REVIEW: Fractal Audio Systems Axe-FX II

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A few years ago a revolution began in guitar processing. Fractal Audio Systems’ Axe-FX processor arrived in 2006, bringing together amplifier modelling and effects processing – both of which had been tackled by dozens of companies for decades, so that was nothing new, right? And yet something set the Axe-FX apart from the others: a level of sonic realism and a degree of control that transcended pretty much any piece of digital gear to date, combined with incredible flexibility for professional stage use. The Axe-FX was followed by the Axe-FX Ultra in 2008, and now the Axe-FX II. It’s a modelling preamp which simulates various famous guitar and bass amps as well as including original models designed by Fractal, plus simulations of speaker cabinets, effect pedals and studio effects. And it’s found its way into the guitar rigs of players as picky as Steve Vai, Dream Theater’s John Petrucci, Rush’s Alex Lifeson, Devin Townsend, Meshuggah’s Fredrik Thorendal, Dweezil Zappa, and of course Periphery, who have done so much for demonstrating the capabilities of the Axe-FX that they must hear “Dude, I bought an Axe-FX because of you,” like, all the time. Read More …

REVIEW: Ernie Ball Music Man Albert Lee MM90


Have you seen the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel? You have? Right. Well y’know how Zero Moustafa can’t bring himself to talk about his fiancé Agatha because it makes him too emotional? That’s how I feel about this guitar. Just writing about it now – knowing that it’s not mine and I’ll probably never get to own it or one like it because frankly they’re priced at what they’re worth and they’re worth a lot – brings a bittersweet tear to my eye. I’ve played other Music Man Albert Lee models over the years and quite liked them (St. Vincent does too – look for her playing a twin-humbucker version). I’ve even reviewed them here. And of course Albert Lee himself is an absolute guitar master who can hand no less a player than Steve Morse his ass – just look at this footage of Lee and Morse at the Ernie Ball 50th Anniversary party for proof – but there’s something magical about this particular version of Albert Lee’s signature model Music Man, even compared to the single coil and humbucker versions. Read More …

Epiphone Announces Ultimate Epiphone Video Contest

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PRESS RELEASE: Epiphone, the working musician’s favorite instrument maker, announces the Ultimate Epiphone Player Video Contest where fans will have the opportunity to win an Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE acoustic/electric guitar!  During the month of May, Epiphone invites contestants to submit a 1-minute video of them performing with their favorite Epiphone acoustic, electric, or bass guitar.  Beginning in in June, fans from around the world will vote for their favorite performer from the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and help choose a grand prize winner from each region. The video performer with the most votes from each of the three regions will win a legendary Masterbilt DR-500MCE acoustic/electric guitar with custom case. Read More …