with the Joy harjo band. When it is the full band. I have two amps listed in the backline gear needs (two Fender Deluxes or Devilles) I then plug out put two of the Axe Fx into the effects return of those amps and out put 1 goes direct to PA. That way I have control over my on stage volume when I need. With Joy though, when it is just the duo I don't use amps on stage. It just Axe Fx direct and I hear myself through the monitors.

Here is a video of me going through the rig with for a Joy harjo Show where we had a full band.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUowkk95oTM

If you see any of the videos from Scandinavia that I did this year with Ellis Hooks. I am did the same thing, I had them rent two small tube amps for onstage but the sound anyone else hears is the Axe Fx Direct. (unless you are are right in front of my side of the stage and with in maybe 30 feet.

Here is a clip from Sweden with Ellis and the audio is from the Camera mic.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKnes3LA ... re=related

Now with the Line 6 M9 I have been using that mostly for situations where I don't need the Axe Fx. When I play as a sideman with either Shelley Morningsong or Joy harjo, depending on if it is a duo or an all acoustic show I don't don't any electric guitar solos. So I don't need any distortion or overdrive. Just the effects. In that case carrying the AXe FX can overkill. The M9 works great for just effects and small gigs like that. I did a show with Shelley not long agjust co in Virginia and the PA they had wasn't good enough for her vocals alone. Forget about monitoring my guitar in stereo. All of the artist that I play live with are at different places in thier careers so some are on big stages with great PA and monitor systems and some are in clubs, some are on small stage and in some funky situations with funky PA gear and 1 monitor mix! I try to find out as much as I can before leaving for the gig so I am prepared, but sometimes you never know.

Some video from last show with Shelley in Alaska should be up soon on my youtube page.

I just did a 7 city in 8 days clinic tour for Ibanez. where i did maybe 5 of my songs that needed high gain. But because my back was bothering me before I left I decided to to just take the M9 and an Ibanez tube screamer for that trip. I just used what ever amps they had at the music stores or a few times I went direct --Tube Screamer into M9 into two Tech 21 character pedals (Liverpool and British). It was a lot easier on my back and since this was mostly talking and playing a little bit for these clinics, I decide very last minute not to take the Ultra. I really missed having the Axe Fx for those clinics but my back needed to rest a bit. About 3 minutes into the first song of the first clinic. I started thinking I should have brought the Ultra! But by the 4th day I was thinking I should mail what I had with me home and just use what ever they had at the next store so I wouldn't have carry the 5 pound M9! The M9 is about the size of the Liquid foot Junior so it fit right in my carry-on bag with my clothes. For basic effects it's great. For gain and most of my textures I needed my Ultra. Again, I did more talking at these clinics than playing. so it all worked out well.

The axe Fx and Liquid foot Jr are not that heavy but for me carrying anything through airports EVERY DAY, sometimes going long distances from terminal to terminal and even just checking into hotel rooms every day starts to really get to me. My bad back is from the early 90's when I carried a huge rack around with lots of effects and preamps all the stuff that the Axe Fx does for me now!!

I don't have any videos from the clinic tour yet but I expect some to come in the mail any day now. There will be some clips on my youtube page soon also.

I'm back home now resting and in the studio producing other artists. I have updated my firmware for the Ultra and 9.0 is rock'n hard. I'm loving it. The next time I do a long clinic run with a lot of flights involved, I will have to figure out a way that I can do it with the Ultra. Or if I am just doing a few songs again I may just take a delay and a distortion. I have a crazy amount pedals and things that's fun to use. I am happy that these days there are so many choices though. Both the Axe Fx and the M9 are great and the cover a lot of sounds for me. in either case I am not carting around anywhere near the amount of pedals or rack gear that I used to carry a little over a year ago. That's amazing. They serve two different job requirements for me.

It would be great if Cliff came out with a small pedal version (lite or normal of the Axe FX). That would be the ^&^())_@& for me! :)

I hope that clears up any confusion you might have about what I am using in the videos and how use some of my gear live.

I may post some of this on the Axe Fx forum as you are the 3rd person to ask me about this since I have been home. :)

Thank you for asking the good questions!

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Larry
 

chris

Legend!
thanks so much for sharing all this info, larry. people who don't travel much with their gear may not realize just how difficult it is to take everything you need with you! i'm glad you have a few different options. i was wondering if you'd upgraded to 9.0 between all your projects hah! glad you had the opportunity. if you're swinging by hawaii again, you're always welcome to do another performance at my store!

oh, and take care of yo' back! :D
 

Dutch

Fractal Fanatic
Great post, Larry!

Love your playing!

Of course I have no knowledge of what's actually the problem with your back, but my lower back aches all but disappeared since I've been working out. My wife is a doctor of occupational medicine (companies pay her to help people get back to work asap and she's very good at it), she has loads of backache patients.
Turns out most people are just too weak so the lower back muscles get in a jam. And the biggest help is good solid abs! So, you get yourself a sixpack and your back may love you for it. Of course only if your problem is comparable to mine... I do 1 hr of body-pump a week and it's really helped me. After a year I'm a lot stronger and tighter than I used to be. And no more back pain, which is more than I expected at 42. I saw myself in a wheelchair by 55.

Always consult a good doctor first, chiropractor second. One who's busy enough, that means he's good and won't want/need to see you a whole lot of times before you're cured.
 

teejay

Inspired
That's a good read Larry, great to know i'm not alone with my travelling woes..

I've been doing lots of flying over the past few months and i had set up my Axe FX along with my LF Jr and Shure In Ear System in to a Gator Studio2Go Rack case that i've managed to smuggle on as carry on luggage but it is fairly weighty and i'm just waiting for the day when i get pulled up and denied access with it :roll:

I did a show a couple of weeks ago in Darwin which was a 70s theme so i figured i just needed a funky clean, crunch and a wah so opted to just take my GT10 and regretted it as soon as i started sound checking. It just wasn't cutting it sonically! Maybe i've just been spoilt with my AxeFX.

I've been looking at other options also. I have a Nova System which sounds nice but haven't been able to find a compact yet programmable preamp that sounds great direct.

Just this week i bought Guitar Rig 4 and the Kontrol Pedal (controller) and have been in the process of programming every thing i need it to do. I take my Macbook Pro everywhere i go anyway so it's just a matter of slipping the Kontrol Pedal in a carry on backpack. So far it has been quite good, it's nowhere near my Ultra in terms of sonic quality but my early impressions consider it as good, if not slightly better than the GT10. I will trial it at a couple of local gigs early in the New Year and see how it goes live...

Of course, the real solution is for Cliff to just bring out a floor version, hell i'd even be happy with a "lite" version that only had a handful of amps and a basic palette of fx.... ;)

T
 

browlett

Experienced
Thanks for that, Larry. Very cool read! I like hearing how you pros do your thing.

As for a "lite" version of the Axe-FX, couldn't it already be good for that...?

I would imagine that an ultra in a rack bag, then another small bag with an MFC-101 (once they're available :roll: ) and 2 expression pedals would be much easier to cart around than most rigs?
 

DJD100

Experienced
Agreed as I fly a lot and the airline rules are really strict now that they're all broke again, so something that'll fit under the seat in front of you is good as in my case the guitar goes in the overhead in it's soft case.

Looking at gut shots of an axe maybe it can be made shorter as there's some unused space between the main PCB and the front panel, but that might be needed for cooling or something too (don't know)?

teejay said:
That's a good read Larry, great to know i'm not alone with my travelling woes..

I've been doing lots of flying over the past few months and i had set up my Axe FX along with my LF Jr and Shure In Ear System in to a Gator Studio2Go Rack case that i've managed to smuggle on as carry on luggage but it is fairly weighty and i'm just waiting for the day when i get pulled up and denied access with it :roll:

Of course, the real solution is for Cliff to just bring out a floor version, hell i'd even be happy with a "lite" version that only had a handful of amps and a basic palette of fx.... ;)

T
 

Larry Mitchell

Experienced
Hey Guys,

Thank you for all of the kind responses. Please don't get me wrong. I love my Ultra and use it for most things. Carrying the Ultra and my Liquid foot Jr in a 2 space rack back through most airports works fine. But those are usually 3 or 4 day turn around one or two shows back to back and in the same place. It's only when I have a lot of shows and a lot of airports (connecting flights to catch) that It starts to get heavy. I still haven't found a small enough rolling cart that is also big enough to put the Ultra in and still be able to walk on a plane with it and a gig bag. Also I forgot to mention before, that I usually have a single or a double gig bag on my shoulder with one or two guitars in it. and my guitars don't really weigh much but two at a time plus a bag with the Ultra and midi controller start to get up there. I don't even take cables sometimes. They're in the backline list. :)

My back is not anywhere near as bad as it used to be 10 years ago. But when I travel for 10 plus days and carrying a lot of stuff it starts to give me problems. (yes my core is not so strong. But I am working on it) thanks. :)

Some of you probably ask why not check the gear in good cases. Well I have gotten to my destination and the gear has not many times. I have only lost one case of pedals. Vanished and the airlines don't really give you what it's worth if it's expensive and hard to find. So I try to carry on what I need for the shows. I have done a few gigs with a borrowed acoustic guitar because I checked mine and in went somewhere else for a few days. I usually get it back though. It's not always so bad but it does happen and I can not take that chance with my main gear before a show. Sometimes after the run is over and I am a bit tired I check stuff on the way home. :)

For some of the smaller gigs that I still fly to and I don't need overdrive or what has become "my sound" I can use a few other options like a delay and a chorus or that M9 with has those as well as Tremolos, verb and Pitch in a small package. I have tried some of the other Computer options but eh... for a year I used Guitar rig 2? on the Mirabal shows but it just was not right for me.

It is such a great time to be a Guitarist/ Musician! So much great sounding gear available these days. I love it.

But for most things I need and will use my Ultra (looking forward to AXE PC) when it comes.

Thank you for reading
Larry
 
Who cares how you use your Ultra.........you played with Billy Squier! I wanna hear about that! :D

When I think of great Plexi type sounds I think of Billy Squier. I saw him this summer and he was so LOUD it was unreal, but the guitar sounds were great and his voice was fantastic as well. It must have been fun playing all those great, classic songs!

p
 

HailHalford

Experienced
Larry,
Thanks for a pro's insight into travelling light. Your contributions here are always appreciated. Good luck with your back issues and remember back pain is usually the first sign of stress. Strengthen your core and calm your mindand hopefully you'll feel better.

PS - How rockin' is the new Star Trek movie? :ugeek:
 

teejay

Inspired
browlett said:
As for a "lite" version of the Axe-FX, couldn't it already be good for that...?

I would imagine that an ultra in a rack bag, then another small bag with an MFC-101 (once they're available :roll: ) and 2 expression pedals would be much easier to cart around than most rigs?
You're generally only allowed about 6 to 7 kgs of carry on luggage. My Rack bag weighs 6.5 kg empty! With all my gear in it, it weighs in at about 16 kgs and if the airline knew, they would simply refuse to let me board with it. I'm just waiting for the day when i get caught....

Like Larry, i've had gear that i've checked-in in flight cases that haven't made it to the other end. This is an absolute pain in the ass when you are arriving and playing that same night as it leaves very little time for sourcing replacement gear. Happened to me last January when doing a show in Singapore. I lost a Multi FX, Bad Horsie Wah and a wireless unit, not to mention countless leads etc... and then had to source something to get me through the show. The only thing i could get at short notice was a POD XTL :shock: :shock: :shock: Had to quickly programme some sounds at sound check and live with how bad it sounded all night.

I decided after that, never again. I MUST travel with my gear so that i can ensure it gets there with me.
 

GM Arts

Power User
excellent, thanks Larry :D

I've also just bought an M9 for shows where they have lots of bands with a shared backline, and expect you to change over in 5 mins, tuned up and fully focussed for a great set :lol:

For your AxeFX, maybe you can get one of those padded rack bags with wheels and handle? Should be easier on your back at the airports.
 

DJD100

Experienced
I agree totally Larry, you have to take it with you if you want to be sure it arrives safely etc. Gate checking stuff is dangerous too as the airlines deliver it to the jet-way where there's no one watching it, so anyone getting off before you could easily walk off with your stuff. On top of this one usually has a clothes bag that has to be carted from gig to gig as well (though if that gets lost you can still do the show etc), so smaller and lighter is important when you fly commercial everyday (paying an extra $50 - $100 every day to check additional items gets expensive too!).

I lost my 66 Strat once for a week (Air Canada), but got it back half way through the tour (Queen Ida, back in the 80's). It was hard to borrow a guitar every night and try to make it work sans a setup and decent strings (try to play some blues on a borrowed guitar with rusty 15 year old heavy gauge flat-wounds 1/4" off the bowed fretboard etc).

I've also had many small 2U and 4U ATA racks of 19" stuff destroyed over the years by the airlines as well (United was the worst here in my experience, though they did make good up to their limit of liability every time). They stack rack stuff on their baggage trailers as it comes out of the plane, so if your rack comes out late it gets put on top of an unstable pile of clothes bags, and often takes a 10' fall to the tarmac at 25 MPH when the driver makes a turn.

The Axe can deliver high quality guitar sounds including FX in a small package, and that's a wonderful thing for traveling.

Larry Mitchell said:
Hey Guys,

Thank you for all of the kind responses. Please don't get me wrong. I love my Ultra and use it for most things. Carrying the Ultra and my Liquid foot Jr in a 2 space rack back through most airports works fine. But those are usually 3 or 4 day turn around one or two shows back to back and in the same place. It's only when I have a lot of shows and a lot of airports (connecting flights to catch) that It starts to get heavy. I still haven't found a small enough rolling cart that is also big enough to put the Ultra in and still be able to walk on a plane with it and a gig bag. Also I forgot to mention before, that I usually have a single or a double gig bag on my shoulder with one or two guitars in it. and my guitars don't really weigh much but two at a time plus a bag with the Ultra and midi controller start to get up there. I don't even take cables sometimes. They're in the backline list. :)

It is such a great time to be a Guitarist/ Musician! So much great sounding gear available these days. I love it.

But for most things I need and will use my Ultra (looking forward to AXE PC) when it comes.

Thank you for reading
Larry
 

plexi59

Power User
>> with a small pedal version (lite or normal of the Axe FX)

I proposed this well over a year ago and was laughed outta the forum. :lol: Some folks (me) only need the amp, cab, reverb and delay, and then often not all at the same time. That's why I stayed with the Standard, even though I had the cash to upgrade. When it comes down to it, even the Standard is a massive overkill for my needs -- I add the effects later in my DAW anyway.
 

Ochanomizu

Inspired
Man, I would be there in a shot if Fractal had a small, lightweight yet rugged foot controller version. Maybe something you could sync up with the main unit to download your fave settings or something. I don't believe it would cannibalize sales if it had to be paired with an existing full version unit... Dunno, just thinking out loud here...

Anyway, lovin' Larry's tones and playing. I bought your first CD in the Eighties (or maybe early Nineties) Larry (possibly the first person to own your CD in Australia!), great stuff!

:)


Cheers
 
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