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Helix OD / Distortion tones

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Hey guys,
I'm completely green to Line 6 and for the most part the digital modeling world.  I have been playing through a Mark V:25 / 1x12 Boogie Thiele cab for the past 2 years but wanted a "one stop shop" for gigging in regards to hauling gear and setting everything up.

 

I received my Helix this past Tuesday and ran direclty into my Presonus Eris 4.5 studio monitors and the sound was mediocre at best.  I sampled many of the presets, downloaded many patches, and found that most of the distorted and OD tones were very harsh.  

I then tried running through the front of my Mark V:25, and the sound quality improved, but still nowhere near what I expected, nor what I have heard through watching numerous demos online.  

 

Today I borrowed a friends EHX 44 Magnum and ran from the Helix > EXH 44 Mag> Boogie Thiele cab > Great Success !!! (for the most part). The cleans are absolutely brilliant.  I went back through many clean presets and made a few patches of my own and couldn't believe how responsive and "real" the tones feel.  The only issue I still face is experiencing slight harshness to the overdriven amps and pedals, such as the OCD and Minotaur. 

 

Does anyone have any suggestions to bring out more warmth to the aforementioned tones ? (beyond adjusting basic eq.. bass/treble/mid/presence). Sorry to be long winded, but this piece of gear is unbelievable in terms of editing and possibilities; just looking to get the best out of it can.

 

I should mention my main guitar is a Dean Zelinsky private reserve Strettavita.. SH-4 JB / SH-1 Neck...

 

Thanks !!

 

 

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I'm a bit surprised you had harshness through studio monitors... I would expect those to be truly FRFR - full range, flat response, or at least pretty close. Most on the forums here are getting quite good results with FRFR.

 

I use a good quality Yorkville PA/Monitor speaker, and found it to be full range, but not flat response - I was surprised at that. I found the high gain amps to be quite harsh through it, but when I put on headphones, the factory presets sounded very good, not at all that harsh, as my stage monitor speaker did. I fought that with my HD500 & 500X, as well. I could adjust it out, but never "got" why anyone would use some of the stock amps models, going "WHAT were they thinking?"...

 

ANYWAY, I used my Global EQ to seek out where the harshness was coming from, and found it to be the response of my speaker -- PA speakers (now that I thought about it) are typically designed to emphasize the vocals with a midrange boost or "bump" - and guitar speakers typically also are midrange heavy, and roll off above 5 or 6 kHz. When you model an amp/speaker combination, your model also has an emphasis on the mid range frequencies like the amp that was used to model, so if you use guitar speakers or midrange emphasizing PA speakers, you will get a double dose of those midrange frequencies.

 

As I said, I used my headphones to compare to my speaker, and swept the midrange frequencies with the global EQ, and the Q factor pretty high until I found the offending frequencies -- found that my speaker has a peak at around 3 kHz, so I cut it and set my Q factor until the speaker sounded like my headphones (or as close as possible). Not scientific, but it works. Ideally, a reference microphone and frequency analyzer would be great, but I just kept at it until it pleased me. One good thing about the Helix as opposed to the HD500(X) is the Global EQ can be assigned to the XLR, the 1/4", or both (default). The Global EQ on the 500(X) is a relatively recent development (early this year), but affects all outputs (not assignable).

 

I set the Helix Global EQ to cut 8 dB at 3 kHz with a Q = 1.7 and to only affect the 1/4" outputs that I run at line level to my stage amp (Quilter Tone Block 200 & my Yorkvile speaker), and left the XLR's flat, and at mic level to the FOH soundman's board. It took the harshness out and I hear on stage what the PA system and audience hear. The frequency adjustments are likely to be specific to different speakers and cabs etc. that people use.

 

I need to add that I use the Helix with my JTV 69S & 59, and make use of the JTV's acoustic models, so need to try for FRFR for the acoustics to sound good. If you don't use acoustics, but only electrics, the reduced frequency response of a guitar cab will be acceptable to most folks, but you might want to EQ it towards a more flat response to get the different tonalities of the different flavors of amp/speaker modeling going on in the Helix - they're really quite good. Not all are my cup of meat, but they don't leave me wondering "why would anyone like this sound?" for some of the models anymore.... Once you get the base sounds knocked, then play with the settings of the OD's and distortions to fit your tastes, same with the amps' tone controls - there's quite a bit of adjustability in there.

 

Anyway, that's my experience with it. As usual YMMV. I'm amazed how many different variations of equipment people use, but there's quite a few that don't seem to get that each variation makes for different needs to adjust what you're using for it to sound good, and each person's definition of "good" is probably different, as well. Definitely a moving target. Some of the amps in the modeled assortment are actually harsh sounding as well, and I wouldn't choose them in an actual amp, either... 

 

My 2 cents' worth...

Dave

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Hey I posted last month about a way to make the Helix sound GREAT.
Here's the post:  http://line6.com/support/topic/16817-question-about-pre-and-power-amp-models/?do=findComment&comment=124346

 

​Trust me on this. It will change everything for you and get the Helix warmed up right with overdrive tones.

 

EDIT: If you read on past that post in that thread you'll see that a few other guys took my advice and loved it!

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I think that the amp model or guitar you use can definitely play a roll in which OD/distortion sounds best. For instance, the Interstate Zed amp or AC30 with the Minotaur will produce a very bright, sparkly sound. They don't need a ton of gain to sound good. Even with my Ibanez RG, I get a very transparent, natural guitar sound that really brings out the different pickup positions. But it is very unforgiving and any mistakes the player makes will be bright and clear! 

    The Screamer is more forgiving in my opinion. The overall tone is a bit darker and smoother sounding. This pedal pretty much sounds good over any amp model on Helix. It will take any of the Marshall or other high-gain amp models into the stratosphere in terms of gain, sustain, volume, etc. This pedal also enhances and warms up the tone of any other distortion pedal that it is paired with. Such as the Minotaur or Rat.

     The Rat alone with add some aggressive crunch to heavy sounds. But In my opinion, the amp needs to be set to sound pretty chunky with a smooth sustain to keep everything from sounding too harsh. Never overlook the importance of trying LESS presence and MORE midrange as a possible adjustment. Adjusting the characteristics of the tubes can sometimes help as well.

    Another very important feature to remember is which mic is set in the amp settings. Ribbon mics sound totally different that dynamic mics, etc. And as always, your tone will only be as good as the monitors you're hearing it through.

    I'm pretty happy with everything I've used with Helix so far. It does take some trial and error, and updates often help improve tone. I hope my two cents can help you out in some way. Good luck and have fun with it!

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Hey guys,

I'm completely green to Line 6 and for the most part the digital modeling world.  I have been playing through a Mark V:25 / 1x12 Boogie Thiele cab for the past 2 years but wanted a "one stop shop" for gigging in regards to hauling gear and setting everything up.

 

I received my Helix this past Tuesday and ran direclty into my Presonus Eris 4.5 studio monitors and the sound was mediocre at best.  I sampled many of the presets, downloaded many patches, and found that most of the distorted and OD tones were very harsh.  

I then tried running through the front of my Mark V:25, and the sound quality improved, but still nowhere near what I expected, nor what I have heard through watching numerous demos online.  

 

Today I borrowed a friends EHX 44 Magnum and ran from the Helix > EXH 44 Mag> Boogie Thiele cab > Great Success !!! (for the most part). The cleans are absolutely brilliant.  I went back through many clean presets and made a few patches of my own and couldn't believe how responsive and "real" the tones feel.  The only issue I still face is experiencing slight harshness to the overdriven amps and pedals, such as the OCD and Minotaur. 

 

Does anyone have any suggestions to bring out more warmth to the aforementioned tones ? (beyond adjusting basic eq.. bass/treble/mid/presence). Sorry to be long winded, but this piece of gear is unbelievable in terms of editing and possibilities; just looking to get the best out of it can.

 

I should mention my main guitar is a Dean Zelinsky private reserve Strettavita.. SH-4 JB / SH-1 Neck...

 

Thanks !!

 

It's worth asking, what version of the firmware are you running?

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It's worth asking, what version of the firmware are you running?

 

and did you try the 4cm?

 

A demo of the Line 6 Helix connected to a Mesa/Boogie TA-30 combo

 

 

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I guess you have already played around with the tone knob of the overdrive pedals? Depending on the amp used I get great results when I turn the tone knob back a bit or semetimes even quite a bit (to 2 or so).

 

To get rid of the harshness on the amp you should try to play around with the High Cut in the Cab Settings.

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I'm a bit surprised you had harshness through studio monitors... I would expect those to be truly FRFR - full range, flat response, or at least pretty close. Most on the forums here are getting quite good results with FRFR.

 

I use a good quality Yorkville PA/Monitor speaker, and found it to be full range, but not flat response - I was surprised at that. I found the high gain amps to be quite harsh through it, but when I put on headphones, the factory presets sounded very good, not at all that harsh, as my stage monitor speaker did. I fought that with my HD500 & 500X, as well. I could adjust it out, but never "got" why anyone would use some of the stock amps models, going "WHAT were they thinking?"...

 

ANYWAY, I used my Global EQ to seek out where the harshness was coming from, and found it to be the response of my speaker -- PA speakers (now that I thought about it) are typically designed to emphasize the vocals with a midrange boost or "bump" - and guitar speakers typically also are midrange heavy, and roll off above 5 or 6 kHz. When you model an amp/speaker combination, your model also has an emphasis on the mid range frequencies like the amp that was used to model, so if you use guitar speakers or midrange emphasizing PA speakers, you will get a double dose of those midrange frequencies.

 

As I said, I used my headphones to compare to my speaker, and swept the midrange frequencies with the global EQ, and the Q factor pretty high until I found the offending frequencies -- found that my speaker has a peak at around 3 kHz, so I cut it and set my Q factor until the speaker sounded like my headphones (or as close as possible). Not scientific, but it works. Ideally, a reference microphone and frequency analyzer would be great, but I just kept at it until it pleased me. One good thing about the Helix as opposed to the HD500(X) is the Global EQ can be assigned to the XLR, the 1/4", or both (default). The Global EQ on the 500(X) is a relatively recent development (early this year), but affects all outputs (not assignable).

 

I set the Helix Global EQ to cut 8 dB at 3 kHz with a Q = 1.7 and to only affect the 1/4" outputs that I run at line level to my stage amp (Quilter Tone Block 200 & my Yorkvile speaker), and left the XLR's flat, and at mic level to the FOH soundman's board. It took the harshness out and I hear on stage what the PA system and audience hear. The frequency adjustments are likely to be specific to different speakers and cabs etc. that people use.

 

I need to add that I use the Helix with my JTV 69S & 59, and make use of the JTV's acoustic models, so need to try for FRFR for the acoustics to sound good. If you don't use acoustics, but only electrics, the reduced frequency response of a guitar cab will be acceptable to most folks, but you might want to EQ it towards a more flat response to get the different tonalities of the different flavors of amp/speaker modeling going on in the Helix - they're really quite good. Not all are my cup of meat, but they don't leave me wondering "why would anyone like this sound?" for some of the models anymore.... Once you get the base sounds knocked, then play with the settings of the OD's and distortions to fit your tastes, same with the amps' tone controls - there's quite a bit of adjustability in there.

 

Anyway, that's my experience with it. As usual YMMV. I'm amazed how many different variations of equipment people use, but there's quite a few that don't seem to get that each variation makes for different needs to adjust what you're using for it to sound good, and each person's definition of "good" is probably different, as well. Definitely a moving target. Some of the amps in the modeled assortment are actually harsh sounding as well, and I wouldn't choose them in an actual amp, either... 

 

My 2 cents' worth...

Dave

Dave, thank you for the reply.  I will absolutely look into the global settings and the mid-range settings.  I have been focusing alot on A/B'ing between cabs and bypassing, relying strictly on the Mesa cab.  Once again thanks for the info!! 

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Hey I posted last month about a way to make the Helix sound GREAT.

Here's the post:  http://line6.com/support/topic/16817-question-about-pre-and-power-amp-models/?do=findComment&comment=124346

 

​Trust me on this. It will change everything for you and get the Helix warmed up right with overdrive tones.

 

EDIT: If you read on past that post in that thread you'll see that a few other guys took my advice and loved it!

This never even crossed my mind as I am really uneducated in the realm of live sound.  Like I said, I was really a plug and play guy and relied on our sound guy to do what he does best...

Would I be able to use the EHX 44 Magnum in the same capacity ? My hesitance would be running the 44 mag back into the Helix and really screwing something up since its a power amp, not a tube pre.. Thanks man. 

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It's worth asking, what version of the firmware are you running?

Ozbadman, I updated to the most current version via the Line6 updater.

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and did you try the 4cm?

 

A demo of the Line 6 Helix connected to a Mesa/Boogie TA-30 combo

 

 

 

jaminjimlp, I have not. My goal is to focus on moving away form the Mark V:25 head for convenience and use the Helix models.  Dumbing down my gear and having to only use the Helix, 44mag, Thiele 1x12 and my guitar would be ideal for gigging.  I am our lead singer and play some keys as well, so less is more for me... I know the Helix will provide me everything I could ever need.  Thanks for the input!

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I guess you have already played around with the tone knob of the overdrive pedals? Depending on the amp used I get great results when I turn the tone knob back a bit or semetimes even quite a bit (to 2 or so).

 

To get rid of the harshness on the amp you should try to play around with the High Cut in the Cab Settings.

Dshow, I will try this.  I was really surprised on how well using cabs sounds while running into the Mesa 1x12.  I would expect running cab sim into a real cab would be a muddy mess, but it actually sounds great, especially on a clean setting.  I will look at the high cut in the cab and global settings. thanks

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Hey guys,

I'm completely green to Line 6 and for the most part the digital modeling world.  I have been playing through a Mark V:25 / 1x12 Boogie Thiele cab for the past 2 years but wanted a "one stop shop" for gigging in regards to hauling gear and setting everything up.

 

I received my Helix this past Tuesday and ran direclty into my Presonus Eris 4.5 studio monitors and the sound was mediocre at best.  I sampled many of the presets, downloaded many patches, and found that most of the distorted and OD tones were very harsh.  

I then tried running through the front of my Mark V:25, and the sound quality improved, but still nowhere near what I expected, nor what I have heard through watching numerous demos online.  

 

Today I borrowed a friends EHX 44 Magnum and ran from the Helix > EXH 44 Mag> Boogie Thiele cab > Great Success !!! (for the most part). The cleans are absolutely brilliant.  I went back through many clean presets and made a few patches of my own and couldn't believe how responsive and "real" the tones feel.  The only issue I still face is experiencing slight harshness to the overdriven amps and pedals, such as the OCD and Minotaur. 

 

Does anyone have any suggestions to bring out more warmth to the aforementioned tones ? (beyond adjusting basic eq.. bass/treble/mid/presence). Sorry to be long winded, but this piece of gear is unbelievable in terms of editing and possibilities; just looking to get the best out of it can.

 

I should mention my main guitar is a Dean Zelinsky private reserve Strettavita.. SH-4 JB / SH-1 Neck...

 

Thanks !!

I have owned a bunch of digital gear over the years. At first they were all grainy sounding and had to be "warmed up" with other things like tube preamp, tube power amps, different speaker configurations etc. The newer stuff like the Helix is at another level as far as processing power is concerned. If you apply the way technology progresses in most case you will see that at first new technology is very expensive, bulky, and doesn't work very well. Think about fax machines, cell phones, TV sets, cameras. They all went down this same road. As the technology progresses, it gets smaller, less expensive, and works perfectly. The first digital cameras were very pixilated. Now they are very clear and the pictures are beautiful. This is the same with digital processors. At first they sounded "pixilated" because the processors were not able to manage the huge amount of information to fill in the sound gaps. Those needed to be "warmed up." 

The hardest thing for me to get in my mind has been that the present state of guitar processors like Helix do not need compensation in order to sound right. Now here is the real problem in my opinion. FRFR is a label applied to a group of speakers and amp combinations that may or may not be full range flat response. I have found that there is a great disparity in the word "flat" in this context as there is using the world "full." This is why headphones all sound different. Almost all speakers and headphones "color" the sound. When you download a patch or start your own with an amp model, someone had to load that in and tweak it with their version of an FRFR. When you put it in your machine through your FRFR and it sounds harsh, it could be that your FRFR isn't as FRFR as the the first guy's or visa versa. This will require you testing and retesting until you find a sweet spot in your own FRFR world. The good news is that once I found it, I realized that the high end digital guitar processors of today like Helix actually do work the way that they are supposed to work without a lot of ancillary gear.

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Dshow, I will try this. I was really surprised on how well using cabs sounds while running into the Mesa 1x12. I would expect running cab sim into a real cab would be a muddy mess, but it actually sounds great, especially on a clean setting. I will look at the high cut in the cab and global settings. thanks

Yup. This particular bit of perceived wisdom makes sense on paper, but depending on the combination of guitar/amp/mic models, and the other pieces of gear in question, it turns out to be far from universal truth. I've always run full models, even into a power amp and traditional guitar cab.

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This never even crossed my mind as I am really uneducated in the realm of live sound.  Like I said, I was really a plug and play guy and relied on our sound guy to do what he does best...

Would I be able to use the EHX 44 Magnum in the same capacity ? My hesitance would be running the 44 mag back into the Helix and really screwing something up since its a power amp, not a tube pre.. Thanks man. 

​No you couldn't run that back in. I'm pretty sure that running that in would fry the Helix

And quite frankly it's a solid state (digital) power amp anyway. The ART tube preamp I'm using is only a little more than $40 and it gives you a real tube and that is the "secret sauce".  I wish Helix had a real tube preamp built into it's chassis. That would be awesome!

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​No you couldn't run that back in. I'm pretty sure that running that in would fry the Helix

And quite frankly it's a solid state (digital) power amp anyway. The ART tube preamp I'm using is only a little more than $40 and it gives you a real tube and that is the "secret sauce". I wish Helix had a real tube preamp built into it's chassis. That would be awesome!

I was hoping for similar results from that ART preamp. I'm using it with a 500X, as I'm presently Helix-less...but no matter where I place it in the chain, I can't get it to sound like anything but a red-lined compressor. Even backing off on the amp's gain and killing whatever distortion box I have in a particular patch, doesn't seem to matter. How are you setting yours up?

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Would I be able to use the EHX 44 Magnum in the same capacity ? My hesitance would be running the 44 mag back into the Helix and really screwing something up since its a power amp, not a tube pre.. Thanks man.

Don't do that under any circumstances. You'll destroy your Helix. Power amps are for driving speakers, nothing else. They're always the last thing in the chain before the speakers...anywhere else and you'll be calling the fire department...;)

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Getting a good distortion tone starts with gain staging. It may be hard to get a range of different distortion tones from Clean, Blues, Crunch, and Metal from one amp or pedal. But combining them together in stages using different blocks, models and tone adjustments can give you a lot of flexibility on the amount and color of distortion and sustain.

 

One thing that's important is to use the least amount of distortion (effects, etc.) you need for the song. This makes things simpler, produces the best tone, and gives you a place to go in the next song. Music needs space.

 

Start with your desired clean sound, using the neck pickup on your guitar with the guitar volume and tone all the way up. This is your inital, set point amp tone and something you'll need to be able to go back to. Once this tone is right you'll probably notice that it's too bright for the bridge pickup, creating too much edge, or an "ice pick" tone that unpleasant after listening for a while. Don't change the amp to fix this since that would break your neck pickup tone. Instead roll back the tone control on your guitar to warm up the bridge pickup a little. A lot of people never touch the tone controls on the guitar, or only use them for slide. But the bridge pickup tone control is actually pretty useful.

 

Next add a gain stage for warm, just on the edge of breakup, Blues distortion tones. As distortion increases, base has to be cut to prevent a muddy, indistinct sound that competes with the bass player, and treble needs to be cut to avoid fizz, buzz and ice pick. But since a Blues tone isn't that much distortion, you can often get this from the Drive control on the amp. Assign a footswitch to the Drive control and assign a controller to set the min (clean) and max (blues) Drive distortion levels. In this case, the drive is increased to add some amp distortion without changing the tone. Be careful to minimize the amount of distortion or it will get muddy and bright quick.

 

For a Cruch sound, you'll need a bit more distortion, which will require some base and treble cut. I like to use the Studio Tube Pre for this as it adds a nice tone of its own, and has the Drive control for increased distortion and the low cut and high cut you need to adjust the tone. Use the Sensitivity control to adjust the amount of distortion that can be produced by the Studio Tube Pre. Set Sensitivity to Mic for greater distortion, Line for cleaner tones (the Drive can be set higher without adding any distortion). I use Mic for this application as I want more distortion.

 

Other options for Crunch: Valve Driver, Minotar, or ProCo Rat. I know the ProCo Rat is intended for high distortion levels, but it actually cleans up very well by turning the drive down and adjusting the filter for the desired high end. I think this block increase bass cut with increased drive, which is just what you want.

 

For Metal or more agressive tones, I like Compulsive Drive (Fulton OCD). Screamer works well too. Use the tone control to adjust the high end. If it gets too muddy, try adding a Low and High cut EQ filter in front of the distortion, and link the low cut to the distortion footswitch to cut closer to 80 Hz when the distortion is off, 160 Hz when it's on.

 

Now you have four distortion levels, all off for Clean, and each block on/off for Blues, Crunch, Metal. Now you can start combining stages to get even more tones. For example, I like to combine Blues and Crunch together for a more aggressive blues solo.

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I was hoping for similar results from that ART preamp. I'm using it with a 500X, as I'm presently Helix-less...but no matter where I place it in the chain, I can't get it to sound like anything but a red-lined compressor. Even backing off on the amp's gain and killing whatever distortion box I have in a particular patch, doesn't seem to matter. How are you setting yours up?

I never used it with my HD 500 because I have a DT 50 amp and the HD 500 integrated with the DT 50 so well that I always ran out of the xlr out of the amp with that rig.

 

​With the Helix, I usually still use my DT 50 amp. But I like using it in the same way as the ART tube preamp. But I don't want to get confusing so I'll stick with the ART:

 

I use the send/return and stick the ART in at the very last before it goes out of whatever output I am using (xlr, 1/4", or digital). 

​I also make sure that it's not being overdriven and the volume level is the same with it or without it.

​For the Helix, the settings I used are about halfway on input and output of the ART  

​But I don't know if the HD 500 uses the same circuitry on it's send/return as the Helix does. So you may have to experiment with that. 

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​No you couldn't run that back in. I'm pretty sure that running that in would fry the Helix

And quite frankly it's a solid state (digital) power amp anyway. The ART tube preamp I'm using is only a little more than $40 and it gives you a real tube and that is the "secret sauce".  I wish Helix had a real tube preamp built into it's chassis. That would be awesome!

Sounds great.  At this point what is another $40 right ? (:

I'll check it out and report back.  Thanks Robbie

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Don't do that under any circumstances. You'll destroy your Helix. Power amps are for driving speakers, nothing else. They're always the last thing in the chain before the speakers...anywhere else and you'll be calling the fire department... ;)

That's what I figure.  I may know very little but I'm pretty I wouldn't have made that mistake. Thanks

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Getting a good distortion tone starts with gain staging. It may be hard to get a range of different distortion tones from Clean, Blues, Crunch, and Metal from one amp or pedal. But combining them together in stages using different blocks, models and tone adjustments can give you a lot of flexibility on the amount and color of distortion and sustain.

 

One thing that's important is to use the least amount of distortion (effects, etc.) you need for the song. This makes things simpler, produces the best tone, and gives you a place to go in the next song. Music needs space.

 

Start with your desired clean sound, using the neck pickup on your guitar with the guitar volume and tone all the way up. This is your inital, set point amp tone and something you'll need to be able to go back to. Once this tone is right you'll probably notice that it's too bright for the bridge pickup, creating too much edge, or an "ice pick" tone that unpleasant after listening for a while. Don't change the amp to fix this since that would break your neck pickup tone. Instead roll back the tone control on your guitar to warm up the bridge pickup a little. A lot of people never touch the tone controls on the guitar, or only use them for slide. But the bridge pickup tone control is actually pretty useful.

 

Next add a gain stage for warm, just on the edge of breakup, Blues distortion tones. As distortion increases, base has to be cut to prevent a muddy, indistinct sound that competes with the bass player, and treble needs to be cut to avoid fizz, buzz and ice pick. But since a Blues tone isn't that much distortion, you can often get this from the Drive control on the amp. Assign a footswitch to the Drive control and assign a controller to set the min (clean) and max (blues) Drive distortion levels. In this case, the drive is increased to add some amp distortion without changing the tone. Be careful to minimize the amount of distortion or it will get muddy and bright quick.

 

For a Cruch sound, you'll need a bit more distortion, which will require some base and treble cut. I like to use the Studio Tube Pre for this as it adds a nice tone of its own, and has the Drive control for increased distortion and the low cut and high cut you need to adjust the tone. Use the Sensitivity control to adjust the amount of distortion that can be produced by the Studio Tube Pre. Set Sensitivity to Mic for greater distortion, Line for cleaner tones (the Drive can be set higher without adding any distortion). I use Mic for this application as I want more distortion.

 

Other options for Crunch: Valve Driver, Minotar, or ProCo Rat. I know the ProCo Rat is intended for high distortion levels, but it actually cleans up very well by turning the drive down and adjusting the filter for the desired high end. I think this block increase bass cut with increased drive, which is just what you want.

 

For Metal or more agressive tones, I like Compulsive Drive (Fulton OCD). Screamer works well too. Use the tone control to adjust the high end. If it gets too muddy, try adding a Low and High cut EQ filter in front of the distortion, and link the low cut to the distortion footswitch to cut closer to 80 Hz when the distortion is off, 160 Hz when it's on.

 

Now you have four distortion levels, all off for Clean, and each block on/off for Blues, Crunch, Metal. Now you can start combining stages to get even more tones. For example, I like to combine Blues and Crunch together for a more aggressive blues solo.

Jim,

This is great advice.  I have always been a big fan of using the tone control on my guitar and typically have it set around 6 or so when using the bridge pickup..

I like the idea of the gain staging and adjusting the Pre... New methods to me but well received.  I have also been reading up on your blog which is helping me tremendously.  Just in a few days the Helix has gone from disappointing to amazing.  I am tempted to sell my pedals and Mark V:25 at this point and roll on with the Helix!  Your feedback and the responses of all others has been a huge help.  This is a great forum! Thanks

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I've taken a seemingly COMPLETELY different approach to getting good tone, especially distortion.

 

Essentially I dumped all concepts of proper signal chain and let my ears guide me.

 

As example..  I use the Angl PRE-AMP for my distortion.  It has great drive, plenty of control and to add a little more gain I add a compressor in front of it.   I then add my reverbs, chorus, delay what-have-you.

 

I had the same problem in that I just didn't like the tone of the distortions against the modeled amps or by themselves.  

 

Now to be fair, I generally like Sustain and Overdrive rather than pure distortion, but I don't think that matters.

 

I came about this method by going back to the roots of "distortion" pedals which was to either simulate an amps distortion, or drive an amp to distortion.  With having these wonderful amps modeled, and the ability to set the overall volume to whatever we want, why use the "middle man" of a Distortion pedal when you can blitz a preamp with everything you got to get a more "true" distortion.

 

I like the Angle pre-amp because it has lots of flexibility with regard to gain and eq and pretty fat sound.

 

 

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 As example..  I use the Angl PRE-AMP for my distortion.  It has great drive, plenty of control and to add a little more gain I add a compressor in front of it.   I then add my reverbs, chorus, delay what-have-you.

 

Just to be clear, you are using the Angl preamp as a stomp box into another Full amp model? Interesting, I'll have to try that. What models are you running it into?

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I think that's an excellent idea, essentially using the Helix preamp models as gain stage blocks. The Divide by 13 might be a good choice for this too. I've used this on a patch too.

 

My take is less is more. So I start with the simplest signal chain, the least amount of distortion, limited reverb, light on the depth for modulation effects, etc. that works for the song. Then let the tone of the instrument come through and and don't clutter up the sound so much that what I do with my hand's doesn't even matter. I find things like the Studio Tube Pre and the Valve Driver can be use to simply add a gain stage to an existing preamp with a little voicing control for the added distortion. Another whole preamp works too but can be a bit much.

 

I consider this a bit like what's happened to the music industry. Everything is hyped to death to sell, but not to actually listen too. Too many tracks, too much EQ and compression on individual tracks, drums don't even sound like drums anymore. Then put all that through a mastering process that kill dynamics and just makes everything loud. That impresses in short doses, but there's no life in the music. Many times the musicians contributing tracks have never met and never played together. There's little or no interaction in the songs. This is low cost production and sells well. But no one wants to keep listening. Let's not be afraid to make music.

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So are you using the Angle pre in front of a clean amp model and cab model like a pedal? The pre into a cab model only?

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Just to be clear, you are using the Angl preamp as a stomp box into another Full amp model? Interesting, I'll have to try that. What models are you running it into?

 

I this point I'm not running into another amp model as I've always pretty much played through full range speakers.  While eventually I'll probably get a pair of QSC12's currently I'm running into a custom Genz Benz cabinet that has 2 12's that are on a 7 degree angled baffle left and right, with 4 ports across the bottom.  I've tried a few power amps, but they are all sounding about the same which is the goal.  Currently I'm plugging into the AUX jack on my Rockman XP100 which is a kick'n little 100 watt full range amp pretty much designed for what I'm using it for.  Remember that guy Tom Scholz had this whole FRFR thing going on 30 years ago... talk about ahead of his time... but I digress.  

 

Anyway... I'm not sure why a pre-amp model wouldn't work in front of an AMP model as that's how things are in real life.  Guitar preamp, into power amp... sometimes combo amp..    My point was... ensure you are using your ears to guide you, not the names of the models and traditional paths.  That may certainly work, and is certainly a starting point.  Especially if you are going for a signature tone... 

 

The reason I chimed in is that a couple of times now... when I got close to what I was trying to create... just moving things around, or randomly trying things that seemed odd but "might" work... seemed to get me over the hump.

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I take a load of top end off in the global EQ otherwise I find it all to be a bit 'clangy'

Which is why I'm a bit irked that Global EQ doesn't apply to the digital output (using a definition of Global I'm not familiar with)

But by taking out a lump of 2-4K I get a more natural sound (to me)

Here is an example in a writing demo

https://soundcloud.com/user2646262/prayprayvox

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... This is low cost production and sells well. But no one wants to keep listening. Let's not be afraid to make music.

 

This is the worst part about this. Says a lot about society in general. But your statement is a bit confusing because if it sells well, somebody must keep listening to it.

 

Absolutely. Make music, whatever one might think of as music personally, hopefully veering away from the kind you described though.

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We buy lots of things we never use. Then keep buying more trying to find something that has enduring value.

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So are you using the Angle pre in front of a clean amp model and cab model like a pedal? The pre into a cab model only?

I assume you were asking me this?  I'm not using ANY other model in the chain.  For the sound I'm looking for it's not needed.  After the Angle is a reverb, delay, eq, and chorus (not necessarily in that order).   Output of Helix to my full range amp/speaker setup.   Patches I set like this are for my sound.  If I need to mimic someone else's sound, well this setup likely won't work.  

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Ok based on what we thought Mileskb was doing, I just went home on lunch and fired up the Helix.  I brought up a clean patch that I have using the Brit 2204 model (with stock cab and mic).  For whatever reason, I have a killer clean with that one :)

 

Anyhow, I used the ANGL Meteor preamp basically as a stomp before the 2204 and it sounded pretty decent!  Didn't have too much time to poke around though.  Then I tried throwing cab (4x12 Mandarin EM) at the end of the chain (Meteor pre -> 2204 amp+cab -> cab)... and setup a switch to go between the 2204 amp+cab, and then the meteor pre + cab.... THAT sounded much better.

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jaminjimlp, I have not. My goal is to focus on moving away form the Mark V:25 head for convenience and use the Helix models.  Dumbing down my gear and having to only use the Helix, 44mag, Thiele 1x12 and my guitar would be ideal for gigging.  I am our lead singer and play some keys as well, so less is more for me... I know the Helix will provide me everything I could ever need.  Thanks for the input!

Then just get a Line 6 L2M and forget about the amp and the 1 X 12 speaker you won't need it... hooked up to the L6 link the L2M sounds awesome.

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Whenever I have had "harshness" with HD500x or the Helix, it's always because I have used a Amp without also having a Cab.  Especially when FRFR.

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jaminjim, I'm sure the L2M sounds great but I'm not willing to spend another $750 on gear

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If your distortions are at the front of your signal path, also try setting Global Settings > Ins/Outs > Guitar In Impedance to "Auto". Helix will properly load your guitar as if the real pedal were connected.

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jaminjim, I'm sure the L2M sounds great but I'm not willing to spend another $750 on gear

 

Same here.

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