Polyphia Guitarists Recall Wild Story of Spending All Money on Their First Axe-Fx

While recently appearing in a new video interview conducted by Reverb.com, Polyphia guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage looked back on their early days of musicianship and getting some of their first pieces of gear. Going all the way back to their high school years, Henson recalled how he did his first recordings while using the (in)famous Line 6 Spider IV amp. He said (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I was in 10th grade, [Scott] was in 11th grade. And I remember before that, it was just recording like a line-in from like, the [Line 6] Spider IV, the half stack. And that’s how I was recording. And then Scott put me on to POD Farm and Reaper.”

zZounds.com: Demo of the Line 6 Spider IV HD150 Guitar Amplifier Head

Reaper, as you may know, is one of the most popular DAWs among home-based musicians and music producers. POD Farm, meanwhile, is a plugin by Line 6 that pretty much gives you a digital guitar rig. After LePage added “Yeah, my dad put me on to those two,” Henson then continued:

“It was basically POD Farm and Addictive Drums [virtual drums by XLN Audio]. And we were making death metal djent stuff. And it was a great time.”

Reflecting on how well these two tools worked for them, Henson also praised their sound, claiming that they’re still great, even for today’s standards:

“Dude, if you listen to them now, they still kind of kick ass.”

Recording with POD Farm 2.5 and POD Studio UX1 | Line 6

But, more importantly, Henson also recalled how this was the time when Periphery was emerging and how he and Scott were really into Misha Mansoor and his game-changing prog ways:

“This was around the time that like Periphery was kind of popping off. There was this thing called Ask.fm… And you could ask them questions and then answer. And I would religiously follow like Misha’s Ask.fm because he’d do like really specific questions about gear and shit.”

One of the biggest new things at the time was the emergence of Fractal Audio’s Axe-Fx. And Mansoor was really into it. So much that he kept hyping it and hyping it that young LePage and Henson decided to get what, at that point, seemed like the ultimate all-encompassing piece of gear:

“And I remember they were like really hyping up the Axe-Fx. And we wanted one so bad. We found on eBay for $1,200, the Axe-Fx Ultra. All the merch money we had ever made pulled together plus any money that we had individually… Because we’re high school kids at this time and we’re trying to save up $1,200 to buy this thing on eBay.”

Axe-Fx Ultra in 2020

“We went to the bank and withdrew every dollar we had. And then the bid was about to close in like nine minutes. And we scraped up quarters from each of our cars and went to the bank and deposited those so that we could have it.”

“And that’s how we bought our first Axe-Fx and we shared that fucking thing.”

LePage then recalled how they saw Rings of Saturn founder and leader Lucas Mann on YouTube, explaining what you can actually do with Axe-Fx Ultra:

“Lucas Mann from Rings of Saturn made a video about how you can use one for two guitars. Yeah, we were like, ‘Dude, we’re fucking set! This is it!'”

Polyphia - Champagne // Live 2017 // A38 Rocks

However, Henson then recalled how they were immediately weirded out by one thing — it wasn’t as good as Line 6’s POD Farm:

“I remember we got it and it was like the Holy Grail of shit. And it didn’t sound as good as POD Farm. And we just didn’t know what the fuck… Why not? We thought it was supposed to make you 10 times better sounding.”

However, they kept exploring it and decided to use the simplest solution:

“So we started working with different people who might know more about the Axe-Fx. Nobody really could get us the sound we were looking for. And then we just discovered like, ‘We could just use the fucking presets.'”

Polyphia - Live at The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO, 8/18/2022

Eventually, they figured it out. As Henson recalls, it wasn’t the simplest way to get there as he had to get into sound design:

“It wasn’t until after we started like learning to produce that I like really felt confident in making a guitar tone. Because I thought it all had to be done on the thing. And then after learning sound design, or a bit of sound design, and then coming back to like guitar tones, it’s like ‘Well, this shit is fucking easy,’ compared to like making this sound like that. Or you know, making something that is this sound like something completely different, you know?”

Photo: Delusion23 (Polyphia – Manchester, UK – 6 February 2019)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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