Dooood. I remember "discovering" this with my band in 1979. Whipped it out on our latest CD, too. Good one on ya.
"Did fire come first, or this patch trick?"
Here is a totally cool trick which dates from the 70’s. The guy who
taught me rock guitar showed me this one. Its been around for a long
time, but is pretty much forgotten these days.
You can get a very ear-catching oscillation sound by feeding a Wah pedal
into two Distortion/Fuzz pedals with a Phaser in between them. You crank
the depth of the Phaser, and dial a very fast rate, with a fair amount of feedback.
When I heard my friend do this live, I freaked out. I bugged him until he showed
me how he did it. People assumed he used some special effect, but no. Just a Crybaby
wah into his Univox Super Fuzz, an MXR phaser, then into a cheap, no-name overdrive
into his ancient Marshall (which we later found out was a JTM45 – worth big bucks!).
A fun, and long-lost trick, from the Analog Stone Age, resurrected for your enjoyment
by your resident living fossil, Smilefan!
A couple of things.
Malcolm Young plays a 1963 Gretsch Double-cutaway Jet Firebird He calls
this guitar "The Beast".
THE AMPS: Malcolm uses a variety of vintage Marshalls on stage and in the studio.
At various times he uses JTM45’s, Superbass heads, and the ultra rare JTM 45/100.
FORBIDDEN SECRETS OF THE DRIVE BLOCKS!
I’ve harped on various details of Drive block use for most of this thread, but I think
it bears repetition, now that many have their Axe II’s. So here is my lecture on
real world patch-making with the drive blocks.
Why use drives at all, instead all our incredible hi gain amp models?
Because drive pedals hitting the input stage of an amp sounds different from a hi gain
preamp, sounds different from an overdriven, clipping power section!
Three distinctly different sounds and playing feels.
What you hear in 80-90% of classic 60’s/70’s/80’s rock recordings is a combo
of drive pedals into an amp’s input stage and power section clipping.
Everybody from Keith Richards to Kurt Cobain used pedals into vintage tube amps.
So, if you want to make those type sounds, we need to learn to use the drive blocks.
Drive Blocks Pg. 1:
Drive: When going for subtle drive flavors, consider starting at a ‘0’ setting.
Many times I have achieved great vintage sounds from the TS808 and Fuzz Face
models with zero drive.
Tone: Sweep this by ear! Your settings will vary drastically according
to the results you are seeking. Generally, I never set it higher than ‘6’.
When creating smooth vintage lead tones set Tone well below ‘5’ (especially when
using a bright Drive, like the Treble Booster model). You can dial clarity and brightness
back in at the amp’s EQ.
Level: Generally set between 4-10, depending on how percussive you want
your drive attack to sound. Light overdrives and boosts should be set high,
fuzzes much lower.
Mix: Does not have to be/should not always be set to ‘10’. Great drive effects
can be achieved by setting your drive level high, then setting the Mix low to
create a ‘flavor’ rather than an overwhelming wash of distortion.
Low Cut/ High Cut: Possibly the most important Drive settings.
They will make the difference between a ripping, shrill sound and
a smooth, vintage-approved sound. Sweep these both by ear!
Look at my settings. You’ll see how often I set the Lo around 600Hz,
and the Hi around 700Hz. I keep my Drive bandwidth narrow so my patches
stay defined, with a clear high end. (Take a look at my “Duane Allman @ Fillmore”
patch for an illustration of this technique)
Clip Types: Take a good listen to the options. Don’t just use the stock settings -
LV Tube – This will give the mildest, clearest drive
Hard – This will give the hardest string attack
Soft – This will give the softest, smoothest string attack
GE Diode – This will give a bright, sweet attack
FW Rect – Octave up overtones
HV Tube – This will give a rich, full-range EQ drive
Si Diode – Boxy, mid-rangey drive
4558/Diode – Highest drive level available, most gain.
Slew – Turning up will give the impression of increased drive thickness.
Bias – Settings of 0.0-3.0 will seem to increase the gain, giving your pedal
a punchier sound. Settings below 0.0 will sound progressively weaker,
smoother, and sweeter (great for vintage fuzz flavors).
My advice with the 4 control EQ is simple. Sweep all four controls and LISTEN!
The midrange is the most critical. Generally the MID FREQ is set 600-700Hz
for Fender type tones, and 800-850Hz for Marshall type tones. The more vintage
you want to sound, drop the Bass and Treble below 0.0. Vintage pedals generally
cut lows and highs.
Getting creative with the Drive Blocks:
Two Drives in Parallel – Sometimes what you want doesn’t exist so you have to make it yourself.
Example, in my fuzz patch, “Orange Kay - Elevation”, I used a Fuzz Face and Octavia in parallel
to get the fat, bassy fundamental tones of that pedal, concurrent with the pedal’s ‘octave up’
overtones when played above the 12th fret. I used the Block’s ‘Mix’ controls to determine how
much of each flavor sounded right, and dialed the Hi & Lo Cuts of each so their frequencies would not
overlap excessively, and maintain the integrity of each fuzz in the sonic picture.
Two Drives in Series – Stacking drive pedals to get unique sounds and textures has long been a
secret of pro guitarists and studio wizards. Billy Gibbon’s signature ‘rubber crunch’ tone is achieved
this way. If you look at my fuzz patch, “Who’s That Lady?”, you’ll see I’m feeding a Fuzz Face into
an Octavia. This makes possible the very dense, intense fuzz tone featured in that song, which is not
in the range of any single fuzz model. If you look at my “The Naughty Wah” patch, you’ll see
I fed one Bender Fuzz into another. Because I set the ‘Mix’ very low on both, it gives me a nice
chewy midrange texture, reminiscent of 70’s Funk/R&B recordings, rather than an unintelligible
wall of fuzz.
These are just general guidelines. I have broken these rules many times
and gotten cool sounds. The ear is the final judge. OK, class dismissed.
Bump because this was the first time I saw this and read through the tips. Thanks for Smilefan creating the original content and LVC for condensing it to a quickly digestible package.Created a PDF of his tips I found (due to file size I posted on my website)
You can download here
SmileFan Tips and Tutorial for Axe-FX
His stuff is great - written in a way that anybody with a fundamental understanding of tube amps and pedals can understand. Obviously some of the tips are dated (and should be updated) but overall I found them extremely helpful and insightful.