Noob question about "feel" of modeling amps

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by RedRockRoy, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. RedRockRoy

    RedRockRoy Member

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    It has been maybe 7 or 8 years since I last tried modeling gear. It was some digitech thing and original pod. The tone was not great but the real problem was the feel. It was like I lost all picking dynamics and my right hand turned into an on/off switch. The touch that I love so much about playing through a tube amp was totally gone.

    From what I’ve been reading here it seems the tone of modeling amps is much improved. That’s great but the feel of the amp is more critical to me.

    My question is: How do the high end modeling amps of today, like the axe fx2, feel as compared to a tube amp?
    Thanks.
     
  2. aleclee

    aleclee TGP Tech Wrangler Staff Member

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    I'd put the feel of the AxeFx II up against most any tube amp. As a point of reference I gave up a Two Rock to fund an Ultra a few years ago and will soon be parting with a Rivera.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  3. localmotion411

    localmotion411 Supporting Member

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    Just got my Axe II two days ago -- the feel is there in spades. Tube amps feel better to me when they are cranked, which is often difficult in this day and age. The Axe gives you that great cranked saggy yet dynamic and responsive feel.

    So in essence, it feels BETTER than my amps regularly do because I'm usually forced to choke them into submission.
     
  4. CyberFerret

    CyberFerret Member

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    My Axe-FX feels kind of cold and metally. My tube amp feels kind of tolexy...

    There...someone had to say it...

    In all seriousness, the advances made in 'feel' of picking dynamics is pretty huge. Not just in the hardware modellers like the Axe-FX, but in software modellers such as S-Gear too.

    I can enjoy the responsiveness that different picking styles, even switching to fingerpicking can give me. Tip: Some of the presets on these modellers have the Noise Gate set very high, which kills some of the nuances. Fiddle with the preset to reduce the cutoff point for the noise gate and you will get some great feel (at the expense of a little extra noise - which you will get on most tube amps anyway)...
     
  5. shasha

    shasha Member

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    The 11R I had was horrible when I got it. I was coming from the Ultra which I had grown extremely accustom to. Cue up Cyberferret's comment about the noise gate....all the factory presets had the life sucked out of them from the gate. I either killed it or adjusted it lower and it livened it up trememdously. It felt decent, not bad, pretty good most of the time but not out of this world to me.

    The I got the AxeFXII. I did an A/B and within 20 seconds I knew that the 11R would never get turned back on. It wasn't that the 11R was bad, it was just the AxeFXII was fantastic.

    The notes explode off the neck. So wear eye protection. If it doesn't feel super amp like I really don't care, it feels and responds great to me and that is one of the most underrated aspects of all of this stuff IMHO. I can't play if it doesn't feel right.

    If all you have to go off is stuff from 7 years ago though just about anything from the last 2 years is going to be a few steps up.
     
  6. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    I think using "tube amp" like this can be misleading. Do all tube amps feel the same?

    I think the Axe II has feel that's comparable to tube amps on the whole, but how it compares really depends on the tube amp. I feel that the Axe II has feel that is as good if not better than my Hot Rod Deluxe but it it isn't as touch sensitive as my VHT/Fryette Sig:X. Understand though that the Sig:X is significantly more touch sensitive than any other tube amp I've ever played.

    As a gross generalization, the feel is definitely there, the dynamics and touch sensitivity are leap years ahead of the modelers of years ago. The vast majority say that the feel is there, but some still prefer tube amps.

    I played a Super Reverb for years (okay, decades) but don't feel like I'm taking a significant hit when I play through my Axe II. In fact the SR (or the Sig:X for that matter) hasn't been turned on in months. To me, that says it all.
     
  7. RedRockRoy

    RedRockRoy Member

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    Yeah, I should have been more specific. I'm used to el84 type amps that rank pretty high on the touch sensitivity scale. I'd be happy if the modeling unit felt like my super reverb.
     
  8. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

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    Even the POD HD is way more sensitive and feels way better than the older PODs, even the X3Live.

    Part of it is getting your monitoring right, too.
     
  9. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    no! very different from a tube amp. its more of a disconnect imo. no matter if you use frfr wedge monitor or guitar cab and ss power amp it will be different. if using guitar cab, you will get coloring from modeler and guitar cab. turning off cab models helps, but its still there when you change amp model types.

    just take all you know about playing traditional rig and forget it. you will have to work harder with modeler than you do amp to get guitar and amp interaction. some dont care since they just gate the hell out of their modeler anyway.

    best thing to do is just forget about tube amps if you use a modeler. using modeling and frfr is like using recorded guitar tone and manipulating it as you play. a tube amp never works like that, so before you get too concerned better to just not think about being same as tube amp. its not and never will be.

    there will be tradeoffs too. digital modeling has artifacts. its just part of the processing. tube amps dont have that. some peole are bothered by it, some dont care. benefits are smaller form factor, more effects and models to pick from (even though they are not all accurate representations).

    theres a more objective view for you. i have owned an used nearly every brand modeler adn product iteration since they first came out. its a different way of doing things is all. have fun with whatever product you decide.
     
  10. Guitartrue

    Guitartrue Member

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    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
  11. RedTiger

    RedTiger Member

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    Interesting post. It makes me thankful I don't even have a frame of reference to go by where this stuff would bother me. :omg
     
  12. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    ive gigged with halfstacks, full stacks, combos of all kinds. in two bands now. one main band has up to 15 members at times. horns, 3 guitar players odd end percussionists. the other band is simple cover group. 2 guitars one subs for keys and bass and drums.

    in my main band they will ask for many different rigs. most of time its my marshall or a super 410 and pedals. small combo like a vibroluxe if cramped.
    ive used modelers with them but we have director that is impatient and with many members each person sound checks must go quick.

    3 of the guitarists including myself went to modelers for short while. its not as pleasant in that situation. in my othr band we use them for rehearsal times. some gigs we use the modelers and e drums. just depends.

    i can do either, but so much of what we play requires much control and feedback from guitars and amp cabs. we cant get that on wedge monitors as much and feel disconnected.

    the other guitarist has a kemper and will use it this weekend gig. me and another will be on amps, so like we did with other brands of modeler we will see how this profiler preamp/amp works out.
     
  13. tonegangster

    tonegangster Silver Supporting Member

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    Just because he recorded a bluesjam track with an Axe doesn't mean he thinks its better, just means he is probably getting paid to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about yours. When he starts recording and gigging with it I'll be impressed.
     
  14. Guitartrue

    Guitartrue Member

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    Well I talked with Guthrie 2 days after he received the Axe. He was very impressed with it and was impatient to take it again. In his words it's AMAZING.
    He is recording with it. Giggig? time will tell.
    I believe that Fractal Audio doesn't pay anything to anyone.

    Edit: there is a video where he is playing live with Dweezil Zappa, both using the Axe.
    This thread: http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx-ii-discussion/43858-guthrie-govan-sat-us-manchester.html
    And this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_585dCblI4&feature=youtube_gdata

    Are you impressed now?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
  15. weshunter

    weshunter Supporting Member

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    that's a great sounding tone on that video
     
  16. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    Mattball, I hear ya on the cab thing. FRFR is really challenging for the modeler in search of amp-feel and presence. My magic cab for modelling smaller amps is a Deluxe-sized open-back cab with a pair of 40W Weber 10FV's (now the Silver Ten) in it. Stick enough signal in there to get the cab pushing and your modeler simply comes alive. Bonus points for a guitar-type power amp.

    The flip side of modeling...even with some of the early modelers, the clever patch-builder could use a "squishier" "amp" to build a clone of a "stiff" circuit, resulting in an amp with more touch dynamics than the original. A bud turned me on to the idea with a Dual Rectifier patch he did for a Cyber Twin that was built on their "Blackface" circuit. No, it wasn't a dead-on clone of a DR with the tube rectifier selected...it had even more feel. Bizarre.

    Not uncommon among patch builders to use Tweed-style menu selections to build Marshall patches, esp on modelers that allow you to select tone stacks. For grins, if you have a hideously disreputable Spider II laying around, build a Marshall patch with their Tweed selection. Maybe not touch-dynamic heaven, but I think you'll be shocked how much feel lives even in a notoriously stiff amp like the early Spider.

    Another sleeper in modeling world...the old Peavey Transformer. Transtube has always been a cool technology IMHO, esp if you pull up the patent app and read how it works. But couple that with their T.Dynamics thing, which simulates softer and stiffer power sections courtesy of a comp-like analog circuit, and it's quite the powerful touch-dynamic machine.

    OTOH...I still have an old Digitech RP300 from about ten or twelve years ago. You can sandpaper your fingertips till Tuesday...ain't no feel anywhere in that box. :)

    --Ray
     
  17. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    I couldn't disagree with this post more.

    I feel no disconnect when using the Axe FX II whatsoever.

    I don't have to work harder at all to get guitar/amp interaction.

    I have heard some artifacts on rare occasions with some presets but to imply that they are audible all the time is grossly misleading. If they were, I wouldn't use it and most players with a decent ear wouldn't either.

    It sounds like you had a bad experience with modeling and some people do, but if my experience was the same as yours I'd return to tube amps and never look back. Fortunately my experience seems to have been 180 degrees from yours and shows that these boxes respond differently depending on how they are used by different individuals.

    Good points Ray.

    I should qualify my statement to say that I was never as happy with modelers as I am now until I tried using my VHT/Fryette Fat Bottom 2x12 with a Randall RT2/50 tube power amp. The Fryette cab is very revealing...much more so than my EVM 12Ls. When I started using them the lack of detail in the high end that was absolutely appalling with V30s completely disappeared. The lack of bottom end and girth that I had with solid state power amps was gone as well.

    I had tried many traditional speakers and amplification solutions and nothing has worked nearly as well as the Randall/VHT combination for me. Once I started using them together with the Axe II the sky opened and I finally had tone and feel that was comparable to traditional tube amps. The problem wasn't with the modeler, it was with the amplification.
     
  18. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    RedRockRoy, one other thing occurs to me as you dip toe in DSP World. Helps to think about modeling as you would any other piece of kit you take out onstage with you...like theatrical costumes, makeup, tap shoes, even stage sets and props. They all look and feel downright ridiculous compared to real-life stuff, but they make you look great onstage and let you do things you can't do with street gear. Yeah, it feels funny, a lot of it is outright annoying, and none of it remotely "nails" the "real thing." But you never heard Gene Kelly gripin' that his tap shoes don't feel like his Chuck Taylors. Stage gear and living-room gear are two vastly different things...as they should be.

    IMHO, natch. :)

    --Ray
     
  19. JWDubois

    JWDubois Member

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    I've got an Ultra. I have it dialed pretty well to use with my big vintage JBL stereo speakers. I have decided to sit out this round of AxeII / Kemper drama, so I decided to feed my gas with a new Strat.

    I had a Egnater Rebel sitting around for the last couple of years gathering dust, so I decided to trade it on the Strat. I fired it up to see if it still worked, and it sounded pretty dang good, better than I remembered anyway. The big thing was the punch it had, even at a reasonably low MV level. To get a decent sound out of the Rebel and 1x12 cab, I have to crank the gain and bass, cut the mids, and play with the treble to match, while keeping the MV fairly low in my room.

    I thought to myself, what if I set the Ultra up with the same settings on a mid gain patch? So I picked one of the Plexys, cranked the bass, cut the mid, lowered the MV, and dimed the gain. With the volume matched to the Rebel, the overall sound and feel was very close, I was getting that same "feel every string in your chest as you strum feel". At the volume level I was using, you could feel the feedback starting to kick in the same way on both rigs.

    I found that on many of my Ultra patches, I have been choking the dynamics with too much master volume (MV adds a lot of compression on the Ultra) and not really using the basic amp block eq in an effective manner.

    So to reply to the OP, with the right settings you can definitely get both the sound and feel of an amp, maybe not to your level of satisfaction, but definitely to mine.

    JWW
     
  20. barhrecords

    barhrecords Member

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    (sidebar: If that is a Fender Super Reverb, so you happen to know what circuit? AA763, AB763? All the Super's I've seen are 6L6'ed not EL34's?)

    AxeFx II owner here.

    If you get a good clean power amp and a *good* guitar cabinet, you will be able to re-create the amp feel with the AxeFx II in spades.

    For a new owner, I would advise to not freak out over the tons of parameters on the AxeFx II right away. Just learn the basics of Drive, Bass, Mid, Treble, Presence, Master and keep it simple.

    One of the most overlooked thing is the defaults sound ridiculously good.

    IMO, the weakest link in modelers is the speaker / cab emulations. These are a little tricky to dial in *if* you are A/B ing a real amp / speaker and trying to exactly duplicate it.

    But with a power amp and guitar cab, you would turn off the cab's in the AxeFx Ii and wail away :)

    Richard
     

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