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Helix vs G-System and finding a good tone


rpossum
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I'm about 5 days into having a Helix Rack. I've had a G-System for years, with a TS-808, a Carl Martin Compressor and a  a TC-Electronic VPD1 in the loops. All running 4 Cable through a Mesa Boogie Mark III. Playing a Parker Fly Classic.

 

I have a few questions I'll just jam into one post....

 

I REALLY want the Helix to replace the G-System in this setup... Helix is the only thing even close to being as versatile as the G-System for routing etc... and certainly surpasses it in lots of ways.

 

It took a bit, but I have got a routing dialed in that gets me back to roughly the tone and responsiveness I had going on with my G-System setup... next time I can actually crank it and play with the band I'll see how it feels. That said, I'm having a tough time thinking about leaving behind those lush TC-electronic reverbs, mods and delays. I think the G-System Uni-vibe is just 1000% more lush, as are the reverbs, but maybe I'm not doing it right? I could, in theory, keep the G-system and leave it in the rack, but that would be another expensive piece of gear I was supposed to sell in order to afford the Rack + Controller (I bet I'm not the first person to have this dilemma!)

 

I am REALLY excited that I can run a mic path through the Helix at the same time... I play alto sax and used to love running it through a Boss GT-5 for cool sounds, so this should be fun.

 

I also have a Roland KC-500 which I plan to use to send the mic too... and also have borrowed a huge EV SxA250 from a friend. I really want to explore FRFR options... it would be AWESOME to be able to sell the Mark III and recoup some $$$... but every time I load up a new patch and drop in amps in the Helix and run to one of my full range speakers, it sounds really synthetic, with that telltale high pitch buzzy sound on the crunch... or, so many of these models... just really heavy distortion.

 

I think my tastes are a bit different from most ... for me, the holy grail of tone is Trey Anastasio (then Gilmour after that)

https://youtu.be/B1Bxc9Xtwss?t=6s

I love the sustain and crunch without so much breakup. I want drive without fuzz... crispy but warm.

Of course, Trey plays a hand made, full hollow body which makes a big difference... but I wanted to ask you guys if you have suggestions for me to try to get that kind of tone without the Boogie in the chain... straight into an FRFR.

 

Thanks so much for any help!

Cheers

Russell

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I posted this in another thread a bit ago...

 

"A lot of people get too wrapped up with "nailing" a tone. For me, I can drop in an amp and cabinet model in Helix, give it a play, and say "yep, that sounds like a(n) AMPOFYOURCHOICE". If you are trying to nail an exact sound or tone, then you are spending too much time twiddling knobs, and not enough time playing and enjoying yourself. I don't try to nail the tones of my rigs of yesteryear, I just build a preset that sounds great to me, and crank it up."

 

With the Helix and the endless combinations of models and routing, you will find yourself tweaking all the time. I have had mine for about a year, and I am still tweaking every time I play on my "#1" preset. 5 days is not much time. Be patient. You will pick up new ideas all the time about different combinations, routing options, etc.... You will NEVER dial in the perfect sound. We are guitar players, we never find the perfect sound. We will always be changing something. 

 

If this is your first modeler, the "digital fizz" is a big topic of discussion. My opinion is that it is a true replication of the real amp/pedal. You just have to remember that the modeler is a full range system and does not hide that tube sizzle like a normal guitar rig would. 

 

 

You may get frustrated at first, but keep plugging away at it. You will get to a point where you will LOVE your Helix. 

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I posted this in another thread a bit ago...

 

"A lot of people get too wrapped up with "nailing" a tone. For me, I can drop in an amp and cabinet model in Helix, give it a play, and say "yep, that sounds like a(n) AMPOFYOURCHOICE". If you are trying to nail an exact sound or tone, then you are spending too much time twiddling knobs, and not enough time playing and enjoying yourself. I don't try to nail the tones of my rigs of yesteryear, I just build a preset that sounds great to me, and crank it up."

 

 

Thanks for the reply

I'm actually not trying to nail a certain tone... just trying to get any tone that doesn't suck without the Boogie in the mix.

I'll keep plugging away at it.

I actually played a VG-88 through the KC-500 for years, so it's not a new thing for me... but I have definitely gotten used to the punchy bigness of the Boogie.

Digital Fizz should definitely not be something we have to accept, in my opinion... since a real amp doesn't sound anything like that... at least not through a cabinet. So maybe I just need to use a high pass as a default?

 

I suppose what I'm asking is this... based on the kinds of tonal preferences I described, what amp / cab suggestions would you guys have?

Does anyone have any basic patches they could share? etc

Thank again!

R

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I think the first step is to learn how to dial in a cab or choose an IR to get rid of the fizz.

 

I was dialling in a new preset yesterday - where I had a Helix amp feeding directly (via a send block) to my Laney tube amp's FX return (as a reference to what a real cab should sound like) , and then also via a Helix cab into an RCF 712a mk2 PA speaker which was on a stand just above the amp.    It was surprising - but I had to dial the Helix cab blocks's HF cut down to about 2.5kHz before the general level of top end was similar to the amp's celestion speaker.    

(and I also needed to roll the bass to about 170Hz)

 

As has been noted on the forum before - the slope on the Helix cabs is perhaps not as steep as we might like - so this is why you have to dial the HF cut to such a low frequency (2.5kHz ish)...  and whilst it reduced the high end fizz nicely - it also was taking out to much of the upper mids and making the clean tones a bit muddy - so I had to use a bit of high mid on an EQ block to bring that back.

 

Once done though it worked pretty well no matter which Helix amp I threw at it.

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If this is your first modeler, the "digital fizz" is a big topic of discussion. My opinion is that it is a true replication of the real amp/pedal. You just have to remember that the modeler is a full range system and does not hide that tube sizzle like a normal guitar rig would. 

 

 

I Want to respond to this here.  I think you are entirely correct.  I have a tube Headphone amp. Where the speakers cover a much MUCH wider response than that of a guitar cab. That tube sizzle, hiss, ring whatever you want to describe it as, is much more apparent.  

 

Question is the High/Low cut EQ block the same steeps as the high/low cut in the cabinets? Or is this information not known?

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Question is the High/Low cut EQ block the same steeps as the high/low cut in the cabinets? Or is this information not known?

I don't think that the high/low cut details are published, but they do seem pretty shallow. Sometimes it seems you need to turn a high cut parameter down quite a bit more than what you would normally think. If the high cut was a bit more steep, you wouldn't have to turn it down so much. 

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I don't think that the high/low cut details are published, but they do seem pretty shallow. Sometimes it seems you need to turn a high cut parameter down quite a bit more than what you would normally think. If the high cut was a bit more steep, you wouldn't have to turn it down so much. 

Right, I get that, but I was just wondering if the curves/steeps for the Hi/low cut EQ block, were the same as the ones in the cab.   If they are not, then they can be used as an alternative after the cab before the rest of the FX chain as opposed to using the High  cut in the cab block... (and because it takes too much high end off) have to bring it back with an EQ block after the cab anyway. 

 

Just a thought, and was wondering if anyone has actually tried it like this yet. 

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Maybe someone has ran their signal into DAW spectrum analyzer comparing the two. I may do that this weekend just for giggles. 

Hey, that would be great. 

I am not at my studio at the moment so I can't do it myself. 

 

However, perhaps this weekend I will conduct the experiment as well on my end, and we can maybe find a new alternative to taming frequencies within the Helix.

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Exactly what is your signal path between the Helix and the Mark III.   

I have a Mark III as well, and if you're using the FX Send or Direct out, they have no speaker emulator and sound very fizzy on their own.

 

From the Mesa Boogie Mk III Manual

 

DIRECT Previously known as the SLAVE, this feature provides a variable strength signal right from the speaker jack This way better tone is supplied, all Effects and Reverb are included, and there is absolutely no loss of the Boogie's tone when running from the Direct to a mixing board or another amplifier. (Many players will still prefer a microphone "listening" to their speaker coloration.) In some sophisticated set-ups, players run their Direct into their Effects Rack and then from the Effects into other, external amplifiers. But such a set-up cannot route the Effects output back into the original Boogie. Also note that a speaker or load resistor should be plugged into a Speaker jack when using the Direct. Load resistor value...though not critical ... can change the overall tone. Suggested value: 8 ohms, 50 watts minimum. And note that this resistor will get quite hot when running the Boogie "up loud" for long periods.

 

EFFECTS SEND & RETURN The Effects Loop circuitry of the Mark III is very sophisticated and works very well with nearly all units. The maximum signal strength obtainable is around 0.6 volts RMS, or about the same as a guitar pickup. Only the lowest quality, cheap digital delays may experience some overload and we feel the problem here is caused by poor effect design, which would cost only pennies to remedy. Worst offenders: Roland SDE 1000, Effectron Jr. Please call Roland or Delta to complain ... not us! Suggest that they "pad their input and buffer their output", as the real world requires! However, it is possible to further lower the Boogie's Effect output strength but not without increasing the noise and sacrificing some tone. For those who wish to do this we recommend changing resistor R230 from 6.8K to 4.7K. R230 can be located by following the Black wire from the Send jack back to the circuit board. In the Rhythm modes the Volume 1 control determines the Effects Send level, and in the Lead mode, it is the Lead Master. By running the Master 1 higher and these two controls lower, you can improve the performance of sub-standard effects.

 

PRESENCE This control sets up the basic brightness of the overall tone. But unlike a tone control, the Presence acts on the output and driver circuits, not the preamp. Season to your liking; recommended setting about 7.

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