AxeFX III Initial Demos

Camilo Velandia has received his Axe FX III, and has posted several videos to show what it can do at launch. A couple in particular are of general interest, whether you own an Axe FX unit or not.

In the first video, Camilo compares quite a few of the stock amp presets from the new AxeFX III vs the older Axe FX II. To my ears, they’re almost identical.

That’s no sleight on the AxeFX III at all. Folks upgrading from the older unit will want reassurance that the tones they know and love are still there.

In the second video, Camilo does a straight shootout of the Axe FX III amp models against highly-respected Kemper profiles. It’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but it does reflect how the two units are used in practice.

The results are a bloodbath.

All the problems of the Kemper’s limited frequency reproduction are front and centre. The Axe FX III has all the body and definition that the Kemper has always lacked. It sounds richer, crisper, and more detailed.

I wonder how many more years Kemper can continue to ship the MK 1 unit? The Kemper’s main defence has always been that you can’t hear most of these differences in a full mix. And, indeed, a recorded Kemper is actually easier to mix that a more accurate tone, in my experience.

Please head over to YouTube to leave likes and supportive comments if you enjoyed Camilo’s videos.

Pre-CBS Strat Copy w/ Abigail Ybarra Pickups

Burgs has posted a video of him noodling on a copy of a pre-CBS Strat. What makes this particular copy extra-special is that it’s fitted with a set of pickups wound by Abigail Ybarra.

Everyone has “the one that got away” – a guitar they couldn’t get, didn’t get, or had to sell on. Mine is a Fender 2012 Custom Deluxe Strat, fitted with Abigail Ybarra pickups. It was the best sounding Strat that I’ve ever played.

If you’ve never heard of her, Abigail Ybarra has been winding pickups since the early days. I believe that she retired from Fender a few years ago. There’s something about the pickups she made in her career that just works. They’re highly sought after as a result, especially as it appears that she wasn’t able to pass on her technique to the next generation of pickup winders.

The pickups aren’t the only star in this video. Burgs is noodling a long through his AxeFX, and it sounds really good too. Close your eyes, and see if you can tell it’s digital modelling.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Burgs’ video.

Metallica’s Guitar Rigs From Sept 17

This is a very interesting video. It’s a walkthrough of the guitar rigs used by Metallica’s James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett.

Okay, here at the HomeToneBlog, we’re playing to an audience of one – not touring the world playing to arenas full of adoring fans hanging on every single note. There’s still a lot we can learn from seeing what the pros use – and why.

Two things in particular caught my eye in this video.

First off was that Metallica have gone entirely digital modelling for their live amps. The AxeFX has reached the point where it sounds good enough to replace tube amps – and whatever difference there is, it’s not big enough to be worth the challenges of using tube amps.

There’s a telling statement from James’ guitar tech partway through, where he discusses how using AxeFX means they have more time to spend on other aspects of the touring process, like guitar maintenance. Digital modelling promises to sound the same night after night. Tube amps don’t.

Kirk’s guitar tech also throws some light on that decision. He talks about how each tube amp has its own character, and what it can be like when you have to switch to a backup amp when the primary tube amp dies.

The second thing that stood out for me was how they’ve gone with analogue signal paths and switching. Mid-song, they don’t switch patches inside the AxeFX; they switch to a different AxeFX that has the next patch already loaded and ready to go. Why? Analogue just doesn’t have any added latency. Switching is instant.

Something to think about if you’re thinking of gigging with a digital amp yourself one day.