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jman64

Different guitars tone magnified with the Helix

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Hi all,

 

I'm a new Helix owner, as I got mine early last week. I have been absolutely loving it so far, and have been amazed at the sounds I can get from it. I have gleaned a ton of information from this board as I get familiar with my Helix.

 

The one thing that I have noticed that surprised me slightly is how much more pronounced the differences in my guitars sound through the Helix compared to my amp. A little background. I had been playing through a HD500x into a EVH 5150III 50 watt head, and 2x12 cabinet. I mainly used the HD500x in 4cm for effects, but had a couple patches that did modeling where needed. My two main guitars are a Chapman ML1 Hot Rod ( Swamp Ash body with a Seymour Duncan JB pickup) and an EVH Wolfgang ( bassword body with two Wolfgang pickups). Now the Wolfgang has always had a little more low end to it, and the Chapman had a little more upper mid "bite". When playing through my rig I could tell the difference, but it seemed subtle. I could use any of my patches with either guitar and they would still sound ok.

 

Now with the Helix, I find the difference in these two guitars to be way more pronounced. So much that many of my patches don't overlap both guitars gracefully. So I find myself either needing to have two sets of patches one of each guitar, or come up with an EQ block that I can use to modify patches on the fly when switching guitars. I am using the Helix to do more modeling than I did with the 500x, but even the 4cm patches that just use for FX seem to have the effect.

 

So I was just curious if this was common.

 

Jay

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I experienced the same thing, plugging different guitars into the same Helix patch is not like plugging different guitars into a tube amp. What sounds great with one typically sounds awful (or at least unsatisfactory) with the others. I have seven guitars that I routinely plug into Helix and I've got dedicated patches for all of them. There's plenty of room, and it encourages me to try out more amps than I otherwise would!

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Yes, I would agree.  But I use some serious global EQ and go direct to a FRFR, so my experience might be different to yours.  I use 2 strats, and yes, they sound different - even into my old VOX combo. For whatever reason, that difference is more apparent through the Helix.  But its not absolutely dramatic as you seem to be indicating.  I think I'm still hearing a more "hifi" sound through the Helix and my FRFR system than I used to have with the VOX - despite the high and low cuts drastically trimming the tops and bottoms.  I like that a lot - it sounds more "studio".  But it does mean that some sounds are better with a certain guitar.  If you are experiencing more dramatic difference than that, try the global EQ.  Get rid of any high and lows you don't really want or need - as many people say you might well find your high cut coming in as low as 5 or 6K.  That might bring you guitars a bit closer while not killing all thew nice stuff?  As you are using 4 cable method, that might be excessive as you are already getting the effect of the guitar speaker.  Experiment and see how you go.

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I use the 4 cable method, but I have it routed so any patches that are "modeled" only go into my amps power amp section. I don't have any cabs or IR loaded in the patches I use with my amp ( modeled or FX patches). I have made patches that go straight to the PA, and let the Helix do all the work, and the difference is similar maybe a tad more noticeable this way, but very close.

 

I'm not knocking the Helix, it's just a curiosity I came across while learning it.

 

 

Jay

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I think making use of an upfront mastering EQ block for different guitars is probably a must, also to control their individual levels or perhaps a volume pedal.

My presets are always so busy I am constantly looking for ways to combine things. Like rig an expression pedal to the level on said EQ instead of having to use an EQ and volume pedal block. Another fav is using just one good sounding reverb and a exp pedal rigged to control the decay. You can add more expression pedals as well to the Helix, quite useful things indeed. 

The Helix especially allowing for impedance, input gate or input pad will sound different for each guitar and is a more an issue of higher fidelity. Using FRFR or even higher end guitar speakers is perhaps a better way to go, as using real tubes with the Helix is not necessarily helping or assisting the amp model structure. I have seen L6 tech recommend not using a tube power amp as the model is designed incorporating the response and effect of the power amp in the various amp models they render. Another trick I am fond of using is putting the MIC Studio Tube Preamp (gain 4, level 10.0, impedance line) in front of all my amp models and often I use a 2nd one post as a boost. They add a little tube essence to the preset and mesh internally really well. Makes all my amp models sound better, 

And oh yeah, took me a while to really understand the whole IR thing, many free ones I tried I just did not like, when I finally discovered I liked RIbbon mics and more a 4x12 thing better IRs were vastly better than what I have gotten on the internal L6 hybrid cab things and I had some of those sounding pretty good. 

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I was pleasantly surprised by the Helix in how it more accurately reflected the differences in my guitars.  Prior to the Helix I was using an HD500X.  I make extensive use of different guitars for different songs, using my Les Paul, my Strat, and my Gretsch hollow body.  I immediately noticed the Helix more accurately reflected the core sound differences between these guitars than did the HD500X, which played right into my strategy for how I use the guitars.

 

For me it's not a problem as each of my patches is designed for a specific guitar to be used with it.  I'm a bit surprised the differences are that prominent on a 4CM setup.  I guess I always assumed the fuller range and precision of a FRFR setup played a bigger part in helping distinguish these differences.

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Its all in the higher accuracy that allows you to see this compared to older modelling tech.

 

I have 5 main guitars. All with different woods/pickups.

 

From a bolt on with single coils, to a neck thru with active Blackouts, and several in between.

 

My guitars do all sound noticeably more different than they did when I used the Eleven Rack, or the Pod X3.  But to me this is great.

 

When I design a patch on my Helix, I usually include the name of the guitar (shorthand) in the preset itself, followed by the name of the track that I created it for.  Especially useful in the studio.  I gave all my guitars personal names:

 

"Cyan" - Jackson DK2QMHT Pro - 

"Huxley" - 2009 Schecter Loomis 7 string OFR. 

"Ember" - Dean Zelinsky Tagliare

"Terra Eve" -  Diamond Halcyon 6 string FR.

"Obsidian" - Agile 27 scale 7-string Sceptor Elite Pro.

 

I have tried 4 of them out with the Helix, they each sound different.  I haven't tried "Huxley" on her yet, but I changed out her pickups to a set of passive Nazgul/Sentient pickups, which I am sure will sound a bit different than the others in  my armory.

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My experience is that the Helix responds to my guitars "more like" my tube amps do.  In previous L6 modelers my guitar was a much smaller part of the equation to the tone.  I could never get away with running my strat in place of a paul in my tube amp... but when it came to my POD xt or HD500 the guitar was "homogenized" enough to get away with that scenario pretty easily.  The good part-  the realism in the Helix is pretty amazing; the bad part-  I hate switching out guitars, Lol,  and buying a Variax with the stable of guitars I have just seems silly.

 

Tom

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.....  The good part-  the realism in the Helix is pretty amazing; the bad part-  I hate switching out guitars, Lol,  and buying a Variax with the stable of guitars I have just seems silly.

 

..

Guess it depends on whether you're mostly a studio player or a gigging player. If the latter, buying a Variax actually makes a whole lot of sense (unless you have roadies, I guess).

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I appreciate these observations; they gel with my own experiences.

As I've gone along through the POD family starting at 2.x (brief dalliance with original POD, but that didn't work out) and up through to the HD, I noted the same thing in a progressive degree; each new generation of modelling tech brought with it more of the audio modelling being able to 'get out of the way' of the instruments, thus allowing their individual characters to shine through more than before.

Even pickup changes became increasingly more interestingly dynamic in their results.

Within each generation of tech, I would seek out the models which had this responsiveness in spades - there always seem to be certain amp models at each tier which pass through these instrument characteristics more than the others.

They'd all have their places, but those extra-responsive models would become all the more useful, as they're the ones which will also respond nicely to volume roll-backs and the like.

I noted also that each generation of modelling yielded more models which fit this description as well.

 

Enter Helix; the modelling tech, and the resultant amps, pretty much all fit that description - now for me it's more a matter of degrees of this excellent characteristic.

It's even made it interesting for my experiments with the various guitars I have which are virtual clones of one-another - very much the same recipe of ingredients, with the hard-to-pinpoint differences between them showing through even still.

That can be amazingly subtle, and perhaps only noticeable to me as I'm playing them - that push/pull of the whole chain of events happening from plucking a string to the sound reaching the ear...

 

Interesting and amazing stuff.

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One thing I've noticed about modeling since its early days.

With my POD and POD 2.0, and probably even up to X3Live, I couldn't rely on one patch to work the best it can with two different kinds of guitars. It just didn't happen. Whereas with an amp, I could, in fact, plug a strat and then a tele or a Les Paul into the same amp (if it's a good amp) and they could all sound good.

Now Helix (and HD 500 before that) leveled the playing field more, so that I CAN get a decent tone from one patch out of two different kinds of guitars, but still, to be its BEST, I STILL find that you simply need to find what works for you for each guitar and make the patch for that guitar.

 

I have found, however, that, for me, the Matchless models work "the best" with all my guitars, but NOT on the same setting. So I still have to make different patches or snapshots (patches works better for me, ymmv).

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