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How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by edstar1960 on 2012-05-02 01:37:38

I am sure I am not the only person who has become tired and exhausted after hours of tweaking on the HD500.  I try to fine tune a patch to perfection and end up being hyper critical and not being happy with it.  I try different amp models with different cabs and then I try tweaking the tone controls on the amp and then the deepe editing controls on the cab and then I add an EQ etc etc.   Unfortunately I usually burn myself out and end up wondering if I will ever get the sound I want and I am so frustrated that I want to give up on the HD500/JTV technology completely.

There is no doubt that the HD500/JTV technology is excellent and many people have produced wonderful demo's and sound file that sound awesome - so it is just me and my lack of ability to tweak the guitar, amp, effect models just to the correct level to get great sounds with my gear.  I have had a Variax for many years now and last year got a JTV59. I bought an X3L just a few months before they were discontinued amd then last year I also bought an HD500.  So I am not a newcomer to Line6 or this technology - however - I am still finding tweaking a very time consuming and frustrating activity.  It took me ages to get sounds I was happy with for my X3L and I had quite a few disappointing gigs before I found sounds that would fit with the band. I have had the HD500 for many months now but I still use the X3L for gigs because I am comfortable with my old patches and I have not yet been able to program suitable replacement patches on my HD500 that I would be confident with using at a live gig.  I want to move to using the HD500 hence my recent frenzied tweaking activities to finally get it to the point that I could replace my X3L at live gigs - but once again I have hit tweaking fatigue and need to take a break from it before attempting any more.

I wondered how others cope with tweaking fatigue and whether they had any good tips and strategies to avoid it in the first place or to get over it more quickly.  I also wondered whether other users had specific programming strategies that helped avoid this problem.

I use this programming strategy:

1) Start off with a blank patch and monitor on headphones

2) Select JTV guitar model or model/mag combo that I want to use

3) Select an amp model that is in the ball park of the sound I want

4) Add default reverb after the amp

5) Audition the sound

6) Try a different amp to see if I can get closer to sound I am looking for

7) Audition the sound

8) Try different cabs as necessary to see whether they get closer to sound I am looking for

9) Audition the sound

10) Add an effect model if necessary to get closer to sound I need

11) Audition sound

12) Tweak settings if necessary

13) Audition sound

14) Add EQ if necessary

15) Audition sound

16) Tweak some more

17) Now audition the sound with Powered PA cab

18) Tweak some more

19) Audition some more

20) Finally settle and save patch

I often try to do clean sounds first, and then overdriven sounds afterwards.  I can often dial a pretty good sound in fairly quickly but I then have to ensure levels are OK to be able to swap from one to another mid-song and that often results in more tweaking as when I compare patches going from clean to overdrive they sound different to when I have played them stand alone.  In fact sometimes patches can sound different to me from one day to the next, but I think that is a sign of tweaking fatigue where I have become hyper critical of each sound.  I can also find that oer driven sounds that sounded nice and crisp when I was setting them up start to sound wooly and indistinct when I swap between patches - or cleans that sounded warm and mellow to start with become shrill and harsh.

Unfortunately, I do not have any magic solution to this but I was hoping other users would share their experiences and perhaps there may be some words of wisdom out there that will help habitual obsessive tweakers like myself avoid or cope with the fatigue and maybe help us quickly get to usuable sounds rather than wasting hours and hours auditioning and tweaking and just becoming exhausted and frustrated.

So please feel free to share your experiences/views/opinions.

Thanks very much in advance.

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by geriatric on 2012-05-02 04:01:20


Habitual tweaking is a bit like having an obsessive compulsive disorder.  But you can medicate for it ...... like having two beers between steps 4 and 5, again between steps 6 and 7, again between steps 8 and 9, and 10 and 11, and 12 and 13, and 14 and 15, and 16 and 17, and by the time you get to step 19 the patch sounds REALLY REALLY REALLY good!  I do understand your tweaking fatigue since I've sometimes suffered from it myself.  But you certainly have a system and if that works for you that's fine.  I think Meambobo's guide is a real help if you haven't had a read yet.

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by d_wrek on 2012-05-02 06:15:56

I totally get what you're saying. The problem is just having too many damn options. I don't even have a JTV (I think my head would explode) and I still suffer from this problem. I've used two methods to cope: 1) Just mentally eliminate most of the amp models from even being an option. I only allow myself to use the Tread, Blackface, and AC30, except where option 2 applies. 2) Download a bunch of tones from CustomTone, find ones I like out of the box, maybe tweak ever so slightly, and live with it.

It does make me miss the good ol' days a little. You have an amp, maybe a pedal or two, and you have to do the best you can with what you've got. I've actually gone back to playing mostly acoustic for the past few weeks just to take a break from it.

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by malnack on 2012-05-02 06:22:44

I went through a similar phase where I was trying to tweak different patches for song in our setlist. In addition to taking a long time, I also spent an enormous amount of time adjusting the volumne levels between the patches. A finally decided to strip my tones down to 3 main patches. Our band has a weekly rehearsal and we record every rehearsal on a Zoom and put it on the web for the band to evaluate. I pay particular attention to how my tone works in each song and I make slight adjustments to my tones over the weekend. Then the process repeats. I evaluate those tweaks at the next rehearsal and so on.

It has taken a couple of months but it has been worth it. I now have confidence when we have a gig that my tones are going to be solid. I should point out that I don't have a Variax (but I do have the HD500 paired with a DT25 Combo) so my rig is less complex than yours.

Sometimes the simplicity of a few great tones is all that is needed. Having the flexibility to modify or change them over time makes the rig worth it to me.

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by daferalo on 2012-05-02 06:57:16

edstar1960 escribió:

Unfortunately, I do not have any magic solution to this but I was hoping other users would share their experiences and perhaps there may be some words of wisdom out there that will help habitual obsessive tweakers like myself avoid or cope with the fatigue and maybe help us quickly get to usuable sounds rather than wasting hours and hours auditioning and tweaking and just becoming exhausted and frustrated.

Have you asked for "words of wisdom"?:

"When I find myself in times of "fatigue tweaking", Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom........ LET IT BE!!!"

Sometimes, I have found that it is just my head, and when I understood that "Things can always be better (no matter what you do, you can do it better the next time)" my life has been a little easier. However, I have found also a limit where I feel the things cannot be simplified, and I should just live with it.

What works for me? As Malnack has pointed out, when I built a patch from scratch, I do not spend too much time in my home tweaking the tone, just I do what I feel that is necessary, and go to the rehearsal with my band, record it, come back to my house, listen to the record and then I know exactly what I need to do. And in order to become my life easier, I purchase a DT-25 combo amp which I carry everywhere, so that I can reproduce more accurately my sound at different scenarios.

Anyway, life could be easier!!!!! and I hope so

Best Regards,


Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by phil_m on 2012-05-02 07:13:23

You've got to limit your choices when it comes to playing live. Recording is a different beast, but when you're playing with a band, the more consistent the core of your tone is, the better. I think of it this way - if I were playing with a traditional amp and pedal setup, I may not actually change anything on my amp at all in a given night once I have the EQ and volume tweaked the way I want it. Everything else I do by using effects and the volume and tone knobs on the guitar. Maybe you're used to using a multi-channel amp. Even so, find the amp models that fit your style best and stick with them unless you really need to something different.

So what I'm suggesting is that in most cases, the "selecting an amp model for the sound you want" part of your process would go away. You have your go to amp model, and you know begin to treat it like a real amp. You learn to coax the sounds out if you want. This may seem like it's underutilizing the HD500, and in some sense it is. But it's also letting you get more out of it in a way. It's lets you find sounds that you never would have found if you're constantly switching models. It's a lot easier to find sweet spots in one or two amp models than it is in 22.

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by Akeron on 2012-05-02 10:45:21

I don't know if this could be applied to live playing but for me, for home playing, I use this technique:

1) Begin with an amp that I think should be ok for what I'm trying to do. No effects. Do some tweaking until it sounds good.

2) Create a loop with the Looper playing some chords and single notes

3) Record a wav file with a daw (I use Reaper) of the loop of the Looper

4) While the loop is still playing, record anoter file with the daw and continue to tweak the patch

5) Compare the two and decide which gives the best sound

6) Repeat 4) and 5) until you get the best possible sound having tweaked all the possible things on the patch, even adding effects with different parameters (in different recordings)

The process is still long but is not so fatiguing and long like when you have to play 800 times the same riff, then tweak, then listen to the sound etcetera. Also I trust more the recorded sound than my ears because at some point you could lose concentration and even become a little deaf. The recording always sound the same. This is the base process but I would also add that:

- If you want to recreate the sound of a recording do so listening to the original track, don't do this from memory. I always remember riffs with too much gain for example.

- If you use headphones while tweaking most of the time, do the final testing without them. The sound could be totally different

Hope this would be helpful to you.

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by artist1354 on 2012-05-02 14:09:52

I've been going through the same thing.  Like many others here, I've tried to get the perfect tone for each and every song in our set-list and it is maddeningly frustrating.

So, the more I read, the more I've started to "see the light" of having a limited tonal palette.

I love the PODHD500 and my new JTV59 and I want to stay in love with them.  My back is too sore from decades of hauling ginormous pedal boards amps and cabs.  Even if it is all mounted in rolling ATA cases with nifty compact remote/midi foot controllers, you've still gotta hoist those suckers into the van.

That's the whole reason I went with the POD, Variax and FRFR system.  I can transport my rig in a Cooper Mini with room for a groupie or two.  (Just have to get them back to the "Sunny Acres Senior Living Resort" before sun-up.)

So after this weekend's gig, I'm throwing the Ambien in the trash and simplifying my preset list.  My wife will be so pleased.  We can catch up on all those CSI episodes I missed while trying to capture Clapton's "Beano Tone".

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by tdollaway on 2012-05-02 15:26:44

I, too, suffer from "Tweaking Fatigue" (TF). I've only had my HD500 for around 3 months and have spent countless hours both tweaking and reading forum posts, trying to absorb as much info as possible about the HD line. I can only imagine the amount of time spent by the guys who have been at it for years.

However, I completely agree with the less is more approach. I found that I can get most of the tones that I need out of the Engl, Blackface and the J800.  Don't get me wrong, I still spend plenty of time trying to recreate my favorite artists tones. But for the most part I stick with the basics and try to keep it simple (much to our soundguy's delight).

I think that having as many options as the HD provides, it's easy to get to a point where you can't see the forest through the trees. But damn it's good to know that they're there.

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by edstar1960 on 2012-05-03 02:12:30

Thanks geriatric! I like your suggestion of taking time out for a beer before each audtion step!     

Trouble is I will probably be fast asleep hunched over my HD500 well before I finish tweaking the patch!   But I would be blissfully unaware of any stress or frustration! 

I have seen Meambobo's guide - excellent stuff.  I have also read Neals (MerlinFl) posts and guides and many other posts on this forum from the many helpful and knowledgable people who freely contribute. I am very thankful to all those who do give their help and guidance so willingly - it has helped me out many times and continues to help now! I work my way through these gems of info one at a time - otherwise the information overload can confuse me more if I am not careful - and if I apply and practice each technique a few times then hopefully it will stick in my head and become second nature.  It is wonderful to have so much choice but it can easily be overwhelming especially if you attempt to run before you can walk. You really have to approach one step at a time and take time to learn and understand each component and then you will achieve the results you are after.

Thank you for your contribution!   

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by edstar1960 on 2012-05-03 02:19:29

Thanks to everyone for their contributions so far! I appreciate you all for taking the time to comment and offer advice.

The common theme seems to be KEEP IT SIMPLE and STICK WITH JUST A FEW favourite amps to program in a few core patches that can be used to cover all you need. eg; CLEAN, CRUNCH, HEAVY, LEAD, ACOUSTIC. 

Then branch out from there if necessary.   Remember less is more!  

Please keep the experiences and advice coming!

Thanks again!

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by jstock1 on 2012-05-03 04:24:25

Yeah I feel your pain.

When I had an X3 I had less options but still seemed to have a patch for every song I was forever fixing and tweaking instead of playing. I then joined this forum and listened to the guys using the POD live who said 'keep it simple'. It was too late for the X3 but when I moved to HD I did just that.

Simply choose a small number of amps (in my case four - clean, OD, crunch, insane) and stick on the pedals your require. All my main patches have the same, wah, dist/OD, mod, delay, reverb pedals much like I would have with with a real pedal board. In affect I have four patches which I use 98% of the time.

Other than that I have a very small number of specials which don't fit the usual model, particularly where I need to flick from one patch to another where certain FX are always 'ON' or available.

This seems to work for me. Every couple of weeks I do have a bit of a play to see what other sounds are available and make sure I am not missing out on something I've overlooked.

Re: How to cope with tweaking fatigue on HD500
by anglepod on 2012-05-03 04:56:24

If you're like me, I do not think I have yet to play a preset I have worked on in great detail without reaching over on the PC to slightly nudge the EQ levels or something, seems impossible not to, then a quick save and resend to make sure my PC storage and POD are up to date.

All EQ  is relative to volume, pretty impossible not to have to slightly adjust something when playing.

I love the unit myself and I built new rig just for the POD. I like what I am hearing out of it,  but I am using different techniques than most probably would.

I want the best the unti can deliever so I run into a good power amp into a std guitar 4x12 cab as I do not like crossover networks splitting my sound up. I also have a few pedals up front I like which add to the overall tones. 

I agree one starts with the amp choice that is the core of the tone. I have some EQs I like and I always toss them into the chain in places where I know they really improve the sound. It is not so much about drastically altering frequency curves and levels but rather something inherent to the POD internals that just placing a flat EQ after an amp improves the tone and using one after some of the more buzzy effects can really improve them as well.

Reverb at the end and a delay of some sort in pos 7 is std for me. The only real variables I have are what effects I can use before the amp or maybe some post chorus or cool rotary before I run out of DSP. It's a real mad scientist lab and one can arrange some rather impossible things that you just cannot do w pedals.

I get exhausted at times and I find myself taking a day or so break from the constant work which tends to refresh my mind for some tone ideas to try.

Love the POD monster but reach a point of no tweaking on the fly, probably never, it is just one the features of having it. The presets just get better and better,

Once you have a fair number of them you need to arrange the various setlist locations to a mix of what works for you playing live or finding things. A great feature to be able to erase any and all factory preset locations and to rename the setlist locations. Oh yeah, back up your files, save some setlist and a master bundle file of your entire system.

A little trick I learned was to open the editor first before connecting the USB that way you can stop it from uploading the POD contents if you want to avoid it.

The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.