Jump to content
jackwagner

Helix For Bass - Live Performance Use

Recommended Posts

I just recently found the Helix product line and I'm considering a Helix Rack for my bass rig for live performance use. I play in several different bands and currently I have different gear (basses, pedals and amps)  for each band to achieve my tonal goals. If the Helix lives up to its billing, I can simplify my gear and reduce my setup time. I have watched a few video reviews that show some impressive results.

 

I have just one sound that I used for each band that I play with - all the pedals that I use to achieve my tonal goals are always on. My thought is to develop a preset for each band and just dial up the preset and go. Maybe some minor tweaks to adjust for the room, but not much more than that. Maybe the Helix is a bit overkill for that. Also, I intend to use an amp as a monitor (no in-ears).

 

I currently use a pedalboard and rack setup with a preamp and power amp. If I go with a Helix Rack my rack setup would be something like this:

  • Power conditioner
  • Line 6 Relay G90 Wireless receiver
  • Helix Rack
  • Power amp

 

For those that have used the Helix in a live performance setting for bass, how has it worked for you?

 

Do you use one of the XLR outputs to go to FOH?

 

Do you use a bass amp/speaker on stage?

 

For the FOH feed, I was thinking that having (among other things) an amp block (not sure if that's the right Helix lingo) and cabinet block in the Helix chain. But for the amp (stage monitor) feed, just an amp block. Does that work well in real life?

 

Thanks for any help and insight!

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the Helix for bass (and guitar, actually). In both cases, I do not bring an amp unless I have to, just run XLR to FOH. I have in-ears, so that is all I need for monitoring. Only problems I have had so far are in monitoring when either the wedges are too low power or when the engineer can't figure out gain staging and I have to crank the crap out of the in-ears (still works fine, just more RF-type noise).

 

You can set it up to run separate amp and cab blocks and run the cab output to FOH and the amp only output to your real amp if you want. I've just gotten lazy and don't bother doing that. For practice, or when necessary for live, I run it into the FX return of a solid state bass amp and then into a cab and it still sounds fine even going through the cab models first.

 

In regards to setup, I generally have one preset per song since I tend to use a lot of different effects. But you could just use one if you are always going to be doing the same thing. Having access to so much more will probably tempt you, though :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the Helix for bass (and guitar, actually). In both cases, I do not bring an amp unless I have to, just run XLR to FOH. I have in-ears, so that is all I need for monitoring. Only problems I have had so far are in monitoring when either the wedges are too low power or when the engineer can't figure out gain staging and I have to crank the crap out of the in-ears (still works fine, just more RF-type noise).

 

You can set it up to run separate amp and cab blocks and run the cab output to FOH and the amp only output to your real amp if you want. I've just gotten lazy and don't bother doing that. For practice, or when necessary for live, I run it into the FX return of a solid state bass amp and then into a cab and it still sounds fine even going through the cab models first.

 

In regards to setup, I generally have one preset per song since I tend to use a lot of different effects. But you could just use one if you are always going to be doing the same thing. Having access to so much more will probably tempt you, though :)

 

I'm pretty much always going to have an amp on stage. It's just weird to me when bands are ampless. I may eventually go to IEMs, but I'll probably still have an amp for the visual.

 

Thank you for the feedback!

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those that have used the Helix in a live performance setting for bass, how has it worked for you?


It works really well, sounds great, and it has most of the things I used to run but in one big box. No issue with not having enough output or outputs


 


Do you use one of the XLR outputs to go to FOH?


If I'm lazy, XLR to FOH.


When I'm not, XLR from my bass head to FOH


 


Do you use a bass amp/speaker on stage?


Yes. I wouldn't have to if it had a model of the TH500. So I tend to bring the tiny little head with 4CM and XLR out on the head to FOH.


For the FOH feed, I was thinking that having (among other things) an amp block (not sure if that's the right Helix lingo) and cabinet block in the Helix chain. But for the amp (stage monitor) feed, just an amp block. Does that work well in real life?


That would depend on how you're running the everything. If you're running all the amp/cab sims to the house and using that to feed the house monitors or IEMs then you'd probably just leave the amp and sim blocks the same. If you have an actual amp on stage, you probably wouldn't be running any amp/sim on the monitor feed.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That would depend on how you're running the everything. If you're running all the amp/cab sims to the house and using that to feed the house monitors or IEMs then you'd probably just leave the amp and sim blocks the same. If you have an actual amp on stage, you probably wouldn't be running any amp/sim on the monitor feed.

 

 

Thanks, very helpful.

 

I was assuming that the Rack version was a 2U unit, but it is 3U. This might affect my decision...

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My local Guitar Center had a Helix on display. It was connected to a powered PA speaker (a 2-way speaker with a 15-inch driver. Not sure what brand.)

 

I wasn't impressed at all. I fiddled with it for about 20 minutes or so and didn't like any of the bass tones. After messing with it I decided to check the firmware version and found that it was 1.xxx. So not the latest firmware.

 

Is the 2.x firmware version really going to make that much of a difference?

 

Thanks,

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely! Substantial BASS Amps, Cabs, and FX were added in Firmware 2.20. See HelixHelp.com for the Release Notes. The current version is 2.21. It contains maintainence fixes, etc.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely! Substantial BASS Amps, Cabs, and FX were added in Firmware 2.20. See HelixHelp.com for the Release Notes. The current version is 2.21. It contains maintainence fixes, etc.

 

Thanks, I didn't know about HelixHelp.com. I will check it out.

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I took the plunge. I found a used one at a good price and it will be on its way to me soon. I will report back once I get it...

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Philip Bynoe uses Helix primarily. 

 

Primarily.. with an Aguilar 751 Bass Head.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got the Helix Rack (used from Guitar Center) and it will not boot up...

 

Stuck in "Updating UI MCU Firmware..." mode

 

The top of the display has ":-7:-7:-7..."

 

Any help? I just opened a support ticket. Oh joy...

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got the Helix Rack (used from Guitar Center) and it will not boot up...

 

Stuck in "Updating UI MCU Firmware..." mode

 

The top of the display has ":-7:-7:-7..."

 

Any help? I just opened a support ticket. Oh joy...

 

--jack

Take it back to GC. Even used stuff they have to take back if it doesn't work. They should have at least tried to turn it on before selling it to you. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Take it back to GC. Even used stuff they have to take back if it doesn't work. They should have at least tried to turn it on before selling it to you. 

 

When I called (I live in California and bought it from a GC in Colorado), the guy that I talked to said it worked fine and had firmware v2.00.00. It seems as though they tried to update the firmware and didn't get it right. I have 45 days to mess with it. If I can't resolve this, I will return it. But hopefully there is a way to recover and update the firmware to the latest version.

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I called (I live in California and bought it from a GC in Colorado), the guy that I talked to said it worked fine and had firmware v2.00.00. It seems as though they tried to update the firmware and didn't get it right. I have 45 days to mess with it. If I can't resolve this, I will return it. But hopefully there is a way to recover and update the firmware to the latest version.

 

--jack

Do a factory reset (FS 9/10 simultaneously while powering up, I believe) and try to flash again. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do a factory reset (FS 9/10 simultaneously while powering up, I believe) and try to flash again. 

 

I have the Helix Rack version without the foot controller. I found this page:

http://line6.com/support/page/kb/_/effects-controllers/helix/helix-reset-procedures-and-troubleshooting-tricks-r768

 

and followed the instructions to hold ENC1 and ENC6 at boot and that didn't help at all. I tried the other options as well and nothing seemed to make any difference.

 

Since the unit says that the firmware version is V2.11.0, I thought I might try downloading and installing that version to see if I can get my PC to recognize the Helix and then try to upgrade from there.

 

Thanks for trying to help, I really appreciate it. If you have any other suggestions, I'm all ears.

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I play in a trio where I sing and double on acoustic/electric guitar or bass depending on the songs.  I go directly to the PA, which is also mine.

Before the Helix, I had the HD500x and was able to get so so bass tones that made me miss my amp a bit. 

Now with the Helix running 2.21, I'm getting really good bass tones and I'm not sure if my bass amps are ever coming out of the closet again.

I just use the G Cougar 800 (GK 800RB) amp with the 6x10 Cali Power (6x10" MESA/Boogie® Power House) cab.  I run a little compression in front of the amp and a little eq after the cab, mostly to accentuate the highs and boost the volume a bit.  On the amp model, I run the boost and contour off and dial eq to taste.  Sounds fantastic. 

I use that sound for a little more aggressive, rock and funk songs.  I'm going to build another preset for more laid back tunes now.

A guy I have played with for decades came to our last gig and he commented how good the bass tones were through the PA.  To me, feels like playing a good amp.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's still borked, call Line 6 support, they're excellent. If you have a copy of the receipt from the original new purchase, the warranty is transferable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's still borked, call Line 6 support, they're excellent. If you have a copy of the receipt from the original new purchase, the warranty is transferable.

 

Thanks, I did. Even though I bought it used, they are going to take care of it for me. Excellent customer service!

 

--jack

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update:

 

Last week I called customer service and they offered to repair my Helix Rack. I sent it on Thursday 7/13/17 and got it back yesterday 7/18/17. I live in SoCal so shipping was just 1 day each way. Very quick turn around!

 

The unit boots as it should. It had firmware version 2.11.00, but I was able to successfully upgrade it to v2.20. It now boots and operates as it should.

 

I messed around with it for a couple of hours last night. To say that I wasn't thrilled with the preset bass tones is an understatement. But I will continue to work on it.

 

Line 6 gets an A+ customer service rating from me!

 

--jack

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is your setup with Helix?

 

I am a guitar guy. At first I found it difficult to go straight to Helix. I started as just a preamp into my real amp. Got it sounding better then my original.

 

Then I took the next step and went into to alto110as on stage as my backline amp, no FOH. Got that sounding better then last setup.

 

Now, no amps, no on-stage "backline". Guitar to FOH and, stage monitors.

 

 

Long, still continuing learning curve.

 

Try to just replace preamp with helix, keeping all else the same. See what you get. And so on...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is your setup with Helix?

 

I only used it for a couple of hours, but, here's how I intend to use it for my live performances (basically as a preamp):

 

For my on-stage monitor:

Bass->Line 6 Relay G90 Wireless->Helix Rack->Power Amp->Speaker Cabinet

 

For getting bass to FOH, I would take an XLR output to FOH.

 

What I did last night was:

Bass->Helix Rack->Ampeg BA-112 (practice amp)

 

I use the Aux input of the Ampeg BA-112. I use my pedalboard setup this way and it works well.

 

What I've found so far with the bass presets is that they sound "thin".

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How does it sound on a blank preset?

 

Then just add a preamp of choice.

 

The Line 6 built presets are likely full amps and so on. I have not found any pre-programmed preset that i liked.

 

Block by block, build your own sound from a blank preset. Worth a shot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How does it sound on a blank preset?

 

Then just add a preamp of choice.

 

The Line 6 built presets are likely full amps and so on. I have not found any pre-programmed preset that i liked.

 

Block by block, build your own sound from a blank preset. Worth a shot!

 

I found a few bass patches from Line 6 Custom Tone (http://line6.com/customtone/browse/helix/) that I downloaded and will try/tweak.

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found a few bass patches from Line 6 Custom Tone (http://line6.com/customtone/browse/helix/) that I downloaded and will try/tweak.

 

--jack

I don't even bother with anyone else's presets from customtone either. Drop in a compressor and a preamp block and go out to your power amp and cab. There are also some bass specific drive pedal models as well if that is your thing. 

 

If you find a tone you like, then you can start adding some effects before/after your preamp block. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've continued to tweak my Helix presets and have come up with a nice one for for one of my bands (and Iron Maiden tribute) that sounds great in my rehearsal space with the full band. So the Helix has graduated to being a new member in my rack case.  :) I'm still working on a preset for one of my other bands (a Rush tribute) that sounds great at bedroom volume, but not so good at full band volume.

 

I have a gig this weekend with the Iron Maiden tribute, so we'll see how that goes with the Helix.

 

--jack

post-1635249-0-66579100-1502994398_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

last few rehearsals I tried bass though markbass combo and then direct to PA - both sounded pretty amazing

 

Also had one guitarist going through my helix into the PA - sounded epic too

 

Great toy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update: I used the Helix at a gig last weekend with my Iron Maiden tribute band and it worked great. Sounded great on stage and out front (I have a wireless). Sound man loved it and got some great comments from other musicians that were there.

 

I uploaded the preset that I used to the Line 6 Custom Tone site for anyone that wants it. Do a search for "Steve Harris" to find it:

http://line6.com/customtone/search/?submitted=1&family=helix&search_term=Steve+Harris

 

--jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...