#1 – What would you say your level of experience is with amp sims and other guitar and bass related plugins?
Tobi: My experience with amp sims and guitar plugins is fairly minimal. This is because I’ve never really liked any guitar related plugin or sim that I have tried in the past. So I’ve strayed away from that type of gear/software.
#2 – What was the very first amp sim you ever tried and what was the experience like?
Tobi: The very first amp sim I tried was Amplitube… and the experience was not good haha. It was really muddy and flubby. It really turned me off wanting to try guitar plugins. (Sorry Amplitube). Maybe that software has improved over the years?
#3 – Tell us about your favorite all-time amp sim and plugins. Which ones just always seem to be the go-to solutions?
Tobi: Just as of recent I have given the plugin amp sim another go and this time I am really impressed. This company Neural DSP has worked with boutique amp company Fortin and created two guitar plugins “Nameless Suite” and “NTS Suite” based off of two existing real amps that Fortin makes. These are the best guitar plugins I have ever tried. I am currently using the Fortin NTS and at first try it literally took me no more than 10 min to dial a sound that I was happy enough to play with. It has a realistic response to your pick attack which is not common. It has loads of gain options, three pedals that are modelled after ones that Fortin makes: Zuul (Noise-gate) Hexdrive (Modern Overdrive) and Grind (clean boost). Customized cab sims and you can even upload your own cab IRS. Any guitarist looking for a new guitar plugin this is it.
#4 – Archspire’s guitar tones have always been crushing over the years but above that, there’s always been a ton of clarity in the tone to help showcase the musicianship. What would you say is the secret behind maintaining the clarity at hi-gains?
Tobi: As weird as this might seem but a big part in getting clarity while using high gain or overdriven tones is to not crank your gain or distortion too much. The more you crank your gain/distortion the more you saturate your tone and this is where you can lose clarity and it can get muddy…unless you are Yngwie Mamlsteen because he goes to 11 and is not of this earth. I like to dial my gain at 12 o’clock and sometimes the distortion at 1 o’clock on a amp. With a overdrive pedal added it’s better to set the distortion very low and push the tone knob instead. You end up getting a better sound of the pedal and the amp working together rather than just adding a bunch of messy distortion. A noise gate is really important. It really helps clear up in between when you are playing and when you are not. Wether you are playing fast or slow it helps clean things up and reduces any unwanted noise or feedback. The main component in all of this is your hands. Getting to use your hands as a natural noise gate with muting techniques and the velocity of your pick attack play the biggest part in producing your sound.
#5 – You travel with a very cool and compact looking rig (we will link a picture), can you take us through the whole set up?
Tobi: Yes!! It’s very cool and compact . Now Dean would absolutely love to take you through our whole live rig. Dean take it away!!
Dean: Sure! We run a full self-contained in-ear monitor rig. The Behringer X32 rack sends us each a stereo mix, and paired with a wireless router in the back we can control our individual levels and mixes from an app on our phones! We have 3 AXE FX II XL+ units that process our guitar tone, and send one feed to the X32, one to the front of house via stage snake, and one 1/4″ send to a Matrix power amp we have in our rack so we can power a couple 4×12 guitar cabinets for stage sound. We have an 8 channel split that we use to send the snare and vocal mic signals, along with the kick trigger signal to both our X32 and the front of house.
In addition, we don’t actually listen to eachother while on stage, we listen to a full mix of stems from our albums, along with a click track. Our laptop also sends MIDI signals to our AXE FX units to perform scene changes so we have a much cleaner stage, in addition this laptop sends MIDI commands to our X32 to activate an FX bus so we can control the exact reverb we want. This system is also going to be sending commands to a DMXis lighting controller to a couple of stage lights for our upcoming tour Tech Trek IV.
I’m sure I missed something, but there’s the basics!
#6 – For the Line 6 unit, what amps are being used for the main tones?
Tobi: We aren’t using Line 6 pod HD pros any more. Dean and I and even Jared our bass player are all using the Fractal Audio Axe FX 2 XL+. But if I remember correctly I was using the Mesa Triple Rec within the Line 6.
#7 – Moving to the AxeFx, which amps do you find yourself leaning on most often?
Tobi: Right now with my Axe FX set up I have been using two amps in my chain. The Friedman and Thordendal. They work really well together. Another addition that has helped is Dean and I have tone matched our albums guitar tone that Dave Otero created for “Relentless Mutation” it’s based off of a PRS Archon and a EVHiii. It sounds great!! So we are using that as a Cab IR.
#8 – What made you guys stick with the Mesa power amps over more compact FRFR units? Do you find they color the tone from the digital units?
Tobi: Within the last year Dean and I are sharing a Matrix GT800FX power amp. It’s a perfect lightweight unit that powers both our Axe Fx and doesn’t colour the sound. It’s the only solid state power amp that actually sounds rad. This company specifically made these units to work with the Axe Fx. I still have my Mesa Boogie 2:50 Power amp and I love it, sounds huge and it’s super clean and doesn’t colour the sound. But it’s heavy and takes up more space. We have been trying to find ways to downsize our entire rig so the Matrix seems to work very well.
#9 – You guys are obviously big on space saving and having a nice compact touring rig, with the way the tech is moving, could you see yourselves touring with a laptop in the future?
Tobi: The more we tour the more we are having to find ways to be more compact and light weight with our gear. It seems that way with a lot of bands these days especially if you are flying. We already are using a laptop with our live rig for all our midi switching with the Axe Fx, samples click track etc… If we can save space, weight and still retain a killer live tone I would totally be into running guitars and bass with plugins off of a laptop. Dean and I preformed at NAMM this year at the Fortin Amp & Neural DSP booth and ran everything off of our laptop and their NTS guitar plugin and it worked great. We even tried it in our practice space with the Matrix power amp into a Mesa Recto cab and it sounded pretty sick. So maybe in the future we will be able to go that route live?
#10 – If Archspire was approached tomorrow to collaborate with a developer on an amp sim suite with one amp, one cab, three pedals and a post effects section, what would that sim feature?
Tobi: That would be absolutely awesome and stressful at the same time. For me the Fortin NTS suite has pretty much done that already so it would sort of be based off of that and the Fortin Meshuggah signature amp. It would feature: – Dedicated clean channel. – Built in noise gate – Built in compression section for both the overdriven and clean side of the amp so you can save on pedal space. – Pedals: 1.Reverb/Delay in one pedal. 2.Some sort of overdrive with a clean boost built in like the Fortin 33 pedal. 3. Noise Gate Pedal Cab: Mesa Boogie 4×12 Rectifier – The main feature would make you play fast and Stay Tech!
We are so happy to have had the chance to talk gear with Archspire! I have been a fan for a very long time and I have seen them live many times in that frame. They literally never disappoint live so if you have a chance, please be sure to go see them because they absolutely slay on stage. The technical prowess of the musicians in this band has them among the world’s most elite and they show no signs of slowing down.
Please make sure to check out the dates for their upcoming tours!!
They are currently supporting “Relentless Mutation” (Season of mist) which you can hear right HERE.
Or check their social media starting with FACEBOOK