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I constantly feel like I'm guessing with my Axe FX II

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bgrizzmayne

Inspired
Hey guys-

The Axe FX is a deep unit. I just consistently feel like I am completely guessing with what to tweak to get my Axe FX II to sound good. Every patch from other users I load RARELY sounds any good at all. Given how much $$ people pay for an Axe FX, I'm shocked by some of the sounds I load onto the unit- maybe it's my rig but so many presets I try sound absolutely awful. I'm just running a Suhr S-4 into the axe, and it's going to my Yamaha 5" monitors, or my matrix Q12a.

For example; I load in an AC-30 Top Boost amp, with 2x12 Blue speaker, and the Axe just doesn't sound any good. Not a glimmer of a good tone needing to be unlocked; The top end isn't defined, the mids mushy and low end booming. Correcting that doesn't get me much anywhere- I feel like I'm so far in the hole when I start that it's tough to dig my way out of that.

With my traditional rig, simply consisting of a pedalboard into a Fender 65 Deluxe re-issue, I can dial up some basic tones on my bogner blue pedal and get some decent tones. Literally everything at 5 o'clock, I plug in and can get some good stuff. I bought an Axe FX for recording and consistency with live use, but so far it's been such a headache to learn all the lingo/parameters and even get some usable tones out of it- whether for gigging or recording. No presets I load seem to sound anything like my traditional rig. And as I mentioned, building my own isn't getting me there either.

There's so many metal patches out there- I'm just looking for some quality amp tones to base my sound off of. I just can't get anything to sound right, and if I do, I feel like I lucked into it. IDK, I guess I'm just frustrated. It seems so easy to make the unit sound awful, which as I mentioned, I feel like 90% of presets do. Sorry to come off so negative- maybe the modeler route isn't for me. But I sit down to track a song, spend 2 hours trying to get a quality sound out of my axe, and give up because I can't get it to feel/sound truly amp-like. Does anyone have any tips? I've done my best to learn all the basic parameters of the amp block, and I've lurked on here for a while, but I just can't get my amp models to sound good. I'm particularly a lower-gain player; does anyone have any examples of the axe killing on some lowgain? Maybe I should have gone Kemper for some more basic rock n' roll tones.

Basically, I feel like there's too many options for me sometimes, and no presets sound good to my ear. IDK.
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
for me it's not much more than finding the right ir, tweaking TMB and gain to taste and i'm off and running. it's only as deep as you need/want it to be.

one thing to remember, and I say this all the time but i feel like it's the hardest thing for traditional rig guys to come to terms with, is that its the whole rig mic'd that you are hearing, not amp in the room. it will never, let me repeat, NEVER sound like your amp does sitting side by side. isolate your amp in another room, mic it, listen to that through your monitors....that's what you get from the axe.

what type of tones are you going for? check out my soundcloud for some basic country/crunch tones (2 different tone tests featuring multiple amps), see if you think those sound ok to your ears.

i agree a lot of presets aren't usable for me, but i've found some gems to me. they are too dependent on guitar/pups used etc to ever just be plug and play.
 

Jeff B

Inspired
for me it's not much more than finding the right ir, tweaking TMB and gain to taste and i'm off and running. it's only as deep as you need/want it to be.

one thing to remember, and I say this all the time but i feel like it's the hardest thing for traditional rig guys to come to terms with, is that its the whole rig mic'd that you are hearing, not amp in the room. it will never, let me repeat, NEVER sound like your amp does sitting side by side. isolate your amp in another room, mic it, listen to that through your monitors....that's what you get from the axe.

what type of tones are you going for? check out my soundcloud for some basic country/crunch tones (2 different tone tests featuring multiple amps), see if you think those sound ok to your ears.

i agree a lot of presets aren't usable for me, but i've found some gems to me. they are too dependent on guitar/pups used etc to ever just be plug and play.


You know... this is something that I never thought about. I'm somewhat in the same boat as the OP. I've been sitting with my AFX daily trying to get it to give me the "wow moment" and I have yet to experience it. I decided to go with the Matrix GT1000 thinking that would do it. Then I went with a Xitone FRFR cab with the same hope... and now I'm back to playing it through my original G12M guitar cab. Now I'm thinking that getting a Matrix NL12 might be the answer. I'm spending more $$ trying to get a great amp sound, but what you just said makes alot of sense and has never quite "clicked" with me until I read your post. I've been sitting here with my tube amp right next to my AFX trying to get them to sound the same, as I see everyone tone matching their amps are getting them to sound identical, but in the end maybe I'm just hoping for too much from the AFX and I need to go back to finding a lighter and more manageable tube amp setup that will work for me. I'm getting tired of searching for the "magic" that I was hoping to find with this switch. :(
 

BigD1977

Power User
Scott Peterson has a few videos which are gold. If you do a search for his 'dialing in a tone' video (I can't remember if that's actually what it's called....) it should come up. It's very helpful for dialing in reverb settings and tones.

Also, he did a speaker resonance tutorial that is great for getting the 'amp in the room' feel.

Have you tried replicating your exact setup within the axe (Fender amp with no pedals)? That would be a great starting point, and then add pedals, sweetening them as you go.

AFAIK, the lower gain amps and presets are also designed to work with single coil guitars, and will distort if used with humbuckers. I wondered why all the clean presets were distorting until this twigged. Also, bear in mind the volume you would need out of your Fender amp to get a good tone affects how you will percieve this (Equal Loudness.... Fletcher Munson....). (I'm not trying to patronise you, btw, it's something that some people aren't aware of.) I've found that at normal practice (home) levels, the presets can be samey and boring. Turn that badboy up to gigging levels though and it's a whole different beast.

I hope this helps! :)

Oh! One other thing. Try getting a preset you like, and change just one thing. Loading up a fresh amp and cab on a blank preset can feel daunting and not sound too fabulous at bedroom volumes. Just alter one preset and experiment.

Post no. 2's advice is gold, by the way. :)
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
You know... this is something that I never thought about. I'm somewhat in the same boat as the OP. I've been sitting with my AFX daily trying to get it to give me the "wow moment" and I have yet to experience it. I decided to go with the Matrix GT1000 thinking that would do it. Then I went with a Xitone FRFR cab with the same hope... and now I'm back to playing it through my original G12M guitar cab. Now I'm thinking that getting a Matrix NL12 might be the answer. I'm spending more $$ trying to get a great amp sound, but what you just said makes alot of sense and has never quite "clicked" with me until I read your post. I've been sitting here with my tube amp right next to my AFX trying to get them to sound the same, as I see everyone tone matching their amps are getting them to sound identical, but in the end maybe I'm just hoping for too much from the AFX and I need to go back to finding a lighter and more manageable tube amp setup that will work for me. I'm getting tired of searching for the "magic" that I was hoping to find with this switch. :(

the magic is you have great tone, consistently, everywhere. on stage, foh, everywhere. you are giving the audience the best possible experience. most of the time when we think it sounds great on stage it sounds the opposite to everyone else. we dial a great tone in hitting the back of our knees and the high end is taking the faces off everyone within our cone of death.
 

aziz

Power User
If you like strat tones, try Tyler Grund's SRV presets. And the Princeton Rev with pretty much any cab, it just works. Don't tweak more than the basic bass, mid, treble, presence, master. Do you like what you hear on other people's Axe recordings?
 

bgrizzmayne

Inspired
for me it's not much more than finding the right ir, tweaking TMB and gain to taste and i'm off and running. it's only as deep as you need/want it to be.

one thing to remember, and I say this all the time but i feel like it's the hardest thing for traditional rig guys to come to terms with, is that its the whole rig mic'd that you are hearing, not amp in the room. it will never, let me repeat, NEVER sound like your amp does sitting side by side. isolate your amp in another room, mic it, listen to that through your monitors....that's what you get from the axe.

what type of tones are you going for? check out my soundcloud for some basic country/crunch tones (2 different tone tests featuring multiple amps), see if you think those sound ok to your ears.

i agree a lot of presets aren't usable for me, but i've found some gems to me. they are too dependent on guitar/pups used etc to ever just be plug and play.

Hey Jason-

Thanks for the tips. I think your sounds sound pretty good; I'm sort of a perfectionist but there's a lack of definition/smoothness when ringing chords on your country demo. JMO; I personally wouldn't be satisfied with that tone, though maybe it's a building block. The crunch one sounds good too, but again, for me lacks the certain, 'something' that I look for in a quality guitar sound. Those are JMO's.

What you state about the 'magic' is why I bought the axe. Consistency/space/flexibility/versatility. Guys like pete thorn and others often stated you can get REALLY close with an Axe FX to what you hear from a traditional guitar rig. While I don't doubt that's possible, I've probably gotten 60% there. I'll try Tyler Grund's SRV presets.

I've checked out Scott Robertson's videos and again, maybe I'm being too harsh, but I don't really care for any of the tones he's dialed in. That's just my opinion; his information is great and has helped me understand a TON of concepts. But i've never heard him chunk a chord/riff and been very into his tone.

BigD1977- I have been thinking about doing this. Haven't had the time with constant gigging; my gig rig sits in my heated garage, due to the gigging barrage I've been under. I've got an MFC-101 mk III on the way; once I get that, I'm planning on trying to set up my axe rig just like my standard rig. Your points about volume are likely valid- right now I'm currently the most frustrated with the sounds I'm getting at a 'recording' volume. I know that turning things up allows different frequencies to resonate/be more apparent. In the future, I'll plan on having presets I use at lower volumes, and higher volume presets.

I like a lot of Dave Walliman's tones, though did load a lead preset he did and it sounded awful. I think it was FW7, but it just didn't sound good to me at all. IDK, I guess the search continues.
 

Scott Peterson

Global Moderator
Moderator
I help a lot of people one-on-one that express the same sorts of issues.

What you want is in there - though with the caveats very well explained above - the key isn't just turning parameters and knobs and hoping you get lucky and it isn't 99.999% of the time just downloading presets. The key is having a method to get what you want, not getting lost in the box. This is a creation machine, not a plug-n-play box.

Today I went over a guy's house and he had a Mesa 50/50 power amp into a Peavey XXX 412. That's his rig.

So, given that rig I turned the power amp and cabinet modeling off globally; we got some decent tones, but nothing that great right away. I plugged in my CLR, we cranked up a bit and got killer tones, really had him smiling then. I plugged back into his rig and we tried it with the power amp modeling and cabinet modeling on and lo and behold... it sounded fantastic. It really did. I had him really digging it within a few minutes... the key isn't that I'm so smart (I'm not) but I understand and can find what you need to use in order to get good tones out of the box. It's not some magic parameter, it's not some magic piece of gear you need. It is one ABSOLUTELY overwhelmingly simple (yet complex) thing you *need* to have down *first*. What?

I've said it a million times before, and I'll keep saying it -=- it's the IR. Find the right IR for your amp, then dial the amp. It's simple then. It's all about the IR. Once you have that down; it's almost child's play to dial stuff in. In real time, I'll drop my IR into the AFXII via FractalBot, I'll dial in the reverb and delay (maybe) and then the amp. In under 5 minutes - it's all good from there. Why? The IR.

If you don't understand IR's or how to work with them or the cabinet block; that's where you start. I have videos up about dialing the reverb and delay. I have a video up about dialing the cabinet IR using Cab Lab and Own Hammer IR's.

I'll be doing more videos soon, I'll keep answering questions and if you want to contact me - PM or email me. I'll try to help. Don't guess; it's a wild goose chase. It's not about buying more gear or any specific gear; it's about learning how to work with what you have right now.
 

tonaholic

Experienced
I help a lot of people one-on-one that express the same sorts of issues.

What you want is in there - though with the caveats very well explained above - the key isn't just turning parameters and knobs and hoping you get lucky and it isn't 99.999% of the time just downloading presets. The key is having a method to get what you want, not getting lost in the box. This is a creation machine, not a plug-n-play box.

Today I went over a guy's house and he had a Mesa 50/50 power amp into a Peavey XXX 412. That's his rig.

So, given that rig I turned the power amp and cabinet modeling off globally; we got some decent tones, but nothing that great right away. I plugged in my CLR, we cranked up a bit and got killer tones, really had him smiling then. I plugged back into his rig and we tried it with the power amp modeling and cabinet modeling on and lo and behold... it sounded fantastic. It really did. I had him really digging it within a few minutes... the key isn't that I'm so smart (I'm not) but I understand and can find what you need to use in order to get good tones out of the box. It's not some magic parameter, it's not some magic piece of gear you need. It is one ABSOLUTELY overwhelmingly simple (yet complex) thing you *need* to have down *first*. What?

I've said it a million times before, and I'll keep saying it -=- it's the IR. Find the right IR for your amp, then dial the amp. It's simple then. It's all about the IR. Once you have that down; it's almost child's play to dial stuff in. In real time, I'll drop my IR into the AFXII via FractalBot, I'll dial in the reverb and delay (maybe) and then the amp. In under 5 minutes - it's all good from there. Why? The IR.

If you don't understand IR's or how to work with them or the cabinet block; that's where you start. I have videos up about dialing the reverb and delay. I have a video up about dialing the cabinet IR using Cab Lab and Own Hammer IR's.

I'll be doing more videos soon, I'll keep answering questions and if you want to contact me - PM or email me. I'll try to help. Don't guess; it's a wild goose chase. It's not about buying more gear or any specific gear; it's about learning how to work with what you have right now.

So much this. Best results I've had are with the new OWNHAMMER IR's with the Scott Peterson mixes ( SP mix). Killer thorough FRFR and direct to recording. I'm a bedroom player mostly but I've managed a large guitar store and know my gear. Got a chance to bring my axe/clr to a jam tonight and it floored everyone with it's tones. Once you have the good IR's, you just dial the amps like real life and maybe some effects if you want.

Now I need to learn scenes and how to mix amps/cabs like joe bonamassa/Eric Johnson. Maybe a second CLR too.

But seriously, just get the Ownhammers. They're really a game changer.
 
To the OP, if you look at many of my posts from 2012, they are similar. I struggled heavily in 2 areas:figuring out how to use the machine and getting a clean natural tube sound. I went back and forth, at one time even saying I would never the sell the Fratal but devote the time to figuring it out. I even had a Grammy winning player, here on the forum, offer to come to my house to help me figure it out.

I made the decision last year to sell it. With my crazy schedule and 2 little kids, I decided that for me, I preferred getting the ease of having a great clean tube sound though a Drz, Princeton Reverb, or Deluxe, and using pedals. I like the ease of reaching down, grabbing a knob, and having insant satisfaction rather than on the Axe having to go, "let's see blocks, parameters, shunts, scratch my head, scratch my head, cuss, what am I doing wrong". Plus, even though I was blown away by the cool effects and capability of the unit, I never fell in love with any sound in comparison to playing a tube amp. Between the clean to slightly driven sound I prefer to my bluesy-country style, a real amp with a Honeybee in front has been awesome. It also seemed like every time I would play with in a live setting, especially with other guitar players amps blasting, I was always lost in the mix and never cutting through.

However, here I am starting to poke around, thinking I might like to try the Axe thing again. Your post just caught my eye because I went through this before and it reminded me of why I chose to jump ship and go back to amp. I will say, between Scott, Yek, Katsukuri, Larry, and a few others, there are lots of folks that are very helpful here. Best of luck to you.
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
its cool man, i was just trying to see if i could point you in the right direction.

one thing to consider is, even more than hearing the whole rig mic'd is that it's almost like having your ears up against the speaker where the mic would be, all the time. it's so easy as a guitar player to get used to hearing all the room fill from our amps and it's truly an auditory illusion....it's NOT what it really sounds like, but what it sounds like after reflecting off walls, being diffused by furniture and carpet and people, etc.

close mic your rig, then dial the axe and try to match the stem....i'd be amazed if you can't kill it. it's a new paradigm and it takes some getting used to.
 

symphx

Fractal Fanatic
So much this. Best results I've had are with the new OWNHAMMER IR's with the Scott Peterson mixes ( SP mix). Killer thorough FRFR and direct to recording. I'm a bedroom player mostly but I've managed a large guitar store and know my gear. Got a chance to bring my axe/clr to a jam tonight and it floored everyone with it's tones. Once you have the good IR's, you just dial the amps like real life and maybe some effects if you want.

Now I need to learn scenes and how to mix amps/cabs like joe bonamassa/Eric Johnson. Maybe a second CLR too.

But seriously, just get the Ownhammers. They're really a game changer.

When you say "sp" mixes/Scott's mixes, has Scott made his mixes available or just recipes' ie. they arent included in the packs?
 

tonaholic

Experienced
When you say "sp" mixes/Scott's mixes, has Scott made his mixes available or just recipes' ie. they arent included in the packs?

OWNHAMMER includes them in the axefx filed for the new 1x12 dlx and 2x12 bogner cabs. He's adding them to the Marshall libraries as well.
 

kerrlehr

Experienced
Bgrizz - Interesting that you say that. I used to feel the same way when I first got most of my effects. That MXR analog delay was totally new to me, Both the ADA and then the TDZ Flanger were confusing as hell. Thing was/is to a certain extent I was, you are guessing. So, guess away - try it all - re route, tweak away - find your own sound.

Honestly, just treat it like an amp and your effects, but on a screen rather than the floor. You are not just guessing here. However, if you choose to be, you can totally be experimenting. So, that being said, experiment as far as you choose. Kind of like Jimi so creatively did back in the day before effects had been pushed to their limits. (With our Axe-FX units, we have the means to dwarf that now if we choose) That is how you will find new and interesting things if that is what you are after. Or, again, simply just see it as a completely basic simple amp, a cab, and maybe some effects (Or, as a very complex virtual rack worth a hundred grand plus) In either case, don't let it overwhelm you. Basically it is whatever you want it to be.

Some guys here are fully satisfied just using mostly stock presets, other guys literally are inventing sounds yet to be experienced. It is whatever you need it to be.

Lastly, with this forum and fellow forum users here to help, and the killer WIKI resources, "guessing" is a crutch. You absolutely don't need to guess with all you have available here.

No crutch words needed when you hit a road block, ask for specific help and dive deep into the WIKI to find the answers to what you feel you have been guessing about - you need not "Guess", or even "feel" as though that is required - It's not
 

tempus fugit

Inspired
I help a lot of people one-on-one that express the same sorts of issues. What you want is in there - though with the caveats very well explained above - the key isn't just turning parameters and knobs and hoping you get lucky and it isn't 99.999% of the time just downloading presets. The key is having a method to get what you want, not getting lost in the box. This is a creation machine, not a plug-n-play box. Today I went over a guy's house and he had a Mesa 50/50 power amp into a Peavey XXX 412. That's his rig. So, given that rig I turned the power amp and cabinet modeling off globally; we got some decent tones, but nothing that great right away. I plugged in my CLR, we cranked up a bit and got killer tones, really had him smiling then. I plugged back into his rig and we tried it with the power amp modeling and cabinet modeling on and lo and behold... it sounded fantastic. It really did. I had him really digging it within a few minutes... the key isn't that I'm so smart (I'm not) but I understand and can find what you need to use in order to get good tones out of the box. It's not some magic parameter, it's not some magic piece of gear you need. It is one ABSOLUTELY overwhelmingly simple (yet complex) thing you *need* to have down *first*. What? I've said it a million times before, and I'll keep saying it -=- it's the IR. Find the right IR for your amp, then dial the amp. It's simple then. It's all about the IR. Once you have that down; it's almost child's play to dial stuff in. In real time, I'll drop my IR into the AFXII via FractalBot, I'll dial in the reverb and delay (maybe) and then the amp. In under 5 minutes - it's all good from there. Why? The IR. If you don't understand IR's or how to work with them or the cabinet block; that's where you start. I have videos up about dialing the reverb and delay. I have a video up about dialing the cabinet IR using Cab Lab and Own Hammer IR's. I'll be doing more videos soon, I'll keep answering questions and if you want to contact me - PM or email me. I'll try to help. Don't guess; it's a wild goose chase. It's not about buying more gear or any specific gear; it's about learning how to work with what you have right now.
Yep
I'm leaving the power amp and cab modeling on at gig volumes and getting killer tones.
I know it's not what I'm "supposed" to do. But I have a vintage Marshall with OD pedal going into one side of a 4*12 cab and my AFX2 + Matrix power amp going into the other side. Then I A/b'd between the two.
I found that I was able to dial in great tones with minor , basic tweeks to amp controls WITH all the modeling on and at gig volumes, When I turned off power amp and cab modeling or even just cab modeling, it sounded horrible.
So I'm rolling with it for now.
 
Hey guys-

The Axe FX is a deep unit. I just consistently feel like I am completely guessing with what to tweak to get my Axe FX II to sound good. Every patch from other users I load RARELY sounds any good at all. Given how much $$ people pay for an Axe FX, I'm shocked by some of the sounds I load onto the unit- maybe it's my rig but so many presets I try sound absolutely awful. I'm just running a Suhr S-4 into the axe, and it's going to my Yamaha 5" monitors, or my matrix Q12a.


For example; I load in an AC-30 Top Boost amp, with 2x12 Blue speaker, and the Axe just doesn't sound any good. Not a glimmer of a good tone needing to be unlocked; The top end isn't defined, the mids mushy and low end booming. Correcting that doesn't get me much anywhere- I feel like I'm so far in the hole when I start that it's tough to dig my way out of that.

With my traditional rig, simply consisting of a pedalboard into a Fender 65 Deluxe re-issue, I can dial up some basic tones on my bogner blue pedal and get some decent tones. Literally everything at 5 o'clock, I plug in and can get some good stuff. I bought an Axe FX for recording and consistency with live use, but so far it's been such a headache to learn all the lingo/parameters and even get some usable tones out of it- whether for gigging or recording. No presets I load seem to sound anything like my traditional rig. And as I mentioned, building my own isn't getting me there either.

There's so many metal patches out there- I'm just looking for some quality amp tones to base my sound off of. I just can't get anything to sound right, and if I do, I feel like I lucked into it. IDK, I guess I'm just frustrated. It seems so easy to make the unit sound awful, which as I mentioned, I feel like 90% of presets do. Sorry to come off so negative- maybe the modeler route isn't for me. But I sit down to track a song, spend 2 hours trying to get a quality sound out of my axe, and give up because I can't get it to feel/sound truly amp-like. Does anyone have any tips? I've done my best to learn all the basic parameters of the amp block, and I've lurked on here for a while, but I just can't get my amp models to sound good. I'm particularly a lower-gain player; does anyone have any examples of the axe killing on some lowgain? Maybe I should have gone Kemper for some more basic rock n' roll tones.

Basically, I feel like there's too many options for me sometimes, and no presets sound good to my ear. IDK.


I was going through the same thing. I scheduled an online consultation with Scott. He went through his method of setting things up. I'm extremely happy with my tone.


I'm telling this to anyone going through this issue. Buy the Ownhammer IR's!!! They are worth 200 times what you pay for them, and schedule a sessions with Scott. Problem will be solved... Best money I've spent all year.
 
Last edited:

yek

Moderator
Moderator
Hey guys- (...)

What helps, is starting simple.

Make sure your unit is reset to factory defaults.
Then build a simple preset: amp + cab, and refine that.

Regarding 3rd party IRs: forget them at this stage. All stock cabs are usable.
If you can't find anything among those that suits you, you won't find it in 3rd party IRs.

For the record: I love 3rd party IRs. I just don't think that they are the cure for the struggle of the OP.

What also helps, is getting together with an experienced Axe-Fx user near you, and go through stuff together.
 

roodboy

Inspired
Whats the OP rig consist of power amp/cab, powered FRFR?
Knowing these things may help people give you tips.
Yek is spot on regarding starting simple and dial it from scratch yourself.
 

favance

Power User
OWNHAMMER includes them in the axefx filed for the new 1x12 dlx and 2x12 bogner cabs. He's adding them to the Marshall libraries as well.

I agree with others...IRs are the secret sauce. The new Ownhammer IRs and mixes fixed most all of my issues.
 
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