Do I go Modeler or Not

MarcWink

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Well, I bit the bullet and bough a Mission Engineering expression pedal for the HX Stomp XL...but now I'm itching to buy something to use with it other than my ear cans. I'm giving serious thought to the Headrush FRFR 108 or maybe a pair of powered studio monitors.
 

Rod/

Vibrato & String Bender
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For me, the biggest problem with modelers is the lack of punch at the attack of the note, and the restricted dynamic range. This is especially problematic in my recording projects for clients.

However...

If I played out a lot, I'd get a Helix or a Kemper, and save my back. Some compromises are made necessary by one's ability to schlep stuff around.
i had the same issues as Les with my (now sold) Kemper…Even with upgraded M Britt and others professional profiles…I just couldn’t get past the flatness and lack of punch and dynamics of the unit. High gain, crunch, clean, it didn’t matter..
I replaced that And most of my tube amps with these 3 all analog 4 channel Floorboard amps made by
BluGuitar Mercury Amp 1…. 100 watts, 4 channels of Marshall .Reverb, Great DI out, tremendous dynamics. Also uses a military nanotube……$799
H&k AmpMan Classic. $399 No FX, 50 watts, great loop, and their Black Spirit 200 watts Floor.$799. Digital FX analog amp. Bluetooth and MIDI
… both of these units have the new Redbox analog DI’s, XLR out with 6 or 8 cabinets…. Again, Fantastic dynamic tones, low noise. Incredible technology and all units sell for well under $1K
i think they are a game changer…….being all analog and not a modeler. Record direct. Live just bring your favorite guitar speaker cab and a 20’ speaker cable…
 
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Gnarmageddon

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Studio: SSL Alpha Channel preamp → A/D → Cubase Pro running STL Tones ToneHub and my collection of about maybe 12-14 personal presets (though I've got another gajillion to pick from if need be)

Live: Fryette Valvulator Preamp - DI Out to FOH and a 1x12 cabinet for stage volume. I have a small pedaltrain with delay, phaser, and Multiwave MEGA.

Honestly? Hauling out a $2000 amp and a 2x12 cabinet is a raging pain. I like the Valvulator because it's a genuine tube preamp stage with a cab emu +4db output. But I would happily use a MacBook and Apogee JAM on stage as well, just running ToneHub and a small powered cabinet for monitoring.

Tube amps may hold one tiny, distinct advantage for discerning ears but it's no match for the flexibility, reliability, and portability you get running virtual. Frankly, ToneHub sounds better in the studio to me - and you don't even need to commit to the sound if you just track the DI signal (assuming your CPU has the horsies to stack up multiple instances of the plug-in. I have an intel i9 six-core Mac that holds it down, but I also just print the tone because mixing is NOT the time to start fussing with your amp sound).

You've just gotta try all the options and find one that sounds and feels right to you. For live purposes, I wouldn't want to be dealing with pressing buttons and scrolling a jog wheel - I just want to plug in, click "Live Patch 1" and GO.
 

MarcWink

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Despite me being an analog guy, the ease of the HX Stomp XL for live use is absolutely killer. Load in and out is so much easier and I don't feel like I'm giving up a ton in the way of tone quality.
 

JasonE

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One thing that I have learned in the last year and a half is that if you are not getting what you want from the unit you have, there may be a way to get it where you want it. These things are all "secret tricks" that the communities for the units seem to know. I know some of these for the Kemper and Fractal products. With Fractal there are some deep parameters that can change the feel of the profiles that are not widely publicised. With the Kemper putting a pure boost after the cabinet block can have a huge impact on the tone and feel that has worked for many users. You have to be active on the forums for these units to learn these things. I think if these things were more widely known there would be a lot less people that buy one of these units that say it just doesn't have the sound or feel they want from it. I am betting that a decent number of people that have bought one of these and sold it because of this, if they had known how to do these things, they may still have the units and love them.
 

MarcWink

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I've definitely had to consult the forums and YouTube to get my tones nailed down...and I'm certain I could still do better than where I've got them, but I'm happy with my tone as it is now. One thing that I have noticed is that hi and lo cut on the IR's and Cabs is indispensable when it comes to really getting the tone balanced out right.
 

MarcWink

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Well, I've gone all in on the new rig. I bit the bullet on a Headrush FRFR 108. A couple of observations, it's LOUD! It's also quite boomy if it's sitting flat on the floor or too close to a wall or corner. Get it up off the ground and it sounds very good. It only took very slight tweaking to my bread and butter presets to adjust them to the FRFR speaker as opposed to my ear cans. All in all, I'm happy with the new rig and can't wait to play out next Tuesday!
 

Moondog Wily

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Awesome choice MarcWink! I keep holding out for a CLR FRFR to come available, but my patience is running thin and I may break down and get the Headrush 108 as I have heard nothing but good things about it!! I currently am playing through my JBL 108 IRX small PA speakers which is also wearing thin for me!!!

FYI, I spent about an hour the other day playing with the tube selections on the amp I have in my favorite Axe FXIII preset (Ruby Rocket Growl - preset 105 scene 3, tailored for my guitars)! Amazing how much difference just the tube in the amp can make, and having such fine detail available to us in the parameters of our choices in Axe is just incredible!! You can even put tubes in the amp that physically would not have fit in the real world models!!! So much fun with so many options!!!!
 

Em7

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I replaced that And most of my tube amps with these 3 all analog 4 channel Floorboard amps made by
BluGuitar Mercury Amp 1…. 100 watts, 4 channels of Marshall.

I had completely overlooked this product, so I spent a hour watching the following video:


What impressed me was not only the sounds coming out of this box, but Thomas Blug's understanding of tube amp phenomena. He is one of the first people I have encountered in the gear business who really understands what makes guitar tube amps tick. His background is lot like my own in that he started to play with electronics as a kid and combined his love of guitar with his love of electronics. He is one of the few solid-state designers out there that is understands how damping factor and the cathode follower impact the tone of a guitar tube amp (what he says about damping factor and the Iridium aligns with my own experience when it comes to amps designed for modern metal). I am assuming that the tube he is using is from the end of the tube-type period. It appears to a subminiature tube design, either a 6112 (subminiature equivalent of a 5751) or 6111 (subminiature equivalent of a 12AU7), most likely the 6111 or its Russian equivalent 6N16B-V. I am curious as to how it is being used to shape tone and response in the power amp. It is much more convincing than any digital modeler I have heard and does appear to react to playing dynamics like a tube amp better than any digital modeler I have heard. Granted, the Amp1 Mercury Edition is not a Swiss Army Knife like a digital modeler, but for the guiitarist who is looking for a lightweight, reliable set of base tones coupled with a power amp in a small package, it does appear to deliver. I appreciate your bringing the product to my attention.
 
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PRSWILL

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I have an old VOX Tonelab ( actually have 2 of them- version one is a table top and 2 is a stomp box) and it uses a 12ax7 preamp tube that seems to warm up the tone nicely. It took a LOT of tweaking for me to get what i needed out of it, but I sill go back to it from time to time. I always thought it was a great concept- and would be cool to apply in today's modern modelers.
 

HoovHead

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How is this less gear and easier to carry than let's say a Fender Deluxe and a small pedalboard?
What am I missing here?????? :confused:
You are missing nothing--It's whatever works for the player. I switched to a modeler when my old A$$ could no longer pick up a Mesa without blowing a gasket! 'Tis the age of the modeler. With that said, I don't hate having the seemingly endless options of amps, effects, stereo out, midi control from DAW, wet/dry recording, re-amping, changing amp setting (gain, tone stack, eq, etc), at the click of a single switch, blah, blah blah. I like the flexibility a lot. :p
 

aphantomvaper

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Yep, modelers are in a good spot hardware-wise. I gave up after my Digit tech 2120 broke and I started building pedals. I gave up on chasing switch pops and ground loops and picked up a Head rush unit (I'll keep saying this...thank you Dankat) and am super happy with it! I learned about IR for the first time too, that's a pretty neat concept and is useful!

Current day modelers are really great in my opinion.
 
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Moondog Wily

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I got my Axe FXIII at the end of Dec '21 as stated previously, and not only have I been amazed all along, but now that I completed a deep dive class on all of it's features (Cooper Carter Master Class), I am really getting it dialed in! LOVING IT!! Just got my FC12 footswitch all set up on Friday using some new features, so yesterday was pure tap dance heaven for me!!! The other great thing about Fractal Audio Systems (who makes the Axe FXIII and some other modelers) is their CONSTANT improvements to the product!!!! Picture if PRS sent out new pick ups FREE every time they made an improvement to them, or new tuners!!!!! That is what Fractal does with their firmware updates (granted these are not physical items), constant pursuit of perfection (I think there have been 4 or 5 updates in the past 3 months) and it does get better with every one of these updates offering new features, bug fixes, lower CPU usage and better sounds on various components. Incredible commitment, pursuit of excellence and continually serving their customers!!!!!!
 
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Rod/

Vibrato & String Bender
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Nov 9, 2021
Messages
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Seacoast New Hampshire/ S. Maine
One thing that I have learned in the last year and a half is that if you are not getting what you want from the unit you have, there may be a way to get it where you want it. These things are all "secret tricks" that the communities for the units seem to know. I know some of these for the Kemper and Fractal products. With Fractal there are some deep parameters that can change the feel of the profiles that are not widely publicised. With the Kemper putting a pure boost after the cabinet block can have a huge impact on the tone and feel that has worked for many users. You have to be active on the forums for these units to learn these things. I think if these things were more widely known there would be a lot less people that buy one of these units that say it just doesn't have the sound or feel they want from it. I am betting that a decent number of people that have bought one of these and sold it because of this, if they had known how to do these things, they may still have the units and love them.
Back when I had a Kemper, this pure boost after the cab block was not known…. What I like about the all analog route with the Amp 1 or Black Spirit is their simplicity, power amp, 4 channels with great feel and tone combined into 1 lightweight unit under $900….
 

MarcWink

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Kemper and Headrush. I go back and forth. But I always use the active FRFR Headrush cabs.
I'm also using a Headrush FRFR cab. I'm loving modeler life, though I find I use basically the same amps and effects for my tones except when I need something that's a little more off the wall (i.e. a Tom Morello tone or something of the like). For the most part I've found I use models of the following to get me through about anything I need:

Friedman BE 100 clean and Dirty for anything that needs that mid focused British crunch we all know and love

PRS Archon 100 clean and dirty for more modern hard rock and metal type tones.

Orange Rockerverb 100 for all around alt rock, grunge, and hard rock tones

Mesa Mark IV clean and Dual Rec for late 90's early 00's numetal tones.

From there I use a volume pedal, a Crybaby model that's got its sweep frequency tweaked to my liking, a model of the venerable TS808, a spring reverb and a bucket brigade delay model.

I can get through any gig with four patches and four snapshots each. Load in and out is a whole lot easier, and in a band mix live, you'd never know the difference between the Helix and my actual amp and pedalboard of doom.
 

PBGas

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I've been using the Axe III since they came out with that model. Really amazing by everything that it does and most of all how it sounds. I have an FM3 now (sold my FM9) as I wanted something smaller to use for gigging. It's a great unit. I run mine into a couple of Friedman ASC-10s. Most times, I will just use one live. Easy to carry and bring to the gig.

If I want more amp tones with a cabinet, I use the FM3 with an Orange Pedalbaby 100 into either a Bogner Cube or Bogner 212CB.

This past weekend at our rehearsal, I took my Katana 100 MK2 head and put that into my Bogner cube and used a small pedalboard with it. It sounded amazing!

As I have gotten older, my back and body are less forgiving!
Lots of great options out there that are lightweight, reliable and great sounding!
 

Boogie

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I was a bigger skeptic than Les. A close buddy is a close buddy of Michael Britt and they were pioneering with this new device called the Kemper. My buddy ranted and raved and toured with it constantly. Got to hear Michael’s wizardry profiling some HUGE and expensive amps and it was impressive. But this was the day before the FRFR craze hit. If I were a touring musician with fly gigs, it made huge sense, but I’m a bar band schlep. Not convinced to take the leap.

Went to EXP ‘16 and stayed with another buddy. This guy had a Kemper rig tweaked by our mutual buddy and Mike Britt. It was a little weird looking,
joneskemper2016.JPG

but kept an open mind because Mike was on the speaker phone saying, “keep an open mind”.

Picked up a regular Tele, dialed in a Deluxe Reverb profile from Mike, and smashed a power chord.
Ho
Lee
She
It.

Two words…real deal. Played that with the rest of the band all night and fell in love. Disbelief, not convince it wasn’t total luck and BS, but my bias was shattered.

That started my downhill slalom of Kemper. Bought my buddy’s Brave a little Toaster since he was going rack, and never looked back. So many thanks to CRGTR for his generous sharing of knowledge and intro to Michael Britt, The Kemper wizard.

Six years of continuous shows and discovery. I think I sound pretty ok, which is mission accomplished. Thanks @crgtr , you lousy enabler!!! :cool:
expbozos2016.jpg
 

dmatthews

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I was a bigger skeptic than Les. A close buddy is a close buddy of Michael Britt and they were pioneering with this new device called the Kemper. My buddy ranted and raved and toured with it constantly. Got to hear Michael’s wizardry profiling some HUGE and expensive amps and it was impressive. But this was the day before the FRFR craze hit. If I were a touring musician with fly gigs, it made huge sense, but I’m a bar band schlep. Not convinced to take the leap.

Went to EXP ‘16 and stayed with another buddy. This guy had a Kemper rig tweaked by our mutual buddy and Mike Britt. It was a little weird looking,
joneskemper2016.JPG

but kept an open mind because Mike was on the speaker phone saying, “keep an open mind”.

Picked up a regular Tele, dialed in a Deluxe Reverb profile from Mike, and smashed a power chord.
Ho
Lee
She
It.

Two words…real deal. Played that with the rest of the band all night and fell in love. Disbelief, not convince it wasn’t total luck and BS, but my bias was shattered.

That started my downhill slalom of Kemper. Bought my buddy’s Brave a little Toaster since he was going rack, and never looked back. So many thanks to CRGTR for his generous sharing of knowledge and intro to Michael Britt, The Kemper wizard.

Six years of continuous shows and discovery. I think I sound pretty ok, which is mission accomplished. Thanks @crgtr , you lousy enabler!!! :cool:
expbozos2016.jpg
'Twas you that pushed me over the edge as well mate.
 
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