1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Fractal Axe FX Insanity.

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by mexMan, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. mexMan


    Nov 7, 2013
    When it comes to building tone and getting effects done, I'm kinda obsessive (I still can't get my perfect EQ on my amp yet, and I've been trough 7 or 8 that I ''kinda'' like), and I play in a alternative/progressive rock band, and I've seen the Axe FX unit around for some time now, with GREAT results... In guitar.

    I was watching John Myung's rig a few days ago, and I noticed he uses an Axe FX unit too! My questions are:

    1. If I used one, should I keep my plan of getting a two channel EQ (for two different types of EQ) or it should be enough with the Axe unit?

    2. Since it's possible to use it as an amp head, should I keep it that way or go with a power amp head too (Mesa M90 or Ampeg SVT-3)?

    3. Am I insane?

  2. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
  3. negativefx

    negativefx complete hack

    Feb 18, 2013
    Fort Collins
    I want a Kemper sooo bad.
  4. mexMan


    Nov 7, 2013
    Those things are just crazy. Great quality.
  5. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    The AxeFxII, aka "second generation" AxeFx is an incredibly capable preamp processor and tone shaping powerhouse for bass. Current firmware added two versions of the Mesa 400 bass amp head and the Orange AD200B, in addition to the legacy SVT head, and some other amp models that are worthy for true vintage types of tones (Fender Bassman, HiWatt, etc., when guitar and bass amps were used interchangeably, late 1960s, early 1970s).

    The AxeFx is a preamp. External amplification is needed. The emulated tube amp models include both preamp stage and (defeatable) output amplifier emulation. It also has cabinet simulations of many bass cabinets for those who interface with a full range speaker system. It also includes (multiple iterations of) just about every effect and dynamics processor you could ever want or need, and parameter controllers/modifiers allow for some incredibly unique sound creations and live MIDI control over tone and effects. It's an exhaustive list, but very useful items include compression, multiband compression, emulated drive/distortion stomps, graphic & para EQs, EQ filters, synths, and the list goes on and on. It is a tone creation studio in a box, really.

    To the OP, you can program the AxeFx with multiple parallel paths and switch between them, allowing for varied tone options without necessarily leaving a preset. You set up a "virtual" pedal board, amp, speaker, process rack, and use the "scenes" function to engage or bypass these modules (blocks) as desired. It's freaking awesome, especially if you obsess.

    But to the point, YES, any version of the AxeFx will allow you to get excellent bass tones - IMO the AxeFxII a bit better/easier than the 1st gen units (AxeFx Standard or Ultra), but all good. Also, IMHO, Myung's tone doesn't really do much for me, personally, and I wouldn't judge the AxeFx solely on his tone as the basis. You should haunt the Fractal Audio Systems forum if you want to hear more samples of bass sounds. It is a small but vocal group of users who play bass using the AxeFx. It is an incredibly comprehensive tool for creating guitar sounds, and also bass sounds - perhaps overkill for many bassists. But if you enjoy tone creation without limitation, and know how to use the tools, the AxeFx is simply in a class by itself.
  6. johnbegone

    johnbegone Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    If you get the AxeFX, you certainly wouldn't need external EQ. It's a very powerful processor with tons of EQ options.

    I looked into the AxeFX and Kemper exhaustively and settled on the Kemper which is what the guitarists in my band now use. They are pairing the Kemper's with a FRFR (full range flat response) amp (Matrix GT1000FX) and a FRFR cab (Xitone). With the Kemper, you're either downloading or creating profiles of full rigs, including preamp/poweramp/speakercab/microphone. It's not intended to be piped out to a power amp and through a cab again, you can technically disable the cab on the Kemper - but it's just an EQ algorithm so it's not perfect. Going direct to PA is the perfect use for live (obviously it's an amazing recording tool as well). The FRFR amp/cab is our solution for live guitar sounds as we don't always play in clubs with great FOH.

    For bass, I just haven't seen the need for me to get a Kemper. I have a few different preamps and combining those with my Mesa amp + Berg cab gives me all the tones I need. We did profile the B7K and VT bass to have an easy recording rig for demos though, and it works great. If you can justify it, the Kemper is a great solution.
  7. mexMan


    Nov 7, 2013
    Thanks guys, I'm going to start saving up for one! Haha, do you guys know, apart from the Fractal MFC101 any other possibilities for foot controllers?
  8. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Be sure to post some sound clips when you get it!! :bassist:
  9. mexMan


    Nov 7, 2013
    I will, as soon as I find a client for my kidney haha.
  10. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I've been using a stock Behringer FCB1010 for years with the AxeFx. It's great bang for the buck but is no fun to program if you're a MIDI newbie. The logic of how it works is a little odd and the documentation is accurate, though it isn't explained well for those who don't know MIDI programming in general. That's the price to pay for such an inexpensive MIDI pedal, though. The MFC-101 is designed to plug n play with the AxeFx.

    Any MIDI footpedal can be used with the AxeFx.

    As for the Kemper toaster, I appreciate that it is another popular piece of gear for guitarists, but the OP specifically asked about the AxeFx. It's funny how quickly KPA enthusiasts read a post such as "...I have a question about the AxeFx...", and somehow their minds process this as "...I need to tell him about what the KPA does instead..." Kinda weird, but predictable internet forum behavior.
    born2lift likes this.
  11. mexMan


    Nov 7, 2013
    Yeah, I've seen a few rigs with the Behringer FCB, and well, it seems REALLY practical to move around, but yeah, since is not an MFC, is not the same progremming a plug n' play rather than a different unit, so I'd have to look on that to be sure what to use.

    I know what you mean, hah, it's weird to think I ask about one thing and I get derailed to something else, but even though I'm open to options and recomendations... And I can't afford a Kemper (nor an Axe FX but I'm working for it), aaaaaaaaanyway, let's see what goes, I hope I get my hands on an Axe FX of my own soon enough.
  12. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Where are you located? It's very common for the nice kids over on the Fractal Forum to meet new/prospective buyers in their region of the country/world and do an extended demo session on the thing. Perhaps you float that idea over there. If you were within an hour or 2 of my area, I'd be happy to do the demo for you with the following conditions: beer during and after...strippers after.

    As for the MFC101, you pay a premium price for the plug-n-play aspect of that MIDI controller (and you still need expression pedals added for volume swells, wah, etc.), to the tune $600+. The FCB1010 will never be an MFC101, but it will allow you to get around on the AxeFx and minimally do the basics. Once you digest the MIDI programming aspects of both units, you'd be surprised at how much you can do with the FCB1010. It's actually pretty impressive IMHO. Unfortunately, too many new FCB owners never get over the learning curve hump. The point is: how much is it worth to you? How much prospective frustration can you take for saving $600? Also, considering the price of the FCB, if you gig a lot, you can afford backup (which is what I did...used for $99US).
  13. I had an Axe-Fx Ultra for about a year, for guitar. It sounded great, and can be as complex as you want it to be if you go deep into the advanced parameters.

    It was overkill for my needs, YMMV. I have several tube amps for guitar, and a rack rig, with a few preamps but my main gear for guitar is a Zoom G5 direct into FRFR, and I'm using a Zoom B3 for bass direct into FRFR.

    IMO, the Zoom G5/B3 provide a wide variation of tones, tone shaping and effects with enough parameter control for me. If you really want/need more control, Axe-Fx is a good fit; never owned a Kemper, but you would need amps to model, you can probably look online to see what bass amp models have been created.

    If you have a modern iOS device and interface, Positive Grid BIAS (and optionally JamUp / JamUp Pro) may be worth a look. BIAS allows you to design your own tube preamps poweramps...great deal of control on the signal processing. JamUp has effects, and a few amp models; you can create amps in BIAS and use them in JamUp.
  14. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I also have a Zoom B3 and MS-60B for gigs where I don't need all the horsepower and where a small footprint pedal is preferable due to very tight stage spaces. I do a lot of acoustic duo shows with the B3 for this reason.
  15. mexMan


    Nov 7, 2013
    jimfist, I'm in Mexico, close to the border wiht Arizona, I play in an alternative rock band, but I take inspiration on progressive, funk and jazz bassists and guitarists (yeah, for the bass I use guitar riffs once in a while), I've been designing my effects and playing trough a Line 6 M13, and I really like it, but I'm anally obsesive with having the cleanest signal possible, and I've heard that the Axe FX units gives great effect and amps modulation, so I'd REALLY like to try it out.
  16. bassmusic17


    Jan 15, 2011
    The entire periphery band uses them. They have no cabs on stage. Just the Axe fx and ran through the pa. I don't get it personally.
  17. mexMan


    Nov 7, 2013
    Well it works as an amp too, and with the modulation possibilities it kills the need of an amp head, and the effects are simply amazing, I'm not planning on using it as an amp head, but still, great modulation capabilities. Insane unit, I love it and I want it.
  18. Nolly from periphery is using a matrix power amp and a 610 with a mic on the cab aside from a DI from the axe fx.

    Did you guys see deftones bass player has also switched to using the axe fx?
  19. mexMan


    Nov 7, 2013
    But that's just because the preamp from the Axe FX is built as a guitar amp, that's why it works as a guitar head, but as a bass head, nicht so gut, so even though it has great Bass head emulations, it doesn't work like a Bass head as good as it does like a guitar one.

    I know! Lovely.
  20. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Incorrect. Perhaps you could try again at explaining what you mean. Do you own an AxeFx? Not to be condescending, honestly. Speaking for myself as an AxeFx owner / user, your statements don't make any sense. What do you base this on? Or did I misunderstand the point you're trying to make.