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markpaterson

Real Fender blackface amp vs Helix – way too many pots on Helix?

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The Helix LT is awesome. Not had it long, but damn is it impressive. There's just one thing bugging me about amp emulation.

 

 

Example… Fender Deluxe Reverb. On a real one (excluding the built in Vibrato and Reverb) the only pots are VOLUME, TREBLE, BASS. Note that there is no MIDDLE pot, unlike a Fender Twin.

 

However, on the Helix Deluxe Reverb model, I have DRIVE, BASS, MIDDLE, TREBLE, PRESENCE, CH VOL, MASTER, etc.

 

I dislike how Helix amp controls seem to be a one size fits all approach. I find it very hard to dial in the sound of my real Deluxe Reverb into a Helix emulated version. There's effectively THREE pots that control volume! There is no DRIVE channel on a real Deluxe Reverb either, yet dialing down the DRIVE to zero gets you complete silence.

 

Then there's the EQ issue. I could be wrong about this, but I've heard that the EQ on a Fender blackface only 'removes' frequencies and doesnt add any to the sound. It certainly behaves that way. So having both TREBLE and BASS dialed up to 10 is basically your guitar's original signal, and anything less is either removing bass or treble, depending on which pot you adjust. The Helix pots do not seem to behave like this though. It seems more like 50% is the normal signal and anything more will ADD to the signal. Again, frustrating.

 

I realize that Line 6 can't really change this way of working without screwing up everybody's existing patches, but it would be nice to have an option in the preferences (or perhaps on a per patch basis) for 'Legacy' or 'New' amp controls. 'New' of course being a more faithful to what controls are on the actual amp. Strange that they DO appear to go all out on modelling the controls of effects pedals, e.g. I noticed that the OCD effect even has the HP switch and a switch to toggle between versions of the pedal!

 

You may ask why I need to have the amp modelled so precisely, if I have the real amp, but there's a million obvious reasons why i'd want an emulated version too, such as for playing through headphones or recording direct to Logic.

 

Anyway, i'm mainly just sounding off, but any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!

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The tone stacks should behave the same way as the modeled amps, more or less. Where there are additional controls, you can always set them to be like the original. For the Deluxe, the default, settings (meaning matching the actual, modeled amp) should be:

 

MID at 5.0

PRESENCE at 0

MASTER VOL at 10.0

 

DRIVE is the same as the volume control on the real amp. CH VOL is simply an overall volume control for the amp block. It doesn't affect the modeled tone.

 

I guess one way to think of it is that Line 6 is giving you access to modified versions of these amps. You can still make them behave like the originals by keeping those parameters at the default values, but you can also experiment with things with the additional parameters that have been opened up.

 

Btw, a Fender Blackface tone stack is passive, but that doesn't necessarily mean that running the treble and bass at 10 will be flat. The tone controls on an amp like that are actually quite interactive, meaning the response of one changes based on where the other is set.

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There is no Mid pot on a Deluxe but the resistor/cap for mids is still part of the circuit. Having access to that is for me personally a plus, the no mid control on the Deluxe was always a pet peeve for me. I think channel/master/drive is necessary for modeling so you can balance your presets. With the deluxe I can have my my big clean tone, slight amp break up, and tube screamer combo all level out or have the appropriate volumes. 

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Thanks guys, this all super helpful. Slightly overwhelmed by the awesomeness and depth my new Helix LT so forgive me. I'm looking forward to installing the editor app when I get a minute, although I've been incredibly impressed how much I've managed to figure out with that or even a glance at the manual.

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Unless you're in a studio about to record it, the front of the real amp's speaker does not have a mic plugged into a mic pre then running into a full range speaker.  Can't see how anyone could possibly expect a modeler to sound just like the real thing.

With a real amp, there's nothing but the air that conducts the sound between the amp's speaker and your ears.  Why are people are so insistent on ignoring this inarguable part of reality?

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I get it. I know it's never going to sound exactly like the one I already have. I get that mics and placement play a big part. My post was just about the confusing extra pots and how dialing them in caused the sound to stray quite far from the original model. I'm sure anyone would agree that aiming for the baseline sound of any desired amp is a perfectly normal impulse to have. Otherwise, what's the point of modelling anything at all?

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I get it. I know it's never going to sound exactly like the one I already have. I get that mics and placement play a big part. My post was just about the confusing extra pots and how dialing them in caused the sound to stray quite far from the original model. I'm sure anyone would agree that aiming for the baseline sound of any desired amp is a perfectly normal impulse to have. Otherwise, what's the point of modelling anything at all?

 

 

Maybe it's because I've paid so little attention to the accuracy of the models.  All I care about is that the guitar sounds the way I want it to sound.

I guess because I have just always accepted the fact that it will never really sound like an amp, I've actually gone the other way.  I actually don't want it to sound like a specific amp anymore.

Fender-ish or Marshall-ish or somewhere in between has become my basis point.  The fact that the Deluxe model has extra controls that don't exist in the real thing pleases me no end.  All that means to me is more options for sculpting the sound. Besides, as phil_m said, the default settings on the Deluxe model is an attempt at the optimal sound of the real thing. 

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Maybe it's because I've paid so little attention to the accuracy of the models.  All I care about is that the guitar sounds the way I want it to sound.

 

One more time, for those in the back.  That's one of the realest things I've read on this forum since I bought my Helix. 

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Also see: HelixHelp.com > Amps for more info on the Amp models.

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I've never owned most of the amps, cabs mics, pedal or effects in the Helix, so I'm not trying to duplicate anything.

 

It's more like somebody dropped me in a room with a ton of cool gear I could never afford in a million years. I get to hook up any pieces of it I want any way I want, then fiddle with all the knobs. If I find something cool, the gear remembers all the wiring and all its settings.

 

How cool is that? Why would I worry about whether it sounds just like a 1968 Marshall full stack with the only 8 ever made of some mythical speaker only three people in the world have ever heard?

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I've never owned most of the amps, cabs mics, pedal or effects in the Helix, so I'm not trying to duplicate anything.

 

It's more like somebody dropped me in a room with a ton of cool gear I could never afford in a million years. I get to hook up any pieces of it I want any way I want, then fiddle with all the knobs. If I find something cool, the gear remembers all the wiring and all its settings.

 

How cool is that? Why would I worry about whether it sounds just like a 1968 Marshall full stack with the only 8 ever made of some mythical speaker only three people in the world have ever heard?

^THIS, in a big way^

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