If you’re recording on a budget, or gigging with limited space, it’s essential to have
a few units capable of adapting to many different functions; and it’s always a good
idea to have something that’s ready and willing to cover a lot of sonic territory.
We’ll give kudos to anyone who can zero in on one thing well; when you do many
things well, it warrants extra recognition. For providing us an outstanding array of
uses in a single package, we present our Premier Gear Versatility Award.
Fractal Audio Axe-Fx
The Axe-Fx rackmount effects processor boasts 49 amp types, 23
cabs and 25 effect types (with multiple iterations of each) that can be
combined and routed endlessly. The versatility was through the roof,
with so many convincing tones from stellar reverb to vintage classics
with added controls that you may just take this everywhere, from the
recording studio to the road. “I can’t say enough good things about
this box… a road-worthy all-in-one guitar preamp/effects processor,”
said reviewer Steve Ouimette [September ’08, online].
Soldano 44 BCM
Reviewer Mike Mueller said [August ’08,
online], “I would rank this amp’s versatility somewhere between unbelievable and
ridiculous.” The 1x12 combo BCM—which
stands for Blues City Music, where the amp is
exclusively sold—is as capable of producing
crunchy classic rock as it is sharp death metal.
Its 50 watts are louder than expected, and the
reverb holds its own. Add customizable tolex,
speakers and preamp configurations, and you
have even more options for tonal bliss.
Xotic’s BB+ is a little box packed with a
lot of tone. It was two channels that can
be stacked in either direction, with tone
controls for each. The flavors it produces
include all of the usual suspects—plexi,
brown sound, tweed—but leave the
door wide open for tone shaping of your
own. The versatility is key for live situations, complementing whatever needs
you have. Reviewer Chris Burgess said
[August ’08, online], “While it might not
be the last boost/overdrive pedal you
ever buy, it will certainly be the last one
you’ll ever think about selling.”
Arteffect Zenith Overdrive
An overdrive with a mess of available tones isn’t always a good thing,
but the Zenith manages to make each one count. The list of tones available with some working of the pedal’s five knobs reads like a checklist of
desired tones: clean boost, Marshall, Screamer, Southern rock, woman
tone, metal, and more. To top it all off, the pedal blends into your existing rig and tone flawlessly.
“The Zenith is an anomaly, offering an incredibly
broad range of tones with nearly all of them kick-
ing ass.” – June ’08.