Fractal Audio Announces Axe-Fx II XL

Fractal Audio Systems, creators of industry-­leading guitar amp modeling and effects technology, has announced that a new model, the Axe-­Fx II XL, will be available for sale in March 2014. The Axe-­Fx II XL has the same DSP and amp modeling capabilities as the Axe Fx II Mark II, but offers expanded memory, new I/O ports, and other upgrades detailed below:


- Built-­in FASLINK port for connection to MFC-­101 Mark III over conventional XLR cables.
- Dedicated MIDI IN, OUT, and THRU jacks (vs. shared OUT/THRU in the Mark II).
- Two onboard PEDAL jacks (vs. one in the Mark II).
- Primary VALUE entry via optical encoder with a lifespan of 1,000,000+ rotations.
- “Secret Sauce III” instrument input features an even lower noise floor.
- 128 Mb of non-­volatile Super-­?FLASH memory allows for storage of up to 512 presets and
   512 user cabinets with copious reserves for future expansion.
- Double-­capacity preset size allows for expanded functionality including X/Y switching on
   more blocks and more instances of effects.
- Built-­in backup firmware allows recovery in the event of complications during update.
- Backward compatibility with Axe-­Fx II Mark I/II presets via Axe-­Edit software.

The Axe-­Fx II XL will have a list price of $2999.95. (Direct Price TBA).

The Axe-­Fx II XL will be offered for sale alongside the Axe-­Fx II Mark II in our online store.

For more information:
Fractal Audio

VIDEO: Marty Friedman - his upcoming album & new PRS...

Video: Marty Friedman talks about his upcoming album and his new PRS signature guitar. The former Megadeth guitarist and long-time established shredder, chats about his new LP Inferno and his new PRS signature electric!

Music Radar met up with former Megadeth guitarist and virtuoso shredder Marty Friedman. They discussed the new Friedman PRS, (his first Paul Reed Smith signature guitar), as well as, had a chat about his upcoming LP, "Inferno," and his world tour plans...


Ibanez Unveils the NEW Tube Screamer Amp...

Ibanez has announced the arrival of the TSA5TVR Tube Screamer amplifier - a five-watt combo incorporating its classic Ibanez Tube Screamer overdrive pedal...

Following in the footsteps of the TSA series, the TSA TVR amp takes the concept of an amp with a built in Tube Screamer and repackages it in the achingly retro form you see before you.Inside, there's a 12AX7 tube feeding the preamp and a 6V6GT valve for power, plus an eight-inch Jensen C8R speaker and a built-in Accutronics spring reverb.

Check out the full press release below and head to the Ibanez site for more information. Ibanez TSA5TVR press release...

For over 30 years the Ibanez Tube Screamer has been one of the most popular overdrive pedals in the world: a perennial favorite, famous for its warm, creamy tone and unequivocal responsiveness. Now the iconic pedal has found a new home in the TSA5TVR combo amp.

This isn't the first time the Tube Screamer has been integrated into an amp, but it is the first time it has ever looked this cool! Decked out in cream and sea foam green vinyl, set up on console legs with a TV screen shaped speaker grill, this little amp has got style and attitude to spare. The retro-60's vibe will look great in the office, family room, studio, or well... just about anywhere, but ultimately, it's all about the tone and this tiny titan is packing the goods.

The TSA5TVR is an all-tube, Class-A, 5-watt combo with a genuine Tube Screamer built into the front end of the amp. Accessible by a control panel toggle switch or an IFS1G footswitch (not included) the Tube Screamer circuit is a perfect match for the 12AX7 preamp tube and the 6V6GT power tube. It's loaded with an 8" Jensen® C8R speaker specially tuned for Ibanez, selected for its excellent response to overdrive distortion and the built in Accutronics® Reverb delivers the smoothest spring reverb in the industry. Also features an External Speaker out, Headphone out and a direct Line out.

The IFS1G footswitch and the speaker cable are not included and are sold separately (Power cable is included).

Vox Announces SoundBox-Mini Guitar Amp

The new VOX SoundBox Mini is a fun, "grab-n-go" type of mobile media player with optional battery power. It can be used with any audio source, from MP3 players to microphones, as well as instruments such as guitar, bass and keyboard...

VOX SoundBox Mini features new proprietary Acoustage sound technology, as well as a rugged, die-cast aluminum casing for use anywhere.

In addition to audio playback and jamming along to MP3s, VOX SoundBox Mini can also be used for vocal training. As a practice tool for aspiring vocalists, a center cancel function can eliminate vocals from audio that's playing via the AUX In jack.

Eight effects are available, including delay, reverb and more. The Tap button enables users to easily set the delay time in sync with the tempo.

For convenience, the VOX SoundBox Mini boasts an E string tuner that can be used with instruments connected to the guitar jack. It can also be mounted directly onto a mic stand, for use as a keyboard monitor, or for personal use. Built-in VOX Acoustage technology creates a wide stereo sound for a more full listening experience from a small source.

The included AC adaptor or six AA batteries (up to 12 hours of continuous use) offer flexible power options, for wherever musical inspiration may lead.

The VOX SOUNDBOX Mini is available in black, orange, ivory or green color options, and will be available in March 2014 for a U.S. Street price of $199.

For more information, visit

Superimposed Scales & Polytonality

Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question...

Q: One of my Dad's old theory books has a section on using superimposed scales to achieve polytonality. I don't get this stuff at all. The books short chapter makes pretty well zero sense to me. Could you perhaps make a video lesson that covers both the theory, and what it sounds like to play scales using them with the polytonality approach? Thanks Andrew.
Randall - Idaho Falls, ID. USA

A: Most of the time when we hear scales played with other simultaneous scale tones there's only one scale and we operate within the tones of the prescribed scale. With the superimposed procedure, we actually have two independent scales running together. Which can create sometimes nice combinations. And, sometimes rather odd dissonant sounding tonal combinations. It's important to take your time selecting pitches. And, keep in mind that just because an ascending combination worked well, it doesn't mean that a descending combination of the same scales will also sound good. Listen closely, arrange with care, and of course have fun with this.

SHOCKING VIDEO: Music Industry "Expert" Totally Disses Music!

'Music Is Everywhere, Which Makes it Worthless,' Music Industry Expert Explains

Music industry expert Simon Napier Bell recently shared his thoughts on the music world's current state, giving a few interesting predicaments along the way.

Noting that the music is constantly evolving and adapting as a sellable product, Bell noted: "Music is everywhere, which makes it worthless. Therefore live music must have more and more impact. You see it already in DJ shows. Visitors experience it like a Hollywood show."

Explaining to Face Culture how he always prefers contemporary music rather than being nostalgic, Simon stressed that the new musical movement and a way of sonic delivery is bound to come soon, praising the possibilities of modern technology along the way. "I like hearing record which are always in tune, instead of [the ones] which are always out of tune," he said.

"It's quite shocking when you go back to the '60s and you hear records and go 'My God, that was a hit! I wouldn't even send to somebody that as a demo, it's so out of tune and awful.' You go back to old-fashioned rock 'n' roll records, you almost can't believe what you're hearing, that we felt it was so wonderful and now sounds completely out of tune."

After noting that "it's never been about selling music," but rather about "the musicians finding music they can sell," Bell explained that the modern music will likely follow the same pattern as usual. "What will come along today will be much the same, and it will be to fill a lack," he explained.

"Concerts become boring or dull or uninteresting or audience needs to feel more participation or perhaps quite the reverse - they're fed up with participation, they want to have something which is absolutely no part of them thrown at them so they can be amazed. So that would all be a part of what's coming along; what the musical style would be, I have no idea."

The expert once again focused on the initial thought, adding, "Like I said, the more it's cheapened and thrown around in public all the time so you hear it endlessly in boutiques and shopping centers, the more the concert experience's got to be really remarkable. And I'm not sure [whether] classical music will fade away, because we're not physically adapted anymore to sit down and be so attentive.

"Probably we'll end up changing genetically," Simon concluded. "So I think the music will be more impactive, it will be more like the show, more like what the top DJ people do now. You go to a Tiesto concert, you get some extraordinary event, which is like Hollywood music blasting at you. I think concerts will be absolutely fantastic events."

SONGWRITING: Riffs on the Lower Strings

Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question... 

Q: I can strum a good amount of chords, and play some basic solos with the pentatonic scale on the upper three strings, but where I'm having troubles is with making riffs on the lower strings. Could you make a lesson that covers how to create riffs using the lower guitar strings? I really like this sound, but I can't seem to get anywhere with this. Thanks!
Craig - Buchanan, MI. USA 

A: Low string riffs are without a doubt a fantastic guitar idea used in almost every style of music. From, Blue Oyster Cults, "Don't Fear The Reaper," to Bob Marley's, "Redemption Song," to dozens of other hard-rock & heavy metal songs like Metallica's famous piece, "Enter Sandman." Low string riffs are most certainly one of the fundamental guitar ideas used when composing guitar oriented songs. To work out these types of riffs we need to understand the popular Maj. & Min. keys used to write them. Plus, we'll need to have a good background source of examples to draw from. Our success over time will come from having the ability to understand how to compose these riffs, (both in position, and along the neck), using several different key signatures and rhythms.

Boss Announces ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects Processor

Boss is pleased to announce the ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects, a powerful floor-based tone processor with a knob-driven interface for intuitive, stompbox-style control.

Featuring an enormous selection of flagship-quality effects and COSM amps, eight multifunction footswitches, battery-powered operation, and much more, the compact ME-80 is perfect for guitarists of all levels.

Via the Boss Tone Studio editor application, ME-80 users can easily customize sounds and enjoy direct access to free patches and other great content at the newly launched Boss Tone Studio website.

Boss Tone Studio is the ultimate destination for all players that use Boss guitar and bass gear. The initial focus of this powerful new web portal is on the ME-80, but compact pedals and other Boss multi-effects will be included as the site evolves. Premium ME-80 content available now includes demo videos and free patches created by famous guitarists, touring pros, and session players.

Users are encouraged to check back often, as the site will be continuously updated with additional patches, how-to videos, artist interviews, and much more.

The ME-80 contains a history of BOSS effects in one pedal, from overdrives and distortions to wahs, mod effects, pitch shifters, delays, and the latest MDP effects. Also included are nine updated COSM preamps derived from the flagship GT-100, with new additions such as Crunch, Metal, and an AC preamp designed for acoustic/electric guitar. The onboard expression pedal can be used for foot volume and pedal effects like wah, octave shift, and Freeze, and it’s also possible to control effects parameters such as mod rate, delay oscillation, and more.

Unlike typical multi-effects processors that are complicated and unintuitive, using the ME-80 is as easy as using a stompbox. Eight different effects categories can be active simultaneously, and the panel features a total of 30 knobs for instant access to effects selection, sound adjustment, and more.

The Pedal FX category has its own dedicated knob for quickly assigning an effects type or function to be controlled by the expression pedal. Favorite settings can be saved in 36 user patch locations, letting players recall custom effects configurations at the touch of a pedal.

The flexible ME-80 offers easily selectable modes for individual stompbox-style on/off or traditional patch-based operation. In Manual mode, the effects categories function like individual stomp effects, with direct on/off control via seven footswitches. When entering Memory mode, the footswitches are reconfigured to select user or preset patches and patch banks. One footswitch on the ME-80 is dedicated for mode switching, so users can toggle between Manual and Memory modes at any time.

In addition, the eight multifunction footswitches provide convenient access to alternate functions such as tap tempo, tuner, looper control, and more. The newly developed footswitch style provides two switches in the space occupied by one in previous designs, allowing BOSS to outfit the ME-80 with a generous array of foot-operated controls while keeping the unit extremely compact and mobile. The expression pedal has its own integrated toe switch that toggles between foot volume and the current Pedal FX setting.

For more information, visit

AMAZING: Deaf Man Hears Music For the First Time!

Deaf Man Describes Hearing Music For the First Time.


A man who has been deaf his whole life has recently talked about the amazing moment he heard music for the first time with Vice's, "Noisey."

Austin Chapman's hearing disorder had him suffering through poor-quality hearing aids which made music sound like, "garbled trash," for over 20 years. He finally gave up on trying to listen to music long ago. "They only allowed me to hear the low tones and also had zero clarity," he says in his interview with Noisey.

Now he's been upgraded to a brand new set based on the latest technology - and the results have been dramatic.

"Before I could see some shapes and colors, but now I’m seeing every detail and layer. It's like I’m going from one or two colors to this fully 3D world," he says of his new hearing aids.

Austin has tried listening to as many genres as possible ever since the change. His favourite music so far? Mozart's "Requiem," which he rates at 99/100.

"The ones I like they're really harmonious and melodic. The bad ones are loud and over exposed," he says. "There are a few modern bands pushing music to the next level. I just didn't expect to love classical more than any genre. So, from my point of view, music has been in a confused and downward spiral ever since classical ended."

He's partial to a bit of guitar, though, with his score for the Blue rating at 91/100 with reggae close behind at 85/100.

Read the complete interview here

Guitar Blog: "Descending Bass-line Harmony"

GuitarBlog: Week of Jan. 12, 2014 - Jan. 18, 2014... This week on the Guitar Blog: "Descending Bass-line Harmony."

Video: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons in New York City

Below, check out two high-quality fan-filmed videos from Billy Gibbons' December 18, 2013, show at a venue called City Winery in New York City.

Gibbons, who is best known as ZZ Top's bearded axeman, can be seen performing "Foxy Lady" (aka "Foxey Lady") by Jimi Hendrix (top video) and Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago."

The clips, which were shot and posted to YouTube by New York City's Unsteady Freddie, feature Gibbons (guitar, vocals), Martin Guigui (keyboards), Mike Flanagan (Hammond B3), Anton Fig (drums, percussion), Will Lee (bass) and Phil LoPresti (guitar). Enjoy!

Gretsch Reintroduces their 1950's New Yorker Archtop

The classic 1950s Gretsch New Yorker™ archtop guitar returns

Gretsch is proud to release an all new and improved lineup of banjos, mandolins, resonators and guitars in the 2014 Roots Collection, the eclectic family of instruments that transports players to a bygone era.

The most distinctive model is the reissue of their 1950's classic the; G9550 New Yorker Archtop...

· Arched solid spruce top with laminated maple sides and arched back
· Vintage-Style “V”-shaped mahogany neck profile
· Rosewood fingerboard
· 25” scale
· Compensated rosewood bridge with trapeze tailpiece
· Sunburst Finish

Gretsch New Yorker Press Release:
The classic 1950s Gretsch New Yorker™ archtop guitar returns. From casual playing to pro performance, this grand auditorium-size archtop will be your new favorite for its excellent tone, effortless playing action and handsome good looks.

Features include an arched solid spruce top, laminated maple sides and arched back, vintage-style "V"-shaped mahogany neck profile, rosewood fingerboard, 25" scale, compensated rosewood bridge with trapeze tailpiece, nickel hardware, and a stylish antique semi-gloss sunburst finish. Read more at their web-page

STRANGE: Macaulay Culkin's New Band "Pizza Underground"

Macaulay Culkin wears pizza on his face and plays a kazoo in his bands bizarre new music video...

The former child star's new group The Pizza Underground cover hits by Velvet Underground with a tasty twist, and it's even weirder than it sounds...

Macaulay Culkin. Pizza mask. Kazoo. Velvet Underground parody. Tank top.

I wish there was a way to do this justice, but the child star has revealed his first video with his new band The Pizza Underground and it's every bit as bizarre as it comes across.

The former child actor features in the video - in which the group give Velvet Underground tracks a tasty twist - and even after watching it - I still can't make sense of his new pizza obsession.

To be honest, it's extremely bewildering.

Who could honestly say that they'd ever thought they would wind-up seeing Home Alone's Kevin McCallister in a band, all grown up playing a trumpet-inspired kazoo, wearing a slice of pizza on his face?


Fender 2014 Custom Shop Collection...

Fender have just announced their 2014 Fender Custom Shop Collection which includes four Stratocasters, two Telecasters and a Jazzmaster. Here are the specs and photos:


2014 Custom Deluxe Stratocaster®
  • Alder body with AAA quilt maple top in Purple Trans, Candy Red Trans, and Cobalt Blue Trans finishes
  • AAA birdseye maple neck with a 10/56 large “V” shape
  • Rosewood or one-piece maple fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Custom Shop Fat ’60s single-coil Strat® pickups (bridge and neck); reverse-wound/reverse polarity Fat ‘60s single-coil Strat pickups (middle) with five-way pickup switch and modern Stratocaster wiring
  • Nickel/chrome hardware with pearl button tuners
  • Two-point synchronized tremolo with block saddles 

2014 Custom Deluxe Telecaster®
  • Alder body with AAA quilt maple top in Purple Trans, Candy Red Trans, and Cobalt Blue Trans finishes
  • AAA Birdseye Maple neck with a NoCaster® “U” Shape
  • Rosewood or Maple fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Texas Special™ single-coil Tele® pickups (bridge), Custom Shop Twisted Tele single-coil pickups (neck) with three-way switch and custom Telecaster wiring
  • Nickel/chrome hardware with pearl button tuners
  • Six-saddle Custom Shop chrome-plated steel Tele bridge plate with plated solid brass saddles

1964 Closet Classic Stratocaster
  • Select alder body in Three-Color Sunburst finish
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer finish
  • Maple neck with early-’60s “C” shape
  • Round-lam rosewood fingerboard with 21 vintage-style frets
  • Hand-wound single-coil Stratocaster pickups (bridge, middle, neck) with Vintage Stratocaster wiring
  • Vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge

1964 Closet Classic Jazzmaster®
  • Select alder body in Sonic Blue finish with a matching headstock
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer finish
  • Maple neck with an early ‘60s oval “C” shape
  • Round-lam rosewood fingerboard with 21 vintage-style frets
  • Custom Vintage Jazzmaster pickups (bridge and neck) with vintage Jazzmaster® wiring
  • American Vintage adjustable six-saddle bridge with floating tremolo and tremolo lock button


2014 Proto Stratocaster
  • Select lightweight ash body with cutaway heel in Faded Three-Color Sunburst, Black, and Arctic White finishes
  • AAA Birdseye Maple neck with early ‘60s oval “C” shape
  • Round-lam rosewood or one-piece maple fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Custom hand-wound Fat ‘60s Strat (bridge), Texas Special™ single-coil Strat (middle and neck) pickups with five-way switch and custom Stratocaster wiring
  • Master volume and master tone controls
  • Two-point synchronized tremolo with block saddles

2014 Proto Telecaster
  • Select lightweight ash body with cutaway heel in Arctic White, Black, and Faded Three-Color Sunburst finishes
  • AAA birdseye maple neck with a 10/56 large “V” shape
  • Round-lam rosewood or one-piece maple fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Josephina Red Hot pickups (bridge and neck) with three-way switch and Modern Telecaster wiring
  • Nickel/chrome hardware with research special design Telecaster bridge
  • Master volume and Greasebucket™ tone circuit controls

2014 ‘56 Heavy Relic Stratocaster
  • Alder body in Black finish with Heavy Relic lacquer
  • One-piece maple neck with a 10/56 “V” shape
  • One-piece maple fingerboard with 21 6105 frets
  • Master-designed pickups with reverse-wound/reverse polarity middle pickup with five-way switch and Modern Stratocaster wiring

2014 New Year's Resolutions for Guitarists...

2014 New Year's Resolutions for Guitarists... 


- Learn the basics:
Answer those questions that you've been too scared to ask!

Sick of feeling like the guy behind the counter in the guitar shop knows more than you? Not sure of the difference between Dorian & Mixolydian? Still suck at basic rhythm guitar?

Then there's a quick fix - learn the basics! Your local music teacher can likely answer all those little questions that you've got about the guitar, and clue you up for your journey through 2014.

- Invest in some new gear: 
Change up your guitar situation

One way to unlock some new creative avenues is to switch up your approach. Only play electric? Get a decent acoustic! Never use any effects? Grab a multi-pedal that you can afford! You might be surprised at just how effective spending a little bit of cash on some new gear can be.

- Get Lucky: 
Funk all up in your face

Need a new party piece? Stuck in a guitar rut? Need some funk in your life? Then perhaps learning Nile Rodgers' funk-tastic riff from 2013's Daft Punk track "Get Lucky" is the answer to all these dilemmas, and more. It'll loosen up your wrist, maybe teach you some new phrasings and plant a grin on your face that'll be difficult to shift.

- Try some alternatives:
Alternate tunings rule

If you've only ever played in standard tuning, it's time to get brave. Break out that chromatic tuner and go rogue - there's a whole world of alternate tunings out there, and they'll transform your playing beyond all recognition. The guitar can feel like a completely different instrument in another tuning, and once you've strayed away from standard, you'll have a whole new set of sounds up your sleeve.

- Embrace Beatlemania: 
Yeah, yeah, yeah 2014 is a big anniversary for Beatlemaniacs

2014 is marking 50 years since the Fab Four broke the US and changed the face of musical history. So, it's as good a time as any to check them out on the guitar. If you're new to The Beatles, you'll be astonished at the sheer variety of chords Lennon and McCartney worked into their songs, the fluid complexity of Harrison's guitar parts and Ringo's rhythmical dexterity. Seriously, these guys had some really cool ideas.

- Record that masterpiece: 
Get in the studio /set-up your home studio

Have you yet to record your own particular brand of guitar genius? Well, it's time to get cracking. Recording is a heck of a lot of fun, plus you'll learn new skills (and get a fresh appreciation for the skills of your favorite players) that can only be discovered by throwing yourself into the recording process.

- Get out and play:
Live and loud - it's the only way

The true test of any guitarist's mettle is playing in front of a crowd. It can be terrifying, but as soon as you get up and do it you'll understand what all those guys who talk about the 'buzz' of playing are banging on about. It's addictive, hugely satisfying and, once you've conquered the nerves, a ton of fun. Check out your local bars for open mic nights, and get yourself involved.