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Why Fractal is good for my sanity... and my wallet.

York Audio

Power User
Vendor
I’ve been an avid Fractal user for about 6 or 7 years. It always sounds good. When I turn it on, I always get consistently great tones and feel inspired to play. Sometimes people write about buying real amps because they love the models so much and now I’m one of those people.

I love the PVH Block model and the 2-Channel Dual Rec, so out of curiosity and wanting to crank up the real thing, I ended up buying both. So over the past month I ended up getting an original 5150 signature head (same as block) and a ‘96 Mesa Rev G Dual Rec which cost around $2,500 for both. Immediately, I had to buy $350 worth of tubes (now costing me $2,850). The 5150 blew a fuse and fried a power tube two minutes after I put the new tubes in. Now it’s in the shop and probably gonna cost me another couple hundred bucks just to get it playable again along with ANOTHER set of tubes.

I did an A/B test of my ‘96 Dual Rec vs the Recto 1 Red model and couldn’t believe how close they were with a little tweaking (mainly the presence knob). It really is amazing how close the models are to the real thing and we forget how spoiled we are to have all of these amps at our fingertips. The accuracy of the models is truly mind-blowing.

So after it’s all said and done, I’ll probably have more than 3k invested in these amps that are only marginally different from the Fractal models and have to convince myself that it was worth it. Take a tip from uncle Justin... stick with your Fractal. It’ll save you a lot of money and maintain your sanity. Now I’m gonna go and enjoy playing my Fractal while I wait for the shop to tell me how much I owe them.

Question for Cliff: @FractalAudio The 5150’s “Normal Gain” input sounds meaner, deeper, clearer, and gives the gain knob a more usable range compared to the “High Gain” input. Do you know if setting the Input Trim to 0.5 on the PVH Block model is the same as using the Normal Gain input, or is there another difference in circuitry aside from just a lower input level that changes the tone so much?
 

sskkmm

Power User
As I go on yet another year without firing up a tube amp I wonder why I am holding on to them. :/

I know my daughters sure don't care a lick about em! Maybe a grandchild someday...
 

Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
The Axe-FX cured me of pedal GAS. I used to built between 4 to 6 pedals a month. Justifying to myself that maybe one of them might make it to my board. Nowadays the Axe-FX IS my board. I got all the sounds I need in the Axe-FX. And I sound SO much like a pod person now.

Occasionally some pedal shows up that might make for an interesting one trick pony, but then I ask myself, do I really need that one trick pony? So no need for pedals any more. No reason to build pedals any more. So now I build guitars instead. There is no cure for GAS, only death will permanently cure you of GAS. The only thing you can do is change what form it will take.
 
@York Audio This is well reasoned. I had considered the Hughes & Kettner GrandMeister Deluxe 40, because I really wanted versatility. It was reading statements from people who own the real amps and found the Axe models not only to capture the general tone, but the actual behavior of the amps so indistinguishably, that convinced me to buy the Axe FX III without the ability to audition it myself; furthermore, the ability to mod any amp in the simplest and quickest way, plus Cliff's own amp designs, correcting problems he finds as an engineer, makes it a far better choice than anything out there. You can act as your own Jose Arredondo, or you peruse the most sought after amps, available or obscure. Most importantly for me, I find genuine inspiration in the tones I'm forming, without the volume haha.

I've always felt like tube amps are living beasts, that they breathe, and they react in a living way to your playing. I've found the Axe FX to capture that perfectly.
 

GreatGreen

Power User
I have a couple of tube amps I love in addition to the Axe-Fx III. Frankly I think I like the idea of playing through a tube amp at least as much as the actual sound I get from playing one. The Axe-Fx III is just as good for the tones I like though.

Can I tell the difference if I A/B the real amp through a reactive load and route it back into the Axe-Fx for the IR and stuff? Well... if I really want to match them exactly, it generally takes several minutes of solid back-and-fourth concentration and tweaking to get from starting around 90% there to getting 98-99% identical. So yeah after a few minutes I can get close enough that if I stop playing for about a minute or so and start again, I can't tell which one I'm plugged into without looking.
 
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DLC86

Fractal Fanatic
Take a tip from uncle Justin... stick with your Fractal. It’ll save you a lot of money and maintain your sanity.
You should have written this tip a couple days ago, cuz I ordered an amp just yesterday, LOL!

It's an Hiwatt Little D and the deal on it was too good to pass so I'll probably be able to sell it without losing money if I come to the same conclusion.

I have been tube amp-less for 4 years and my justification for this purchase was to use it as a sanity check in the opposite way: remind me how a real tube amp sounds after playing with fractal devices for a long time.
But also the idea to make a secondary no-frills rig with a lower wattage version of the amp I owned and loved in the past and the bunch of pedals I still have lying around.

Btw, a little OT: does anyone here have any experience with the Diezel VH4 Pedal? Is it worth it?
I want a pedal that can give me a good hi-gain sound on this secondary rig and the VH4 is one of my favourite amps on the axe fx, so..
 

jefferski

Fractal Fanatic
I've always been into versatility. Most of my guitars have mods to get more sounds; I've used various modelers since way back. I like things to sound authentic, but I've only played a handful of amps/cabs/pedals enough to really know how they should sound. So when I heard about the AFX (from a guy working at GC - go figure) I decided it would be worth trying after only being able to hear some Youtube clips. I haven't looked back ;-)
 
@jefferski Yeah, I'm terrible about wanting one piece of gear to handle as much as possible, without sacrificing quality. I was going to reshield my guitar anyway, so at the same time I just rewired it, a Washburn Trevor Rabin, for separate series/parallel on each humbucker using mini switches, plus a Les Paul / SG control panel layout (using two dual concentric pots), with a separate PMT V-Treb variable treble bleed circuit on each pickup. That combined with the Axe FX III easily handles anything I want to do, and the parallel wiring, with the right amp settings, gets as noiselessly stratty as I'd want, using the 59/JB set that came with the guitar. LP tones are just as easy, of course, and I look at EMG tones as easy as using the right OD pedal.
 

Joe Bfstplk

Fractal Fanatic
I’ve been an avid Fractal user for about 6 or 7 years. It always sounds good. When I turn it on, I always get consistently great tones and feel inspired to play. Sometimes people write about buying real amps because they love the models so much and now I’m one of those people.

I love the PVH Block model and the 2-Channel Dual Rec, so out of curiosity and wanting to crank up the real thing, I ended up buying both. So over the past month I ended up getting an original 5150 signature head (same as block) and a ‘96 Mesa Rev G Dual Rec which cost around $2,500 for both. Immediately, I had to buy $350 worth of tubes (now costing me $2,850). The 5150 blew a fuse and fried a power tube two minutes after I put the new tubes in. Now it’s in the shop and probably gonna cost me another couple hundred bucks just to get it playable again along with ANOTHER set of tubes.

I did an A/B test of my ‘96 Dual Rec vs the Recto 1 Red model and couldn’t believe how close they were with a little tweaking (mainly the presence knob). It really is amazing how close the models are to the real thing and we forget how spoiled we are to have all of these amps at our fingertips. The accuracy of the models is truly mind-blowing.

So after it’s all said and done, I’ll probably have more than 3k invested in these amps that are only marginally different from the Fractal models and have to convince myself that it was worth it. Take a tip from uncle Justin... stick with your Fractal. It’ll save you a lot of money and maintain your sanity. Now I’m gonna go and enjoy playing my Fractal while I wait for the shop to tell me how much I owe them.

Question for Cliff: @FractalAudio The 5150’s “Normal Gain” input sounds meaner, deeper, clearer, and gives the gain knob a more usable range compared to the “High Gain” input. Do you know if setting the Input Trim to 0.5 on the PVH Block model is the same as using the Normal Gain input, or is there another difference in circuitry aside from just a lower input level that changes the tone so much?
Same here. I have a '66 Fender Deluxe Amp, a '66 Ampeg Gemini I, a couple amps I personally built, a couple I have modded, and a Wangs Mini 5w amp sitting here collecting dust.

I need to get on with making IRs of all my speakers. They are the bulkiest items, and a couple large cabs could turn into space and cash once I do. It'd be nice to have my own cabs to use alongside the many great commercial IRs I have around - plus, my custom 2x10 Weber X-Cab with AlNiCo 10V speakers sounds amazing....
 

electronpirate

Moderator
Moderator
Uncle Justin knows all.

About once a year, I go play a tube amp, and really like it. After 30 minutes, I'm done. I go home, crank up an Axe FX's studio's worth of amps, and start looking at more guitars.

Ron
 

Jawoom

Inspired
Btw, a little OT: does anyone here have any experience with the Diezel VH4 Pedal? Is it worth it?
I want a pedal that can give me a good hi-gain sound on this secondary rig and the VH4 is one of my favourite amps on the axe fx, so..
Haven't tried one myself, but for what it's worth I've heard nothing but good things from people who have bought the pedal and posted their thoughts.

RE: GAS - I think the Axe will cure my GAS in some regards. I've never had a GAS problem for amps given how expensive high end boutique amps are, but with the Axe I got access to more than I need.

Pedals were easy to buy and sell given the price, but I don't see myself touching them not having a board (only kept a few for sentimental reasons).

I guessing my GAS will primarily shift to guitars and maybe modelling accessories, but mostly guitars :sweatsmile: I'm loving the Axe + Matrix power amp into my Avatar 2x12 with vintage EVM12Ls, but I still haven't tried a high end FRFR like a CLR or a Friedman ASM-12. While the Matrix seems to be killer, I still would like to try a tube power amp at some point just to see what it's like so maybe a Fryette will be in my future at some point... it just never end hey? :oops:
 

rushfan

Experienced
Sold my last tube amp last month - hadn't really played it in years, since I switched to Fractal. Sold it to a friend of my older brother, who loves the amp. Glad I found it a good home!
 

crdark

Inspired
I still have my two tube amps and three pedal boards and I don't plan on selling them.
Since I got the Axe FX I play more than ever and it has been a blessing during this pandemic.

GAS is still a big problem. I've spent this year more money than ever on gear, whilst worrying the most about my future income. Irrational. Stupid.
 
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