Welcome to the future. I have owned a large number of amps, cabs, pedals over the years.
The amps are the soul of the guitars timbre. The voice. Here are some of the amps I’ve owned among many I’ve used in the past….
Bogner Shiva (owned 3 over the years)
Bogner Ecstasy Classic
Rivera Rake (owned 3 over the years)
VHT (Fryette) Pittbull 45 (owned 2 over the years)
VHT (Fryette) 50/12
Matchless Clubman (owned 2 over the years)
Dr. Z Rx
GT Solo-45 (owned head and combo over the years)
Germino Club 40
Germino Lead 55
What I’ve done over the years is try different amps and use their unique voices in an attempt to find my own voice. In 2007, I took a chance on a new company making an expensive high end box – the Fractal Audio Axe-FX. I used it with a tube power amp (Randall RT2-50) and Tone Tools speaker cabinets. At the time, I treated the Fractal like a preamp on steroids. I loved it. But I had a sideman gig with Allyssa Simmons at the time that needed to be a ‘silent stage’; I had to run direct to the PA system (what we call “Direct-to-FOH” (Front of House) with nothing more than a speaker wedge for monitoring your tones. The Axe-FX had that capability; you could add a speaker cab ‘block’ into the chain after the amp ‘block’ and then run it out direct to the PA. I spent a lot of time to make it work… the gig was really fun.
That pushed me to find a way to make the direct-to-FOH thing work for me. As a guitarist, it makes gigging fun by allowing you to have consistent tones and control every aspect of your overall guitar signal and balance them all with a controller pedal via midi. The evolutionary aspect of Fractal Audio’s development of their product line was also right up my alley. They introduced a more powerful version the “Ultra” in 2008; and then in 2011 the “Axe-FX II”. For some years, I’ve been on the beta team for all the Fractal Audio products now – testing, reporting – but also a vocal proponent of the technology on forums. It’s been an extraordinary journey.
My current Fractal Audio based rig is the Fractal Audio Axe-FX II, controlled by the Fractal Audio MFC-101 and three Mission Engineering Expression/controller pedals direct out to FOH and then I also now carry my own powered speaker wedge . I own and use the Atomic Amplifiers CLR.
What you can do with a little glow-in-the-dark gaffer’s tape:
This is a killer way to perform and record.
Here is what the rig ends up looking like on stage when I play out:
Guitarists that are not aware of running this way will often approach me and are wide eyed at what is happening in front of them. We are all used to seeing amps and pedals; if you look at me when I play… there is very efficient use of stage space (which can be a a premium at a lot of clubs).
The level of technology that this gear now has attained means I can have any variety of tones – serious, organic, shake you to the bone tones – all dialed perfectly from any stage, any room and at every gig. It’s my idealized solution and I just love that we are at a time in history to able to use this sort of rig.