Guthrie Govan explains why he's switched to Axe-Fx digital modeling live on his latest tour: "This is something I've been wanting to try for a few years"

Guthrie Govan
(Image credit: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images)

As a key figure in the development of the Victory V30 tube amp, we're a little surprised to see Guthrie Govan going fully digital with The Aristocrats on tour in the US.  In a new Rig Rundown with Premier Guitar he explains the reasoning behind using the Fractal FM9 amp modeler and FX processor, and it's largely pragmatic. 

"This is something I've been wanting to try for a few years," he begins. "Not because of any better or worse controversial nonsense – I'm not saying this is what I do now, this is my new church. I'm trying it for this tour and it felt right because when we were all imprisoned for the last two years, all the playing I was doing was at home. The thing that kept me sane was working for Hans Zimmer. 

"We actually worked on a number of big film scores," Guthrie reveals. "And I was able to explore more of a sound design part of my brain, and make crazy patches that don't really sound like guitar. If you've seen the film Dune, there's a bagpipe moment in there which was me. It's 32 tracks of Axe-Fx synth patches all detuned.

"So my mind was already going in that direction and when touring started to get going again. For me the first excuse to get out of the apartment and into a tour bus was Hans Zimmer, who has a big live band and we did three months in Europe earlier in the year. 

"That was all Axe-Fx because we live in in-ear world for that gig and you don't get the giddy thrill of a loud amp on stage. The sound guy would kill you for trying because meanwhile in the background there's this poor orchestra trying to be heard and the stack of doom bleeding into their microphones would not be well received."

As Guthrie became more comfortable with this as his rig, he decided to experiment it with it in the more traditional rock n' roll setup of The Aristocrats trio. It turns out their eclectic approach also benefits from the flexibility amp modelling can offer.

"With this I can bring ten amps and ten cabs on the plane," reasons Guthrie. So far it's going well in the band and you can find out more in the Premier Guitar clip above. 

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Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.