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Tips From The Vets For New User


timtim-
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Hey guys!

 

Just got my Helix LT delivered today, and I'm super stoked to dive into it.

 

I've had an Eleven Rack for several years, but I was never fully satisfied with it. I've seen where some people haven't exactly loved the Helix at first until they figured out that setting "x" needed to be configured in a certain way.

 

SO...That being said, do any of the more experienced users have any tips, advice, things to avoid etc.? Any and all advice welcome as I'm hoping to avoid some beginner pitfalls if at all possible. 

 

Thanks, and happy holidays!

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I am by no means a Vet or expert and much closer to your experience level with Helix. But a few thoughts to pass on from a few months of ownership.

 

- Don’t let great get in the way of good. PLenty of time to chase nirvana and that perfect tone in your head. But chasing it from the beginning gives you tunnel vision and you ignore some cool options

 

- read the manual, then read it again. Keep a list of things you want to learn more about or better understand. Half of my list I deleted because what I thought I needed to learn changed. Or that I learned it along the way.

 

- Keep in mind us Helix tone-chasers can be split into two groups; those looking to create (or re-create) their own tone and those that are looking to mimic an artist-specific or song-specific tone. The latter want a solution....now.. :). That will lead some to third party markets where for a coupe bucks someone has replicated a tone. On their guitar. Tweaking is involved. The group chasing their own tone might love to tinker more. Sound engineers would be a third group actually.

 

- the forum is packed with unbeliebeable help, experience and knowledge. Searching it can be daunting but it is there.

 

- Speaking of hours, I am finding it to be a huge learning curve, but a fun one. I’ve learned more about effects and outcomes not specific to Helix. Give it time.

 

- Back to not letting great get in the way of good. There are thousands of combinations and expertise in each amp, cabinet, mic, effect, etc. The box is a collection of hundreds of rabbit holes you can fall into. Step back out, crank up the volume and have fun. I’m finding it is more an evolution.

 

- YouTube is a great resource.... as always.

 

Just some thoughts but I think you are going to be quite pleased with what you can accomplish.

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That "X" setting is a bit elusive without knowing your intended use for your Helix.  It's different for studio work than it is for live work, and it's different for live work depending on whether you're using a FRFR speakers and direct FOH setup, or using 4CM through a traditional amp and cab, or through a power amp with traditional cabinet.  Lots of great tips for any of those, but only useful for your specific intended application.

 

That being said, the one tip I would give you above all others is to avoid the temptation to use global EQ settings.  There's nothing you can do in global EQ that you can't do in a patch.  But once you apply global EQ you can't undo it in any of your patches.  As stated in the documentation, reserve global EQ for variations in acoustics for a given room and you'll be safe.

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I suggest that you avoid using IRs until you have thoroughly explored the Helix features and capabilities, especially the cab and mic models. IRs can be a great tone shaping tool for some but the sheer volume of possibilities is a learning curve in itself and, imho, better left until later.

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Not a vet at all, but I've put probably 1000+ hours playing on it.  Maybe 5% of that time turning knobs.

 

My thoughts are you don't need to be a pro or vet to get killer tones.  I spent some time up front reading and watching youtube videos on how to set up patches.  I use all the stock options, no impulses or anything added.  Stock cabs sound amazing to me.  

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Every time I start thinking I might be a vet, I learn something new and it gets me to look at how I use Helix in some new way.  There's usually a few different ways to accomplish something in Helix . So, my advice would be "Don't get stuck thinking anything has to be done a certain way". 

 

That and "Use High-Cuts" for stock cabs or IRs.  

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If coming from traditional amps to a FRFR setup, whenever you are dissatisfied with your sound, investigate overall volume first. (i.e. Channel Volume, Gain at the output of the Helix, Master Volume, the volume controls on your speaker.)

 

Our ears play tricks on us when it comes to overall volume - the exact same signal can sound very different at different levels, and yet it often doesn't seem to be because of volume (even though it is).

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There are so many variables its good to focus on some "stripped down" settings and presets you can rely and build upon. Start simple. Maybe start with a simple patch for clean, one for crunch, one for high-gain.

 

> Experiment with your guitar volume and tone settings along with a chosen amp/cab choice to learn how the volume, tone, gain settings inter-react.

> Create some stripped-down presets using just amp and cabinet (or IR).

> Afterwards, copy a stripped-down preset to a blank preset, and use it to build more elaborate presets by adding FX blocks, snapshots etc.

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all of the above plus.....

 

Make your presets at high (gig) volume and with speakers (FRFR, PA, etc) off the floor on poles. My first mistake was using FRFR (PA) speakers in the wedge position on the floor. I ended up with thin shrill tone when going through PA with band.

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  • 3 years later...
On 12/26/2017 at 1:18 AM, Joepeggio said:

all of the above plus.....

 

Make your presets at high (gig) volume and with speakers (FRFR, PA, etc) off the floor on poles. My first mistake was using FRFR (PA) speakers in the wedge position on the floor. I ended up with thin shrill tone when going through PA with band.

 

This is great advice. I use a Powercab+212 and had it wedge stye on the floor. My patches weren't terrible, but i definitely needed to dial down some highs. 

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Don't overdo drive. An overly distorted sound can sound good by itself, but doesn't necessarily play well with others - whether it's other players in a band, or a guitar track in a recording. The less drive, the more definition. It's worth trying to find the sweet spot of dirt and definition. 

 

If you want to come up with your own sounds (rather than replicate existing ones) consider asking "what if?" instead of "how do I?" What if I run two cabs in parallel? What if I put EQ before or after compression? What if I put two tremolos in series? What if I use the input frequency split to bi-amp distortion or reverb? As you'll experiment, some of the "what ifs" will fail, but some will sound really cool :)

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On 12/22/2017 at 12:40 AM, timtim- said:

Hey guys!

 

Just got my Helix LT delivered today, and I'm super stoked to dive into it.

 

I've had an Eleven Rack for several years, but I was never fully satisfied with it. I've seen where some people haven't exactly loved the Helix at first until they figured out that setting "x" needed to be configured in a certain way.

 

SO...That being said, do any of the more experienced users have any tips, advice, things to avoid etc.? Any and all advice welcome as I'm hoping to avoid some beginner pitfalls if at all possible. 

 

Thanks, and happy holidays!

 

I could write a book about my experience with this, going from fairly unhappy with results to getting some very good results. There are a couple of fundamental go to things to do and then beyond that, like Peter Hamm just mentioned - make your own presets. I used to see these great youtube demos and then there were the preset packs you could buy but none of them ever really worked for me, and it can be pretty demoralising. Then i discovered i could make better presets myself because i was dialling in every parameter to suit my equipment. It's hard to imagine how different sounding these presets can be from one persons gear to another, but they really are.

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3 hours ago, Paulzx said:

 I used to see these great youtube demos and then there were the preset packs you could buy but none of them ever really worked for me, and it can be pretty demoralising. Then i discovered i could make better presets myself because i was dialling in every parameter to suit my equipment. It's hard to imagine how different sounding these presets can be from one persons gear to another, but they really are.

 

Amen, brother! When you consider the variables - strings, string gauge, string age, pickups, which pickup you're using, pickup placement, pickup angle, pole piece adjustments, body and neck materials, pick, levels, musical genre, and playing style, if a preset done by someone else works for you, it's luck.

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Only 2 advice and I am not a veteran at all:

  1. Stick to very few amps at the beginning.
    May be even only one or two, which you know from real live. When I started using the Helix I  played around with too many amps and effects  and got totally overwhelmed by all the possibilities. I ended up with a big mess.
  2. Check out Jason Sadites Channel on Youtube . 
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