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JimGordon

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  1. I'm obsessive about making patches, and am now somewhere in the range of having made 140 or more patches. They range all over the place, with some using just amp gain, and some using the method you use- 1 or more distortion/overdrive pedals into either a clean, or at least lower gain amp. I have an "Old Savatage" patch that is basically 2 Super Overdrives daisy chained into a clean Marshall, which is sort of what Chris Oliva did. My "Imaginos" patch (inspired by mid-late 80's Blue Oyster Cult) has a couple different amps that I can switch between, but the basis of the distortion is mostly pedals (the "Heavy Distortion" does most of the lifting), while my ELO patch uses a Tone Sovereign with both drive sections into a low-ish gain Fender to get that "Do Ya" grindy crunch. "Chorus Lead" is essentially a Twin dressed up with chorus and 'verb (and delay is available), where I kick in a tube driver pedal for a sweet singing lead sound (and a booster if I want more gain). Those are just a couple of the ways to approach things. So many options...... Just to point this out- I think the Tone Sovereign may be one of the most versatile drive models on the Helix, as having 2 serial gain stages, each with 3 possible types of drive, 2 tone controls, and 2 levels of intensity, PLUS the battery voltage choice (which does actually affect the tone) really gives you a lot to work with in just one effect block (although it does consume more CPU power than your typical overdrive).
  2. I have a Hot Rod DeVille, which isn't "too" different, but is probably more on the treble-y side than the Deluxe. I actually go straight into the low input on the pre-amp (bright switch on, the normal "clean" non-drive channel), and keep the tone controls in various positions at noon or below (mids and presence around 9 o'clock). I use the full amp models, and usually use the cab emulation as a kind of last pass filter. I'll use either 1 or 2 EQ blocks after the amp models (at least 1 of these will be a parametric EQ), with EQs varying quite a bit per patch. I have the Global EQ on, with a high cut probably somewhere around 15K or so. Time based effects are almost always placed after the cab model or IR. Whenever I use it with this method, I have the big knob volume pretty high up. I usually don't use drastic cuts or boosts in the EQ, except when I'm going for a "big metal" frequency scoop, or a focused boost to impart a particular character. Sometimes if I'm using one patch where there are 2 amps I switch between with one of the footswitches, I find I have to assign an EQ or gain block to that switch to keep volume levels equal if one of the amps is a lot quieter at max volume than the other. I also tried going straight into the power amp, using the Helix volume as a replacement for the amp's volume knob. It was ok, but a lot darker than I'm used to. Then again, all my patches are calibrated for the clean preamp in method.
  3. I'd like to see a floor switch combo that lets you switch the setlist without having to go through that menu with the preset button. Or even better, give us the option to make the "up/down" bank button scroll through ALL presets, not just the ones in a particular setlist. If there has to be a pause when skipping to the next setlist group, so be it. I just would rather not have to be limited to one group of sounds without having to dive into menus while playing.
  4. Have you looked at the Q parameter for your EQ? Funny thing- I was using the Q parameter completely backwards until recently. The lower the Q, the *wider* the boost or cut effect will be across frequency bands. So maybe your Q is set too wide on both the mids and highs for what you are looking for. You may also want to look at making sure your EQ is placed *before* the cab sim and reverbs/delays, so that it's not somehow exaggerating whatever frequencies those effects are altering.
  5. Maybe one of your cords was shorting out and it started working again due to you shifting the position? I feel I've had pretty crap luck with guitar cables, and one thing I've noticed is that if a cord has an issue, if it's not the kind of problem where it buzzes horribly and loudly, it's usually a situation where the signal futzes out and becomes extra weak.
  6. Using an amp/cab block into a real amp is not a non-starter per se; I can safely say that in spite of some increased noise, if the amp is clean enough, you can get a pretty good sound. However, you'll need to completely adjust the patches to dial it in for whatever amp you are using for output. The factory presets are obviously engineered for DI use....
  7. I think the Tone Sovereign might be the most versatile of the distortion/overdrive pedal models. 2 stackable gain stages, each with 3 modes, 2 tone controls for each, a voltage control, and a fairly natural type of drive that can still instill its own character into whatever amp model is used. I've found myself using this one A LOT more than I expected. Oh, and not having a 2 year wait time to buy one is pretty nifty, too.
  8. The Blues Junior is fairly low wattage, and my impression is that it starts distorting pretty early in the volume curve regardless of using any, right? If you have it set up so that your "real" overdrive pedals can easily push it, it's likely that all the gain stages from the preamps and effects in your presets might be pushing the amp itself into overdrive, on top of whatever drive the Helix is trying to emulate. Have you tried turning the big volume knob on the Helix itself down? I know "they" say you are supposed to run it at full, but with an amp that has lower headroom, you may need to ignore that. Also, when you say "main presets", are you just using the stock presets? As RD2RK said above, factory presets are usually....crap. This has been a rule of thumb since the earliest days of multieffects pedals with presets. You'll need to futz around and make your own to suit your amp, even if the Helix volume knob tweak works. It will be worth the time; you didn't drop $1500 just to limit yourself to what some stranger thinks you'll like the sound of! If after a few months of tweaking, it doesn't work out, you might want to try another amp with more headroom (as you aren't a fan of the DI/FRFR sound); perhaps something in the 30-40 watt range.
  9. Well, I'm not incredibly familiar with the Randall Satan in particular, but I've seen others use the Line 6 Fatality model as a starting point for the whole Dimebag Darrell sound (he was probably the most famous Randall user, with the possible exception of the Edge using a Randall on "The Fly"). Thing is, that Pantera sound is really tricky to nail as it seems you need to use all sorts of EQ to boost and cut bands both before and after. The Satan is a tube head though, unlike what Dimebag used, so if at all possible, maybe try to have 2 parallel amp paths with the Fatality and maybe something like the Revv, which is a pretty modern high gain tube amp? And of course......lots of EQ.
  10. Tangential to the question, but how does the Engl 530 sound in general? That's the pre-amp Helloween used in the late '80s for the Keepers albums (aka the Book of Genesis for power metal). Any chance you could give your impressions of A/B'ing the Engl with something like the 2204 Mod model in the Helix? That's what I've used to try to emulate that Helloween sound.....
  11. So 2 of the bigger factors that might make it unpredictable are: a. the power amp section appears to be some type of modeling- I'm not sure how well running 1 modeler into another modeler by a completely different manufacturer will sound (but it does look like there's a couple of controls to adjust the power amp section), and b. the amp has only 1 speaker in it, which might limit some of the tonal capabilities. That said, if you buy the Helix at a place with a decent return policy, you can see if you like it through your amp.
  12. I do this All. Day. Long. To be fair, my amp, a Fender Hot Rod Deville, is a pretty bland amp on its own, but it has a good amount of clean headroom, so your results will vary most definitely if you are sending the full amp model into, another amp like say, a Marshall. Even on a "clean" setting, Marshalls tend to overdrive easier than other amps, and are so focused on certain frequencies, that they will probably exhibit a ton of coloration. As others said, though, you have literally nothing to lose by trying it. Even using cab models aren't necessarily a no-no, as they can be used as filters to get specific frequency shapes. What amp are you thinking of plugging this into? If you like what you hear, and you have the money, you might even want to try a full Helix. IMO, it goes very far towards completely replacing a pedalboard. The King of Tone model alone feels like it can do the job of a fair number of overdrive/boost/distortion models. And that's just 1 of many pieces of gear this can emulate, chained together.
  13. It's funny because I'm a bit the opposite insofar as I want to have maximum variety in patches, and even within patches. I have a number of patches where in that very patch, there are 2 different amp models that I switch between. For the metal patches, it's typically a distorted, higher gain amp, paired with a clean one; I assign a switch for the amp model, and often I will associate a chorus effect with that same switch. Some patches are what I call "dual-tone", where I may have 2 different artist sounds that I try to work into the same patch, such as pairing a Police "sound" with a King Crimson "sound"- one amp (the Roland JC) is focused on the Police and 80s KC, whereas the Hi-Watt model is geared towards 70s King Crimson. I actually don't even use snapshots yet; I set up my switches to all be stomp switches, and then just hit the up/down switches to temporarily drop into pre-set mode if I want to select another patch. As far as consistency, maybe the issue you are having when switching between patches is more about the patch/amp volume. The actual relative volume of each amp model can vary wildly. For some reason, the max volume for the Derailed Ingrid model is noticeably lower than that of one of the Marshall models or a Twin. I actually ended up putting a mic preamp model after the Derailed, to boost the volume enough to match other models. Another thing I do in most of my patches is use at least 1 or 2 EQ blocks, and set a switch for the mid frequency and/or mid gain for a parametric EQ block. This essentially adds a "mid frequency" shift switch, that you will often find on more complex amps, or on modded amps. There's a lot of options you have available. If you're feeling like you're wasting potential, don't sweat it. A lot of people gravitate towards favorite amp and effects models. It's better to have all those options available for later on, when you feel the urge to experiment, than not to have them at all. Maybe you just need to see how much you can get out of a couple models, until you really have the hang of how to dive into all those parameters. I was hesitant to get a Helix at first, because the technical number of amplifier models was lower than my RP1000, and I actually held out as long as possible until the number of models and FX increased enough from launch. When I actually dove into the parameters, I was surprised at how much variance you could get from 1 helix amp, as opposed to the Digitech's very limited parameter control. The bias and sag controls alone can make one Helix amp model have the variations equivlanet to 2-3 RP1000 amp models. Just go at your own pace, and get familiar with how all the parameters work.
  14. One thing a lot of people seem to agree on is that the Brit 2204 model seems to have noticeably more gain than the real thing. Now, coming from the RP1000, where it seemed the JCM800, among other models, was UNDER-gained, I have no problem with this- it just means that for less saturated sounds (e.g. 80s Queensryche), you need to be in the bottom half of the drive range, and then maybe use a light overdrive or booster for solos. The 2204 mod definitely has more gain than the stock version- I use it when playing something like Helloween circa 1988, although it might be more mushy than what you are looking for. Cabwise, I actually tend to use the dual cab option (separate block). Offhand, I can't remember which ones I use the most, but I'd imagine mixes of the greenbacks, blackback, 1960 T75, and the XXL (for brightness!). Pairing different mics and cabs gives you more frequency range. As far as alternative amp models, there are a number of good choices- the Cartographer, the SLO (aka Solo), and Placater all have some degree of Marshall DNA somewhere in them, but are different enough to not be "Marshall clones". Here's a bit of secret sauce I discovered- the Solo Crunch model, paired with a good overdrive pedal model that's "always on", and setting up a footswitch to simply bump the gain on the overdrive.
  15. This clarifies things further- I appreciate it. When I experiment with the power amp input, I'll switch to "line level". No load box here, lol. I'm curious if my patches that I created for the preamp-in method will all need to be changed or not to sound ok..... Much appreciated!
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