Below are examples of the Axe-Fx in various configurations along with explanations and tips on usage.
As an Effects Unit with Separate Preamp and Power Amp
The Axe-Fx can be used as an effects processor along with a dedicated preamp and power amp. In this configuration the preamp provides the primary distortion and tone shaping while the Axe-Fx provides effects. By using the preamp in the Axe-Fx’s effects loop you can place effects both before and after the preamp. Certain effects, like wah and phaser, tend to work better before distortion, whereas time-based effects such as delay, chorus, reverb, etc. sound best after distortion. This configuration also allows you to use the Axe-Fx amp simulations as well. In this way you can use the outboard preamp for certain sounds, and the Axe-Fx for others. Be warned, however, after using the Axe-Fx’s amp sims you may find your preamp redundant and just adding unnecessary weight to your rack! Of course you can always use the Axe-Fx between the preamp and power amp, if desired, in the classic post-distortion configuration.
As an Effects Unit with a Combo Amp (or Head and Cab)
Below are two possible configurations for using the Axe-Fx with a combo amp (or head and cabinet). In the first configuration the Axe-Fx is simply used in the effects loop of the amp. The second configuration is more complicated but allows effects both before and after the amp’s preamp stage. In this configuration you are using the amp in the Axe-Fx’s effects loop.
As a Preamp / Processor Into a Power Amp and Guitar Cabinet(s)
In this configuration the Axe-Fx is providing all distortion and tone-shaping. The output of the Axe-Fx is connected to a power amp and cabinets equipped with guitar speakers. Since the cabinets are not full-range, the cabinet simulation in the Axe-Fx should be defeated. This can be done globally via the GLOBAL menu, or perpreset by bypassing the cabinet block or removing it from the signal chain. If the power amp is a tube amp you may want to bypass the Axe-Fx power amp simulations as well. This can be done via the GLOBAL menu, or per-preset by turning the SAG control fully counter-clockwise.
As a Preamp / Processor Into a Full-Range System
In this configuration the Axe-Fx is providing all distortion and tone-shaping. The output of the Axe-Fx is connected to a full-range sound reinforcement system. Since the system is full-range the Axe-Fx’s cabinet simulation should be active. The configuration shown would be typical of using the Axe-Fx straight into a FOH mixer. Your sound man would then send you your sound back into your stage monitor(s). You can also use this configuration without the mixer as a stage rig. Simply connect the Axe-Fx into a power amp and full-range speakers for the ultimate in tonal flexibility.
Using the Axe-Fx in the studio is straightforward. Simply connect the main outputs (analog or digital) to a mixer, computer, etc.