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Modelling Amps

[amp modelling concepts]

amp simulation. Even if you keep an actual power tube and guitar speaker in the rig, as I recommend, you can combine it with these concepts.


Line 6 amp tone clips - I ordered the cd. mp3s here, some.

[ax2] To: Michael
Subject: AX2 Editor

Hello Michael.

Thanks for adding a cool link to your web site. The editor is doing well. I have sold as many copies overseas than I have in the states. I didn't know Line6 got around so much! Hey, by the way, I have a new server for my site. You might want to update your site.


Thank you,

Steve Thomas


AX2 clips [yamaha mod amp]

yamaha modelling amp review

[johnson modelling amps]

crate and johnson modamps

[crate modelling amps]

crate and johnson modamps

[vg8] should probably break apart roland page.

Roland modelling amp VGA-7

Steve wrote:

>I've spent some time with a Roland GP100 modeling preamp. It has a lot more tonal flexibilty than a Flextone. Ax2's are very tweakable too. The whole idea behind Flextone was to provide realistic sounds with minimal tweaking. The AXsys212 was criticised for being too hard to tweak so they modified that (AX2) and also came out with the less expensive and simpler Flextones. There is some tone modding you can do, but nothing like the AX2. The Flextones were designed to give a lot of bang for the buck, but anyone buying one should be aware of what they can and can't do as far as tweaks (which make a huge difference in sound). One of their target markets is plug and play players. The AX2 features more amp models, extensive EQ's (absolutely critical if you're going to try to really nail a tone with a specific guitar/pickup), cabinet simulations, etc. The FX are minimal on the Flextone, again to keep it simple and cost- effective. They recommend using a separate processor in the FX loop if you need more. On the AX2 it's a tweaker's paradise. It's not brain surgery, and you have tons of options. It takes time to set them up how you want, but is definitely worth it. I have an AX2 I've been toying around with and programming patches as I have the time. I spent about 2 months reading user reviews, emailing users and demo'ing them in stores (with my own guitars) before I bought it. What I came up with in my research is:

>1. If you want a lot of good sounds with simple controls and not a whole lot of tone shaping or fx control-get a Flextone. It's a tremendous value for the money. And many of the sounds are very good or can be modded somewhat to get you closer if you haven't found your sounds before purchasing.

>2. If you want more a lot more flexibility in amp and fx sounds, and don't mind tweaking (and understand how to do it or are willing to learn) the AX2 will do a fine job. This was the single most mentioned comment I heard-from emails I read, the reviews user and magazine reviews I read, to guitar players I know personally (and utterly respect), who have picked up an AX2. By about the third time demoing the AX2 in the store, I was showing the salesman how to get something more Marshally or Tweedy. The patches are simply a starting spot and the amp has the tone shaping capability to come very close or spot-on to nailing a lot of the modeled amps. I've listened to every factory preset and some aren't initially what I want to hear, but they will definitely improve with tweaking should I decide to use them. I've used modeling preamps before. I didn't come close to using all the presets.

>3. If you are in love with a particular (tube) amp/guitar combo and it fits your gig, by all means, stay with it. My Marshall 30th anniverary sits right next to the AX2. I got the AX2 for convenience in copping lots of sounds and fx in a cover band. The Marshall is probably the most flexible one they make, the new triple leads are based on it. But it's a collector's edition and I don't always like taking it out to some of the clubs and casuals we have to play. My pedalboard was getting overloaded and good switching systems were very costly. I also use a 2-amp wet/dry stereo set up which involves extra time on both ends-actually 4 ends, rehearsal breakdown, gig set up, gig breakdown, and rehearsal set up. The idea of an amp that I could bring in and plug 3 plugs into and play a wide variety of totally different 'amps'thru in stereo, with built in fx is very appealing. I've set high standards for my sound in the band and I won't take the AX2 out to a gig until I have 10 or 15 very good patches.

>I've already nailed several great Marshall sounds, but more importantly, a Dual Rectifier (Tremoverb Vintage Hi Gain- I used to own one, so I know the sound) and some other hi-gain sounds that my Marshall 30th, just can't do as well. I spent a day working on Fender sounds. The Tweed Deluxe will probably wind up being a real meat and potatoes tone for me. It's got that great old cranked Fender Deluxe sound and cleans up to a nice growl if I back off the guitar or the volume pedal. My biggest accomplishment that day-and this speaks directly to the experience of the poor guy trying to have a salesman help him dial in a tone-was the Bassman model. It got good reviews in some of the magazines, but I didn't like it. After fooling around with some of the tone mods, I finally came up with the best SRV neck pickup tone I've ever gotten - of course, I've never owned a vintage Bassman, but have had plenty of Fender amps and I've heard 'the tone' at plenty of shows and on records. It just wails. And I put an optional (modeled) Tube Screamer on top to fatten up the bridge pickup if I ever need to go there. I also took the '65 Twin and came up with a surprisingly good, driving clean tone with an edge (if pushed) that really sounds like a Twin. That tweak took about 2 minutes. I just added a bit of compression and took down the bass on the regular bass control from where the factory had it (my Strat is a bit dark as it uses blade humbuckers. I'm able to compensate with the AX2's graphic to make it more vintage sounding if I want, for specific preset.)

>We've probably all been in situations where the guitar/amp volumes and gains are just right for a song or guitar/pickup combo, but you need to turn a knob or make an adjustment (sometimes even switch guitars) to get the sound for the next tune or whatever. On the AX2, you can set up a Deluxe designed to give you some great screaming cranked Fender tones, and on the next preset set up the same basic sound but back off the gain or drive, add a little copression and slap echo, maybe brighten it up a bit and you're off to country or rockabilly land. You can have the next button set up with your own version of Van Halen's Brown sound or 5150 (thicker and higher gain) complete with a light phase shift if your going for the early sound or a light stereo spread (the factory already has it dialed) if you opt for his more recent tones. A cool feature for most of the lead type presets is a boost switch, which will kick it up for solos, and a distortion switch, which will take it even further.

>They are very versatile amps. My advice to anyone considering it as a main or secondary amp would be to talk to happy owners, also talk to people who are selling them, read the reviews, DOWNLOAD THE MANUAL - it's well written, humorous and explains very clearly what modeling is and how to use the amp. My experience with talking with the people selling them usually was: They were new players and didn't understand the possibilities in the amp or they were experienced players who either didn't want to deal with additional programming or were rhythym players and the amp was overkill. I tested the AX2 for probably 2-3 hours in a couple of stores before buying one. When I did, I got it from Guitar Center knowing that I had 30 days to try it out. After 2 nights with instruction book in hand, I knew it was a keeper.

>I've read a lot of reviews from Flextone owners who love them. Go for it if simplicity is your thing. The basic models are the same as the AX2, just not as many. I'd get the one with the stereo capability. If you are picky about your tone, or skeptical, get the AX2 and use the extra tone and fx control power to get what you want. In a performance situation, you don't have the time or need to go through 132 presets. Maybe 10 or 20. With the Marshall's 3 tones and an overdrive, I was using 6 basic tones, add in major effects like Univibe or rotary speaker, maybe 8 or nine during a night, wah wah as needed. I also recommend you buy from a store with a 100% money back guarantee if you dislike it for any reason. Forget store credits and 3 day try-outs. You need time to figure out even the simpler Flextone and you'll get better results if you're not under pressure. Or wait till they start showing up used for $600-700 (make sure it has the full floorboard). If you've done your homework and know what you're dealing with, used is probably fine. If it's a new thing to you, cough up the extra $$ so you can return it if it just doesn't work for you. My Marshall isn't going anywhere, except not out of the house into to dirty clubs and outside gigs.

>-- Steve

I briefly demo'd a Flextone and a Johnson Millennium combo. The Flextone was infinitely easier to dial in great tones, compared to the Millennium -- but despite the very positive user comments, I think that all these amps sound somewhat dynamically sterile, compared to pure power-tube saturation directly driving a guitar speaker. Their preamp distortion voicing and overall equalization is essentially perfect, but they *utterly lack* the very most important factor, smooth power tube breakup ("wrinkling") and dynamic sponginess. I was with my girlfriend and she was more impressed by my playing with the Flextone than the Millennium, because with the Flextone, all you have to do to sound great is bypass the effects, set all the controls at halfway, and jam, and turn the knob to switch among the different amp types. With the Flextone, I had to stop playing the guitar, had to wrinkle my brow, and never did get such good tones before my girlfriend lost interest. I spent about 12 minutes with the Flextone and 12 with the Millennium. These amps, like any amp, sound better when played at least somewhat loud. I would like the tone of a loud amp but at headphone level. -- Michael

Combining the Flextone and AX2 amps with a power tube

Has there been any discussion of putting a saturated power tube in the effects loop of the Flextone or AX2? I used this approach with the Digitech 2101 processor and it was a complete success. There are many products that enable power tube saturation quietly. If you put any of these products between the Flextone's distortion stage and time-based effects stage, then you have added the most important component required for the Tone equation: a saturated power tube. This provides the dynamic sponginess that is missing from all amp emulators which lack a power tube. No matter how good the preamp voicing and speaker simulator EQ is, it only sounds like an equalized preamp. The only way, so far, to really capture tube *power* amp saturation is to include a power tube such as an EL84 between the preamp distortion stage and the final amplification stage.

For their next generation of gear, I think Line 6 should include an EL84 and load in between the distortion stage and time-effects stage. This is the ideal sequence:

o Eq, compression, distortion, eq
o Low-watt power tube, load
o Eq, speaker simulator
o Time-based effects
o Solid-state high-power amp, speakers

I put a Fender Pro Jr. 15 watt tube amp, speaker isolation cabinet, and mic into the effects loop of the 2101 multieffects/"preamp" unit. Another user, in response to my suggestion, reported complete success in putting the ADA Ampulator in the effects loop, capturing the dynamic sponginess that is the signature of power tubes, as opposed to preamp tubes.

Preamp tubes are of relatively zero signficance, compared to power tubes. Don't be fooled by marketing and cost-cutting measures. There is a world of difference between so-called "preamp tube warmth" and power tube dynamics. I am impressed by the accuracy of the amp simulations in the Flextone and its competitors. But there is a glaring ommission that prevents these equalization-tweaked units from sounding authoritative: power tube dynamics are utterly lacking. There is no reason for this; it would be fairly straightforward to insert an EL84 in the effects loop. Other companies have already done this, in one form or another, such as the SWR Interstellar Overdrive, the Warwick Quadruplet, and the H&K Cream Machine.

Would someone please try this approach with the Flextone and report on the results (or impossibility of the desired chain)?

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