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Cooper Carter's Jedi Guitar Orchestra
Article by Michael French
So you've heard the rumors that Fractal's products are based on alien technology? What better way to explore these claims than to test the limits of human ability and comprehension in the context of the Star Wars universe.
With the release of the new movie just days away, Fractal artist Cooper Carter has unleashed an epic showcase of playing and arranging skills: it's a Fractal extravaganza making use of our new AX8 pedalboard and FAS Reverb plug-in products. Everything you hear (save percussion) was recorded on the new Fractal AX8. We're talking about a note-for-note reproduction of John Williams' Star Wars theme orchestral score using only guitars. This is no mind-trick: it actually happened, and no droids were harmed in the making of this recording. Here's a run-down of the track by the numbers:
- 50 :: Recorded tracks of guitar
- 28 :: Separate orchestral parts
- 9 :: Guitars used (including a variety of 6-string, 7-string, baritone, and bass)
- 0 :: Microphones used (all guitar tones were recorded direct from the AX8)
- 100 :: Length in seconds of the Deep Space Reverb used at the end of the track (using the new Fractal FAS Reverb plug-in)
- 12 :: Star Wars T-Shirts used ("It was quite a job finding good ones to match to the guitars!")
- 1 :: Fractal Audio AX8, used for all the guitar tones on the track
"The most amazing thing about this whole project was hearing all of John Williams' amazing orchestration going on that you don't necessarily hear in the full score. It took a while to translate each to the guitar. So I spent a lot of time listening to various combinations of parts in detail. I hear the whole theme completely differently now. Williams is an undeniable genius. Every piece in Star Wars is a masterpiece. I read the other day that JJ Abrams was at his house and he has all of his original scores handwritten out in sheet music books. You've gotta love that."
AX8 Programming Notes:
"All backing parts used the Class-A 30W TB amp but there were a TON of different cabs. With 50 separate guitar tracks (and 28 instruments to cover with the guitar--excludes the three percussion tracks, which were created using Kirk Hunter Diamond Orchestra samples), cabs were used to distinguish the separate parts. So violins got one cab (Top Boost BLUE) and Trombones got another (Top Boost SILVER). For the lead line in the B-section, the violins got the Two Stone amp and 3-Knob Drive for something a bit heavier. The violins and flutes likewise were the Two Stone for the fast run toward the end. Lots of tempo-matched multidelays on clean parts, as well as stereo tape delay on leads, especially when parts would end as other instruments moved into another section."
"Mixed and mastered in Reaper, which I find superior to other DAWs in essentially every way if you're not using a control surface. Can't imagine why it doesn't get more respect amongst serious music/audio creators." (Click the image on the right to view the full Reaper track layout)
Give yourself a few views to let the effort sink in. The work undertaken to read and absorb the 28 parts, arrange them for guitar, learn, practice, and perform 50 parts to perfection is immense (dare we say epic). Not to mention the production efforts of the AX8 programming, audio recording and mixing, video recording and editing. Truly a task that could only be undertaken by a Jedi. Then you can appreciate the versatility of the Fractal AX8 platform which will be giving guitar players everywhere A New Hope for world-class performance and tone in a galactically-convenient pedalboard format. In true Star Wars fashion, we hope that Cooper has a sequel coming.