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Everything posted by markdenman123

  1. I have been using a Helix Rack/Helix Control since they were introduced. I have done about 400 shows with them, locally and throughout the south eastern US. I have NEVER had an issue with my Helix gear. I keep my Helix Rack in a TSA-approved 4 space rack with a power conditioner and a G50 wireless hidden in the back. It has been an incredibly stable rig that has provided me with a consistent tone across every venue. I play original music, so I'm really only using one tone with some snapshots. Each song in our set has it's own preset of that rig with specific effects that work for that song - controlled by the snapshots. It has been a wonderful switch. Prior to the Helix I was using a Rivera-based rig with a 12 space rack that was MIDI controlled by a GCX/Ground Control Pro unit. I was able to replace 8 stomp boxes and three rack effects units, a stereo tube head and multiple cabs with the Helix Rack/Control and an EV ZLX12P wedge. I couldn't be happier.
  2. I gig a Helix Rack. In my rack case I have my wireless (G50) mounted behind the Helix as well as a DI box (connected to a 1/4" out) for the FOH signal. I have an XLR cable plugged into an XLR out to send to my FRFR. I keep the Cat5 cable for my Helix Control plugged in. All those things are neatly prewired and ready to go. I use a Columbia diaper bag to transport my Helix Control, two wireless packs for the G50, and extra batteries. I also have my plectrums, two Dunlop mic stand pic holders, a 15' guitar cable and to 5 hour Energy drinks. I bring two guitars, a Warwick Rockstand 3-guitar holder, as well as an amp stand to hold my rack.
  3. +1 to what AgingOrange said. I use JBL 305s because I already had them. I am sure there are better alternatives. Personally I am very interested in the Kali LP-6.
  4. When building my live patch, it was with a singular purpose.... Get the Helix to sound as MUCH like a Rivera S120 with EVM12L speakers as possible. That was NO easy feat, but I accomplished it. I play in an original band so I only needed ONE sound with a couple of pedals to give me what I needed. I also do session work on the side for local singer/songwriters. Often I will come in and just play some lead stuff, other times I will come in and be tasked with helping to develop an arrangement for electric guitar. In these cases, my approach to developing a patch varies. Often I will start by asking the "artist" or producer for a reference piece. Most songwriters have an "inspiration" piece or something similar that can give me an idea. If there is no reference piece, I will ask for a rough mix of whatever has already been recorded. Most of these artists and producers are people I have worked with before so they feel comfortable enough giving me that. Some don't. At that point I start by asking lots of questions. That is where I determine which guitar I will use, and the most likely amp/cab/effects combo. I will usually build a few patches so I have a few options when arriving for the session. If I can get NOTHING useful, I remind the artist they will have to pay me for the time it takes to build the rig, lol. The downside to that is that I usually just use something I have already created - I have a TON of guitar specific patches built around "standard" amp rigs. Once I get into the Helix, I tend to follow this pattern: 1) Drop an amp that I think will work into Path A. Go to the matching cabinet and drop it twice into the lower path, then I "stack" them. I will keep one cab "stock" and the other I will pull up either a ribbon mic or a condenser mic, move back to about 5 inches, add in some early reflections. I put my cabs on an A/B split, not a Y. 2) From there I press the amp button and start playing. A lot of the time I have to make minimal EQ tweaks - I will adjust gain/master/channel volume to get me close to where I want the amp to be. If I DO have to tweak the EQ, I set everything as neutral as I can, and +/- as needed - in small increments - to get me the sound I want. 3) Many times I'll add a splash of spring reverb between the amp and cabs. Most of my real amps have spring reverb, or I add it via a Fender Reverb tank. 4) If I NEED to add drive, I look for the most natural sounding drive. I will often stack 2-3 drives, and sometimes I pull them to a parallel path so I always have some clean signal blended in. That's VERY important to me. It helps with the clarity. 5) I pretty much always stick an MXR Dyna Comp model first in the chain. I run it at 1.6 on the sensitivity and 72% on the other control (forget what it's called). The output stays where Line 6 has it....+5.4, I think? That's it. I end up with stuff that sounds a little like me, but has the characteristics of the rig I am trying to emulate.
  5. When recording guitars I will always use a scratch guitar first. This will be done using a tone that I think I want to use in the song. I will then record as much of the arrangement as possible, usually including a scratch vocal. The reason for this is so I can hear how the guitars will sit in the mix. Often I will find that I need WAY less gain than I initially thought - so much so that these days I gravitate toward models like the Matchless with a drive pedal or a Marshall with a compressor. Once I have most of the track built, I will go back and do my "real" guitar tracks. Part of the reason I wait to do this is because, often, once the arrangement begins to flesh out, I realize there just isn't enough sonic space for everything I want the guitars to do. I want to keep frequency range for the bass and the drums. Not everything can sound "huge" and I would rather each part of the arrangement carry some "weight" then bog it down with one instrument. A usual song for me, by the time it is finished with drums, vocal harmonies, guitars, bass, synth/keys, buss groups, effects, etc., will be anywhere from 36 to 45 tracks. Gotta be aware of what frequencies will clog up when working with that many tracks. Another thing that I discovered, and YMMV, is that my Helix (I use the rack) sounds better when run through a channel strip on my console. Here's my signal path for recording guitars: guitar -> Helix -> channel strip (or two if I am doing a stereo track) -> a sub group -> interface -> Pro Tools I find that by running the Helix through the analog channel strip, I can add back the little "something" that gets lost by staying all digital. For instance, I have Helix Native, and use it when I am doing mobile work with the laptop. My tones NEVER sound as "good" as when I have the Helix running through the console. They are "bad", just not as alive - if that makes any sense. It might be the extra gain staging - I have to balance the signal coming from Helix into the console's preamp (I use line level signals at +4), then give appropriate signal from the channel to the subgroup, then from the subgroup to the interface (I mostly use a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 for ease, but also use an RME HDSP 9652). It sounds like it might be VERY convoluted, but I LOVE the sound. In the Helix I still use stock cab models, even though I have more than a few 3rd party IRs. I tend to do my hi/low cuts in the mix rather than at the Helix. It is always easier to subtract frequencies than to add them back. How dense are your mixes? I ask because if you are: There are ways to approach this using music theory to give you more room sonically. For instance: * one guitar playing power chords as 5ths * one guitar playing power chords as 4ths * two guitars splitting the octave - one plays the low octave, the other the higher octave. With the octave guitars, actually play a full octave higher. * melody/lead guitar(s) should share space with octaves....meaning, the octaves and melodies shouldn't necessarily be playing at the same time if you want those parts to have full impact. Some of getting the tone isn't totally limited to just the "guitar amp" either. Ideally, I will switch guitars for different tracks. But, sometimes it is just easier to switch pickups/configs. I am a PRS player. I have a couple of guitars with the 408 switching system. I might keep the same "amp" but use a humbucker for one track, and then a single coil for the next. The nice thing about the 408 system is that the humbuckers tap to single coils with no volume loss, so it is very easy to just add a different texture from the same amp. Another thing I'll do is record one tone "dry" and then the other (same guitar and amp) with spring reverb between the amp and cab - even if it's a higher gain sound. It'll vary the tone just enough to give space in the mix while keeping things strong. Hope some of these things are helpful!! Good luck!
  6. I run my Helix in to the FOH live and monitor with house wedges and my EVZLX12P behind me. After a year, it has worked every time. In rehearsals I just use the EV with no problem. It fills the room just fine. As far as "tube tone" I find my patch works fine - none of us miss the "tube tone".
  7. I have two copy paper boxes filled with stomps. The ONLY one I feel the need to keep is the BOSS/Fender FRV-1 because sometimes I need THAT reverb sound. Helix isn't there yet, though I did follow a fellow's advice and increase the predelay A LOT, and it got me closer to built-in spring reverb, but still NOTHING like the old outboard reverb units (which I still have an original but I don't mess with it much because the FRV-1 is that good!). As far as getting rid of the others....meh, too lazy to sell them and GC doesn't give too much on pedals, so they can stay hanging out in the boxes in the back of my studio's gear closet!!
  8. Hmmmm, good idea. Yeah, usually (and to be real it has only been 4 times I have done this) it is pulling teeth to get one. Every time though I have been pulling one from a box. I haven't really thought too much about it - I just pull it out, fire it up, and go through the process of loading my patches. Truth be told, it is kind of a hassle to do - thank God I haven't had to deal with firmware clashes or anything. Truthfully, I am a little paranoid about potential problems now that you guys have shared all this. Does Native run as an application, or is it only a plug-in? HAHAHA, maybe I'll just start bringing a note with my basic rig settings and just program one on the fly - might be less stressful. I only use one amp/cab/drive combo anyway....the extra effects and goodies can be left out. Might just be easier!!
  9. Cool. Great info and suggestions!! Thanks guys!
  10. I don't have a way to ensure it. My laptop has my Helix software, my flash drive has my presets. I haven't had an issue, so I am guessing it has been fine. I am guessing if it was an issue it wouldn't work, and I'd have to make a preset real quick - but I haven't had that issue yet. My presets were made on the first firmware and I haven't changed or adjusted them - would that be the reason it worked?
  11. Yikes!!! I use a Helix rack and that has never happened. We had a thunderstorm pop up during practice last week. Power went out for a minute and my Helix died. I unplugged my Helix after turning off the power conditioner. It fired back up with no issues and stayed running with no issues - even through the two gigs this weekend. Has that happened before? Or since?
  12. Thanks guys!! I'll make a very generic "Rivera" patch and add it soon. I'll let you kow when I do....
  13. Dude, I have done several fly dates since switching to Helix. I request that the promoter get me a Helix. I bring my laptop when I travel anyway, so between that and a USB with my patches, I just load them onto the Helix at the venue. It has worked every time. Do you have a booking agent? If so, just make it part of the rider....that's what we did.
  14. It's really cool how quick it is to find sonic joy with Helix. Glad you're digging it. I don't know anyone that regrets buying one. That says a lot!
  15. Thanks man. When I was considering the switch to Helix it was for convenience more than sound options. I knew it would not have the Rivera amp or and open back cab with an EVM12L. Problem was, and always has been, that I was LOVED the tone I already had. Even take away all the effects, which are only there for special parts of certain songs we have, the sound of my guitar plugged straight into the amp, dry, was perfect. The deal with my was that if I was going to buy a gadget like that (which at the time was really new and unproven, so to say) it would have to be something I would really use. It couldn't be a "tinkers" toy. Nobody had one in stock locally for me to try out so I kinda figured it out backwards, lol.
  16. Totally agree with you. I had a KR100 for a while and it was TOO modern for me, lol. I am very much a 70's-80's player so the M/S amps were perfect. And, yes, the clean channel is AMAZING. I grew up using Fender amp as my base sound, and having a "Fender" style clean was crucial for me. The RIvera is the only high-gain (well, mine would be medium gain these days) amp with a PERFECT clean channel. As far as getting a K-type tone, I couldn't say....MAYBE a dual amp block with a Recto and an Archon blended? It has been so long since I had that KR that I kinda forgot what it sounded/responded like. I know in my search to replicate the M/S, it was about finding the right midrange that gave me the girth I was to having. Don't get me wrong, my Helix "RIvera" is NOT dead on to my S120 - it is just similar enough that I feel like I am playing the same rig (which was my ultimate goal with the Helix - replace all the analog and tube gear with a small package). I would LOVE if L6 would model some Riveras (obviously the M/S in my case, lol) but I just don't think the amps are in demand enough. Who knows? I know those of us who play them a INSANELY loyal to the brand, but most people pass them over....probably because they have to be loud to sound right - or because they are unforgiving amps. Don't give up, man - you be able to wrangle something close like I did.....
  17. None of the IRs of "EVM" speakers sound right. After using them for 25 years, that was one of the first things I tried. They are "ok" but still not "right". I have a better/closer sound with what I am using now. Thanks!
  18. Since 1990 I played the Rivera M/S amps. I had an M60 head, an M100 head, an M100 combo, and I still have my S120. All are EL34 versions (there are some out there with 6L6s). I was a little panicked about getting the tone right but here's the overview (when I get home, I can give you specific settings if you want): Red Squeeze -> Obsessive Compulsive -> Essex 15 -> Spring Reverb -> Dual cab block (2x12 Silver Bell + 4x12 Greenback 20) The thing about my particular Rivera amps was that the gain added compression more than over-the-top distortion. Even on the gain channel I was able to play open chords that rang with note definition. Each amp has a pentode/triode switch and a half power switch. The pentode/triode works (I may have this wrong with my words, but I know the concept - Paul Sr and I discussed it in depth when I ordered the first amp) like this: In Pentode, the amp uses five pins of the power tube - this sound is tighter with less power tube "saturation". In Triode, the amps uses three pins of the power tube - this sound is more compressed and has more power tube saturation. I forget the ratio, but it is part of the power scaling abilities of the amp. The half power switch works in conjunction with pentode/triode to change the output level of the amp. With the amp in Pentode, full power (based on the 100 watt amp) you would get 100 watts of output. This sound is very tight with little compression, and is the "loudest". Pentode, half power results in 50 watts of output. This sound is still loud and tight, but you start to get some different feel based on slight power tube distortion. With the amp in Triode, full power you are getting around 25 watts of output. This sound is still loud, but the amp has very different output characteristics - much more "vintage" feel. Triode, half power give 13 watts of output and the feel is based on a lot of power tube compression. These different setting are not as perceptible at low Master Volume settings. In fact, I called "BS" on it when I first got the amp and was trying those settings at bedroom level. It doesn't "work" until you give significant volume - I was using these amps with the Master between 4-5 on the regular. The sweetest spots seems to be the Master on 6-7. I mention all this because when I explain how I copped my tone with Helix, it was ALL dependent on how I was running the Rivera. Despite having amps of differing wattage, I ran them all the same. I'd only move up or down in power depending on the venue - meaning if I was playing a really small room I'd bring the M60, etc. The S120 (which is two separate 60 watt powers amps with a common preamp) could do any gig which is the reason it is the one I kept. My Rivera settings are: Gain Channel: LO input used (Rivera has what is called "Pick up Compensation" - this is DIFFERENT than other companies. The LO input and HI input vary the amount of input gain and [i forgot how] work differently than typical HI/LO (1/2 jacks) on different amps. It has something to do with varying the impedance level on the input...) Volume: 8 Bass: 3 (pulled for gain boost) Mids: 6.5 Treble: 4 (pulled for gain boost) Master: 5 (the gain boosts add a little bit of drive and varying levels of compression) Clean Channel: My settings here are dependent upon the guitar and style of music.... AMP OUTPUT SECTION: I found that the best way to get the tone I wanted was to always run the amp in triode. Half or full-power was determined by the room and volume needed for the gig. Toward the end of my using those amps live I was running the S120 (stereo 120 watts) like this: Power Amp 1: Triode/half power for an output level of 7.5 watts Power Amp 2: Triode/full power for an output level of 15 watts The power amps were only engaged if a cabinet was plugged into it, otherwise that power amp was defeated. Power Amp 2 can never be used without Power Amp 1. Helix Discovery: What made me decide to try the Essex 15 as a replacement for the Rivera required me to think about the tonal characteristics I was going for. With me essentially running a 7.5 to 15 watt configuration that was LOUD, I went to a local guitar shop and tested tube amps in the 15 watt range. I was looking for something that would break on the power stage, but also had a VERY specific mid-range characteristic. The mids were KEY. Here's why: The Rivera M/S series allows you to pick your midrange point on each channel. Both channels allow to select either a 250K or 500K midrange point. I found that an essential part of my tone was a 500K midrange point on my gain channel. On the clean side it was always 250K (typical Fender Blackface voicing). While I was demoing the various 15 watt combos, I found the Vox AC15 to give me a feel very close to what I liked in the Rivera. I A/B'd my Rivera and the Vox to see how close I could get them (within reason considering the AC15 had a Greenback speaker and I use EVM12L speakers with my Rivera). Ultimately it came down to a "feel" thing because I had played the Rivera live for about 25 years...I KNOW that amp, lol. The AC15 was pretty much there. I bought it. At home I started working with the AC15 and a bunch of drive pedals to see where it needed to be to come close enough to the Rivera. I found that the MXR DynaComp was CRUCIAL in getting the gain staging correct. I used the DynaComp more as an extra drive stage rather than a compressor (though it still compresses enough). That gave me a lot of the "girth" I was used to hearing with the Rivera. From there I needed to find a neutral enough drive pedal (or so I thought). I went through the dozen or so drives I have and didn't find anything "right". Some of these drives include: JHS Archer Mad Professor Simble Various MXR RAT some 80s Yamaha distortion box I used as a kid Various DOD pedals from when I was a kid TS9 Tube Screamer Wampler Euphoria I went to GC and asked a dude what was a popular drive pedal. He mentioned OCD and showed me some Bogner stuff. I tried them all out with an AC15 and found the OCD pleasing. I bought it and continued my experiments. Eventually I got a tone I was digging, even though it was "off". I realized the reason pretty quickly. The speaker broke up too quickly. I was used to the EVM12L. Satisfied overall, I returned the AC15 and OCD to GC (gotta love their return policy). From there I knew where I wanted to go when I ordered my Helix. I was happy to see that the main ingredients were in Helix. Essentially I copied the AC15 rig I had bought (outlined above). There was still ONE sticking point - finding a cab block or IR that would give me the response of my EVM12L cabs. This created another unique issue. While the speaker was odd enough, so were my cab choices. I had ALWAYS used open-back cabs - 1x12, 2x12, 4x12. The Rivera 1x12 and 2x12 were available open back. But, I also used a custom half-back Rivera 4x12. That cab was essentially a 4x12 version of the 2x12 - it had a half baffle on the bottom, but all the speakers could be seen (so not half sealed like Boogie 4x12s). Long story trimmed down.... I started with factory cab blocks. Worked my way through various 1x12 and 2x12 cabs. Narrowed it down to the Silver Bell cab for overall sound (though it wasn't quite right on its own). I messed with different mics as "EQ" to thicken the midrange. I messed with various placements to "fine tune" the "EQ". I added in varying amount of "early reflection" to "smooth out" the "EQ". I got part way there. Semi-satisfied, I realized I need more to the sound. I added a second cab block and began looking for one that would compliment the Silver Bell and add in some stuff that was missing sonically compared to an open back cab running EVM12Ls (speaker config wasn't that important - it was ALL about achieving a certain midrange response). I settled on the Greenback20 cab as the remainder of the "EQ". After messing with some parameters, I ended up with a sound that was VERY similar to my Riveras and provided me with the proper feel and response that I was used to. HAHAHA, probably more detailed than you wanted, but I figured it could be beneficial.....
  19. Right on!!! I have been loving my Helix Rack/Control system for over a year now. It has proven to be an amazing asset onstage. The routing options allowed me to create a rig almost identical to the rack rig I was running that had THREE GCX loop switchers and was MIDI controlled by a Ground Control Pro MIDI controller. I had two trays of stomp boxes and two rack multi effects processors routing my various effects to the loop or front end of the amp. It was an awesome system, but with all of that along with the amp head ALL in the same rack it was a bear to move. The Helix took me to a place where everything is in a 4-space rack instead of a 12 space rolling rack. If I didn't gig, that 12 space rack would have been fine - but I am playing out 4-6 times a month doing original gigs (30-50 min sets) where you have FAST change overs (6-10 minutes between bands). That rack took two dudes to move on and off the stage. I was able to recreate my previous rig (Rivera amp, effects, and cabs) in a matter of a couple days. My band likes it better and sound guys are digging how easy it is to make a mix for the band. We are essentially at a point where the only mics that need balancing are the drum kit, and overall level for the vocal mics. We sound check quickly and efficiently these days. I give it ALL to Helix, lol!!
  20. Certainly seems well thought out!!
  21. I use one EV ZLX12P with much happiness at home and onstage. It works fine. If I am developing a stereo patch for recording I will patch the Helix into my console and build the patch via my studio monitors - that way it built with those speakers in mind.
  22. Being in an original band, all I use are house PAs. Most of the touring acts from Europe have at least ONE Kemper in the band, so they sound guys seem to be familiar with the concept. Usually when I touch base with the sound guy, and I tell him I am going to just need a direct feed via my DI box, the response usually is: "Oh, you're running a Kemper?" My answer, for simplicity's sake, is: "Yeah, something like that." They give me an XLR, I plug it, and all is good. I also tell them to defeat the EQ at the board because it's all set-up in my Helix. Some guys do, some don't. It's their gig, they know their room and speakers WAY better than I do, so at that point I just go with it. My tone has never been bad. Maybe not EXACTLY like what I set up due to a smidge of extra EQ....there has only been ONCE where my tone was destroyed by a sound guy - and it wasn't just me, the WHOLE band sounded like we were run through a chorus with extra echo. The mix was AWFUL based on the board recordings. Oh happens.
  23. To me, it sounds like a standard 80's-type lead tone.... JCM800 with a drive, some delay/reverb, and chorus. Cool song!
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