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Helix into Front of Amp

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Hello all,

Lets say you don't have 4CM as an option into your amp.   What are some suggestions of constructing a signal chain to go in the front of an amp?

 

For example -  volume pedal --> distortion --> delay --> Reverb?

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I can't recommend it. You'd have your power amp AND preamp coloring the sound. I take it your amp doesn't have an effects loop?

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An amp i have does not have fx return, i have read others getting good sound going directly in front.  So was wondering how folks were setting up those patches. 

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Just don't use any amp/cab blocks.  You would be using helix as a multifx unit, emulating a string of pedals going into your amp.

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Just use Helix for the effects just as if you were putting a pedal board in front of your amp. Many people have (and still do) put all their effects in front of their amp. 

 

http://line6.com/data/6/0a020a3d89ab58b4cb30605e3/application/pdf

 

http://line6.com/data/6/0a06439c1814857b658e41b50a/application/pdf

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if you just have an amp, going straight in, then helix is maybe overkill in a way (well an expensive option anyway) but i think if you got your hands on a frfr speaker (find a 2nd hand powered pa speaker maybe if funds are short) then you'll open up a whole range of nice tone options - running your amp with fx and another amp from helix into the frfr speaker using the dual chain option in helix you'll really get a great sounding stereo rig. 😉

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It's totally doable!! You just have to have an amp that has a very clean channel and have plenty of clean headroom. Meaning you have to be able to turn that amp up really loud on the clean channel and have a totally clean signal!! no breakup. If your amp has an effects loop it's probably better to go through the FX Return of the amp. Here is an example of going into the FX return of my Marshall JCM900. The audio here is from the back camera so it's not really studio refined. You can get an idea of what the Helix sounds like with a real amp.

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It may not be everyone's favorite setup (I prefer going through an FRFR) but you can go straight to the front of your amp using effects only(commonly recommended when not using 4CM method). Contrary to conventional wisdom though you can also use amp and/or cab blocks. If you are using amp and/or cab blocks they often sound best through a very clean channel with headroom as gangsterusa described above but there may be times when your amp's crunch or lead channels sound just fine combined with a Helix amp/cab block. Just realize that your amp will color any amp/cab blocks you select on the Helix and not necessarily reflect their true character as accurately. Additionally if you use a cab block you are adding a mic'ed cab to your guitar amp's already existing cab. But hey, some people like every emulated amp/cab block from Fender Twin to Bogner and everything in between to be filtered through the sound of their favorite actual tube amp. Nothing wrong with that IMHO, even if it is not the way I have chosen to use the Helix. If you like the way it sounds, do it. Rules are made to be broken, particularly in the digital realm, even when it is interfacing with the analog world.

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I have used some of the Helix preamp models in front of a Blackstar HT20 before and got some tones I really liked. Just play around with that configuration and see what you like. Definitely save up and get an FRFR speaker or two at some point. You will be VERY happy with that. 

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if you just have an amp, going straight in, then helix is maybe overkill in a way (well an expensive option anyway)...

 

Well, that's one thing I was thinking when I said I didn't recommend it. Of course Helix is doable as a multi effects unit in front of an amp, but if that's what you want to use it for, there are much less expensive options that would do the job, like the Line 6 M13. It has 12 footswitches at the ready for toggling effects off and on where with Helix you'd only have 8. Each unit has a few different effects models than the other, but for the most part they're of the same quality. And the M13 is 1/3rd the price of the Helix. I use one with a (rented) Mesa Triple Rectifier amp with the band I tour with. I use the 4 cable method with it, but you could easily use it just in front of an amp with 2 cables too.

 

I love my Helix, but to me the best things about it (and the main reason for getting it) are the amp and cab models. I don't mean to be a naysayer; just thinking about what you want to do in practical terms.

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As long as your amp is able to get clean tones it isn't a big deal.  I use preamp models in front of my amp.  I dime every control on the amp except the preamp volumes and keep the preamp well below breakup.  I also use an  EV ZLX15 for a second "amp" and run all the sauce of the Helix through it.

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I think the Helix is great as a pedalboard replacement in front of a clean tube amp. I've used it like that quite a lot. There's really not much else in the market that can really compete with it right now. With snapshots and the four effects loop, it's kind of like having a 4-loop switching system in addition to having all the on-board Helix effects.

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This is a great extension option for amps with no effects loop. Paul Glover has a great video utilizing these extension cabinets in a wet dry wet scenario too. 

 

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Interesting video, do any of you guys know who Brian Pern is? 😀

 

Craig

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I think the Helix is great as a pedalboard replacement in front of a clean tube amp. I've used it like that quite a lot. There's really not much else in the market that can really compete with it right now. With snapshots and the four effects loop, it's kind of like having a 4-loop switching system in addition to having all the on-board Helix effects.

Yup!

 

I alternate between 4CM, FRFR and pedalboard configs with the Helix and 5 different rigs. What's really amazing is that while they all sound different, they all sound awesome AND I have the same basic controls over each rig, so it's MUCH easier to switch between rigs than its ever been before.

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Hello all,

Lets say you don't have 4CM as an option into your amp.   What are some suggestions of constructing a signal chain to go in the front of an amp?

 

For example -  volume pedal --> distortion --> delay --> Reverb?

 

I haven't logged in around here in months (actually might not have even posted before), hence very late reply.  I use Helix into the front of my Vox AC10 for practice and in front of my Vox AC30 for gigs.  Not the best amps to do this with as they break up at high volumes, but keep the vox preamp gain down and the vox volume at a level that it doesn't break up and it works well.  Obviously a totally clean amp would be better, but I still get some very usable tones in the following manner.

 

  1. use helix amp sim with NO speaker sim.
  2. assortment of effects before and after the helix amp sim.
  3. Last point of the helix chain goes out via send1 (instrument level) to a hardware guitar graphic EQ pedal.
  4. The graphic EQ pedal is key to this. Just adjust this by ear to dial out the colour of the real amp's preamp. You will need to change the graphic EQ settings at different volume levels.
  5. I mostly use the Matchless amp simps with the gain cranked and they sound mighty impressive to me.

The physical graphic EQ pedal is a "must" for me. Tweaking virtual eq's in the Helix is a bit tedious, so much easier to just move some sliders up and down to taste !  Although of course once you have a good physical graphic EQ setting you could replicate that in a Helix patch and then dispense with the real EQ pedal.

 

Just try it, there's no rules and you might be pleasantly surprised as you maintain all of that real amp in the room thump etc and the sound projects well, plus you get the sound you want not the sound that the real guitar amp on its own says you are going to have.

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It‘s not a problem so far. I use the HD100 amp with the power amp connector to leave the modeling on the amp as it is and not use it.

For the Helix i created effects as you would normal use.

For example: Helix input, distortion, amp simulation (no cab or IR) and out to the amp. Currently I use it this way but

with the upcoming 2.50 version it‘s possibke that the legacy section gives a good sound as well to quit using the amp sim. Or maybe amp sim and legacy... I don‘t know yet.

Single cable method is prefered as well and the sound is good.

For sure the guitar is a big part of the sound as well ;-)

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I'm using my helix lt to the front of amp with absolutely fantastic results. The OD models sounds very true to me. 

Chain: Compressor---Volume Pedal---od1---od2---chorus---tremoblo---delay---reverb

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I just got back from my first rehearsal with the Helix and my usual Fender amp. It was horrible, constant feedback.

I spent the past day's working on the sound. I thought I had it. I was using some nice  amps (no cabs), compressor, fuzz, chorus... going to the Fender. Eveytihing was sounding great until I turned up the volume to "rehearsal level", the feedback nightmare started.

I had to turn off the amp sims on every preset. I believe there wasn't a problem with the Fender running low, as soon as I cranked it up the double amp/preamp was just too much. Distorsion was a no-no in that scenario.

The second "mistake" I believe I made was having the volume knob Hal way through. Which seemed like a reasonable thing to do. Now I read that unity is full-on volume, so I had to turn the Fender volume way up to stupid levels..

I need to get it right!.

1) volume knob all the way up if plugin into a real amp?.

2) Helix amps a no-go when going into a real amp?. I need fuzz, distorsion, quite loud stuff.

3) silly me... are preamps and amps different?. I purposely avoided cabs as I was going to use an amp. I wish I could use the amp sims as I love how they color the sound and I can get different tones from song to song... is there an amp with no preamp... just for coloring I guess. Excuse me if this question is straight stupid...

 

thanks!

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On 8/8/2017 at 2:18 AM, GlennDeLaune said:

It's totally doable!! You just have to have an amp that has a very clean channel and have plenty of clean headroom. Meaning you have to be able to turn that amp up really loud on the clean channel and have a totally clean signal!! no breakup. If your amp has an effects loop it's probably better to go through the FX Return of the amp. Here is an example of going into the FX return of my Marshall JCM900. The audio here is from the back camera so it's not really studio refined. You can get an idea of what the Helix sounds like with a real amp.

 

Agree 100% on this , and sorry to derail the ot a bit Glenn, but heard some really nice sounding harmonies there without any of the other two band members moving their lips :-)

Are you using some sort of vocal harmoniser?

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On 6/11/2019 at 7:05 PM, antonio1961 said:

 

Agree 100% on this , and sorry to derail the ot a bit Glenn, but heard some really nice sounding harmonies there without any of the other two band members moving their lips :-)

Are you using some sort of vocal harmoniser?

Hi Antonio. Yes, Thank you I am using a harmonizer. I use this: 

tch-voicelive-3-persp.jpg

I've created my own custom patches (big surprise there right???) using the reverb & delays in this unit. That "Step" Button gets me into a long repeated delay that I use for big screams and long vocal lead lines. It's a very cool device. I don't know if they are still available though. Now they have the same one but it's black in color and they're charging $300 more. TC has some good products but they also have some very bad products (for vocalists). For example, stay away from the "HARMONY SINGER" pedals. This one though was a good one and it's on my main A board now and has been for about 18 months.

 

Regards,

 

Glenn DeLaune 
Website  |  Youtube Channel  |  Facebook  |  Line 6 Marketplace

 

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6 hours ago, GlennDeLaune said:

Hi Antonio. Yes, Thank you I am using a harmonizer. I use this: 

tch-voicelive-3-persp.jpg

I've created my own custom patches (big surprise there right???) using the reverb & delays in this unit. That "Step" Button gets me into a long repeated delay that I use for big screams and long vocal lead lines. It's a very cool device. I don't know if they are still available though. Now they have the same one but it's black in color and they're charging $300 more. TC has some good products but they also have some very bad products (for vocalists). For example, stay away from the "HARMONY SINGER" pedals. This one though was a good one and it's on my main A board now and has been for about 18 months.

 

Regards,

 

Glenn DeLaune 
Website  |  Youtube Channel  |  Facebook  |  Line 6 Marketplace

 

I love the Voicelive on vocals. I'm actually just switching to Helix, as I was using Voicelive (VL3 for ref) for guitars too. 

I have to say I think my voice sounds more defined with the helix. Just better. Like the mic pre is superior. 

I didn't want to ditch the VL3, so I setup command center to control it with the helix. Change presets, trigger harmony, etc... But I've changed my mind. 

- having midi to keep things synced is great but I'm just afraid of adding points of failure. I wanted the Helix to simplify my setup. 

- having both at my feet is just overwhelming. It's bad enough to not see my analog pedals, to have two bulky flashing units is a vibe killer to me. HOW BIG IS YOUR PEDALBOARD?. 

I'm in the process of finding the right setup, with a gig in 2 weeks and replacing everything. So I ended up borrowing my mate's harmony singer (yes, I know :) and put in in the vocal fx loop. Happy so far. I just do the harmonies with that. I loose control over different harmony settings, the doubler, etc... But I have everything on the helix and feel more "controlled".

I'm wondering if you've tried the mic on the Helix and how you think it compares to the VL3. 

The VL3 has been a great part of what I do now. But I believe I reached a point where I maxed it out and needed a bit more flexibility. But I love that thing! 

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Quote

I think the Helix is great as a pedalboard replacement in front of a clean tube amp. I've used it like that quite a lot.

 

Agreed. It may be a bit over-kill but It's all doable if you set it up right in Helix.

 

 

Quote

I love the Voicelive on vocals.

 

Me too- I have an Extreme and needed it badly LOL. The harmonies even for my vocals are awesome!

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30 minutes ago, spikey said:

Me too- I have an Extreme and needed it badly LOL. The harmonies even for my vocals are awesome!

So you do vocals exclusively through the Voicelive or fxloop from helix mic?. 

You guys must have huge rehearsal spaces!.

For what I'm doing now I don't need perfect beautifully placed harmonies. Rather more of a psicodelic mush... So the harmony singer is sort of enough for that, I place it early in the chain, fx loop, with the "gimme all them voices" setting and mix it back with the main vocal. Then compress, delay, maybe chorus or vibe... Depending on the song I might just use a tiny bit (say 15%) of the harmony fx loop for a subtle "pad" or a a whole lot more, preferably distorted and processed for a "WTF is that?" effect. 

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