Op-Ed: Can the Axe FX Be Used in Doom Metal?

This week”s guest post comes from guitarist Raphael Pinsker of Brooklyn doom outfit Fin”amor, who just dropped a great new album, Forbidding Mourning, which you can nab here. The boys made some waves when we dropped their rig tour clip a few weeks ago, which you can check out below before you read some of his thoughts on the gear necessary to make quality doom.


I used to be one of those “tube amps and pedal train pro” dudes. My guitarist and I both had 6505 “s and I had a growing pedal collection. As our band started incorporating more atmospheric elements I began experimenting with delays, reverbs, wahs, etc. My goal was to be one of those dudes that took 15-30 minutes to set up his entire rig… Then Julian got an Axe FX II.

At first I was like “this is blasphemy, what about your tube amp tone and pedals!” Every practice his set up time got shorter and shorter and within a few weeks he had homemade tones that shattered whatever farts my 6505 decided to blow out of its cabinet. Granted, I could’ve invested into more high-end amps that would cater towards our sound more than the Peavey, but when I heard the digital replicas of a Framus Cobra, along with a Diezel Herbert and Engl Powerball, I was shocked that I could not spot almost any tonal difference from the originals!

In retrospect, I think online slots it was because I was sold into the longstanding mantra of metal and rock needing the “warmth” of tubes, shortly followed by “something something digital SUCKS.” At shows I was stuck fiddling with cables upon cables, a pedal power brick, and on the off chance that something didn”t work, my entire rig was shot (this happened). I don’t disagree with the fact that tubes really do sound great and have been a hallmark of most metal up to now, but I’ve also come to realize that digital has come a long way from the amp VSTs and Line 6 pods Julian and I used to mess with for days just to get some semblance of a sub-par tone out. It didn”t take long for me to invest in an Axe FX and sell my entire guitar rig.

As we started getting more experimental, we decided that we needed a platform that could mirror what we were achieving within the studio, but within a live context. The Axe FX offered us limitless tones and the ability to create layers using various effects which created sonic textures and aural landscapes. We were able to create (or download) crushing tones that would work great for anything we could possibly need, and customize them further in any way we wanted. It was like both of us having 7 different live amps with just as many full stacks and a pedal board thrice the size of my original …all in the size of less than one tube amp.

I always find it funny when we play shows, or I”m at a show where they have these dudes that swear by their enormous rigs. Orange and Sunn O))) amps biamped into two Emperor full stack cabinets. *shots fired* ( ( ( w o w m u c h d o o m s u c h h e a v y s o c r u s h i n g ) ) ) We”ve played shows where bands have an 80″s arena band backline of the most obscure amps, cabs, and pedals you can”t find… and here is Fin”amor carrying our entire live rig in our hands – literally – guitar and MFC 101 in one hand and our Axe FX in the other. We just plug and play. It’s easy, takes like five minutes at the most to set up, comes with no tube headaches, and best of all…we save a ton of space onstage and in the transports.


While we could make the joke that, as opposed to other bands, we aren’t compensating for a lack of something with the sheer size of our rigs, it’s really not about that, or the versatility of tones, or even their quality. At the end of the day, Axe Fx is what makes practical sense for our band setup. It lets us be as creative and atmospheric as possible within a reasonable budget and limited transport space. It just works.

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Latest comments
  • I saw a Korg Kronos in the background! awesome

  • If you are dealing with folks rocking Matamps, Verellens, Emperor cabs and what-have-you, the “cost” argument will of course be somewhat moot. But with that said, I would still hold that you can get a perfectly serviceable Doom rig for a fraction of what an AxeFX costs. Older Peavey amp and cabs, Laneys, Marshalls and various other “overlooked” amps like Sovtek and so on can be had for a pittance and will get the job done. Good fuzz pedals may be pricy, but they’re still very cheap compared to the AxeFX.
    Fair enough if you have the privilege of being in a financial situation where you can afford an AxeFX; that’s good for you and I’m happy for you. Just remember that not everyone is that fortunate, especially not musicians. Also, don’t forget that A) Not everyone is that averse to carrying gear and are even fine with it, B) Even if some people can afford an AxeFX, they probably have more fun with a “real” rig and putting it together in a savvy fashion and most importantly C) Some venues have shite PA’s, or even none at all, given that Doom is, was and always will be a niche genre.

  • I’ve merged vst with analog. Normally, I carry my little /50watt/ or big /2x200watt/ tube amps and cabs for it, everything else than distortion and chorus is coming from vst. Yeah, stupid elitists are bitching about “god forsaken digital”
    But for gigs with backline or small gigs and traveling, I just use only vst/small class D poweramp.
    For first, people are complimenting about sound, but when they notice what I’m using, they go freaking nuts – “this is so poser and shame on you”

    Yeah, I would like to use my entire rig at once, outside of practice room /two amps and three cabs and effects/ and it souds great. But through the PA at typical venue here in middle europe, nobody can notice a shit and if the digital things are doing its work excellently, so why not?

    Not to mention, that I dont wanna carry extremly heavy stuff, ya, I’m lazy.

  • Axe-FX, or no, I don’t care for the tones at all on the bandcamp album posted.

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  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

  • I use the good ole tube amp into cab live and I love it. BUT. I was able to dial in a pretty convincing and doomy cranked Rockerverb patch on my Ultra. I’ve tricked a handful of people. Haven’t used it live though. Honestly, use whatever you think sounds best.

  • Yeah, this is sort of doom, in some ways, but shares. I agree that the tones aren’t really very good. There is something about a tube amp, for the ultra saturated stuff, these may work OK, and it may be possible to get these tones, but I don’t see people getting them with a tones that excite me.

    And the thing about an Axe is that it can also sound like crap if not dialed in well. I haven’t seen many have them dialed in well, the ones I see people using live have not impressed me. On the other hand, it was Sunn Model Ts, OR120s for Attomic Bitchwax last night, and it sounded freaking awesome.

    Meanwhile much of the older tube gear sounds awesome. Give me an old Ampeg or Sunn please. My amp of choice is the older Riveras, seriously under-priced amps. I have less in my pedaltrain pro/Rivera rig than an Axe effects, and I can dial it on the fly if need be. To be fair though I don’t buy into a lot of the overpriced gear hype and use things that would probably make a purist cringe. I don’t mind carrying the weight. Anything under 15 minutes at local shows just means you will be waiting on the sound person or the drummer or someone else anyway to be ready. Could be useful though, cause someone has to be at the merch table or you can’t sell merch to people, there is an upside there for sure, guitarist can trade off loading out the Axe FX and manning the merch table.

    Yes, tube gear can be a pain to maintain, but it is easily serviced regardless of where you are, there is a tech that can service your tube amp. What do you do if your Axe FX goes down? You are screwed.

  • I own an Axe-FX II – and I’ve yet to build a preset that emulates that great FuzzDoom tone. It can do pretty much everything else though – still an awesome unit. I’m hoping Cliff will emulate some more Heads tailored towards Doom. The overall answer is to currently crank the Marshall’s and add Bass. To my ears that doesn’t come close to the Matamp GT120, or Sunn amps.

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