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Author Topic: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor  (Read 14350 times)

Scott Bolt

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #60 on: September 02, 2015, 09:13:16 pm »

Great thread guys.

My background .....

While I don't have Bob's plethora of fender tube amps (actually don't own any tube amps any more), my previous amps were a Fender HRD, Fender twin reverb, and a VHT Pitbull.

I currently gig through a Kemper profiling amp, and the entire band has stereo IEM feeds with individual mix capability.

For years, I have been asked why someone of my background (I am an electrical engineer) would carry around such a heavy tube rig (both head and cabs) when digital would be so much lighter.  My reply for over 35 years (you got me there too Bob) has been that "don't you think I would be using it if someone made a light, versatile digital device that I could get this tone out of?".

So ..... Last year I did some research after a particularly grueling week of gigging that left my back explaining loudly to me that I am no longer 18 ;)

There are really 2 serious digital guitar processors out there.  Axe II FX and Kemper.  The general consensus in the never ending debate between these two solutions is that the Kemper better captures the feel and tone of a real tube amp while the Axe II FX has better efx capability.  The Kemper is a bit less expensive than the Axe II Fx.

So ... here is what I have learned gigging with the Kemper now for a little over a year.

Does it sound exactly like a tube amp if you listen to it through a good full range powered speaker?

Very close, but not quite.  The reason for this is that the unit is truly a profiler.  The profile captures the amp, amp settings, any pedals you are using, that cab, and the microphone used as well as its placement.  The latest firmware can separate the cab from the amp so you can better mix and match amps and cabs.

This is NOT exactly the same sound as your ears will hear from an amp when you play .... especially if the amp is blowing air at the back of your knees on stage.

Does it sound the same as a miced tube amp through the PA?

Yes.  Not only yes, but it is more consistently good sounding.  You never have to worry about the tubes changing, being cold/hot, or the mic getting bumped out of that sweet spot.

Furthermore, having the ability to tweak your profiles to your own taste, then A/B the changes results in you getting consistently better sound as time goes on.

The ability to download free (and paid for) profiles is wonderful.  Most of my rigs are free.  I have a great rectifier, Fender Tone King, Bogner, Vox 15, Two Rock, and Marshal JTM 50.

I have played on the Axe II Fx.  It is my opinion that it is has lots of good sounds in it.  I thought it lacked the nuance of the pushed soft breakup sounds that are very hard to get out of a non-tube amp while the Kemper excelled here.  Either of these devices will get you great tone if you do a little work on it.

You will never get me to say bad things about a good tube amp.  Setup well, miced well, and used to its potential, tube amps are fantastic.  I played on nothing but tube amps for over 35 years before going digital.

Here is the thing though.  Most bands DON'T have the tube amp setup, played at a low stage volume, and properly miced and eq'd at the channel strip..... so they produce tons of stage noise that bleeds into the vocal microphones, they are beamy and blast one side of the audience while they are not clear to the other side of the audience.

Don't get me wrong, the kemper and Axe need a monitor speaker to play lead with.  You need the air interaction with the strings.  The separate PEQ for the monitor output is very good for getting your monitor sound tweaked for your playing pleasure as well as getting good string interaction ...... all while not effecting your FOH sound (that the FOH engineer mixes for you).

Oh, and my Kemper weighs 11 lbs ;)  My setup time is insanely low now!
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Deric Craig

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor (Ross Comp)
« Reply #61 on: September 03, 2015, 01:41:29 am »

I've embraced modeling for other instruments whole heartedly since conception, much like embrace certain transistorized amplifier. Some times it works, sometimes it doesn't. What modeling does do without question, and does very well is replicate effects (except a Ross compressor). Another nice feature of modeling is the ability to replicate the clean sound of an amplifier.

The Ross compressor, for all of it's simplicity, has been cloned by many, many manufacturers. However, for one reason or another nobody get's it quite right. Perhaps it's the old bit bucket chip combined with old clown fish caps. Who knows, but I own a pair of them and selling them on Ebay for $350-500 would be a walk in the park. What I do know is that they don't change your tone, alter the feel, or change the sound of your guitar/amp in any way other than provide sustain when used properly. So, in the end people will use what's best for them and if they get good sound I'm all for it.

Hi Bob

When I seen the pedal board photo I saw an old friend on there. I too have the grey Ross and bought it new in 1980. I agree that nothing works quite like the Ross for me. How you described it is bang on. I have it for sustain basically plus a line drive buffer from corded guitar to the rest of my set up. Yes, I had looked at a few ads for that comp and was floored at the asking prices. If I ever lost mine I would have to have another one. I had to repair mine 3 times in 35 years. Not too bad a track record.

This modeling discussion caught my eye initially. In the early 2000s, I was performing with a very busy regional modern country act. They acquired me for my stage sound and rock background. I was using (and still do) an older valve Marshall, a 4-12 with Greenbacks, Les Pauls and a unique collection of analog processing. I did use respectable stage volume.

In Spring of 2003, I was forced by the front man/boss to drop the stage rig amp and everyone process direct at that time (to prepare for fly dates). The others used Pods and I adapted my pedal board minus my rack of cool stuff. I will say I did not like the whole deal at all. My sound disappeared. The feel, the tone, and the "talk" between the axe and amp - all was lost.

Less than a year later, I became completely fed up with not enjoying the shows. I showed up with my regular rig and the lead vocalist came over to me and said Oh, I see you have your amp tonight. I just said, yes sir.

That night rocked. What a difference for me. The lead singer grudgingly said how good I sounded for the show.The group ended late 2004 and I still use that rig today in my 80's AOR cover group.

I very much respect the individuals who prefer and use modelers and can do it well. The times I mix FOH upon request by other groups, I have seen/heard too often the inability of a guitar player to dial in his modeler device or amp - like a Line 6 amp rig one night was horrid sounding... I couldn't wait to be done...

Carry on
Deric
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Luke Geis

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #62 on: September 03, 2015, 08:30:51 pm »

My big hangup with the modelers aside from lack of touch dynamics was the difficulty ( at least for me ) in dialing in a sound that sounded like and amp in the room. The sounds created were great, but they sounded out of place an unrealistic. I think the big breakdown was that for 20 something years I had used an amp that was placed in the room. Now I'm trying a modeler that emulates the sound of an amp in a room and mic'd that is then replayed into the PA which is in a room. So the sound was pretty far from the norm in terms of what I and many others are USED too. I have always felt that a mic"d guitar amp supported through the PA always sounded better than the amp alone. So it should be easy to get a mic'd guitar sound in the modeler right? Well it is, but it's also the only think you hear and as a player making it fit an a sonic aesthetic was troubling.

My latest attempt was with Positive Grids Bias app! Talk about cool stuff. I have heard the desktop version will give Fractal a run for the money. The app ran from my Ipad was very nice and easy to get a desirable sound that sounded pretty realistic, but it still lacked touch dynamics. I use it now for silent practice. If you have not yet heard, or tried Positive Grid's Bias and Jam up, give it a shot, definitely a cool, cheap and awesome practice tool. 
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #63 on: September 03, 2015, 09:33:10 pm »

And 52 years later I still can't find anything that will come close to the sound of my Gibson/Maestro fuzz tone. I only use it for one song, but it's the only thing I've found that can give me any type of satisfaction.
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BOSTON STRONG........
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I did a gig for Otis Elevator once. Like every job, it had it's ups and downs.

Jay Marr

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #64 on: September 03, 2015, 09:59:55 pm »

My big hangup with the modelers aside from lack of touch dynamics was the difficulty ( at least for me ) in dialing in a sound that sounded like and amp in the room. The sounds created were great, but they sounded out of place an unrealistic. I think the big breakdown was that for 20 something years I had used an amp that was placed in the room. Now I'm trying a modeler that emulates the sound of an amp in a room and mic'd that is then replayed into the PA which is in a room. So the sound was pretty far from the norm in terms of what I and many others are USED too. I have always felt that a mic"d guitar amp supported through the PA always sounded better than the amp alone. So it should be easy to get a mic'd guitar sound in the modeler right? Well it is, but it's also the only think you hear and as a player making it fit an a sonic aesthetic was troubling.

My latest attempt was with Positive Grids Bias app! Talk about cool stuff. I have heard the desktop version will give Fractal a run for the money. The app ran from my Ipad was very nice and easy to get a desirable sound that sounded pretty realistic, but it still lacked touch dynamics. I use it now for silent practice. If you have not yet heard, or tried Positive Grid's Bias and Jam up, give it a shot, definitely a cool, cheap and awesome practice tool.

I use positive grids bias....great for hotel room jamming.  Really fun app....love it.
Record it next to a fractal and it's not even close.  I wish it was, because I'd love to just take an ipad to a gig!  I would love it if the desktop app will compete...but I'm not holding my breath.
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Scott Wagner

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #65 on: September 04, 2015, 10:08:58 am »

A '64 Deluxe will get you through any gig with a smile on your face. I doubt any modeler can really do that for me. Spend your thousands of dollars on something worth owning. In 50 years, that amp will still be doing its thing (and probably be worth a giant pile of money), while that Fractal will be a distant memory - heck, you'd be hard pressed to get 10 years out of that thing before it's completely obsolete.
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Tim Tyler

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #66 on: September 04, 2015, 10:19:14 am »

And 52 years later I still can't find anything that will come close to the sound of my Gibson/Maestro fuzz tone. I only use it for one song, but it's the only thing I've found that can give me any type of satisfaction.

I had a Maestro fuzz tone years ago, it got stolen.  Satisfaction became much more difficult to attain...

-Tim T
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John L Nobile

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #67 on: September 04, 2015, 12:07:58 pm »

A '64 Deluxe will get you through any gig with a smile on your face. I doubt any modeler can really do that for me. Spend your thousands of dollars on something worth owning. In 50 years, that amp will still be doing its thing (and probably be worth a giant pile of money), while that Fractal will be a distant memory - heck, you'd be hard pressed to get 10 years out of that thing before it's completely obsolete.

+1

Did that route with Leslie modelers. They're all landfill.
When I get home I'm going to give my 122RV a hug lol.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #68 on: September 04, 2015, 12:52:51 pm »

A '64 Deluxe will get you through any gig with a smile on your face. I doubt any modeler can really do that for me. Spend your thousands of dollars on something worth owning. In 50 years, that amp will still be doing its thing (and probably be worth a giant pile of money), while that Fractal will be a distant memory - heck, you'd be hard pressed to get 10 years out of that thing before it's completely obsolete.
I have three amps.  Kind of a Goldilocks thing.  A ZT Lunchbox for rehearsals and small jazz gigs, A 100W Fuchs ODS with a clone of Robben's 2-12, and a drip edge Deluxe Reverb I snagged off the Bay with a blown PT.  Replaced both trannys with Allen parts for an Accomplice (basically Vibroluxe parts with the OT wound for the output impedance of 6V6s) and rebuilt the guts with orange drops, blueprinted carbon film signal and metal film resistors in non-signal location (after long internet discussions with Allen, Aiken, Kimock and various others).  Puts out around 28W at clip.  Like Goldilocks, I find that the DR is "just right" for most bar gigs and recording.  Together with a 100W Parts Express L-pad, I can get it to do whatever I want at any decent volume.  The guy who turned me on to the L-pad bit, ex Miles guitarist Garth Webber, sells these made up in boxes with jacks but I imagine most folks here can put together their own.  Entirely different dynamic feel than the commercial power soak things.  There's more "chirp" and less of a squashed feel.
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Jay Marr

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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #69 on: September 06, 2015, 12:24:42 pm »

A '64 Deluxe will get you through any gig with a smile on your face. I doubt any modeler can really do that for me. Spend your thousands of dollars on something worth owning. In 50 years, that amp will still be doing its thing (and probably be worth a giant pile of money), while that Fractal will be a distant memory - heck, you'd be hard pressed to get 10 years out of that thing before it's completely obsolete.

Trying not to stray too far off topic here, because the original ask was about how the Fractal sounds through a PA....and I can tell you it sounds awesome.
If I'm hanging in my studio, will I turn on one of my Marshalls/Fenders, just because I want to get the exact feel I love....yup, I will.
But on the road, the Axe FX is a god send.

Fractal being a distant memory in 10 years could not be further from the truth. 
Take 2 seconds to think about the technology revolutions over the past 10-15 years.  Digital is where everything is going.  Everything.
ProTools vs. Tape.  Digital Mixers vs. Analog.   Power Amps with DSP vs. Analog Xover.  Digital Effects vs. Tape Machine and Reverb Tank.  Cell Phone vs. Land Line. blah, blah, blah.
Now take a look at some of the converts over the past 2 years (U2, Metallica, Rush....).  Artists are realizing the reward of using the Fractal. 
When you can get 90% realism for 100's of amps out of a 2 space rack....well then, this is an easy decision when packing a trailer for a tour.

Better yet, head to NAMM this year and look at how many Guitar manufacture booths have a Fractals for demo purposes.  Why?  Because you have 100's of DIFFERENT tones that sound outstanding, in one 2 space rack.
I would love to bring a 64 Deluxe everywhere I go....but it's just not economical, especially since I need FX and 'other' amp tones than just a 64 Deluxe.  (for the record, I love the 64 Deluxe)

This past January at NAMM I ran into a very well known guitar player at a bar (not going to mention the name to secure his privacy).  It was early in the week, so the bar was empty.  Great opportunity to introduce myself to one of my heroes and talk some shop.
During the conversation I said - I know you use the Fractal just for FX, but still use your tube amps for tone.
He said - "yes, I do still use my tube amps as I still love them....but man the Axe FX is getting so close, it's getting hard to deny just using it for everything."
The part of the conversation that stuck with me was this - he stated, "I love my amps, and I can tote around big gear, so I do.  But I feel a bit like a dinosaur still lugging these big amps around.  Kids now a days would likely look at me like I'm crazy for lugging this stuff around.  They all are growing up on digital, and it's such a tiny package and the tone is getting so close, that tube amps are eventually going to be looked as stupid to carry around."

The point here is - as the younger generation keeps getting into the scene, and the tech keeps getting better...digital is going to just keep growing and growing.  Are tube amps ever going to go way, not a chance.  And they will likely become more expensive as a 64 Deluxe is going to be rarer than rare at some point.  (which is why we all hang on to them...haha).
But thinking that Fractal (who is at the top of the game, along with Kemper) will be gone in 10 years, is just not reality.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2015, 12:27:14 pm by Jay Marr »
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Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
« Reply #69 on: September 06, 2015, 12:24:42 pm »


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