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bobpick

I got the Helix blues I think..

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*Disclaimer* I have severe ADHD so I jump around a lot.  Dont read if you need linear thinking LOL. I am going to crosspost this over at TGP.
 
So had my first band rehearsal last night with the Helix LT. I am going to try and give it more time but I was definitely disappointed at how it sounded and felt playing with the band. I felt disconnected and when I tried several different high gain patches that I created it was yuck central.  Half way through I had to plug into my analog board into a tube head and cab to get back to feeling normal. 
 
Now granted this was not with my main squeeze band it was a side project (Black Sabbath tribute) that I am involved in which involves much more volume than my main band so there's that.. I havent tried it with the working band yet.
 
If you dont know, I have owned many modeling devices and have had some great results with most of them. I love the sound of the FX on the Helix LT and I love the JTM-45 brt model but other than that I am struggling badly to find other models I can dig and unfortunately I can't just use the JTM-45 brt model all night. When I try adding say the OCD pedal to get there it's insanely noisy and if I put another noise gate in line it just kills the dynamics with the threshold set to where it quiets things down. Couple that with the fact that I found out my chosen tube head has a parallel FX loop and wont take the Helix no matter what I do and it's frustrating. No 4cm for me.
 
 
I'd hate to have something like this force me to give up but I have tried every single high gain model including the Archon to no avail. No matter what cab or IR I choose they all sound honky and very "modeled".. I know right? Who'd a thunk a modeler would sound modeled? What I mean is the JTM-45 does not sound modeled, it sounds and feels like I am playing through a great amp! 

I am getting burnt out on tweaking this and that only to end up throwing my hands up. 
 
Sure there are a ton of resources for me to hit up for help with it but that's also frustrating because there are so many and I dont know what the problem is exactly so it's hard to describe to people. I have already hit up a few "experts" and read tons of paragraphs of this and that about global settings and eq's and mic choices and placements etc etc. I've downloaded a crap load of patches from custom tone and I think a lot of them are geared towards recording because most sound like crap to me. 

My high gain patches sounded great to me until I struck those first notes with a live band then it sounded thin and harsh and that's when I could hear the honkiness and "modeling'. Tried to remedy this on the fly with global eq to no avail. I got swallowed up bad. 
 
Would love to hear from someone who can point me in the right direction for the high gain stuff. 
 
Here's what I am using most of the time.. Schecter C-1 Hybrid with EMG 57/66 active pups, EV ELX 112P active FRFR set to flat mode. Also tried my ZLX 115P's..
 
Here's what I won't do.. buy different FRFR solution. it's gonna work with what I have or go back.
 
Here's some of the stuff I have already done. Made sure input was set to 10k (this is the quietest setting), fudged around with global eq cutting this and that, boosting this and that. Tried both 1/4" and XLR out. Tried fudging around with EQ on mixer and tried going direct to FRFR. Tried one output to mixer and one output direct to monitor, tried just to mixer then just to monitor. 
 
Most things you can think of I have probably already tried with the amps and cabs themselves. Reducing gain, amp eq's and presence, cabs, mics, mic and cab settings etc etc..
 
So you may say "bobpick you said you love the JTM-45 brt model and the FX, why can't you be happy with that?" Well ya see I bought this with the full intention of it being a "be all end all" rig for me. I understand it's not the holy grail tone-wise but that's not my end game. My end game is to walk into a gig with just a couple guitars and the Helix LT, plug it into FOH and feel good across the board with EVERY need I have. If I can't get fully there I may as well use my pedalboard and amp..

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You said it, your Amp's FX loop wont take a Helix. Sorry it wont work out for you!

There is nothing wrong with using your pedal board and Amp at all. Nothing beats the real thing.

You are only going to regret it if you settle on the ease of use.

Stick to a decision and you will be happy for it!

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I'm not sure how long you've had the Helix, but I can't imagine it's been too long.  But it does sound like you've tried a lot of options.  I can't see it being the Helix as there are a TON of folks using setups like yours that are perfectly happy with it...and we can't be all crazy.  But it could simply be that you're not able to adapt to the difference in overall sound from a traditional amp sound to more of a studio production amp sound which is what you'll get from this type of rig.  There are some idiosyncrasies in this type of rig that you have to adjust to, and there's a lot to learn about how to effectively build an effective signal chain which takes some time, but for some it's just too much of a change...and that's okay too.

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Are you writing/testing your patches at gig level volumes? Testing your patches at those volumes before trying them out with a band is crucial. Also what sometimes works as a killer stand-alone guitar sound doesn't always play well with others, especially for more gain-y sounds. I'm not the most versed in hi-gain sounds but I tend to veer toward using the noise gate in the input block(circle) vs dropping a noise gate block in the signal chain.

It sounds like you have already tried a lot, and consulted a few people. Another avenue possibly worth exploring; users constantly upload videos of themselves playing through Helix on the dedicated facebook group, both live and more "studio" situations, perhaps checking out a few to see if there's any that match the sound and style you want and reaching out and asking them to share their preset.

It may also be worth it to record your rehearsals so you get an idea of how your sound blends with the band and have a better idea as to what needs to be tweaked. I've had a few occasions where I'm gigging a preset I know and love and because of my sonic vantage point in the room I'm less than thrilled with the sound I'm hearing, but when I listen back to recordings of the show I'm completely blown away by the tone.

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I didn't like my Helix at first. Now I'm just trying to figure how to sell my 8 tube amps, and umpteen individual fx pedals. I'm using a EV powered monitor as FRFR. We play classic rock and play it LOUD!  6 piece band, we all sing too. My Helix will stand in the mix just fine. Better than fine really. Plus I love being able to change "amps" during a set. Just my .02 worth.

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Obviously we don't know all of the things you have attempted but when using IR's or even stock cabs I find it essential to dial the hi cut down quite a bit. Sometimes all the way down to 6k. I also use the low cut to get rid of excessive boominess from 80-110 hz. Also a lot of nastiness lives around 4k in a distorted guitar tone so you may want to use a parametric eq with a sharp q a pull 3 to 4 db of that out.

 

One thing I've found with this box (I'm a new user as well - 3 days in) is for me personally it is not a plug and play box. You really have to get in there and wrestle with it to get the tone youre after. It's in there though.

 

Finally like another poster mentioned, you may be so used to amp and cab sound versus a mic'd amp and cab sound. It takes some getting use to. However if you're happy with your existing rig keep rocking out with that.

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If you can make it sound good at home no reason you can't plug it into a PA and get the same results. It's the same thing only louder lol
I haven't used the HELIX at a gig yet.. but I'm definitely going to be spending some time tweaking it in with our PA before I ever attempt that. 
Worst possibly scenario I take my amp too and run helix to FOH and mic the boogie. 
That had amazing results with the HD500x.. I really can't wait to start experimenting further but for now I am tracking. 
I've been splitting my signal after the amp and putting a cab on top and back off mic a bit, then put IR on the bottom.. it seemed to level things out a bit to my ears.
When I started recording my presets I hated the sound I was hearing.. then I started dialing in the Helix along with the entire mix and it changed things a lot and I am very happy.
I don't know what kind of FX you use.. but my chain was simplistic really.. so plugging line 6 straight into my amp always worked well for me and eliminated my hush units and EQ's in my rack. Since your loop doesn't work maybe try that aproach?
It took time to dial that in too. what works at home doesn't work with my amp.. I eventually started backing off the gain on my head and using the models and L6 distortion and blended that with my boogie. Hoping to eliminate all amps and cabs and go with in ears.. maybe buy one of those L3's.. I dunno. So many options,, so little bread 

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I'm yet another person who took a while to get happy, but I am. Haven't compared to Kemper or Fractal for financial reasons, but I'd much rather Helix than either of my current actual amps, and I have fun pretty much every time I play.

 

I don't have much for specific suggestions, among other reasons because I'm not a high gain guy, but honestly, every player's touch and ears are different, you have to find your own happy place(s).

 

Or not. I'm not sure what you were looking for if you have an amp rig you like, but there's no shame in doing that, or using Helix purely as a pedal board.

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Turn hum and sag all the way down, hum in particular. Sag has some uses, mainly for cleaner or bluesy tones, or solos. I trim my cabs to 5-6, lows around 120. I also use two amps usually on different paths. The blends are amazing and very useful in sanpshots. I ran into my amp for awhile, I broke down and bought 2 alto210s, and havent looked back. Dont miss lugging a bunch of gear at all. It took me awhile to adjust, but soooo glad I stuck it out! Best of luck! Try turning pad on as well, lets you use a little more gain,etc a little cleaner.

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Turn hum and sag all the way down, hum in particular. Sag has some uses, mainly for cleaner or bluesy tones, or solos. I trim my cabs to 5-6, lows around 120. I also use two amps usually on different paths. The blends are amazing and very useful in sanpshots. I ran into my amp for awhile, I broke down and bought 2 alto210s, and havent looked back. Dont miss lugging a bunch of gear at all. It took me awhile to adjust, but soooo glad I stuck it out! Best of luck! Try turning pad on as well, lets you use a little more gain,etc a little cleaner.

 

Not to be "that guy" but are you sure you weren't referring to turning hum and ripple all the way down. Sag generally has a sweet spot that you need to locate and I find that it is rarely all the way down. If you meant ripple and hum these can usually be turned all the way down or at least low.

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I almost sent it back but I am gonna give it another 2 weeks after a factory reset. I am getting confused trying all these different ways to use it. 

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I almost sent it back but I am gonna give it another 2 weeks after a factory reset. I am getting confused trying all these different ways to use it. 

 

Well I hope this time you don't get distracted by all the different options and simply take things a step at a time so you don't get anxiety attacks from getting overwhelmed.

 

Here's a simple process I'd recommend to ease things a bit:

 

First, set up the Helix and your ELX112P about 6 feet apart with your speaker in the vertical position around head height.  Use the 1/4" L/Mono out on the Helix into Input2 on your ELX and select Line position on the button.  Set the Input gain on Input2 at the 12 o'clock position where it's marked with a 0 (that's unity).  Do the same on the loudspeaker level and place the siwtches in Normal (not boost).  As far as the Full Range or With Sub switch you can play with that.  Full range simply means all the bass frequencies will pass through to the speaker.  With sub cuts off low frequencies probably below 110Hz.

 

Next use a blank preset and select an amp+cab you might be familiar with such as a Fender Deluxe or maybe a Brit Plexi Bright.  Don't select it into the signal chain by pressing down on the joystick yet  just use it while in the selection phase to go through the options and listen to it.  Use the default settings on the amp and cabinet for now.

 

As you strum move over to the cabinet options which is the 3rd page to the right and adjust the microphone position out further and compare the sound of the mic at 1" out to 10" and notice the effect on both the low and high end.  Don't listen to it as if it's supposed to be an amp.  Listen to it as if it were a studio recording of the guitar on your stereo.  If it still seems too harsh to you, dial down the High Cut parameter little by little.

 

Once it seems relatively presentable to you try selecting various different speaker combinations to see the effect those might have.

 

The point I'm trying to get you to is to critically examine the key foundation elements that make up the sound of that amp and that cabinet with that guitar.  Changing EQ, adjusting drive levels are all refinements on that basic foundation as are external effects, compressors, and eq.  They can make adjustments to the basic sound, but the basic sound will always be that foundation.  If you get the foundation right, it will be easier to set your sights on how you want to adjust it bit by bit.

 

Again, you have to divorce yourself from focusing on what you normally hear from your amp and listen carefully as if you're a recording engineer designing the guitar sound you want on a specific recording.  Move around the room a bit while you play simple chords and even turn your back on the speaker to get a feel for the overall sound.  You don't need a lot of volume, just enough that it's like listening to a fairly loud stereo system.  Probably about the 10 o'clock to 12 o'clock position on the Helix master volume knob.

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Loving the best of both worlds...not for the gigging musician however...im a basement guitarist. 4 cable to a Marshall halfstack...and 2 Laney irt's for wet dry wet...every option available.

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Wow thanks everyone especially Dunedin dragon. Nice to hear from someone that knows the ELX.

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Again, you have to divorce yourself from focusing on what you normally hear from your amp and listen carefully as if you're a recording engineer designing the guitar sound you want on a specific recording. 

Great advice!

 

This is how I approach my tones these days. Though I am more of a producer/composer/guitarist than just a guitarist these days. Once I started looking at it from that point of view I got a lot more tones I was happy with.  The guitarist perspective I would have a few different patches that would be on everything that I did.  The producer perspective has opened that up for me tremendously.  

 

Its only partially what it feels/sounds like while I am wet monitoring, recording, or doodling. The other part that matters (and this really matters) is the tone/feel in the context of a full mix.

 

I use more types of tones now than I ever did before, because I am always conscious of the direction of the full mix, and the entire song. (as I do it all myself)

When I was only a guitarists that wasn't near the concern for me, it was just quickly dial in and wail away.  

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Lots of good advice above, and I don't have anything technical to add. But as a fellow ADHD sufferer, I can affirm that the Helix is option overload for people like us. If you're like me, you will have a lot of habits that are great for playing guitar for hours on end without a break, but not so great for efficiently setting up a polished set of two or three go-to presets that capture the range of sounds you need and little that you don't and remembering where you saved them. I know that I have created great presets, and then kept tweaking them for half an hour longer. I've created presets with dozens of of footswitch/snapshot combinations for massive variety, and not been able to remember which to use while performing. I think a major challenge for Helix users with ADHD is to resist over-complicating our presets and setlists beyond what we need and can effectively remember how to implement while performing.  

Once you've looked at the more technical comments from those above, and you should look at them first, see if the following ideas are helpful for you to keep in mind as you work out your sound:

  1. Your presets should be much more simple than you think. Your natural tendency will be to over-complicate things. (Why would the Helix be different from every other aspect of your life?) You will want to add an EQ block just because you have an empty block at the back of your chain. You'll want to add five different overdrives because maybe you'll utilize the slight difference between the Tube Screamer and Timmy. You'll want a button that turns off two reverbs, turns another one on, reduces your amp treble and compensates by increasing your amp presence and overdrive treble, raises the low pass filter on the wet signal of your delay, increases a gain block level by 0.7 dB on just the left stereo side, and switches from a Greenback Marshall cab to a Mesa cab. Just because Helix can do this, doesn't mean you should.
  2. Simpler presets will also prevent you from ruining them by over tweaking. Playing with settings is a natural outlet for your constantly fidgeting hands. You will spend many Saturday afternoons meticulously dialing in the right balance of overdrive pedal settings, EQ pedal levels, and amp drive and master settings only to realize that, on this particular snapshot, you had a ribbon mic in your cab block and a padded down gain block near your output, and you have to scrap the whole thing.
  3. You should stick with fewer amp/cab/mic combinations than you think. If you feel like you need to utilize every option the Helix has, remember that it has way more on board than any one person can realistically put to good use. If you like just one or two amps, maybe that's your sound; but you will try to convince yourself you're missing out by not using all the other models. If you like the standard amp-cabinet pair, you will think you're missing out by not trying unorthodox combinations like the Soldano lead channel into a Gibtone cab. Before you know it, you'll have two dozen off the wall new presets and you still won't have created the preset you originally set out to build.
  4. You should have at least one go-to preset that you very seldom change and keep a backup copy of. Your urge is to tweak every setting at least daily. You do this mindlessly and without remembering that you did it. There will be times when realize that special preset you made for a new song just isn't working, you'll punch around at the 50 or 60 half-finished presets haphazardly saved throughout your setlist not remembering what each sounds like, and you'll wish you had that go-to on standby. 
  5. You can't remember how to use more than 4 solid presets across all of your gigging, depending on how complicated your presets are. (Or maybe two or three per genre you play.) If you have 8 or 10 presets you like to use, unless they are each specifically tailored to a particular song, you will be endlessly aggravated by hitting a boost footswitch and it turns out less loud but a lot muddier than you remember, or hitting a clean snapshot only to find that it has more delay and reverb than you thought. Keeping it to just a few allows you to become familiar with each one. The problem is, you can't stop yourself from constantly making new presets based on every fleeting one-off idea you have. To deal with that...
  6. Make one of Helix's setlists a sandbox for playing around with things as much as you want without jeopardizing your gigging presets stored in different setlists. It's best that we admit that we can't help ourselves from messing with dials, buttons, and flashing lights. So give yourself that freedom while preserving your working presets. This also cuts down on the information overload in your working setlists that causes you to scroll endlessly through preset banks, not remembering that foolproof name you gave the patch you're looking for.

Every Helix owner probably experiences all of these issues from time to time and to one degree or another, but our friends without ADHD can't quite appreciate the level at which these things overwhelm us or our inability to ignore the impulses we have to make a huge mess of everything over-complicate life activities. For us, trying to resist implementing every feature Helix has to offer is like trying to balance a half-dozen marbles on top of one another at a circus during a fire drill. It's frustrating, but what part of your life isn't? It's best to embrace this and use that knowledge to set up my performing environment in a way that minimizes the effects of those limitations.

On the plus side, the Helix's control and display features almost seem like they were created by someone with ADHD. You mean I can have footswitches that just say "LOUDER" and "LOUDEST"? All I need to remember is Orange = Overdrive and Green = Delay? This was revolutionary for me.

 

Just so that we can laugh at ourselves, I'm guessing some of the following thoughts will sound familiar to you:

"It has 50 amps to choose from: must...use...all...50...in....next...set."

"Only 8 snapshots?"

"Can I blend a fourth amp into this mix?"

"Only 4 FX loops?"

"If I have a two choruses back to back and one has enough predelay, will the totally offset each other?"

"I love digital delay, better add that. I also love tape delay, better add that too. Ooh, I also love mod delay, tack one of those on. But what if I need a reverse delay, better add one than be sorry. Obviously I need to add a ducked delay just in case. What do you mean out of DSP?"

"I set the expression pedal to turn on Tube Screamer at 20%, OCD at 40%, RAT at 60%, and Minotaur at 80%. Or does it go OCD Rat, Minotaur, Tube Screamer?"

"Only 4 independent signal paths?"

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It's much simpler for me. Don't over cook the dinner so to speak. I adjust to taste and then play. I could care less what an engineer likes, what mic distance to spend hours with or even what the audience likes tone wise. Why? Because for 40 years when playing out I just adjusted to taste, and the crowd liked it too. So my advice is to throw away the cute sayings like "amp in the room" sound or feel... Just adjust it to taste and play. Before you chastise me, just try it..  :)

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Don't give up Bobpick!

It can be a struggle, after a year I'm sooo happy! lol

But I have also had some great gigs 2 months into having the Helix.. 1st gig I went home disappointed..

 

So much for me was EQ!!!! I could make it sound so good until the band started playing, then I had to start using my engineering hat to EQ!

I'm not sure where Honky is for you, as I have heard so many descriptions from musicians and non musicians of how it sounds. But I'm guessing like jeff5x01 said around 4k.

 

There is a method used in EQing to find that Honky or disturbing frequency, called sweeping, I have used this for years, and since digital era, I believe it is a necessity to learn, you can use the parametric EQ to achieve this. Use the looper at the beginning of path (I learned to play the chord or note that bothered me the most and let it loop then sweep).

jeff5x01 I think has a video on that for DAW, by the way jeff5x01 I liked your videos! You should do one for Helix EQing!  :)

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One thing you didn't mention is 3rd part IR. I found the difference to be night and day between the built in cab Sims and and the ownhammer IR pack I bought. Being able to use the studio mixes with a blend of dynamic, ribbon and room mics made the whole sound come a live to me.

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Yeah you dont want to use Helix cabs. Theyr are pretty much a waste of time for higher gain tones.I have a lot of experience dialing amps, and even after a year wit helix, i have one mid/hi gain tone with helix cabs im not ashamed of.  Free IRs are all you need. They are every bit as good as the paid for. Get the Tonic IRs, Redwirez free demo set, and Ownhammer free demo set of IRs, and after a bit of effort you will be pretty happy. If you are still not getting good tones then its probably not the Helix's fault and it may be time to move on. 

 

Try your input pad set to on, your master volume knob on about 75-100%, leave your output block at 0db, and i really dont think you want you input set at 10 Ohms. Set it at auto, or 1 (far right) or maybe a couple of clicks left. Im willing to bet you def dont want 10, unless that is a "specialty tone" you are looking for.. If you dont want to hit the input as hard, roll your volume down on your guitar,. It sounds better than low resistance values.

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