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Tone-building for beginners

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Howdy gang, first time poster here:

 

Bought my HD500X as a Christmas gift for myself, it arrived on Saturday: to my horror, it wasn't exactly the "select amp, tweak levels on amp, play" experience I was expecting, and after doing a little research and peeking under the hood of some user-generated presets I've picked up on the fact that you need to use extra things to get your tones sounding good (studio/parametric EQ, overdrive, etc.). Now I've heard the amazing tones people have managed to achieve with these units, and I'm not one to be perturbed by a little learning so...well, this guitarist needs some schooling on HD500X tone-building 101. I'm mainly looking to create high-gain metal/punk tones, but I don't just want to take someone else's patches because there's so many amps to choose from and I actually want to be able to experiment and be able to custom-tailor any of the amps accordingly (I'm a versatile guitarist).

 

As far as the type of sound I'm likely to draw influence from we're looking at Tommy Victor of Prong and the album that the Exploited released in 1996 for starters (not sure if profanity is allowed so I won't mention it's name but it's the only album they released in the 90's), a nice thrashy tone; my instincts steers me towards starting with the treadplate but I did get the HD Metal expansion pack as well and definitely want to give those a go. I also wouldn't mind working with a sludgy tone a la King Buzzo of the Melvins, I did experiment with the fuzz pedals. Anyway, thanks ahead of time and looking forward to our correspondence on here!

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Here is a great guide developed and generously made available for all by a Line 6 forum member.

 

http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/

 

Learning to develop good tones on the POD HD devices takes some time. This guide is a great place to start.

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Beat the Bastards

If it is a 'bad word', the machines will change it for you. For example, if I said --- lollipop you, you lollipoping lollipoptard. Why can't you lollipoping get it lollipoping together and just go lollipop the lollipoping lollipop already.

----------------------- 

 

 

Other than making sure you have the non-patch related settings right, I think the HD500x is a "select amp, tweak levels on amp, play" device, if that is what you are looking for. 

 

A lot of us want more than that, so we do more. But I absolutely have "just amp" patches, for both clean and dirty.

The limitations are the same as with a physical amp. You don't have a 36 band eq on a Marshall head. So, the 'virtual' Marshall will not have it either. The one effect that I think will be needed on a regular basis is a noise gate. But even that is not needed unless you want it. 

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The limitations are the same as with a physical amp. You don't have a 36 band eq on a Marshall head. So, the 'virtual' Marshall will not have it either. The one effect that I think will be needed on a regular basis is a noise gate. But even that is not needed unless you want it.

Agreed. I hardly use EQs at all, with the exception of the low cut under the cab parameters, to get rid of some of the boominess...

 

To the OP: much, if not all of your tone shaping can be done with the various mic and cab combinations, together with the traditional tone controls common to the vast majority of the amp models. The EQs can do the same of course, but the peculiar %-based frequencies that they use are annoying enough that I avoid them unless absolutely necessary.

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Thanks for the responses! To elaborate, it just feels like some of the amps are muddy/thin and I'm seeking to get a better grip on the different means to correct this: I don't want to say that I'm new to the tone-making game, but in the past I've gotten by with a single distortion pedal like the Digitech Metal Master which featured a cab simulator for direct-in recording (although the reason I decided to move away from that pedal was the lack of a knob to control the mids and it just felt very limiting after seeking to get more out of it). I'm going to be reading through the site that silverhead linked me to, but any additional tips and tricks for maximizing my tones would be greatly appreciated. For example, when is overdrive necessary? I've never used overdrive in the past, so I'm relatively new to the idea of using it and when but I've noticed it popping up in a lot of patches out there.

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One thing to try with the overdrives, is crank the level to max and add very little gain, somewhere around 10-20%. Some amps sound pretty good like this.

 

One gauge for determining if you have too much distortion or not: find something moderately difficult to play and if it becomes easier to play because of distortion, back off.

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Thanks for the tip, duncann! All you guys have been incredibly helpful, I'm glad I decided to post here  :)

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As far as things sounding 'thin' or whatever else they may sound... 

One thing to remember is this.... 

 

When you play through your amp/monitor/whatever, you aren't hearing a guitar amp sound. 

You are hearing a MIC'd guitar amp sound. 

 

What you hear coming from the pod is what the crowd would hear through the pa (the final sound). Which is different than a hearing a physical amp on stage which would then be mic'd, which would alter the final sound that the crowd hears. 

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I've been calibrating my tones by hooking the unit up to my laptop and using it as an audio interface (while using it in "studio direct" mode, of course): I figured it'd be easier to create my tones in this setting to know what they'll sound like on the recordings and then run them through my amp during practice/performances, no surprises that way when I switch over to record XD

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Delays: if you use them before the amp, make sure the mix is pretty low and repeats pretty high. If you use them after the amp, make it vice versa. That is the best way to avoid the delay jump on you.

 

Also, it is a nice way for recording, to put after the amp a mid focus eq with low pass at 20% (around 100 hz) and q arround 24%, high pass at 90% and q at 0%. 

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Welcome to the awesome world of modeling.  I think you'll like it here.

 

One thing I would add to this discussion is a bit of context.  Rather than regard your POD as a collection of amps, you're probably better off thinking of it as a virtual environment for creating a variety of different signal chains.  Yes, amps play a part in that signal chain as do mixers, cabinets, microphones, effects, etc.  In effect it's more similar to what a recording engineer does in a studio cabling together different components to capture a specific sound, but in this case you're going to create those configurations in a virtual world of the POD and save them as patches or presets so you can use them over and over again.

 

I only bring this up because I think if you focus too much on the amps you might miss out on many of the creative possibilities of the POD.  As a self-described "versatile guitarist" I would think understanding it from this perspective will open up the possibilities of exploring a wider range of sounds applicible to different music styles and artists.  That's where the POD really shines!!!

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Oh, I totally understand that it's a virtual recreation of an entire virtual environment vs. just a virtual amp: I just wish to gain a better understanding of all of the tools so I can make those tones shine on my own  :D

 

Are there any detailed explanations for the characteristics of the HD expansion pack amps yet? I got the whole set in an effort to arm myself with as many options as I could (I plan on recording other bands in my home studio as well eventually), and I've noticed there isn't too much info on the metal amps in particular at the moment asides from the ones that are well-known reproductions of famous amps.

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Here is the thing with the POD. It's not made to instantly produce sound like [insert artist x here] for you.  It WILL allow you to make crappy crappy tones. That is accurate for modeling system because well the real amps/pedals/mixers/mic etc... will all allow you to make some crappy crappy tones too.  

 

Aside from the great advice and guides you already gotten on this thread, Look at what amps, pedals, mics the artist you want to emulate uses. Often this will not get you totally there as there may be post record EQ on their record that you will not know what it is. Or there amps might be modified or they use one not in the POD. But this is a good start and for any effect/amp you don't have in the POD usually you can find something in the area. There are also plenty of resource on what specific effects are typically used for.  The POD is not build for Metal, Rock,Blues,Jazz, etc... it's built for all of them.  So you might not really have much of need for some effects. Then again since they are there in the POD it does give you a great deal of space to experiment with inventing something too. 

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Take some of the patches you can find at the Meambobo Toneguide page and disassemble them see what does what and baby step it. Best of all have patience.

 

Check this vid out.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39rvm-peVMg

 

Loved how the guy set it up and the use of the EQs.

 

BTW loved Prong and still have some old cassettes of them \m/

 

-B

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Oh wow, there's a daily quota for positive votes? Well shoot, I'll just have to give the rest out out tomorrow then!

 

The suggestion and video are greatly appreciated BillBee, I did consider reverse-engineering some tones to see what made them tick and having another person corroborate it definitely makes me feel like I had the right idea XD

 

And Hell yeah, I've always used the tone they cooked up on "Cleansing" as my own "tone compass" (along with a few other thrashy early-90's tones like "Urban Discipline"-era Biohazard, I've got a soft spot for post-thrash/pre-groove metal tones). Psalm 69-era Ministry and KMFDM had some great tones too, nice and heavy.

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Whose fist is this anyway? :)

 

I have a soft spot for Prove you wrong too.

 

Suicidal Tendencies' Lights, Camera, Revolution was next in that rotation.

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Hell yeah! Another album I found with a fantastically thrashy tone was Leeway's Born to Expire, oh my God. We gotta be careful not to get too off-topic here though XD

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One downside to these modeling devices is it's easy to fall into the trap of too many choices. When I first got one of these, it was an HD500. It seemed I was tweaking and building patches more than playing and writing. I still have this problem to some degree, and maybe a little more again, recently, with Helix. But once you start to learn what works and what doesn't with these things, it takes much less time to construct something.

 

Plus, when it comes time to ditch the POD for something else, a lot the knowledge you gain from using the POD certainly can be carried over to another device, which makes things easier. But the lingering problem of too many choices is always there, and is a fine line to maintain. I look at it as a way to work on my willpower, and carry that extra willpower to other things in life.

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Oh, I know compulsive tweaking and tone-building can become a bad habit: I'm expecting the first couple of months to consist of getting familiar with the amps and finding my favorites and then probably choosing different amps for other bands/albums, giving each one it's own unique "voice". We'll see though, may as well put those amps to use you know?

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Take some of the patches you can find at the Meambobo Toneguide page and disassemble them see what does what and baby step it. Best of all have patience.

 

Check this vid out.

 

"Most Excellent" skyproclaimsit tootorial

 

Loved how the guy set it up and the use of the EQs.

 

BTW loved Prong and still have some old cassettes of them \m/

 

-B

 

Ok this post and video was so good I broke out my 50$ Epiphone Special II and went to it to see what happened when I recorded into my DAW (RiffWorks). I made a patch much like skyprcolaimsit, set up a drum set and did a quick minute.

 

Good one Bill

 

The Riff = https://soundcloud.com/reeleeze/riff-i

 

The patch = http://line6.com/customtone/tone/1649036/

 

The RiffWorks monitor preset and song file

Edited by Brazzy

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Way to go Brazzy! Dig out the 7-String and go for some chugga chugga! \m/

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I have just watched the Vid by "skyproclaimist",i don't have much idea what he was doing with all the different screens,but it's made me realise i can't think about buying a 500X for gigging.

One of the Big attractions of the 500X for me is being able to use 2 amp models for L/R signals(i've used 2 amps on gigs for years)but after watching the vid & listening to the in phase/out of phase section(which completely lost me)i realise i'm wasting my time time buying a 500 for gigging.

Instead of buying one to gig with,i'm probably going to buy & hope i can get to grips with it,before i die :( .

The really worrying thing for me is i didn't even know Dual Amp Models could be out of Phase,i thought that was just in the realms of pos/neg reversed on speakers etc or phase cancellation with a stereo speaker system because of alignment issues.

I wouldn't have realised the Amp models had a  phase problem,until i heard the result of what he did by putting another unit in the signal path to reverse phase of one Amp model.

Is it possible my 2 combo amps i used for years had a  phase problem & nobody(especially me) ever picked up on it ?.

How can i learn about this & more importantly how to recognise it.

These forums are amazing for people like me,& definitely prove the saying,you're never too old to learn :)

 

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I have just watched the Vid by "skyproclaimist",i don't have much idea what he was doing with all the different screens,but it's made me realise i can't think about buying a 500X for gigging.

One of the Big attractions of the 500X for me is being able to use 2 amp models for L/R signals(i've used 2 amps on gigs for years)but after watching the vid & listening to the in phase/out of phase section(which completely lost me)i realise i'm wasting my time time buying a 500 for gigging.

Instead of buying one to gig with,i'm probably going to buy & hope i can get to grips with it,before i die :( .

The really worrying thing for me is i didn't even know Dual Amp Models could be out of Phase,i thought that was just in the realms of pos/neg reversed on speakers etc or phase cancellation with a stereo speaker system because of alignment issues.

I wouldn't have realised the Amp models had a  phase problem,until i heard the result of what he did by putting another unit in the signal path to reverse phase of one Amp model.

Is it possible my 2 combo amps i used for years had a  phase problem & nobody(especially me) ever picked up on it ?.

How can i learn about this & more importantly how to recognise it.

These forums are amazing for people like me,& definitely prove the saying,you're never too old to learn :)

 

Whatever you decide to do I hope you have fun with it as life is too short to screw around with technical issues, lol.

 

Before I watched that video I just used my ears to find what works for me so I'm much like you. If it sounds good it must be good. K.I.S.S. is KEY. Knowing when to stop tweaking and start playing is my first rule.

 

How did you use your combo set up before? A & B'ed or simultaneously or both?

 

BTW, on that dual amp patch I used in my previous post I could not insert a reverb at the end of the chain if I wanted too, ran out of DSP on my HD500. I would probably need to insert an FX Loop in there and set up a pedal board on the side, which is in the works.

 

There will be a learning curve if you decide to learn on your own. The forum and slew of youtube videos out there can speed things up a bit but it's still a steep learning curve for some of us.

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My Man, The HD is kickass even with a single amp model and it is exceptionally gig worthy just setup a patch per footswitch. You will learn in time - its not like the old days when Pop tossed us in the water to swim. We are here for ya brother! :) 

 

The vid is only one example of how far down the rabbit hole you can get.

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Brazzy,BillBee.Thanks for the words of encouragement,i've been plodding around on HD edit for a few days & i think i could get to grips with it,but i think i'm going to pick up a cheap modeling amp(Mustang III V2 ?) to use with an old DeLuxe 90,i've had as a spare for years,that'll get me up & running & then i can ditch the used Valve amp i'm useing now(bought in a moment of nostalgia)won't happen again.

But i will buy a 500X & get to grips,i failed miserably with a GT100,i just couldn't get a good enough sound out of it to gig with,i suspect it's me not the GT,i bought & tried to gig with it without enough time spent.

 

Brazzy ,i've had 2 x Cube 60 combos(modeling) running together with a different modeling sound on each,for about 10 yrs,no longer have them,hence my search for a new modeler or 2 :) .

Before that i used 2 x AC30's,I run them the same way(both together)but with a graphic in one & a Boost in the other.

Maybe i've been out of phase for 30 years or more :D

As an aside i've had an AC30 of one sort or another since the early 60's,till the last one was stolen about 12 years ago :(

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Sorry to hear about your amps of the past. I think you'll have a blast with HD Pods and might even find it easier than you think. Especially you're an experienced guitarist.

 

I know you asked about amplification for it. I can tell you it sounds really good going into my Spider Jam's Aux input and DT 50's FX Return. I've ran both of these amps L & R and it sounds pretty darn good but I'm not gigging with it. I have my own little party's and run a BeatBuddy into the FX Loop so I get some good drums going. It's amazing how well BeatBuddy sounds out of those 2 amps.

 

I also have a Peavey Valveking II 20 Micro Head and run that with a Jet City JCA20S closed back also use that cab with the Jet City Picovalve which I bought as a set.

 

Like BillBee said you got loads of help here as well as other sources.

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I have just watched the Vid by "skyproclaimist",i don't have much idea what he was doing

 

I mean, when was the last time you sat around with the bro's talking about technical gadgetry using such informative words. 

Sure, the lollipop makes informative videos (even though I can't watch without wondering when he is going to start crying) if you want to impress a member of The Geek Squad with all of you knowledge on technical specs, but here is what we (musicians) need to know.... 

 

Plug in your guitar. Select your amp, because we all know what an amp is. Its got volume and tone. Set them the same way you would your physical amp. 

Next, do you want an effect? Turn the knob until you get to the effect that you want.... 

 

See, it is not that difficult, and there was no big fancy technical words or phrases being used solely to make you feel inadequate. Real talk for real uses by real people. 

 

 

Of course, now that I said all of that... 

There are some non patch related settings that need set before we even start to plug in a guitar, otherwise, nothing we do will make it sound good. 

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The biggest things that helped me with building a tone.

 

1) Set Input 1 to guitar and Input 2 to something different, like Variax or Mic.

2) Input Impedance - try different settings.  A lower number gives a darker tone.

3) Resonance and Thump - sometimes turning them all the way down helps a lot.

4) Low Cut - can really help get rid of boominess or unwanted bass.

 

Other than that, everything was just as I expected with real amps and pedals.

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I mean, when was the last time you sat around with the bro's talking about technical gadgetry using such informative words. 

Sure, the lollipop makes informative videos (even though I can't watch without wondering when he is going to start crying) if you want to impress a member of The Geek Squad with all of you knowledge on technical specs, but here is what we (musicians) need to know.... 

 

Plug in your guitar. Select your amp, because we all know what an amp is. Its got volume and tone. Set them the same way you would your physical amp. 

Next, do you want an effect? Turn the knob until you get to the effect that you want.... 

 

See, it is not that difficult, and there was no big fancy technical words or phrases being used solely to make you feel inadequate. Real talk for real uses by real people. 

 

 

Of course, now that I said all of that... 

There are some non patch related settings that need set before we even start to plug in a guitar, otherwise, nothing we do will make it sound good. 

The bit that really got/worried me was the phasing bit,the difference after he reversed phased the "B" amp,with whatever it was he used,was not subtle,even i,could clearly here the difference :) ,in phase the 2 amps where a mess,in comparison the Amp "B" being out of phase sound was way better,.

So what worried me was,if i had configured the Dual path myself,i wouldn't have known there was a possible phase issue :mellow: ,so in comparison to his phase corrected sound,my sound would have been really poor(this may have been why i failed with the GT100),

because i always use 2 different amps,nowadays, & have for a long time(sorry repeating myself again).

Of course the good news is now that i know this exists,i know to listen for it.

In the meantime i'll continue scouring the threads(scaring myself to death)but learning,so hopefully i'll get to use the 500X better than i did the GT.

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There's nothing wrong with learning all the deep parameter stuff, there's a time and a place for it. It's a good idea to read Line 6 manuals, I did this before I got a UX2, X3 Pro and HD500. Between that and reading internet forums and watching a few yoo toobs I had a pretty good idea what I was in for, lol.

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But remember than when you used two amps for years while gigging, they came out of different speakers. If you use dual amps in the HD500 and pan one left and one right and come out stereo going, again, to two different speakers you won't run into phase issues. Once you get a few feet away from the speakers the phase is all screwed up due to room acoustics. The phase between the two speakers will interact with each other in exactly the same way your gigging amps did. If you had no issues then, you will have no issues now.

 

The reason there was phase issues in the video was because he was summing the outputs together in the electrical domain. The phase is very well-controlled inside the unit. Shoot, you even get phase issues with just the mix control of the wah models (there's more phase shift thru the wah processing than without and the mix control adds those two together with the result of notches and peaks at various frequencies - granted it may be a desirable effect in a wah but it phase cancellation none the less whether intended or not).

 

As long as you set the mixer for path A = 100% L and path B = 100% right (or visa versa), then you won't have any phase issues.

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Exactly - what Phil said with dual amps pan hard left and right and run in stereo and you have no problems, trying to mix them mono and it will be difficult (unless L6 allow you to specify the delay like me and meabobbo asked for ages ago - or automatically synced output delay)

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Thanks,guys.I didn't pick up on the Video,that the phase issue was because it was mixed down to Mono,i thought it was panned L/R in the mixer section,or was it later in the signal path it was summed to Mono?.I'll watch it again & i'll see if i can figure it out.

Cheers,Old(very)-Rocker :)

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Thanks,guys.I didn't pick up on the Video,that the phase issue was because it was mixed down to Mono,i thought it was panned L/R in the mixer section,or was it later in the signal path it was summed to Mono?.I'll watch it again & i'll see if i can figure it out.

Cheers,Old(very)-Rocker :)

 

He put a noise gate (mono effect) after the mixer which would mono the signal.

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Maybe a stupid but (for me) elementary question on building tones:

Do you start from a "designed" and good sounding clean-sound (maybe a pearling crispy one) if you build a crunch- or distortion-tone or do you use your unmodified bypass guitar-tone?

 

I hope you do understand my needs, because my English gramma is very bad.

 

Thank you, Sascha

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I have usually have each type of tone as a separate preset. If I want a crunch tone I won't start with a clean tone - I will build it from a blank/new preset. I may use the same amp as my clean tone and just boost the drive, or I may use a different amp - depends on the level of 'crunch' I'm looking for. But I always start with the amp and get it as close as possible to the desired sound, then add FX as required.

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He put a noise gate (mono effect) after the mixer which would mono the signal.

 

OK, that explains why he gets phasing issues. The noise gate mixes L/R together to get the mono output. If you don't want to worry about phasing issues then you'll need to keep the L/R stereo pair all the way out to L/R amps and speakers.

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