A month in with the Axe Fx II, a review.

Mr. Brady

Member
Messages
840
So it's been a little over a month since I've had my Axe II and MFC III board. I was on the waiting list for the Ax8, but got tired of waiting so I snapped up a great deal on a used Axe II Mark II with MFC and also an expression pedal. I got the whole package at a price that I could easily flip and not lose anything on it if I decided the Ax8 or helix would suit better later. I figured I'd get to know some of the Axe amp tones while I waited for the Ax8.

I don't gig much anymore and I'm not anybody significant in the guitar world by any means. I'm just a guy that likes to play guitar and has for the past 25+ years. I've owned a decent selection of tube amps, enough to know what I like for good tube tone in the room. Here's the list: Peavey JSX, Mesa Mark IV's, Mesa Tremoverb, Mesa Rectoverb, 6505, Vox AC30, Vox Night Train, Suhr Badger 18. I still own a Bogner Shiva and Peavey Delta Blues.

I like the tones of the 80's hair metal, Grunge, SRV blues, modern heavy tones, mid gain tones like the Stones or Wall Flowers, Van Halen, country chicken picking tones. Let's face it, there aren't many guitar tones I don't like to play with in some form. I liked every single one of my amps. I love my Bogner Shiva so I still have it. If I had the finances I would have kept all of them, but they are big, heavy, and take up space and money. I also come from a modeling background, my first being a Digitech Rack FX unit back in the 90's, to a POD HD500 that I still have. (trying to sell it, $250 original box, pm me)

So my first impression going through the presets was "meh". But we all know presets suck right? I should point out that I'm using an Alto TSA112 powered monitor. I downloaded Axe Edit and got to work. I started pulling up some of the amps I've been familiar with that had some of my favorite tones in them. I started with just an amp block and cab, added some reverb and delay to start. In the first day I got a really nice Shiva Clean, a great Vox crunch, a decent bogner lead tone. It was good, but still didn't beat out my tube amps. I really did like the MFC controller though. Very easy for me to set up and it has lots of functionality.

I had my first gig with it earlier this month. I just set up a couple presets based on the /13 and Vox that I used the whole time. I found a cheap rack case and it was really a breeze to carry, set up and do my short gig. I also have a case that I used for the MFC so just two cases, my guitar, and my speaker. Coming from the POD that I usually used for this gig, the biggest difference was not only the tones, but how responsive it was to picking, pickups, and volume changes. It's a whole new level of expression and dynamics as a player. I just wanted to keep playing and felt I could add so much by changing my pick attack or pickups. Just like my real amps.

I've expanded to start playing around with some of the advanced parameters, these really make the tone stand out. I have been able to get tones now out of the Alto that easily are on Par with my Bogner in the room. I get the volume up to about the same level and it just rocks, the feel is there, the amount of tones available are infinite. I've just barely scratched the surface of the different amps. I'm mainly been playing with the Plexi, /13, vox, Bogners, Dumble models. I also downloaded a fantastic violin patch as well as an organ patch. It's a ton of fun to set up a loop with some backing guitar, bass, organ, and violin and the do some masturbatory soloing over it. It's inspiring to me and I've been playing a ton more.

So I passed on the Ax8. The violin, organ, and some other dual amp tones plus the USB recording has me convinced that I wouldn't be as happy with the Ax8 right now. If I gigged more, I'd consider it, but for me, the rack and MFC are great. I may sell the Bogner Shiva. I really can get tones that sound just as good to me in the room with some volume. The axe like a good tube amp needs some volume to breath for the in the room feel, once you hit that point and tweak your patches to that volume it's so close to me that it's indistinguishable.

TL/DR version: AxII kicks ass. I'm in love. Now I just need more guitars and can forget the amp chasing. I've got my tones.
 

veritechc

Member
Messages
2,801
So it's been a little over a month since I've had my Axe II and MFC III board. I was on the waiting list for the Ax8, but got tired of waiting so I snapped up a great deal on a used Axe II Mark II with MFC and also an expression pedal. I got the whole package at a price that I could easily flip and not lose anything on it if I decided the Ax8 or helix would suit better later. I figured I'd get to know some of the Axe amp tones while I waited for the Ax8.

I don't gig much anymore and I'm not anybody significant in the guitar world by any means. I'm just a guy that likes to play guitar and has for the past 25+ years. I've owned a decent selection of tube amps, enough to know what I like for good tube tone in the room. Here's the list: Peavey JSX, Mesa Mark IV's, Mesa Tremoverb, Mesa Rectoverb, 6505, Vox AC30, Vox Night Train, Suhr Badger 18. I still own a Bogner Shiva and Peavey Delta Blues.

I like the tones of the 80's hair metal, Grunge, SRV blues, modern heavy tones, mid gain tones like the Stones or Wall Flowers, Van Halen, country chicken picking tones. Let's face it, there aren't many guitar tones I don't like to play with in some form. I liked every single one of my amps. I love my Bogner Shiva so I still have it. If I had the finances I would have kept all of them, but they are big, heavy, and take up space and money. I also come from a modeling background, my first being a Digitech Rack FX unit back in the 90's, to a POD HD500 that I still have. (trying to sell it, $250 original box, pm me)

So my first impression going through the presets was "meh". But we all know presets suck right? I should point out that I'm using an Alto TSA112 powered monitor. I downloaded Axe Edit and got to work. I started pulling up some of the amps I've been familiar with that had some of my favorite tones in them. I started with just an amp block and cab, added some reverb and delay to start. In the first day I got a really nice Shiva Clean, a great Vox crunch, a decent bogner lead tone. It was good, but still didn't beat out my tube amps. I really did like the MFC controller though. Very easy for me to set up and it has lots of functionality.

I had my first gig with it earlier this month. I just set up a couple presets based on the /13 and Vox that I used the whole time. I found a cheap rack case and it was really a breeze to carry, set up and do my short gig. I also have a case that I used for the MFC so just two cases, my guitar, and my speaker. Coming from the POD that I usually used for this gig, the biggest difference was not only the tones, but how responsive it was to picking, pickups, and volume changes. It's a whole new level of expression and dynamics as a player. I just wanted to keep playing and felt I could add so much by changing my pick attack or pickups. Just like my real amps.

I've expanded to start playing around with some of the advanced parameters, these really make the tone stand out. I have been able to get tones now out of the Alto that easily are on Par with my Bogner in the room. I get the volume up to about the same level and it just rocks, the feel is there, the amount of tones available are infinite. I've just barely scratched the surface of the different amps. I'm mainly been playing with the Plexi, /13, vox, Bogners, Dumble models. I also downloaded a fantastic violin patch as well as an organ patch. It's a ton of fun to set up a loop with some backing guitar, bass, organ, and violin and the do some masturbatory soloing over it. It's inspiring to me and I've been playing a ton more.

So I passed on the Ax8. The violin, organ, and some other dual amp tones plus the USB recording has me convinced that I wouldn't be as happy with the Ax8 right now. If I gigged more, I'd consider it, but for me, the rack and MFC are great. I may sell the Bogner Shiva. I really can get tones that sound just as good to me in the room with some volume. The axe like a good tube amp needs some volume to breath for the in the room feel, once you hit that point and tweak your patches to that volume it's so close to me that it's indistinguishable.

TL/DR version: AxII kicks ass. I'm in love. Now I just need more guitars and can forget the amp chasing. I've got my tones.
You and I my friend are in the exact same place. The Axe 2 is a excellent piece of equipment. I hate the on unit interface but love Axe Edit. I think it truly shines with amdient patches and the High Gain tones are to die for. With this unit I found out I love Mesa Amps. Our musical tastes are similar so it follows that we would both like this unit.

I also passed on the Ax8. For me Its a cut down version of the Axe and I already own the Axe. I do not use my Axe Fx live I have a Helix for that. But the design choices and wait for the Ax8 made it so I just don't want it.

Its great to see you enjoying your Axe 2. Rock on \m/
 

Mr. Brady

Member
Messages
840
You and I my friend are in the exact same place. The Axe 2 is a excellent piece of equipment. I hate the on unit interface but love Axe Edit. I think it truly shines with amdient patches and the High Gain tones are to die for. With this unit I found out I love Mesa Amps. Our musical tastes are similar so it follows that we would both like this unit.

I also passed on the Ax8. For me Its a cut down version of the Axe and I already own the Axe. I do not use my Axe Fx live I have a Helix for that. But the design choices and wait for the Ax8 made it so I just don't want it.

Its great to see you enjoying your Axe 2. Rock on \m/
I had an Axe Standard back years ago, the modeling wasn't quite there for me at that point and I knew I'd eventually be unhappy with it and have to sell it at a loss. I sold it pretty quickly so I could get what I paid for it. It also didn't have USB recording or the robust editor that we have now. I decided to wait until the modeling got more mature and the features were added. I really have been wanting an AxII for a while, but the cost and the form factor held me back a bit. The MFC does allow me the level of control I need on the floor, but doesn't have some of the nice features like Helix. IF there were anything I would improve it would be better UI on the Fractal products as we've all heard before. I really would probably not like the AxII nearly as much if all my editing was done via the front panel. It really makes it difficult to get to the tones you want using that front screen and those buttons.

I'm able to get to the basic amp controls fairly easily via the front panel, but would have a harder time right now going much deeper than that in a live setting.
 

db9091

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,320
My buddy and I go back and forth with the FXII and Kemper. We like just spinning the dial and playing, then trying to alter a tone to match something. The creativity and ear needed is challenging and fun. In the end, I need an H9 to do some things the KPA can't do, so the FXII has it all-in-one, but the prices are similar when you look at the total picture.

Bottom line is, I agree, it's a load of fun. He thinks it's a bit of a bear to deal with without the Editor, but I'm used to rack mount gear and said it's better than most rack mount gear I've used, so even then, it's got an intuitive interface.

The key to keeping yourself from going down the rabbit hole is to use it with someone else. Then you HAVE to jam! So I raise a glass to you and say: Jam On, Rock Brothers!
 




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