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Is Helix The Answer?

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Apologies in advance if threads of this type are commonplace around here. I'm in the process of putting together a live rig for an upcoming tour after just finishing an album and have hit a wall, somewhat. If I had to summarize the problem, it would be that sometimes the idea of a "classic" guitar rig set up and pedal board is better as an idea than a practical reality. 


I used a combination of a Line 6 spider valve mk II bogner tube amp along with various software effects, plugins, and reamping on the record. My current live setup is an Orange TH30H head and a 4x12 Orange Cab. The tone works for straight ahead rock, but I've had a hell of a time capturing the nuances in the distorted tone and replicating some of the more complicated delays and lead tones. The current live situation requires me to jump a lot from singing, to leads and different tones, to keyboards, and back again.


I was checking out the Pod HD500X and then saw the Helix, and well, I was taken. How effective is the Helix compared to something like the Kemper both live and in the studio. On first glance, it seems a bit more versatile as far as having the option to interact more easily with outboard gear. I noticed a few posts by users who own the Kemper and the Helix, and would be interested to hear your thoughts and learn more about your rigs.


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I play a Line 6 JTV guitar and a Kurzweil keyboard through my Helix (previously through POD HD500) and out to the main PA and my own powered PA speaker as a monitor.


With full range speakers I have maximum flexibility and choice of modeled amps and cabs as well as any keyboard voices like pianos, vintage organs and electric pianos, synths, and other instruments like horns, strings, and percussion.


I have separate patches for Marshall, Fender, and Vox amps with matching effects. I have a patch without a modeled amp for the modeled acoustic guitar sound from the JTV. All of my patches use paths 1A, 1B, and 2A serially for guitar processing and access to both DSPs, and path 2B for keyboard processing, just a volume pedal.


My JTV guitar is plugged in the Variax input and a spare guitar (Parker Fly) is plugged in the Guitar input. My keyboard is plugged into the Return 1 input.


The guitar path is panned full left in the output and the keyboard path is panned full right. I plug my powered PA speaker into the Left/Mono 1/4" Out and it gets a mix of both guitar and keyboard. The main PA mixer can either have a mixed guitar and keyboard signal from the Left/Mono XLR Out or it can have separate guitar and keyboard feeds from both XLR Outs.


Since good stereo is difficult or impossible to achieve for a live audience, I treat everything as mono.


I don't have any studio experience with the Helix.


I still gig with another band using a regular tube amp and stomp boxes to get my fix of pants-flapping tone, but with the Helix I can get some really nice feedback just like with a real tube amp.


Between the Helix and the JTV I can experiment with almost endless combinations of guitars, effects, and amps without having to commit to so much gear, and I can bring models of many amps and effects to a gig without having to carry anything more than the Helix and a powered PA speaker. It's funny though, when I play modeled Gretschs, Richenbakers, Gibsons, and Fenders, it just makes me want the real things even more. As much as modeled guitars might sound like different guitars, they all feel like the same guitar. There is inspiration from the feel of different guitars that is lost with modeling. I guess the same could be said for effects and amps.


Hope you enjoy the Helix as much as I do!

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