I have kind of drifted away from trying to knock Jerry's tone, I feel I have the nuances in my hands, so I am after more of what sounds good to me, and what happens to sit well in the mix with Playing Dead, as no one else in the band is trying to sound exactly like Weir, Phil, etc. I deliberately went cleaner than before on this preset, and for more of a balanced response from the guitar. What I hear on the multitrack is much clearer and highly defined than what I hear on the audience recordings. Anyone who has played in a studio setting over headphones is familiar with that phenomenon, where it sounds impossibly thin and bright in cans, but in the room sounds great. Much like micing a guitar amp onstage and then putting it into the front wedge as well, all you hear is the emphasized high end. When I listen to well recorded audience tapes, my guitar sounds very different than it does on the multitracks -- fatter, if you will. I have learned to trust our FOH guy to make it sound good out there, and rely on what I hear over my own speakers to cut through nicely on stage, without needing to be deafeningly loud.
The touchstone I use is his isolated guitar sound from In The Dark, although it's very bright and harsh when you hear it on its own. I wanted that, but sweeter and cleaner. I feel the guitar tone meshes well with the rest of the band while leaving plenty of room for everyone else. I like how the DualSound responds to my lighter touch as well, although the Super II is the defacto standard.
I do pay attention to trying to get the effects dialed in; I am pretty happy with the overdrive sound (more from the early 80s). Will post a sample of the envelope, which is tailored how I like it, fat, very controllable and very linear from the high notes to the low notes without having it to be super open all the time the way I did with my various Mutrons and QTrons, so it would open right on the high notes, but as a result opened really too early on the low notes unless you were careful with your touch.
It is nice to have everything dialed in the moment I plug the guitar in, so I can concentrate on what I'm playing and what is happening around me, not worrying about stage sound or acoustics. As Garcia once said about live sound in the early days, I believe, "When things start sounding weird, don't go grabbing knobs."
Really, this is the very first time I have used the AxeFX II live (and I've only been messing with it for a few days before the gig), so I'm sure I will continue to refine and dial it in toward whatever sound is in my head. I did have to start from square one for this show, and I'm pretty pleased with how it sounded right out of the box. I could up the drive on the preamp stage, change the speaker resonance curves, put a Sennheiser 421 emulation in front of the JBL E-120 IR, dial in a power amp, adjust the bias on the "tubes," or even put a tone-matching curve from the In the Dark recording on there by playing exactly what Jerry played on that recording and allow the computer to do the work ... or switch the preamp to a Boogie or boutique blackface ... but at the end of the day, I just want it to sound good without worrying so much about capturing a certain era. The reality is, for me, I have no idea how it will sit with the band or sound on the tapes until I play it at a gig, so there is definitely a long back and forth process to it if I want to put the energy in. I can't tell just listening to the guitar down in my studio, it has to be in context.
For the video stuff, that's just a pair of GoPro cameras ... I used Final Cut Pro to sync them together and cut between them. Once I have that done, I take the video into Logic, sync the camera mic audio up with the soundboard, delete the camera audio, then write the soundboard to a new movie file.