Need help deciding to buy the Axe-Fx: Advice much appreciated


Silver Supporting Member
Hi Guys. I'm thoroughly convinced that the Axe-Fx is a truly amazing product and would be an absolute asset for many purposes. In my particular circumstance, I'm still on the fence and I'll tell you why:

I'm a former gigging musician who is now a bedroom player. The appeal of getting great tones at bedroom levels and for recording on my Mac is very alluring. However, I'm not sure I would really utilize and maximize what the Axe-Fx offers. When it comes down to it, I only need a couple of tones: "Back in Black", "Lay it Down", and "Crossroads." All of which I can get with the right Marshall (and for less than $1000 used).

I do think it's cool to get all those tweed, BFDR, and D-tones, but don't have a real use for them. After the novelty of all these tones wears off, I feel like I'd be back to my meat-and-potatoes tones I grew up with. I might only have two to three patches that I would gravitate towards most of the time. Is the Axe-Fx, therefore, overkill for my purposes? Thanks in advance for your insights.

Scott Peterson

Co-Founder of TGP Administrator
Staff member
Mostly likely it is overkill if you feel the need to constantly push it to it's limits.

But it will excel at the role you are asking about.

For my own purposes, I use about 5 main presets 99% of the time; one being a live acoustic preset. I have about 30-40 other presets I use when the need arises live or for recording.

It simply comes down to a) yes it will do what you want from it; and b) it can do more if you ever need it to.

There are other very good choices to consider at the same time.


It sounds like you have already convinced yourself that you don't need one. IMO it would be total overkill. Too many good tones that you would never use. All those great sounds going to waste.


Senior Member
overkill, maybe.

but it all depends on what you foresee about your usage patterns.

if volume is a big concern in your playing situation, perhaps axe is worth looking into as i would take a good modeler over a choked tube amp at low volumes any day. i don't see any $1000 marshall-esque amps sounding good at bedroom levels, but you never know (and maybe you can be a loud bedroom player?).

also, if you factor in the costs of mics and an interface (axe can act as an interface, right?) then axe might look a little more appealing. effects might be the kicker. it may be cheaper/easier to just use an axefx than wading into the world of pedals, rack effects, etc. but you also have the option of using computer plugins since you're going to be doing mostly bedroom playing and recording.

it seems the answer, as always, is "it depends."
I use only 2 or 3 amp sounds in the axe - Fender, Marshall & Vox but would be happy with just one. When I use an amp & pedal board I have at least $1500 tied up in that system and it's limited to me.

I don't think it's overkill because you will have the option of adding pedals, effects, etc. and it's already in the need to purchase anything additional. If you're anything like me I would be constantly tweaking that amp and adding pedals, swapping speakers, etc.


The combination of Axe-Fx price, being of bedroom player and the need for just a couple of tones makes me say: don't do it. Don't get me wrong, I love my Axe-Fx. I stopped using my Bogner because of the Axe-Fx. But there's a steep learning curve. Don't believe anyone who says there isn't. And you gotta ask yourself if it's worth the trouble.
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So if you spend 1000 dollars on a used Marshall, then you have to figure in the price of at least one, preferrably 2 decent guitar mics (which depending on your taste could cost thousands if you want to go say the Royer 121 route, or less if you want to say get something like a Heil PR30 paired with a 57, still a few hundred bucks.

Then you will need a great cab of course.

So I think going the real amp route will be every bit as expensive if not more then a standard AXE FX. You get plug and play with the Fractal box (direct to your recording device) and really eventually most likely will need something more then a marshall sound (topboost, Blackface etc etc). All usefull.

So in the end, specially if you are just wanting something to plug into and have something sound good and an easy way to record your sound, then I think you can't go wrong with the axe fx.

If you are at all familiar with using a digital device, then you should find your way around the axe fx pretty easily.


It all depends on your needs and how you see yourself using it.
I had bought an Ultra and was pleased with it for the most part. The options and possibilities to control every aspect of your signal and tone were wonderful. Like yourself I was recording on my Imac and am only a bedroom player at this stage in my life.

I worked with it for several months and ultimately sold it and found myself happier with my Mesa 5:25 setup with a few pedals. Not to derail the thread but the 5:25 with it's class A switch is insanely versatile and allowed me to record @ low volumes and get a huge array of tones. I much preferred the overall sound of my guitar recorded through my amp the recorded through the Axe FX.
I still do miss the array of options through the Axe FX and have been tempted to jump on one again - but in general I have not found any modeller to be so satisfying that I stayed with one for very long. Also with the wide array of low wattage amps available today - home recording has never been easier.
Food for thought.


For what you descrbe, a good working ADA MP1 or JMP1 into cab sims ( even a Pod XT using speaker cab sims and Fx ONLY ) or a Palmer and Efx then into your monitors etc. if you are recording etc.

For just a bedroom amp( not that some people don't do serious playing like this ) something with modeling or modeling with tubes Like the Fender XD (suggest modeling with tubes for the very low volume thing if that's important).

Heard good things about the new Spider 4 line 6 thing as well.

The reason I suggest a tube pre into the Pod is you will be largely non volume dependent and much cheaper than Axe Fx and can still plug into anything or headphones for inspiring very low volume playing. which may be overkill unless you are doing some serious recording or woodshedding for something and need inspiration and a good tones library when it comes up.
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For home playing, practicing and recording I believe modelers are the best choice. The Axe-Fx is the best modeler on the market. You can get as sophisticated with it as you want or keep it simple. I don't believe the learning curve is too steep if you stick to a simple amp, cab and a few effects. Once you figure out the navigation scheme, its pretty intuitive. The standard is $1500. If money is a concern, the Digidesign Eleven Rack is about $900.


Silver Supporting Member
I was in the exact same boat. I tried a ton of different options including power scaled amps, good attenuators with dummy load direct in, just really good amps (basically forgoing recording for a while, and the AxeFX multiple times, 11 Rack, Digidesign RP1000 and others.
My "rig" is:
Guitar -> AxeFX (patches usually use one of the Red Wirez cabs -> Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 -> Computer / Adam A5 monitors.
You will basically need all of the above to do recording and then use the AxeFX, replace it with another modeler or insert a Tube amp and mic's.
As a bedroom player I'm extremely happy with the AxeFX. I would say my core tone is a clean Blackface amp pushed, a drive (or two) for rock rhythm and leads, a chorus for FX and delay/reverb (or both) to taste (minimal). I can get that no problem, competely satisfying through my setup, record it, monitor it through the Adams and have it sound HUGE and even switch to headphones when it's late and STILL really dig the tones.
Now, imho a D*mble or Cranked Mesa MKIIC+ has a lot in common with a BF and a killer pedal. But, there are pretty intricate and detailed differences. I believe these difference are captured extremely well in the AxeFX. So, I have patches using those amps too.
I picked up my simple Blackface approach and tried it with a Marshall JTM45 sim and tweaked until I got something that I'm just in love with... then heard a few different clips in the gear testing thread with Plexi styled amps and I wanted to try out the Plexi I sim... currently after some heavy tweaking it's my favorite patch with my strat.
I've owned several AC30's and clones and I'm getting an AC30 tone that just kicks ass clean. But I can overdrive it and crank it full tilt, without killing my dogs or getting divorced!
Anyway, with good monitors and patience I still feel like this thing is unbeatable. I'm just scratching the surface, so much to try.
Another thing -- I would say the tracks you listed in the OP were recorded using very different Marshalls, maybe even different amps altogether. Maybe "Lay it down" sounds better through a SLO or CAE+? :D
(EDIT: the only caveat I've found is with creating patches on studio monitors (at low volumes) when you crank the suckers you might get some extra strident high end. My wife has been out all day so I have had a chance to "crank" my monitors, although I can still hear iCarly in the background lol! and I've been able to detail in some more goodness. Soon I would like to get another Atomic FR, even just for home use. I think some of these patches need to be worked on through a solid FRFR rig with a 12" speaker. Also, the monitors are pointing directly at my head so it's a different vantage point for sure.)


If you want really high quality addictive bedroom tones that sound and play like a real tube amp about to explode, then the axe-fx could be a good solution. If you like to tweak a little, you'll have a blast. If not, you can dial a few basic patches and have exactly what you want in terms of tone, musicality, and dynamics, all at bedroom volume.....or you can go cheaper if you don't mind compromising.


with your usage, i'd suggest something like the GSP1101 or RP500. cheaper and has some great flexibility. vox tonelab ST or tonelab LE would be my recommendation for your styles. for a small bedroom player, even a Blackstar HT-5 amp would work for most of those styles.


Yes it could be overkill, it will likely give you a better approximation of the tones you want than some other products and it will be great fun. All that said what will be your return on investment and what is the depreciation on a cpu/software based product. Having bought quite a few pro tool's I can tell you I am glad others paid for them. They are all technological refuse, my mic's amps and guitars never loose value it has been a nice buffer against the vagaries of a creative life.


Great thread. I am in the same position, and I'll venture others are too.

I am looking at the 11R but worry that it is limited in its cabs and effects sims. I would rather spend a little more and get something i can live with for a while.

I get concerned when folks mention a "steep learning curve" with the Axe FX. My set up is a MOTU Ultralite Mark iii > Macbook Pro with GB (soon to be upgraded to Logic Express) with monitors. Sometimes I use the sims in GB (a couple of them are good) or I mike a tube amp with an extensive pedal collection gleaned from years spent here.

Am I correct that I could plug an AxeFx into the MOTU feeding its cab and speaker and effect sims into my interface and recording software? It does have presets right? I assume the presets have classic Marshall, Vox, Fender and Mesa. Won't that get me started and allow me to have fun right out of the box? Or do I have to work hard to even get going?

Thanks again for a great thread.

Simon Gee

seeing you're using a Mac, why don't you download the trial versions of some software solutions? I use Amplitube, but there is Guitar Rig and others.
You can try these free. Amplitube has the Fender version, created in conjunction with them, and authorised by them. I don't know what kind of amp the songs you mention use though, its not my genre. Also Amplitube 3 is coming out soon, there's a big thread here where they are strongly hinting what's in it...

But the point is there are other software solutions you can try for free before you shell out big bucks. The opinion seems to be AxeFx is better than these, but it's worth seeing for yourself, if you haven't...


I like the Roland C60 for around the house + it's reasonable.
With my IMac I use a Line 6 UX2 which has access to AmpFarm. Plenty of tweakable amps for recording - I'm still on the fence about the Axe-Fx. Frankly I'm more concerned about getting lost into it and liking it too much for recording........i.e. spending too much time on it instead of the music (but I'm old and feel the weight of time left to me)......

Best, Pete.


Silver Supporting Member
I pretty much just play at home. And yes it is overkill... But totally worth it. After going through lots of tube amps over the years and never being able to crank them up and enjoy them and then trying the POD 2.0 when it came out and then the XT I finally bought an AxeFX Ultra. I have never been so happy with my tone! It feels and sounds like a real amp and the effects are amazing. I have less than 10 patches that I play regularly and don't hardly scratch the surface of what the box can really do. But I figure over the course of a few years it will actually save me money by stopping the amp GAS.


Senior Member
I had an Ultra for about four months and decided it was overkill for my needs. I was only using a few presets, amp, cab and effect models, but I found myself tweaking way too much, trying to improve or just experiment with all that's in there, just having fun tweaking. I was very happy with my results, but with all that's in there it's a tweaking magnet. I always thought that no matter how good something sounded, I could tweak it to make it better or create variations...

Its well worth the price of admission. In fact, obtaining my replacement gear I spent much more than the cost of an Ultra, but I dig my tone and my options to get it. FWIW, I highly recommend an Ultra. IMO. YMMV.

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