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Helix expression pedal - What is possible?


willjrock
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Ive been a guitar player for 32 years, but ive always been pretty much a guitar>head> cab guy and never messed with too many fx, outside of the basic and usual front end stuff. Crybaby, Screamer ect..

 

When i purchased my Helix, i wasnt aware that a rack unit was in the making, or that would have been an obvious choice for me, but as it were, i figured i would just cut the weird metal foot-rest off my helix, with a carbon blade and angle grinder when i got home.

 

After seeing some posts here, im intrigued. It seems as if the expression pedal has nearly as many creative uses as the Helix itself. The power.

 

I was hoping we could talk about - what the expression pedal can be used to do - and if willing, maybe you could even instruct how to use the expression pedal in the fashion you are describing in your post, so to help myself and future dummies like myself, erase a bit of the confusion, and more quickly integrate the expression pedal into our enjoyment of the Helix.

 

Thanks for any interest you may have shown here.

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One of my favorite uses of an expression pedal is to blend in the mix from an autofilter. Certainly it's not an otherworldly or extraordinary use of the pedal but it provides for a unique sense of musicality.

 

Blending between completely different amp tones is a common use, or so I read. Don't use that myself.

 

I'm sure others can chime in with more complicated and creative uses.

 

Don't forget that you can have up to ten additional expression pedals in the form of a switch, either momentary or latching.

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With the on board expression I have a Studio EQ setup after my cabinet / IR that I have setup for the EXP2 to manipulate the gain / level from -0db to +4db for solo boosts... (you could attach the mid range gain too if it suits your presets.) this works really well live as your solo boosts are not abrupt... plus when you use your wah on EXP1 you boost your level and turn on the wah in one motion.. (if you need wah without a boost you'll need a separate preset to do that.. but I have no instances in which I need to do that so it works perfectly.

 

I have a spring loaded Mission Engineering expression pedal setup on EXP3 that I use. On my higher gain presets I try to keep a Pitch Whammy block on all the time that is setup to go 0 to -12 so that I can do dive bombs with my hard tail guitars that I play more often. 

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I use the pedal - among other things - to increase or decrease the GAIN on the Vermin Distortion (RAT).

 

I have it set to go from some gain (4.5) to full gain (10).

 

It makes a note feed back beautifully and gradually.

 

Combined with the ability to EDIT any parameter anywhere with the footpedal, I think the footpedal is one of the major features of the Helix.

 

I strongly suggest you not cut it off.  You'll probably void your warranty and possibly hurt yourself.

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You guys are the finest! So it would be fair to dub the expression pedal as automation control? Having never given it much consideration, i guess thats all it really is...correct me if mistaken.

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I use exp on every patch to change from my rhythm sound to my lead sound. Generally this involves cranking up the amp, changing EQ settings, sometimes introducing a distortion pedal (by panning onto a parallel path), increasing delay mix level, and any other tweaks I may want. Sometimes I use two different amps (one cleanish and one dirty) and "pan" between them.

 

I developed this because on some gigs I'm singing 95% of the time, and I hated having to squint down past the mic at the buttons to change patches for solos, etc. My foot can find the exp pedal without even thinking about it. I quickly realized several other advantages: no patch change lag; much quicker acces to louder tones so one can add a louder line any time, instantly, without looking, in the middle of comping; and ability to use sounds in between low and full volume.

 

If you want to set up a patch like this and try it out, I suggest you start by taking two existing patches you use for rhythm and lead, and writing down settings for one of them and add it to the other one. It's a bit harder to create both sounds in a patch at the same time.

 

For a couple decades I was a big rack Mesa Boogie guy. I used only rack fx and a Bradshaw switcher. I hadn't used a floor pedal since '85 or so. I thought I had the POWER, but exp pedal is way more powerful and I don't think I could ever go back.

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I don't use the EXP pedal much, but it is useful for volume swells. But I recognise that it is far more versatile than just that.

 

Also, if you want to remove it, no need for the angle grinder. You're going to void your warranty anyways, so open up the Helix by taking the bottom off. The pedal can be unbolted from the side and the extraneous pieces removed easily before putting the bottom back on.

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I have my goto electric guitar patch setup with a volume pedal block right before the amp model to control drive into the amp and for volume swells. I also use the same pedal to control the uni-vibe speed, setting the controller range limits to the typical fast and slow Leslie speeds. (The Leslie speaker is one of the greatest inventions of mankind.) When the uni-vibe block is turned on, the volume pedal block is turned off. That way I can use the pedal for more than one block in the patch.

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In some of my patches, I use an EXP to go, smoothly, between two completely different amp states, changing reverb mix, delay mix and a parameter or two other things, all at once.

that said, I recently discovered that I liked doing this better with a footswitch, so all my new patches use that.

I've always been a guy that put a bunch of stuff on the EXPs ever since HD 500.

Nobody should have Helix without hooking up 3 EXPs imho...

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  • 2 years later...
Quote

 have my goto electric guitar patch setup with a volume pedal block right before the amp model to control drive into the amp and for volume swells

 

Ok, I get that amsdenj, but are you not cutting off the delay & reverb tails by placing that volume pedal in the front of the amp? 

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On 5/14/2016 at 5:06 AM, willjrock said:

When i purchased my Helix, i wasnt aware that a rack unit was in the making...

To be fair, we announced Helix Floor, Rack, and Control all at the same time.

 

Nearly all parameters available from the Home screen can be assigned to the expression pedal (including Input/Variax, Output, Split, and Merge parameters) with min and max values per parameter. As soon as you assign the 64th parameter, Helix will tell you you're done.

 

Also don't forget that it's WAY faster to use the shortcut:

  1. Press and hold the parameter knob you want to control.
  2. Press Knob 6 (Learn Controller) and then move the expression pedal. OPTIONAL: Set Min Value and Max Value as desired; swap Min and Max to reverse control.
  3. Press HOME when done.
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