Dialing in a Clean Tone

 

Using the Axe-Fx

 

Lesson Info

Dialing in a Clean Tone

Hi, guys. How you doing? Well, hello, internet out there. You guys are all tuned in here, so today we're gonna be talking about this little black box right here. The fractal audio expects to this one is an xl new version which just came out it's got a lot of improved features you can read about online. I'm not gonna get it in that right now, but I want to start by kind of saying my approach to the axe effects is really about making music with it. I mean, where musicians were guitarist. The whole idea here is to use this as a tool to create music and a lot of guys. I think I spent a lot of time wondering you know what I need to tweak because there's so much going on in the expects the software is so deep the hardware is so powerful it's pretty easy to get caught up in everything you can do with it. So I wantto impart to everybody and everybody out there in this class that one it's it's not that hard, you know, if I can do it, you guys can two and two that if you do want teo, you, khun, ...

go really, really deep into this box and really get quite a lot out of it. I want to say though way are going to spend the next six hours talking about this there will be a lot of technical stuff but just last night my good friend larry mitchell who's a uh one of fractals big artists really great expects user amazing guitarist he's won grammys and everything he's the sweetest guy in the world but he had me out to a show last night here in seattle and I was lucky enough to be asked up on stage and I just brought the expects this isn't mine it's not the one I tour with is not the one I have a home in my studio so it didn't have any my presets in it so I went to the front panel pull up a factory preset changed two parameters and went on stage and play with larry and the tone was great so even though we're gonna spend the next six hours tweaking the xx I just wantto impress fun everybody how easy it is to get good tone out of this and so that's what we're gonna start talking about so without further ado uh gonna jump into the class here this is as you can see on the slide right here that they're going to put up the class have really kind of put into four different sections there each about an hour and a half long first we're going to just start with the very basics designing your signature sound some of you may know on the forums I asked for people to chime in and say what they wanted to hear in this class. One of the biggest things I got was I wanted to how to go from a blank grid toe a full preset so we're going to do that we're actually going to do it four times we're gonna make a clean preset going make a kind of mid game bluesy tone, we're going to make a high gain or I'm sorry rock rhythm tone and then we're going to go into an ultra hi game kind of face melter tone that's goingto level the building after that we're gonna talk about scenes a lot of people want to know how to use those I think scenes were the most powerful feature the expects use them all the time live they're great for consolidating presets we're gonna talk about that the third thing we're going to get into it, I know wolf you were asking about that is tell matching that's going to be we're going to really in depth photo matching with show youa bunch different ways to use it on then lastly we're going talk about blocks were going to get a little more into some of the effects were going to get into some of the routing options that you have with the axe effects there's so many different ways with so many different outputs in the axe effects and so many different inputs into it on all the work you can do on the grid there's a lot of fine ways to round things there's a lot of really cool things you can do there so we're gonna talk about that so let's start off with, you know, started the very beginning, a very good place to start as they say in the sound of music so again designing your signature sound, we're going to do clean tones, losing two homes, rocks and really searing leads high gain uh all right, so keeping it clean and I will just show that slide for one more minute and we're gonna hop over here to the editor I'm talking about choosing the right amp, choosing a good cab and then we're gonna get into some effects because there are a ton of effects in this box. So if we switch over to the editor here and I invite everyone online who's following on their computers, maybe throw your browser over to the left and open up access edit on your axe effects and you can follow along here, plug in your guitar, I'm gonna grab mine and we're going to start doing cem cem presets here, so as you see, I've got a completely blank grid on screen this is just the accent it editor if you don't have it you can go to fractal audio dot com and downloaded there and I've got it hooked up to the expects to and as you can see I've got a blank presets so everybody ready we're going to start doing it so I start following along now so what I'm gonna do is just draw first off shunts or blank blocks all the way across the screen here so we're just going to get nice line that's just gonna feed a really really quiet unaffected signal aiken do that and you can sort of hear it this is essentially the same as hitting the bypass switch on the front of the expects there's not really any processing going on here a tte this point it's a little different from the bypass switch because if I start messing with the gate or anything or I go to this output volume um that'll start affecting because there's actually signal running through the pre set now so when I think clean amplifiers I don't know I guess a lot of guys you know they think clean they think sort of like a floozy tone or like, you know, a clean ish rock rhythm but those actually are a little more over driven already than what I think of when I think clean when I think lee I'm thinking like eighties tones straight into the board kind of, you know thriller michael jackson kind of sounds andi also I'm thinking, you know, crystal very expansive clean tones, a lot of kind of snappy compression and bloom like maybe eric johnson or some of the clean tones from like somebody like john petrucci or rush clean tones so you've got a lot of options with clean amps obviously there are a ton of hymns in the act defects and you've got everything from very low gains super crystal clear all the way up to just ripping amps that air like super high gain right out of the box without even doing anything. So, um a lot of different clean amps I'm a big fan of the ones that are based on fender amplifiers, so I'm actually going toe start with, um well, let's see, we could go with lux for or I'm actually to start with the fifty nine base guy here and right now, it's gonna sound kind of ugly because I don't have a cabinet in there, so we're probably gonna change the cab just for the sake of having our years all be a little bit happier I mean, at a cab block in here and this is just the default one by six oval cab I'm actually going to change this over teo a let's see here now this just do the basement cab here just starting right off that's actually a pretty good tone as I said before when I think clean tones I'm thinking something way less with way less britain that I do want to mention this is an ernie ball music man j b six it's got pretty hot pick ups you might be having a little lower gain on that tone so I'm actually a switch to these coil tab middle position probably actually very quickly here the tuners included and accept it I'm gonna tune up a little bit here and make sure we're sounding a little better but uh as I said before your guitar maybe a little lower output from its pickups and mine so you might begin in a little clean already what we're going to clean that up there we oh much better all right so keep it on that coil tap position it gets a little angry they're more kind of in the mid game thing so you can see here the first page of the amplifier block this is the basic am paige this is mimicking I guess kind of what you would see if you were just on the front panel of the actual amplifier ondas you know, everybody was going go through here and get progressively more advanced and kind of crazy as you go down the side column here so what I'm gonna do is I'm actually just going to take first off this input drive and I'm going to dial it down a little bit on dh that's gonna clean up the tone on this amplifier there's not actually a master volume in the real world on the amp. So what that means is if I start messing with this master volume it's going to change the character of what the actual amp would do, so to compensate for this loss in volume that I'm doing from taking the input dr down, I'm actually just going to create this level control up a little bit, and this is a a digital level. It doesn't affect the tone of the amp. It doesn't affect the character of it or the bloom or anything else, like messing with this master would so it's a totally transparent level so kind of sparkly as you see the bright switches on here, uh, what that's doing is just writing it up. I'll turn it off, you can kind of hear it gets a little parker I'm gonna pop that back on and just for advanced users, I'm not really going to get into the dance parameters right now, but you can go, uh, into the advanced page and mess with the bright cap to change what frequency this controls. So, um, all right, so let's get into tweaking this and making it sound nice, I'm actually going to throw a reverb on here. So we can start seeing how it's going to sound kind of sonic space that we end up with that's, a lot of reverb dial the mix down here a little bit. I'm actually gonna take this timed out as well. The time is just, you know, how long the river last when I do that. So all right, that's ah ah, clean tone. I want a little bit more of ah, sparkle to it. So much big presence up. One of the things I like to do when I'm tweaking is I like to turn the control its right now, if it was noon, I'd like to turn it all the way up and see what that does that's getting so bright that it's actually introducing some grit. So obviously, I don't want a dime that, and by the same token, I don't wanna have it all the way down kind of sounds dead, so we'll put it back in the middle. But I like to get an idea of where it's going to be. You know what? I'm kind of working with a ce faras my whole sweep level of the control. So I'm gonna put it somewhere between the middle and the very top thief, a little, little more sparkly there, too sparkly, so we'll bring them back down, and then I like a little bit of mids and my clean someone bring this up a little bit. A ah ah, alright, so it sounded pretty good. Uh, I like where that is as a bass tone, like a b a s e not b a double s butt. I'm actually going to add a little bit of bottom into it a little bit more, actually don't get teo. Yeah, see that's too much, too little fluffy taking back down. And now I want to see what it's gonna be like if I pick it pop up to this topic up, which is a little harder that's pretty a pretty hot over there. So what I'm actually going to do is maybe compensating meet somewhere in the middle so that I get a good turn on this good turn on this. So obviously, that pick up much hotter. So I'm gonna bring this down a little bit more and just pop this back up a little bit level. We'll check this one that's much better. Not as much grit on that topic up and a nice tone on the neck pickup is, well, it's kind of all right, so I think that's a good tone um, let's talk about cabs for a second I think that a lot of people really under estimate just how important the cabinet is to sound. I think that comes from most people, you know, obviously, if you're using an amplifier in the real world, you got a real world cab. Uh, most people can't afford to have let's see how many cabs her in here, one hundred fifty nine different cabinets at their house, both because you can't afford to buy that many because you can't fit that many calves and a house and let's have a big one. So I think a lot of people get by virtue of having one or two or maybe, you know, five cabinets of their own, they started thinking all right, how much of a difference is it really going to make? Because you're dialing everything you know, you might have five different amp heads, but putting while they're the same cab, so that becomes how you here one sound with the axe effects, we have all these cabinets we can scroll through, so what I'm going to dio is just kind of strong and go through some of these different cabinets. I really like that sound, but with so many different options, why not kind of pick some other ones and check out what we've got? So for example, we got a single speaker here adding a little more boxing is to it I think a lot of people use boxy kind of is a bad word but unclean tones kind of having the lower mids b a little angular can kind of be nice so let's ceo I like that's not bad you guys thinking about that jen good all right um I'm actually gonna do something and the nice thing about the expects to is that you can kind of do unconventional things. This is the cabinet section of a damp it's a combo based on the is the model based on the thirty fox am so obviously you wouldn't usually be sending a offender basement head into a box a c thirty but because this is the expects we can I really like this cabinet a lot. Ah kind of a jangle to it did uh also that's the blue version here's the silver one it's got a kind of jangly tone it's not to drive so I really started getting, you know, hitting it kind of spanky ah, a lot less of a kind of thick low end than the basement cab had or the base guy go back to that more present a little fuller but I actually kind of like the jangly kind of maybe almost want to say scooped out but it's it's got some really interesting frequencies boosted in this in this top boozed cab someone try that one again all right so because these cabinets are modelled so accurately in the expects you're going to run into different impedance kind of with the calves and they're not just gonna sound different they're also going to feel different they're going to react differently so I'm actually seeing that one is taking this tone and making it a little bit cleaner and then that other cab did so what I want to do is I'm actually gonna pop this drive now about a little bit more ah all right so that's me hitting pretty hard so if I were to play you know saw ah that's a really nice clean so let's let's start getting into some effects have got a nice kind of groundwork with the amp in the cab so when I think cleans again what I I'm kind of usually thinking about it's sort of the crystal snappy sound which right off the bat to me implies compressor so I'm gonna put a compressor block in here in front of this and uh already kind of making it a little snap here the default settings on the compressor I actually really like this is the studio compressor which is kind of like going into iraq compressor um I think most people are probably more used to the sound of a pedal compressor on the guitars and a lot of guys we're bringing rack compressors out on the road usually you see compression pedals and racks so I'm going to flip it over to the pedal and on these default values, this is kind of the sound we've got so snappy, but not quite a snappy maybe is we want it to be again with my kind of wanting to see what a parameter does, and I encourage you in general, not just when you're dialing in a compressor, uh, to put the values on things that you're curious about at their extremes and find out what they do when they're in hyper mode and then kind of dial back from their so let's put this sustain all the way up on this compressor, we're in the volume a lot, but so you can see what it's doing. I'm gonna pop a level backup, compensate a little bit, kind of like a makeup makeup switch, crushing the dynamics and kind of given it that pop kind of I can't for copyright reasons play what riff it really reminds me of it sounds a little bit like theo the wrong notes, but it's good sounds like michaeljackson song uh, so I'm gonna bring sustained down because that's squashing it really, really, really hard, and I'm wearing this level back down, but it's uh zero s so you can see when I kind of hit the strings, it's going to clamp down pretty quickly on the tone, so initial kind of pop and then it kind so I'm actually gonna bring that down a little bit more because it's a little intense and I'm going to bring this attack up so that it's taking a little longer to smacked out on it all right some like how that sounds this reverb let's take care of here I want this to be now that we're done kind of getting the bass tone I want this to be way more expansive so I'm gonna turn this studio reverb on and I'm gonna dial this mix up about that high e string is a little out of tune but uh so I'm creating kind of a big sonic space for this clean tone right now um the one thing I think that's really missing is some delay so we're going to get into parallel ver siri's routing later but I'm pretty much exclusively a siri's routing guy I don't see a lot of use for parallel routing there's a place for it we'll talk about it um but right now I'm going to send this delay in siri's into the reverb um so let's see what by default this is going to sound like all right so nice to lay sound it's not exactly what I'm looking for though I like stereo delays so I'm actually gonna put this an analog stereo the difference between the analog stereo in the digital stereo obviously being that this is going to simulate maybe a little bit warmer tone may be a little more deterioration in the tone as the repeats happen not as accurate of a copy which is actually a really nice sound and something a lot of people I'm really looking for it so as you can see right now we've got the spread on one hundred the feedback on a hundred percent and it's going to just so both channels are going to feed back exactly the same the ratio here is a one hundred which means that when I do that and you can kind of hear the tone losing high end as it repeats which is kind of a nice warm and along thing um I'm gonna put this ratio of fifty and what that's going to dio is make it so that there's a ping pong so it's going to go back and forth between the channels but it's also going to double the speed at which you're hearing the repeats so I'm gonna go in here and I'm gonna crank this up a little bit so that for example, if we put this on six hundred one side's gonna repeat it six hundred the other's going to repeat it half that ratio so three hundred so now we wait getting kind of a nice soundscape and you're not really hearing the delay is these discreet repeats in this case you're kind of just hearing it is this you know, environment that the sound is in and, you know, playing chords, obviously that's, what you're going to hear if you start playing kind of single notes, so I think that's a really beautiful tone, what you guys thinking about that pretty good? All right, I really like there. I think the kind of trump card of this tone is using the analog delay instead of the digital, so it's, like when I pulled off on that last note and I'll play that little I don't really remember what I play, we'll play that one more time. And on the last note, when you hear the repeats kind of listen to how their fading away obviously, because it's delaying it fades, but also you're kind of losing some of the snap of tone in a really nice way that kind of makes this pleasant fade out both tonally and volume wise someone play that little thing again, I went like minor, their thin, but so I'll just do like one little kind of, like not face sweeping, but it's just kind of clamping down on the high end, having a nice kind of escape away from where you were. So, um, I'm pretty happy with this tone with one other thing that I would do one more minute on this clean section here, um, I would put a chorus and a lot of guys kind of course has fallen out of favor recently now course sounds cheesy blah blah blah I really like chorus on clean that's a lot of chorus that makes me start wanting to play purple rain so I'm going to actually put this again since it's the axe effects and we've got tons of options here and we'll get into blocks later like I said I would put this on stereo ah and again I'm gonna go with the analog stereo because I like kind of a little warmer tone ah little mohr of organic nous to it and with the digital you're going to get a little bit of ah more aggressive chorus happening that's kind of more pronounced so let's see how this sound still a little intense so what I'm gonna do I'm not actually gonna change the rate a doll because I like the kind of one hurts flo I'm gonna lower the depth a little bit so it's not as intense of a sweep you know while well I'm also just goingto see um I'm not gonna take the makes that actually I'm pretty happy with let's see how it sounds with the deaf down a little bit more I'm actually gonna bring the depth down just a tiny bit more and at that point I think we should be good I must put it back on this coil tap in play and see what we have here some very high he was at home yeah, so we're going to save that and I think that's our clean preset and what I might actually do here I'm just gonna organize this a little bit just get a little space in here and this holds for all the presets we're going to make reverb is always going to be at least in the way that I said a pre sets the last thing in the chains I'm going through the river all the way at the end and I'm going through the compressor all the way at the beginning and obviously there's a lot of choice toe where you put blocks as there is a lot of choice toe where you put petals, but generally I don't think you're gonna find a lot of people who are going to put compressor anywhere except first and anybody who's gonna put reverb anything except last, so I think you're pretty safe and what this does actually put a space between these two is now you've got space to put extra block so if you guys want to go in here and go crazy with all the different stuff, I'm gonna leave it right here because we've got tonnes more presets to make but there's a space now so you guys can hop in there and add your own effects on and I should mention that if you by this class, you're going to get all these presets that I'm making and some blocks that will make a little later. So let's, move on up, save that again. Just make sure cooper one of the questions off of the chat room here, stat man was asking in designing a tone do you need to change the input gain and matched type of guitar you're using? We're gonna talk about that later, and I actually, you know, there are a lot of philosophies about that. A lot of guys are very, very specific about where they're putting their inputs. Um, different guitars require different levels. Obviously I I don't like messing with the actual input output screen levels on the input I've used to. When I first got the expects I started playing with it, I've left them onto fault ever since then I like to compensate for that in the amplifier block on going to show you a couple really cool ways later on for guys with tons of guitars to really kind of take care of that. Guitars that have huge differences in volume obviously requires a different things, but I don't usually do that. Uh, the input screen, I do it in the amp lock, and I'll show you how a little bit later. I think that answers the question yeah, absolutely one other quick question that editor get any larger into a full screen mode or is that uh does it just this is it's native rez so it's gonna get a little okay well for the viewers at home so yeah it's awesome. Thank you so much. You know what actually it looks like yeah, that looks pretty good. Um there we go a little bit bigger like good everybody happy? All right, so what I'm gonna do we have now if we could switch to this slide um my favorite tones the darling on the expects our, uh mid gains because everybody likes to say modelers don't do mid game uh, you see my little start out the bottom there it's word I can't say on this stream but you all know it uh the expects absolutely hand amid gain and, uh, I'm going to show you how I think a lot of that mentality comes from the fact that before the expects there really weren't any modelers that could do mid game they could dio high game pretty well they could do cleans really well, but when it got into the territory of kind of break up in the tone that got really difficult and the reason for that is pretty straightforward clean tones uh, rely a lot on the pre amp and really, high gain tones rely a lot on pre amp. Distortion and midgame tones rely a lot more on power and distortion. And until the axe effects, there really was not a modeler that accurately captured in its programming. All of the intricacies of power and distortion and power. Amp tubes and the interactions in that section of an amplifier were never really accurately represented, represented until the expects. So modelers don't do mid game, really, unless you have an expects.

Class Description

The Fractal Audio Axe Fx gives guitar players an incredible range of capabilities, but the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. In the this course Cooper Carter will share his road-tested tips for getting the most out of the Axe Fx preamp/effects processor.

Cooper has experience using the Axe Fx on tour and in the studio. In this course he will show you the tricks he has mastered while working with the Axe Fx in countless sessions and on stages across the country. The Axe Fx gives you access to hundreds of different tones through its inventory of vintage and modern guitar amps, speaker cabinets, guitar stompbox and studio effects. Cooper will simplify those options and give you a roadmap for working efficiently. You will learn how to create and tweak amp profiles and go deep on working with cab simulations and how to use effects.

This course will unlock the advantages of the Axe Fx and open you up to a whole new range of exciting possibilities. If you want to learn how to get the most of this complex tool, join Cooper and CreativeLive for this essential Axe Fx training course.

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