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Bkehoe

Help dialing in pick attack\dynamics

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Hi,

 

So last night i was packing up my Helix to return, as part of that process i reset everything to factory, removing all my presets and IR's etc.  Thought id plug it in for one last jam - picked up my Fender Tele (which i hadnt really used with the Helix since i got it) and really liked what i was hearing - the equivelant of sellers remorese started kicking in (is 'returner's remorse a thing;-)  - anyway played through most of the first bank of factory presets and felt much better pick attack, connection with the notes, felt a much more conected experience than i recalled.  (now my Tele is awesome, with tons of mojo) - but really enjoyed playing the Helix through it.

 

So after a while, thinking maybe the factory re-set did something and now i was experiencing the Helix the way it was meant to be - went back to the start of the bank and plugged in my LP, same as i remembered, almost dull pick attack, feeling of a lack of connection with playing, flubby base -  tried another couple of Humbucker equiped guitars, same kinda thing... (pretty fresh strings on all guitars, and all good quality instruments) did the usual amp control adjusments you'd expect to do when going from low output single coils to humbuckers

 

I have another couple of days with my returns policy, so thought id see if anyone had any tricks\tips about dialing in that may help if you experienced anything like im talking about (tried things like, 3rd party IR's, Global EQ, High cut\low cut, impedence, guitar pad on\off etc..) - after while i was getting a bit of ear fatigure so stopped...  im not great at explaining these things i think, but seems to be some congestion in the note definition, maybe some better EQ in the lower mids, but also i get a bit of a fizzy high end that isn't pleasing to the ear

 

Playing through a Friedman ASM12

 

Anyway, appreaciate any hints\tips that people might have - looking to dial in good classic to 80's rock tones - think Thin Lizzy to Guns' n Roses

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The pick itself can play a big role in the attack dynamics. Have you experimented with different thicknesses and perhaps materials when using the LP vs. the Tele?

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The pick itself can play a big role in the attack dynamics. Have you experimented with different thicknesses and perhaps materials when using the LP vs. the Tele?

Beat me to it. I use different picks for different styles of music or even just how I feel at that particular time.

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The pick itself can play a big role in the attack dynamics. Have you experimented with different thicknesses and perhaps materials when using the LP vs. the Tele?

 

What he said...having used Jazz IIIs forever, I never gave it much thought till about a year ago, when I tried these on a whim:

 

https://stoneworkspicks.com/

 

Love these things...not going back. The idea of paying $15-$20 for a pick stings a bit at first, but when you consider that the Jazz IIIs are nearly a buck apiece, and last a few days at most before they're mangled and useless, these things are actually a bargain. They last essentially forever...wear is almost non-existent.

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I've found that using less gain and higher master volume settings gives me amazing response in distorted sounds.
For example, I use the SLO with a gain of 0.5, master at 10, sag 5, bias and bias x at 10, 0 hum, 0 ripple... EQ to taste.

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While I agree 100% with others that pick choice makes a big difference in tone, I too am anxious to hear replies focused more on the Helix itself and methods others are choosing to get around its sensitivity to differences in guitars/pups/etc.  For me the battle is either too much overall brightness, or too much flub in the bass - especially the latter because I love the effect of adding a 1x15 plug and go or other deeper sounding cab to a Marshall IR cab in order to give that extra 'tube' sound (check out the "dumblesque" presets on the tone board for reference).  But along with the quality of sound I get comes the flub.  And as I start to adjust the cab bass cut, I start to lose the tubiness.  It's almost either/or.  Anyway, I'm sure there are ways around anything with the Helix and would advise not being too quick to return.  Lastly, I will say that I have always been a "all guitar knobs at 10" player.  I have found that with the Helix, those knobs have become more important than ever.  Try adjusting your favorite presets with guitar volume and tone knobs backed off a bit.  Then adjust your guitar first instead of Helix when changing instrument.  The Helix is as sensitive to too much guitar volume as a fuzz pedal in my experience.  

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One thing you might want to try that's not necessarily intuitive is placing a gain block as the first thing in your signal chain to attenuate the signal going into the amp block a little more. This was a hint I learned from Sean Halley. I think it's kind of counter-intuitive because I think often times we are used to slamming the front of a tube amp, but I think that sometimes with the digital models, slamming them too hard sends them into clipping early, so things can kind of get mushy. I don't think it's necessarily actual digital clipping that's occurring, but I think if the modeled preamps get a hot signal they start to get saturated quickly.

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I was going to say check the impedance/pad settings but after re-reading your post I see you have.

 

As phil says a pre gain block or a pre eq block may be useful to drop the levels a bit overall or at certain frequencies, for me that has helped with "problem" humbuckers.

 

I have quite a few guitars and it would be wonderful if on the helix you could have a set of guitars where for each guitar you could have Impedance/pad settings, pre eq and post eq remembered or have presets for blocks where you could call these settings up. Hopefully one day.

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Thanks for the feedback - i think phil and bobthedog maybe onto something which ill mess around with - my Tele is a CS 64 with quite low input, even though my humbuckers are generally PAF clone's (ie not high output at all) it does sound\feel like there could be something in that -

 

I don't think its picks or anything like that - for examlpe, if i load down a real amp (Marshall 2555 or AFD100) and DI that into the Helix, using Helix cabs or IR's in the Helix going to the ASM12 i don't get the problem - the pick attack is crisp and imediated - if i gently strum the strings when set to a distorted tone it comes across cleaner obviously but with good sharp\clear attack and note definition - when i do that on the helix with my humbucker guitars it sounds\feels very 'soft' for want of a better word.

 

I have other modelers (the one's people like to compare and argue about on forums) so won't get into that, but don't have this experience with them.. using same picks\guitars\cables\monitorig system etc. so i don't think its outside gear

 

I don't want to return it, its a cool bit of kit - im torn a little even if i don't imediately get past this as a. appreciate it takes time to get under the hood on new kit, b. L6 seem commited to evolving the platform so im kinda interested in going a long for the ride - but, if i return in the next two days i get a full refund, vs selling at a loss if i decide its not for me over the next week's or months - anyways, thats kinda my problem;-) but wanted to explain where im coming from

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TBH, some of the Helix demos I've heard (incl Sean's) have way too much of that flub for me, too much bottom hitting the overdrive stages.

 

I often put an EQ as the first block, pulling low end, often adding some upper mid. I'll sometimes run the amp low end control pretty low too. Then after the amp, I'll add another EQ, boosting back some of the low end, but post the distortion stages where it flubs out. I use that strategy a lot in Amplitube too, not just Helix. I posted both Amplitube and Helix patches like that in another thread.

 

Re picks, funny to see someone else using Jazz IIIs, I've used them for years, love 'em, didn't think they were that popular. I also used stone picks for a while a lot time ago, not that brand, but I kept hearing these little high-pitched chirps from the pick being kind of like a mini-bottleneck on the strings. They are a whole other level of stiff though, and have a wonderfully fully sound outside of the chirps.

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I found that you need to use both high pass and low pass filters (Around 70hz and around 6khz) on cab models or it sounds to fizzy on the top end and too boomy on the low end. Have you played with the filters on the cab models already?  IR blocks have the same adjustments.  Most real guitar speakers cabs aren't putting out as much as these IR's and Cab models are.  Take a vintage thirty for instance, it's frequency response is only 70-5000hz.  I was really unhappy with the tones I was getting, especially through headphones until I started playing with the filters on the cab blocks.  Now I am loving the tones with all my guitars (Strat, PRS, Tele, and Les Paul).  In fact I haven't even turned on my real amp in over a month now (Orange Rockerverb MKII 100). That is saying something since I used to think that amp was the best thing ever....

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ive had some better luck this evening being a little more aggressive with eq cuts, and through studio monitors, I can hear good tone in there trying to get out;-) so think I'll hold onto the unit. It kind of reminds me of earlier in the kemper day where people used to add lots of pre and post eq to profiles, or similarly same thing earlier in the fractal days. As those systems evolved there didn't seem so much of a need so maybe this is an area that l6 will continue to review for possible improvement.

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I can hear good tone in there trying to get out;-) so think I'll hold onto the unit.

 

 

 

As Winston would say..., "Continuous effort--not strength or intelligence--is the key to unlocking our Helix potential." 

 

 

Well He might not have used the word Helix, but still... ;) 

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You could make different copies of your patches for different guitars - unless you have many different types of guitars to make it impractical, that is.

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I started using the global EQ mainly because I'm always plugging into different speakers.  But its been a huge help in taming low end so I can actually increase the bass on an amp or use warmer mics like the 121 model without getting all that extra woofy bottom end from an FR/FR set up. Especially since thats not always noticeable with a traditional amp.  I also roll of the top end quite a bit.  

 

Generally I set the global EQ as just a low cut 80-92hz and the high cut anywhere from 16k-11k

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Definitely keep your Helix i'm getting better and better tones especially with FRFR speakers and putting gain and eq blocks in the right spots in your signal chain!

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 "Continuous effort--not strength or intelligence--is the key to unlocking our Helix potential." 

 

Lol - yes i guess there is some truth to that - but, and here's the challenge - should that be the case? maybe not so much on a $1500 bit of kit in this day and age - and i appreciate you were joking :)

 

That said ive decided to keep the Helix (although one of my scribble strips seems to be broken so may not be keeping THIS Helix) - i like the Helix, so ill hold on to it and see where it goes as a platform - im sure ive seen L6 people say they are invested in this as a platform, and thats what im interested to see.  Will they drive for constant improvement over time, not just additional bells and whistles, but better dynamics, reaction to how different component interact with eachother to make playing the guitar through it closer to the experience of playing through a good amp..(im not necessarily talkiong abotu amp in the room here)  maybe not to the extreme way Fractal do, i wouldn't have that expectation  (which i think is great by the way, have had their products on and off stince early Standard days, and currently own an AX8) so ive seen the development of that platform, where at the start it was 'the same as an amp' well, not in my opinion - but watching it evolve as Cliff worked to understand better and program how the interaction of components all impacted the experience of playing the guitart through a particular amp\cab -

 

Sure someone sitting in the audience won't notice the difference, but thats not really how i look at things, for me - i won't pick up a made in Korea Epiphone LP over an R9 becuase of the audience not being able to tell the difference if i can afford teh R9 - to me its about the interaction between the player, the instrument and the whatever the instrument is plugged into that that matters to inspire the musician.  So whilst not blown away by the Helix today, i see the potential as a platform so am going to stick around, at least for a while to see how it develops.  If it doesn't, ill likely be disapointed and move on, but i think to compete in the market place at that price point it would be a fatal mistake not to get consumers invested in the product and where its going... all in my opinoin of course, which could be usefull or totally irrelevent to anyone reading;-)

 

 

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I just recently got some HS8 studio monitors.  For my high gain tones  I had to do a low cut up to 125Hz, a huge boost around 8 kHz, I also boosted some mids.  I ended up using 2 Parametrics and a High and Low cut EQ at the end of my chain.  When I need to use in my headphones, I made a high cut around 10kHz.

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Definitely keep your Helix i'm getting better and better tones especially with FRFR speakers and putting gain and eq blocks in the right spots in your signal chain!

Me too, better today after I updated to 1.06, and apply the Hi Cut in the cab block. The Matchless amps sound pretty dam good.

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Had to return my Helix due to a faulty scribble strip, but was getting happier with what I was hearing out of it. Still think maybe a little too much work needed to dial out stuff and being pretty competent in using eq's beyond normal BMT is needed to coax out tones I like. Given I'm not all that competent with eq's that's a personal challenge;-) anyway my take from the response suggests there are others who whilst maybe and likely way more at home doing a lot of eq surgery, maybe/hopefully the firmware will evolve to require less of this over time.

 

Prob going to take at least a couple of weeks to get a replacement, but looking forward to jumping back in when I can.

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