Feb 18, 2012 6:35 AM
I have gained some great information from this forum (thanks all) and wanted to see if I could give back...
Like many, I was ready to give up! I just could not get the tone I wanted out of the HD500. I also have the HD400 and was getting killer tone out of it but for some reason, the HD500 seemed less responsive, no attack, no push - just could not get anything happening that made me want to use it. I use mostly clean tones, classic rock and country (so not sure about high-gain).
So I decided to start from scratch - creating a new patch to see if I could figure out what was wrong, and I did the following:
1. Created a totally new blank preset. No effects.
2. As others have suggested, I set the input 1 = Guitar, input 2 = Variax (this helps)
3. Went to the mixer and set the Path A PAN to "center" (this is for single amp mode, not dual amps)
4. I cranked the PATH A volume LEVEL to 12 (I know... this is a bad... but try it!)
Result: WOW! Massively more dynamic, responsive tone! Higher volume levels, more gutsy tone without distortion (that's the shocking part). I tried it mostly on the clean amps and it worked for all. Make sure the DRIVE setting on the amp is not distorting the tone (unless you want that) and the VOLUME level and PRESENCE on the amp are not too high. After setting this up, I was able to add FX and they responded totally different - more like real FX pedals, not soo mushy and non-destinct.
Not sure anyone has tried this, but am very interested in your results and ideas.
Lessons learned - LIVE vs Studio use:
First, I think there is a big difference between playing the HD500 LIVE and using it in the studio. Maybe one reason more people don't use the HD for live performance is that its really hard to tune/modify multiple presets (that sounded good at home) in the context of different venue accoustics every gig (that was my challenge). After all, you only get a couple hours to setup, tune, dial in the PA, etc. before a show and sometimes less! I've heard of guys playing the same church every Sunday taking weeks to get just a few presets dialed in for that auditorium. So maybe setting up dozens of presets which can be used in different rooms/halls each week is unrealistic (at least for me )
For live applications (my primary use), I find that starting out by just selecting one or two amp models (one clean model like an AC30, and one crunch like the Park 75) is best. I can go into a venue, fine tune just those two amps (just as I would if I used a real two-amp rig), then start adding distortion, setting that, then modulation and delay at the end of the chain - maybe just three pedals - making sure they sound good, and then saving those as presets FOR THAT GIG (maybe I can use them again the next time).
I know this is totally under utilizing the many great features of the HD500 (esp. the ability to mave multiple presets i.e. for cover gigs), but it just really works for me! I have too many other things to worry about (like trying to sing, entertain the audience, and not mess up - a huge challenge for me) than trying to fine tune dozens of presets in a unfamiliar room every show . KISS (keep it simple stupid) is my motto.
Or... If you need more variety, try just selecting 1-4 amp models for a show, adjust those to the room, and use physical FX pedals in front of and after your HD500 (or use the FX send/return) - using the HD as just an amp simulator works great! I can physicall reach down and make adjustments to my pedals as the accoustics in the room change (i.e. more people , temperature, ears going bad over the couse of the night). Most of the HD amp models play well with pedals and it is easier to make adjustments on the fly (example chain: Guitar - > TS9 pedal - > ProCo Rat pedal - >HD500 - > Delay/chorus -> Amp and PA). I then use the lower row of HD switches as amp selectors (A = AC30, B= Fender BF, C = Park75, D=Hwy100), volume/wah, and looper. If I use FX pedals I can adjust them easily in the midst of a show. You can try using the Line 6 FX and if they sound good, great - if not, use the real pedals!
So, I would say that the secret to the HD500 is to get a clean, solid amp tone first and then add one FX at a time after the amp tone sounds good by itself in the room you're playing (that's key) both through the PA and on stage - just like I would with a micd tube amp. Also, just like a tube amp, some effects just don't "play well" with sertain amps - as is the case with a normal tube amp. But basically, it seems that less is definately more. When I dumbed down what I was trying to do, took it a piece at a time, and then added only effects that improved the tone one at-a-time (rather than trying to force an effect to work with an amp.. i.e. tube screamer sounds good in front of most Fender models, not some others IMHO), I was able to get some very gigable sounds. So it's signal chain (see above ideas), pure amp tone, effect settings, output setting... done!
Does any of this make sense/work for gigging dudes out there? - Thx, sorry for the long post