Thursday, October 8, 2009

Behringer iAxe USB Guitar

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Big Passy plays the Behringer iAXE393 USB-Guitar, and he likes it!

This USB Guitar made by Behringer is a bridge which joins the wonderful world of guitar to the equally wonderful world of the computers. The results of this union sound absolutely superb.

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But before you race out to buy this USB-guitar, consider a better investment to be the stand-alone USB adpater (if you already have an electric guitar of your own that you are happy with).

I say this because the quality of the iAxe guitar is basically "Made in China" beginner guitar level.

Basically the guitar comes straight from the factory and needs some setting up. - See previous blog post about setting up electric guitars by clicking here:

  • It has really high action that you need to adjust yourself with the allen key wrench they supply.
  • The pickups are very weak and tinny and need to be raised up closer to the strings.
  • The frets on my iAxe are suspect on the low E and A strings, and so these had to be left with higher action than the other 4 strings. (Otherwise there was bad fret buzz on E and A).
  • The strings that come with it need to be discarded and replaced with some decent brand new ones.

However, we need to keep this in perspective, because the guitar is so wonderfully cheap cheap cheap to buy! So obviously it is not going to be as good as a Fender Squier Strat costing 4 times as much.

For a beginner's guitar for my son, the iAxe393 is great, and for the money I paid ($US 180) for the Guitar with inbuilt USB Interface plus the Native Instruments software, I am not complaining at all.

If you take the time to change the strings and adjust the action and pick ups, then the guitar can
be made playable.

But if you have your own electric guitar already, then buy the USB "Guitar Link" Adapter unit: (instead of buying the iAxe guitar)

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The USB link is basically the same electronic interface as the IAxe guitar has, but in a stand-alone unit that we can plug our own guitar straight into. It also comes with the exact same Native Instruments "Combo Amps" software that the iAxe has.

The best part of both the USB Guitar Link and the iAxe393 guitar is the "Native Instruments Guitar Combos" amplifier emulation software that comes with each of them. The software consists of three virtual amps.

If you've ever plugged into a guitar amp, then you can easily operate guitar combos. The computer screen resembles the face-plate of the amp that it emulates. We can click on any knob, then slide our mouse up or down to rotate its level, and that's all there is to it.

Here is a screenshot of the "AC Combo" VOX Amp emulatation:

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Here is a screenshot of the "Twang Combo" Twin Reverb Amp:

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Here is a screenshot of the "Plexi Combo" Marshall Amp emulatation:

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The range of preset amp settings is great, but we can also adjust knob settings to make our own ones and save them for later re-use.

The other great things about the USB link and / or guitar, is that we can play with headphones on, (and not disturb others), and we can play along with any MP3 tune we have on our PC. We can also record what we have played on guitar to MP3 output.

Here is a press release for the iAxe393 USB guitar when it was launched in the latter half of 2006.

The Behringer iAXE393 USB-Guitar connects directly to the computer (either PC or Mac) through its built-in USB port, allowing jamming and recording "out-of-the-box". The guitar features a maple neck with three single-coil pickups, five-way switching and an integrated headphones jack.

Alternatively, the iAXE393 USB-Guitar can also be played with any real amplifier. Additional software which comes bundled with the iAXE393 USB-Guitar gives the user enhanced editing and recording options. These include ultra-low latency ASIO drivers for PC, KRISTAL Audio Engine Multitrack production software and Audacity® audio editor.

To provide the iAXE393 USB-Guitar with an array of virtual amplification and modeling options, Behringer collaborated with Native Instruments to develop a special Behringer Edition of Guitar Combos, which emulates three classic combo amps with an absolutely authentic, warm, and dynamic sound.

The exclusive Behringer Edition is enhanced with Tapedeck and Metronome functions for easy recording and practice.

Customers can choose from one of these combos:

Guitar Combo I: the sound that revolutionized British pop music
Guitar Combo II: the clean and crunchy unmistakable blues sound
Guitar Combo III: the sound of rock legends of the late 60's and 70's

The Behringer Edition Guitar Combos software package bundled with each iAXE393 USB-Guitar features three fully functional demo versions of the popular Native Instruments' amp emulations, consisting of a classic tube amplifier with speaker and integrated effects.

Behringer customers can use the coupon that is packaged with the iAXE393 USB-Guitar to download one of the above Behringer Edition Guitar Combos for free from the Native Instruments website. The other two combos can be downloaded for $15 USD/EUR each.

Here is an 8 minute YouTube review of the iAxe :

Here is a demo of some of how you can get great sounds on the iAxe, and play along with your favourite song.

So I definitely recommend getting into USB virtual guitar sounds, but if you already have a guitar, and don't need another one, then just get the USB Link unit, and not the full iAxe393 Guitar.

Big Passy Wasabi

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