IN THE PAST WE HAVE REGULARLY DONE PORTRAITS OF FRACTAL USERS WHO HAVE CAUGHT OUR EYE.THIS TIME WE'D LIKE TO TELL YOU ABOUT A CERTAIN 'YEK', A EUROPEAN WITH A DISTINCTLY DUTCH ACCENT.
The man behind the username Yek is an extremely helpful contemporary from the Netherlands, Alexander van Engelen, whose general view is that knowledge can only be really useful if it is consistently collected, systematically stored and easy to access. During his time spent learning how to use the Axe-Fx he has assembled various How-Tos and FAQs using information that was previously spread all over the place.
We are very grateful for this contribution to the Axe-Fx community and would like to take this opportunity to thank him for it. Not only we but also many other members of the Fractal Audio Forum also greatly appreciate his friendly and helpful disposition, which he has shown in every one of his well-over three thousand forum posts. This is a good enough reason to want to get to know the man behind 'Yek' a little better, so we asked him a few questions. Of course, being the nice guy he is, Yek answered them for us.
G66: Can you tell us something about You?
YEK: I'm Alexander van Engelen, 47 years old, living in the university city of Leiden, The Netherlands, with my three boys (18, 15, 13) and my girlfriend.
G66: When you presented your How-Tos to the forum for the first time, you mentioned that you do information management in your daytime job and it has become obvious that you are very skilled in this area. What can you tell people who would like to learn this systematic approach of managing information?
YEK: Knowledge management is not my main occupation but a side-interest. Everywhere I work I notice that knowledge is often contained in minds/memory only. While that can't be avoided, it's a pity. Knowledge is an asset and should be easy to acquire, document, share and search. If you want your organisation and its employees to learn and grow, securing knowledge is a must. I often take it up me to start the process and it's appreciated.
G66: What do you do in the small amount of time when you are not busy with collecting Axe-Fx-related information, compiling FAQs and writing forum posts?
YEK: I'm a self-employed legal advisor in the field of HRM. Government organizations hire me to guide organizational changes, advise about difficult cases and legal affairs, represent them in court, etc.
G66: What other gear do you use? Which is your favourite guitar? Who is your favourite guitar player?
YEK: I'm a tone junkie. Wasted years of my life changing and switching equipment. I used to have large pedalboards, and rack stuff. Bogner amps are my favorite although I have none anymore. The Axe-Fx changed all that. No more hours of rearranging pedals and cutting cables, now it's shunts and virtual cables.
Regarding guitars I'm quite traditional. My favorite guitars are a Haar Telecaster (Dutch guitar builder) and a Gibson LP-295. I also have a Fender American Deluxe Fat Strat, Suhr Guthrie Govan and guitars built by my brother (here's a video).
With the Axe-Fx I use one or two TT-cabs with a EVM-12L speaker each (built in Germany) and a Matrix GT1000FX power amp. That's because I play bar gigs a lot and this rig gives me the punch and body of a real amp. If I play through a large FOH PA I use cab sims on the signal to the mixing table, and I use either the Matrix/TT-cabs or a QSC K12 full range monitor. At home I use Adam A7X studio monitors.
I'm moving away from the all-time heroes (Vai, Satriani, etc.) because guitar-only instruments start to bore me. I rather listen to songs, anything from soft jazz to heavier stuff. And also dance wihtout any guitar at all. In Holland I like Leendert Haaksma. Internationally guys I like guys are Peter Thorn and Ty Tabor, because of their straight style and personality as well.
G66: Your contribution to the community is highly appreciated. How do you feel about dedicating so much of your time for free?
YEK: It's the urge for 'perfection', I can't help it;-). If I do something I want it to be complete. Also, it took me a great deal of time to find and learn stuff about the Axe-Fx myself. It'd be great if the Wiki/How-Tos could save others lots of time. I want to emphasize though that the How-Tos etc. for a large part is based on tips and tricks from experienced users. I assembled them in an accessible way but credits for the content go to them.
G66: How long have you been playing the guitar? What other interests or hobbies do you have?
YEK: I started when I was 13. I then played for 4 hours a day and learning a lot. That's no longer the case. I'm relying on routine. I'm a pretty limited guitar player nowadays in a cover band (Rock Donald’s) doing bar gigs. Rock covers but carefully avoiding those worn-out 'rock classics'. These days I'm enjoying the energy and joys of gigging more than the display of skills. Besides my family and music I like the city life a lot, hanging out with friends, visiting festivals, living the good life. And I've learned to enjoy traveling with a backpacking. I particularly enjoyed South-America and Africa.
G66: What does you nick name ‘Yek’ mean or stand for?
YEK: I first joined forums when CompuServe was bigger than the Web. I had to choose a name and just typed something stupid. Have been using this nickname ever since.
G66: Can you remember how and when you learned about the Axe-Fx for the first time? What did you think about it back then?
YEK: I don't really remember. Most probably through a internet forum I guess. I was intrigued by its features; it was and is so well thought-through in every way.
G66: What finally convinced you to take the plunge?
YEK: I got really tired of filling my evenings redesigning my pedalboard and rack, again and again. I did use a Line 6 AX2 before and although that didn't work out for me, I got hooked on the Axe-Fx. Even before receiving it I sold all my other equipment (30+ pieces) and dedicated myself to it. And like many new users I did struggle with it in the beginning because there's is a learning. And I didn't have much luck at the start with the amplification. I'm glad I persisted. Also, the community helped a lot, with helpful tips coming from experienced users.
G66: What would you tell people who are sceptical about the Axe-Fx? To whom would you recommend the Axe-Fx? And what kind of people would you advise not to get an Axe-Fx?
YEK: I recommend it to everyone because it's so good, but I will stop immediately if I see it's not for them. Many people just want some knobs and a power switch, that's perfectly fine. I feel no need to convert the world but I'll gladly help anybody who's interested in an Axe-Fx. That's why I initiated the Dutch Axe-Fx meeting.
Another reason for recommending the Axe-Fx is the support here in Europe. I've dealt with Jacques and Sussi several times, and they are the most friendly and helpful people I've encountered in this field. They are the best.
G66: How will this whole technological development continue? Do you think real tube amps will become obsolete one day? Do you see an area of application that will always be closed to devices like the Axe-Fx?
YEK: Half a year ago I stopped particpating in those never-ending threads discussing the pros and contras of digital modeling versus tubes. I hope tube amps will be continued to be manufactured for a long time. There's room for anything. I guess the "roots" are (from country, rockabilly etc) will never succumb to the Axe-Fx, and that's fine. But it's so good that it has a bright future in front of it.
G66: Thank you Alexander for taking the time to answer our questions.