Andrea Puxeddu is a young guitarist from the beautiful Italian island of Sardinia. Some of his videos have been featured in the Videos of the Week section on our website: all of them show his talents as a guitar player but also how you can achieve great tones with the Axe-Fx II. With this interview we tried to get to know him a little more and asked how his playing has changed since he got his Axe-Fx II.
First of all let me congratulate you for your videos on YouTube. There's a lot of technical information about getting a good sound with the Axe-Fx II. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start? What bands and guitarists have influenced your guitar playing style and tone the most?
"I started playing guitar a long time ago, when I was 6 years old. I went to hear a concert of my brother David, who's a little older than me, who made his debut as a soloist with his keyboard. On that occasion I saw a guitarist play a Joe Satriani piece, 'Always with me Always with You'. I was enchanted by what I heard; it's still an emotion that I remember strongly, even 21 years later. The same day, after returning home, I told my father that I wanted to learn to play like that guy. Since that day, the guitar has been a part of me, and now here I am after so many years.
My influences are many; from an early age I listened to Pink Floyd, Queen and Guns'N'Roses for hours and hours. Then came Dream Theater. But the guitarist who has influenced me most is Steve Vai – I love him. I remember that someone gave me the DVD of G3 with Steve, Satriani and Malmsteen and I watched it every day before going to school. I still know the whole concert by heart."
Where did you study music / guitar and what bands have you played with?
"I started playing guitar at 6 years old and had a great desire to become like my idols. I started with classical guitar with various teachers. After a few years I attended the Cagliari Music Conservatory where I graduated with top marks. Meanwhile I was also taking electric guitar lessons from Brian Maillard, to whom I owe all my guitar preparation. I spent hours and hours studying Steve Vai's and Joe Satriani's songs. As a child I always played as a soloist using all the guitars, from the classical to the electric. I still remember my first real concert as soloist in a theater at the age of 11 years.
My career as a teacher begin seven years ago, first as a private teacher and then in schools. Since then I've taught in various music schools in Sardinia.
I have played with various bands including 'Atha', with whom I played unpublished pop-rock in the streets, and Ars Sonorum a band I'm still working with now. I also play in a duo, 'RA duo' with new songs and arrangements for classical guitar, acoustic and electric. Sardinia is very small, but it is full of great musicians to play with and grow artistically. My current solo project is called 'Guitar Styles'. I play covers from Mike Dawes to Steve Vai and also my own songs. With Ars Sonorum we are working on our first concept album, and I hope to finish it in a short time."
The Fractal Audio world: how and when did you first hear about the Axe-Fx?
"I've known about the Axe-Fx for a long time now, since the first model, the Axe Fx standard, via the Internet, blogs, forums and various videos that can be commonly found on the web. Everyone was talking about this machine as being a technological wonder, so I decided to buy one when there was the Ultra model, but Fractal Audio announced that shortly there would be the release of the Axe-Fx II so I decided to wait. I bought it and since then it has totally changed my world. Now, having used it for 3 years both live and in the studio I have never had a problem, and I almost don't remember how my old rig sounded. The Axe Fx is a solid machine, well built, easy to use and its sounds are crazy. In addition, its reliability gives you a lot of confidence. I go to do my gigs very relaxed, since I know that everything will work perfectly. I have the same feeling I had before with my 'real' tube amplifier. This is magic!"
What was your former rig like?
"Before using the Axe-Fx I went through various stages, I played with simple Boss, with Combo Marshall amps, Fender amps. I played with a Hughes & Kettner tube head with a 4x12 Randall cab, with various pedals, Morley, Masotti, Mesa Boogie, Mxr, Tc Electronic etc. I had a Yamaha effects processor, all managed by a single MIDI controller."
What are your experiences with the Axe-Fx II live and in the studio?
"Live shows have become less tiring than before; I used to take around a van full of equipment, tube head, cab, heavy rack cases etc. Now with low weight and small size I have a fantastic sound. I always have 'MY' sound everywhere I go, both on stage and in small locations. With the Axe-Fx I've finally found my sound, after years of research among a thousand amps, pedals and speakers, I've found it. And it is always ready to give you your sound and always the same sound.
In the studio it's easy to record with the Axe-Fx. It takes little time to get the sound you need. You think about it and then you create it in a moment, as if it were a sculpture that you can touch, and in addition to this you have a great choice of effects: enveloping, warm chorus, delay and reverb with a great stereo presence. And many other effects."
What do you have in your rig today?
"Since I got the Axe Fx I've slowly been letting go of the good old tube amps, since, as I mentioned, my main sound comes directly from the Axe- Fx II.
Mainly I use it direct, for obvious convenience reasons and sound manageability. In my rack I have an Axe Fx XL, a power conditioner, a Masotti Looper from which I pilot my pedals, Mxr Dyna Comp, a Masotti White Box, a Mesa Boogie Flux Drive, a Masotti OD box, a BK Butler Tube Driver.
I also own an MFC-101 Mark III, which drives the entire system by the handy XLR cable through the Faslink port that in my opinion is a great idea. Much more reliable and durable than Midi. With a common XLR cable, the pedal board communicates with the Axe Fx and vice versa without power supply and other connections that, in the long run, only give you problems. All this with a single cable, it really is fantastic!
I own several guitars, the Ibanez JPM p1 is my favorite, but I also have a Strat and a Washburn. Finally, I hope I will soon have my signature guitar, produced by my friend Sergio, a very smart luthier with very refined taste. I cannot tell you any more at the moment."
Which is your favorite amp (or amp+cab) sim in the Axe-Fx II?
"For crunch and lead my AMP + CAB favorite is the USA Lead 2 model with Recto Mix Ultra Hi res CAB. I've been experimenting since the version 15 firmware was released. With this pair I get a warm sound that's sharp when needed, always present and very dynamic. It provides the most crazy feeling. For clean I often use the Double Verb model with a 2x12 cab and also the USA Clean model. I also love the Friedman. I often use the Euro Amp models, a remarkable full sound."
How do you start when it comes to creating a patch?
"I'm very demanding with regard to the sound, but with the Axe-Fx I need just a few clicks to get what I'm looking for in no time. Usually, I use Axe-Edit and I start from scratch. I select AMP and CAB and often without messing around with any parameters I already get the sound I need. And from there I add the effect or effects that I need, based on the sound in my head. I love the overdrive sims in the Axe-Fx (BB preamp and the Tube Driver), which I often use for my crunch.
Other times I search in the presets and try changing the Amp section and from there find the sound I need. The thing I like most is that I can use, for example, delay, reverb and other delay effects with extreme precision. All this without ever hiding my sound.
I love working with stereophonics, especially with the Enhancer effect, which gives the sound more stereophonic presence. If you work carefully you can get a great ambient sound.
Being in various projects I need to have a lot of different sounds and the Axe-Fx makes everything easy. I often use the 'Scene' and the X/Y functions. These 2 functions allow me to get twice the versatility and functionality, as I can get very different sounds without having to change presets. In addition with the MFC I have the advantage of not having to program the footswitches for example to assign the bypass state to the effects in that preset, the MFC does everything for me. The only thing I have to do is program my songs with the various presets I need, and then order them in a set based on my set list and project. Live everything is really convenient because I just go ahead with the Bank Up button to go to the next song. Simple, fast and handy."
You said you use the Song and Set functions, how do you use them?
"I find these features very useful and handy for live gigs, especially if you have several projects with different genres of music and then different presets to use. With other machines, I had to jump several banks to find my presets. With these functions, I just go on and on. I always have my set lists ready, and since I have various projects, all I have to do to have everything up and running is change set. I would recommend this feature to all our friends who use the MFC."
Have you tried the Tone Match or Scene functions?
"I tried to Tone Match an acoustic guitar and I find it really cool. The scenes are very handy, I can change 10 effects with a single click on the pedal board, without delays or drops in sound. Marvelous."
Is there anything that you think is missing in the Axe-Fx II?
"I would say that the Axe-Fx is complete. It would be great, in my opinion, to have a USB port to save presets on a portable USB drive."
How would you describe in one word the Axe-Fx II?
"Just one word? That's a very difficult question, Diego! I would say that the word I'm looking for is 'AXE-FX', in reality they are two words, but being a name we can say that it is a single word. In my opinion there isn't a single word to define this machine. The Axe-Fx is simply the Axe-Fx."
What are your future plans?
"I am currently working on the concept album with Ars Sonorum, and then I will start working on my solo album. I'm going to continue with my clinic, where the Axe-Fx is the absolute protagonist. And then who knows what the future holds?"
We at G66 would like to thank you, Andrea, for your time and this interview. We will continue to follow your videos and your clinics on our pages.
"Thank you for this interview Diego and thank all the staff at G66 for publishing my videos in the 'Videos of the Week' on the G66.eu web sites. Thanks also to G66 for all the support and for your kindness."
Axe-Fx II Clinic by Andrea Puxeddu
PROGRAMMA (Fiera del Tappeto):
- Come creare un Suono
- Catena Effetti, quali usare e come usarli
- Tutto sull'Axe Fx II
- Programmazione MIDI
- Programmazione patch
- Using the Scene controll
- Accessori e loro utilizzo: plettri, cavi, custodie, ecc…
- Segnale Seriale o Parallelo
- Utilizzo dei pedali e come disporli
- Axe Edit
- Jam Session dei Partecipanti
Durante la Clinic i partecipanti potranno provare e/o fare domande su ogni argomento.
Verranno eseguiti diversi brani, in diversi generi.
Verranno consegnati gli Attestati di Partecipazione.
Ingresso 15 euro. Apertura teatro dalle ore 17:00.