wire things up in any order or arrangement
that suits you. The edit button then enables
you to open block menus and set the desired
parameters for each component. Once you
have that process down, operating the Axe-Fx II becomes much more fluid.
I tested the Axe-Fx II with a variety of guitars, including a Gibson Les Paul Standard,
Fender Strat, Ernie Ball Music Man Axis
Sport, and Parker Fly Deluxe, as well as a
Mesa/Boogie 2: 90 power amp and a QSC
K8 powered PA speaker.
You can explore models of plenty of
popular amps—including a Fender Deluxe
Reverb, a Marshall plexi, a Mesa/Boogie
Dual Rectifier, a Dumble Overdrive Special,
and a Peavey 5150—but there are less
mainstream amps, too, like the Cameron
CCV 100 and Carol-Ann OD2, as well as
original Fractal creations. There are also lots
of presets based on classic guitar songs, like
“People Get Ready,” “Still Got the Blues,”
“Cliffs of Dover,” and “Sultans of Swing”
(to name just a few), as well as wacky
sounds that have to be heard to be believed.
These include “A Clockwork Banana,”
“Intrigue [C Minor],” and “Horror Movie.”
I decided to start out by cranking the
Axe-Fx II ’s Deluxe Reverb model and com-
paring it, back-to-back, to my own black-
face Fender Deluxe Reverb. In all honesty, it
had me doing double takes—the sound was
virtually identical. The trademark Fender
sparkle, tube warmth, and sweet breakup
were all audible in the modeled version.
More importantly, the feel and dynamics
were very amp-like. And a big plus with the
Axe-Fx II version over the real amp is that
you can very easily run it through different
virtual cabs—say, a model of a Celestion
Gold-equipped 2x12 or a 1x8 tweed—to
get totally different flavors from the same
amp without fretting over ohms or filling
your garage with cabinets of every size.
to hear audio clips of the Axe-Fx II
hear in the recorded version, but an excellent
launching pad with the feel and reactivity necessary to explore the nuances of Eddie’s style.
If you have a sound that you’ve always wanted to recreate exactly using your favorite
guitar, or if you want to add the sound of a
new amp to the Axe-Fx II ’s library, there’s
an ultra-cool feature called tone matching.
It lets you input an isolated signal—it can
be an audio file or a live amp—and sample
the tonal characteristics. If you’re trying to
match a recorded sound you’ll want to start
with an Axe-Fx II preset that’s close to the
signal you’re sending. But once you’re in
the ballpark, the tone-matching feature fre-quency-plots the reference signal alongside
the local (tone-matched) signal so you can
compare and match the two.
If anything can bring the rack back in
vogue, the Axe-Fx II will be the thing to
do it. It’s a complete, self-contained unit
that does just about everything an amp-effect-cab setup can do (minus actually
outputting the sound for the masses), and
it pretty much avoids the Achilles heel that
has long plagued many products of this
Instant control of