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Every now and then I seem to end up constructing a preset that really accentuates unwanted string noise to the point where is close to or as loud as the guitar signal.  String noise as in when you can hear every little slide and bit of friction applied by your fingers to the strings as if there was a microphone right next to your hands. It tends to happen more often as you would expect on higher gain tones but also sometimes on clean sounds. Haven't really analyzed it well enough to know whether it is a particular amp model or setting, EQ issue, compressor or other effect setting or whatever. When I do stumble across these I start mucking about with my amp settings and EQ primarily, bypassing effect blocks, etc. and generally trying to locate the source of the string noise but I have not really discovered the magic bullet. Most recently I am encountering it on a preset based on the 'Archetype Lead' amp set up for higher gain crunch and lead snapshots.

 

Anyone have any specific suggestions in general on what the most likely sources of string noise are and what to tweak to minimize it? I believe I have tried most of the more obvious cuts in the mids and highs but I seem to be missing something and could use some more specific suggestions. Could it be a pad or impedance setting? I usually use 'Auto' for the impedance unless I am using a fuzz block or something else that requires custom impedance settings. It happens on different guitars with different strings so it does not seem to be linked to one guitar, particular string set, or set of (microphonic)pickups.

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This is something that has been driving me nuts for a long time. I've sort of narrowed down the main culprit to 4k-4.5k. Using a parametric band, somewhere in that range, with a fairly high Q and approximately a 9dB (or more) cut minimizes it somewhat, but it remains, just not as loud. I'm sure it's not just that range, but others as well. I haven't found them yet. Or if I did, I rejected cutting the frequency because it affected the tone in a bad way. And like you mentioned, I notice it most with higher gain tones. Beyond that, I try to modify my playing technique so it doesn't occur, but that's not always easy.

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This is something that has been driving me nuts for a long time. I've sort of narrowed down the main culprit to 4k-4.5k. Using a parametric band, somewhere in that range, with a fairly high Q and approximately a 9dB (or more) cut minimizes it somewhat, but it remains, just not as loud. I'm sure it's not just that range, but others as well. I haven't found them yet. Or if I did, I rejected cutting the frequency because it affected the tone in a bad way. And like you mentioned, I notice it most with higher gain tones. Beyond that, I try to modify my playing technique so it doesn't occur, but that's not always easy.

 

Thanks for the response and the tip on localizing the EQ frequency. Yeah there is always a shot of Fingerease applied to the strings or playing techniques that minimize it but I am looking more to figure out which frequencies, amps, or effects are causing the problem. It appears to be a bump or maybe the mere existence of spot(s) in the frequency range exactly where you don't want them. Goes back to my point recently on the Tuner topic. You shouldn't have to adjust a decent playing technique to the Helix, it is pretty flexible and there is probably a way to dial down string noise already in the box. Maybe the noise has always been there on other devices but decades of playing through modelers, guitar amps and speaker cabs with far less clarity, high end, and articulation helped to mask it. It is a whole different ball of wax playing the Helix through an FRFR but I'm no novice to that at this point. Just need to figure out how to dial it out to an acceptable level without killing my tone on the presets where it is a problem.

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What's weird for me, is I've only ever really noticed it with high gain rhythm tracks. I don't think I've noticed it on clean or lead playing/tones. Just to be clear, my subjective take on unwanted string noise in the context of Helix is of a kind that is squelchy, high pitched, and easily cuts through an entire mix. Other sorts of string noise I don't mind at all as it can lend some character to the tone. Whenever I come across the unwanted kind, I try and find the cause and so far have mostly failed, but I don't make it a mission and go to great lengths either. It's just one of those recurring things I end up moving on from until the next time it annoys. So if you ever find the cause/solution-without-killing-the-tone, please let us know.

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This.

 

 

That!

 

Sorry, it is not "this" or "that". No denying that sloppy technique can cause string noise and improving your technique can minimize it but that is not what is happening here.  :)

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Sorry, it is not "this" or "that". No denying that sloppy technique can cause string noise and improving your technique can minimize it but that is not what is happening here.  :)

 

I only one problem with my guitar playing: Me.  :)

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I only one problem with my guitar playing: Me.   :)

 

You are a humble man, I salute you. And "me" is also my primary complaint when it comes to guitar. However, sometimes a good craftsman can blame his tools, or at least find a way to use them better. That is what I am trying to do here. As the Grateful Dead would have said, I think there is "help on the way". Just looking for some good tips that I can employ on the Helix. Believe me I will be doing my best on my end to make sure that you don't hear the sound of my fingers over the sound of my guitar.  :)

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Have you tried a set of halfround strings? 

 

Nope but thanks, good suggestion, those can help. Still looking for a way to dial it out on the Helix though.

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What's weird for me, is I've only ever really noticed it with high gain rhythm tracks. I don't think I've noticed it on clean or lead playing/tones. Just to be clear, my subjective take on unwanted string noise in the context of Helix is of a kind that is squelchy, high pitched, and easily cuts through an entire mix. Other sorts of string noise I don't mind at all as it can lend some character to the tone. Whenever I come across the unwanted kind, I try and find the cause and so far have mostly failed, but I don't make it a mission and go to great lengths either. It's just one of those recurring things I end up moving on from until the next time it annoys. So if you ever find the cause/solution-without-killing-the-tone, please let us know.

 

Your comment above describes what I am talking about perfectly although I have noticed it on both rhythm and lead tones, actually more so on leads or arpeggios where it really jumps out at me and there tends to be more slides and movement laterally across the strings.  Rhythm guitar at least has enough going on to mask it for me somewhat. Definitely not looking for nor expecting a total absence of noise. A little string noise, especially on acoustic guitar, adds character. String noise so loud it sounds like someone scraping a string across an SM57 microphone and actually competing with a clean lead or even a loud overdriven electric guitar lead - gnarly sounding, not pleasing, and very distracting. Your approach to fixing it also appears to be exactly the same as mine. I eventually get exasperated trying to track it down and just move on until the next time, usually abandoning that preset. If I ever figure it out I will be sure to try and post what worked, at least for me.

 

I think you are on the right track though. Some very narrow Q and relatively extreme dB cuts, probably in more than one spot seems to be headed in the right direction and is something I have tried on multiple occasions although I really appreciate it when someone suggests what specific frequencies to look for and how much to cut(as you did). One cut never seems to get it though and I usually manage to kill my tone or give up before I can get  the noise down to an acceptable level. Have spent some serious time on this when I run into it. It actually surprises me that it is so elusive as you would think it would be just like cutting any other unwanted frequencies or undesirable part of your tone. I'm pretty handy with a parametric and not afraid to use an aggressive high-cut when it is required. It almost seems like something in the signal chain is jacking up the level so high on those frequencies peculiar to "string noise" that the usual EQ methods don't knock them out. When it does pop up it also seems like it is all over the frequency spectrum. I need a magical "String Noise Gate" or custom EQ setting for this.  ;)

 

I hope some other folks take note and post back any tips on how they addressed it next time they encounter this problem. Thankfully this is not something you run into that often but it has happened enough times that I would love to track down the root cause and I hate having to abandon an otherwise excellent preset tone.

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 I probably wont tell you anything you don't already know, but maybe i'll get lucky enough to jar brain into finding a compromise. Technique has been mentioned obviously. I know how you're dying to hear that one again  ;)  Type of string and more importantly string gauge. Larger strings are going to heighten the sensation. On numerous occasions i've had to have guitar players including myself alter string gauge and/or string type (maybe coated)for the part. Its just the best short term option. Asking someone to alter their technique right on the spot, is asking a lot as duncann pointed out. Similar to a singer who produce lots of sibilance. Its mostly caused by their technique but good luck getting them to change on the spot.

 

All this as you can imagine becomes a much bigger issue on an acoustic guitar. Above those ideas, in a recording scenario you could lean on automation. Live i would probably tend to lean more towards gating. A slightly longer attack time on a properly set gate (specifically frequency dependent gating) can really shave some of the front end off the "sqwuak" and soften the "artifact".   I tend to stay away from EQ, but thats me. My feeling is that your guitar sound shouldnt have to suffer overall to rectify minor nuances....of course you can always just snapshot it for the appropriate parts.

 

I've always thought of the problem as three fold. The part being played, the technique, and the gauge/type of string. Something's got to give. You'll have to decide what. Though, if you think about it, this is not really a job for processing, as you are basically asking it to remove a sound. Good luck.

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I don’t feel like I’ve had to adjust my playing to Helix in this regard. The presets I use don’t seem to have any more or less accentuation of string noise than any of the amps I’ve played over the years. That said, if you nail down any specific frequencies, I would be interested in seeing how an EQ might be used to notch them out.

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I have to agree that I don't experience this any more than I have with any amps I've owned.  However I do tend to experience this problem more with acoustic than with any of my electric guitars, and I can mitigate it to a large degree by managing compression a bit better.  But I also have to admit that I've had quite a few technique issues I've had to come to terms with on the Helix over the last couple of years where the lower noise floor and better articulation and clarity of my setup brings some of these noise artifacts into play more than they were through traditional amps.  I'm not so sure if it's the Helix as much as it is the output method of using better and more efficient speakers.  Either way it's forced me to clean up some sloppiness which I view as a good thing.

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I have to agree that I don't experience this any more than I have with any amps I've owned.  However I do tend to experience this problem more with acoustic than with any of my electric guitars, and I can mitigate it to a large degree by managing compression a bit better.  But I also have to admit that I've had quite a few technique issues I've had to come to terms with on the Helix over the last couple of years where the lower noise floor and better articulation and clarity of my setup brings some of these noise artifacts into play more than they were through traditional amps.  I'm not so sure if it's the Helix as much as it is the output method of using better and more efficient speakers.  Either way it's forced me to clean up some sloppiness which I view as a good thing.

 

Agree with most of this but not the part about not experiencing it "any more than with other amps I have owned". I know you are also an experienced player but I have run into excessive string noise, albeit not very often, more frequently through the Helix to FRFR than any rig I have owned before and that covers decades. To me there is a clear difference between playing the Helix thru an FRFR versus playing through most tube amps thru a guitar cab. When whatever combination of input block, amp, effects, EQ or whatever it is that causes this gets going it creates a level of string noise that I have rarely to never heard through a traditional tube amp rig, or even direct to PA in the case of an acoustic. Unsurprisingly it does happen on acoustic where there tends to be more string noise anyway, as well as electric. It is somewhat mystifying to me as I have played acoustics directly through the PA many times over the years which is essentially a form of FRFR and not had this issue be so severe.

 

Maybe it is as simple as the Helix's ability to jack up the signal level pretty significantly but maybe there is more to it. Another issue is just being able to hear things in the signal more clearly that have always been there but were more attenuated through other rigs. To some extent this is due to modelers and FRFRs getting better and more powerful and rendering every part of the signal perfectly, even the parts you would rather not show up. You have to dial that stuff out yourself.

 

The Helix through a good FRFR on certain settings(not sure what they are) is capable of picking up on sonic nuances and unfortunately sometimes emphasizing certain frequencies that just don't ordinarily show up in most other rigs I have played. Maybe I just got lucky but I have played through a fairly wide array of equipment including other modelers.  In general you always want the noise floor, in this case string noise, to stay substantially below the pickup level. The sensitivity and clarity of the Helix via FRFR is a blessing and a curse. Usually the former, but not when it comes to string noise. 

 

I think in some respects the string noise issue is similar to why you hear new users complaining about their high end being piercing. Again it is the clarity of a top notch modeler thru an FRFR. Those frequencies may have been present but were not near as perceptible on their old rigs. The string noise issue is similar in this respect. You have to learn how to set the Helix properly through an FRFR and sometimes perhaps this applies to string noise as well as overall tone. Just not sure exactly how to go about it in the case of string noise and I do want to reiterate this is far from a constant problem.

 

I think some players will never run into this issue depending on the settings, amps, effects, guitar, EQ,  etc. that they use, especially if they don't use an FRFR as a monitor. I prefer using an FRFR for a variety of reasons that have been explained well by others elsewhere. For me excessive string noise is an issue I would like to be able to consistently solve when I run into it. It seems to be a bit trickier than just getting my mids and high-end dialed in properly. Luckily I don't encounter it too often.

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A point I thought worth mentioning is I can't recall ever hearing excessive string noise when I was using the HD. Maybe it was still there, just better hidden because of reasons stated directly above by HO. An excessive clarily present in Helix relative to the HD.

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I have found that the more I have tweaked my tone to get the "chime" on my strats and teles, the more it accentuates the "finger gliding down the string" noise. I am not going to compromise my settings because I want the "chime". So, I am more conscientious about my playing technique. I am being more conscious of lifting my fretting fingers completely off the strings and muting with my pick hand as I move my fretting hand up/down the fret-board. This means that I also have to move my fretting hand into position faster in most cases so that the playing is more fluid. 

 

Just something to keep in mind. 

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I think we're saying something of the same thing here.  I remember years ago when I was first trying to work as a studio musician having to battle and clean up a lot of my technique once I got into a studio and everything was getting captured on my track.  Once my sound was completely isolated and captured verbatim, it was a LOT noisier than I was ever used to on stage.  Some of that may have been reflected in the PA's of the time, but the PA's then, as they are now, were dealing with a much higher noise floor on stage than in a studio.

 

What we have now witj an FRFR type setup is MUCH more similar to playing in an isolation booth in a studio than it is any kind of live stage performance.  In my case I just accepted it in the same way as I did back then realizing I needed to adjust some of my technique to minimize it.  I could be wrong in that regard in that there may be some sort of digital filter that could minimize it, but it's just the way I chose to adapt to it.

 

Acoustic however seems to be another animal altogether.  I've seen a number of great acoustic performances on YouTube in which there's a lot of string noise, some of which probably could be mediated by mic and mic placement....and probably the same could be done on the Helix.  I've included an example below that I shared with a friend and all he could say was the string noise was a distraction for him.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA7vUi3ZZ8w 

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I want to add to this thread, but it may not be of much help...

 

I noticed when I got the Helix the note attack is right there. It is quite aggressive, but also clear. This means you can hear the attack in a mix, and it gives clarity to the playing.

 

The downside is it does seem to have more string noise, and accentuates any mess ups, or sloppy technique. This is how I work with it:

 

Context - I am a studio only musician, not doing any live for the foreseeable future -

 

I first use a noise gate, only for tracking, at the input block. When I ReAmp, I turn off the gates in Helix. Then I send the clean signal trough Fabfilter's Pro-G gate plugin, then through HX Native for ReAmping. Pro-G is far more flexible then the gates in Helix, or most other gate plugins for that matter.

 

Secondly I use Fretwrap, or the ceaphus wraps. You could find alternatives to use. This helps reduce string talk/crossover.

 

Finally, I try to compensate with improving my technique. Which isn't all that great to begin with. I Try to be more deliberate in my technique/playing.

 

The Helix shows detail, but the downside to that is it shows blemishes. Much like high resolution in gaming... Some would call this a "blessing and a curse." However, I tend to be more realistic, and not view/cloud my reality with irrelevant obsolete superstition. I see it more as a pro & con.

 

The con in this instance forces me to do the 3 things I listed above, with more emphasis on the final point, improving my technique... (not just with playing, but things like transitioning from pressing record to my first hand positions are on the guitar)

 

Hope this helps.

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.... Some would call this a "blessing and a curse." However, I tend to be more realistic, and not view/cloud my reality with irrelevant obsolete superstition. I see it more as a pro & con.

...

 

Thanks for posting and I am utterly entertained and in concert with this statement. You are definitely speaking to someone who embraces the Copernican and Darwinian Revolutions. I actually considered rephrasing that when I wrote it for the same reason. I will for sure be going with pro & con or some other synonyms next time. "Bless" you, I mean "pro" you, for writing this!   :D

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Lol, I just get tired of the expectation to be invested in other peoples make-beliefs, while so many disregard facts, and self-evident truths. 😎 It is one reason we have the worst administration yet in the country I live in unfortunately, but I am starting to get into rant territory. Lol

 

On topic of string noise/pick attack, and showing blemishes reminds me of the Evo pickups. (those that Steve Vai used) They were supposed to be clear, but will emphasize any mistakes, or fumbles. That was at least how they were marketed.

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...

 

On topic of string noise/pick attack, and showing blemishes reminds me of the Evo pickups. (those that Steve Vai used) They were supposed to be clear, but will emphasize any mistakes, or fumbles. That was at least how they were marketed.

 

I kind of look at it look this. I want the device I play my guitar through to sound as good as possible and that is not just about clarity, wide frequency range, and perfect reproduction of the source signal when it comes to guitar. I am not looking for the sound of a guitar through the family Hi-Fi. If I wanted that I would play my guitar through a McIntosh stereo on stage and be done with it. IMHO and in fact I think most peoples', whether they are aware of it or not, the guitar sounds best within a narrower section of the frequency range with certain frequencies emphasized or de-emphasized in the right spots. There are quirks about where in that range the frequency response should be weaker or stronger that tend to make the guitar sound more "musical", admittedly varying greatly but not entirely according to the taste of the player or listener.

 

Stating the obvious but playing guitar has an innately physical component that involves moving your hands across strings that are generally wound and generate noise when friction is applied. That is part of the instrument and capturing some of it as has been stated above lends it part of its unique character. However, for the most part, no one is interested in hearing that part of the signal in equal or even close to equal measure to the pickups' signal. Part of the job in my opinion of a great modeler is to do some of the heavy lifting for me and get me in the ballpark of a "good sound", subjective as that may be, by having a good working knowledge of frequencies that are likely to sound terrible or cause problems and de-emphasizing them. Two critical components of that are generally going to be making it as easy as possible to control excessive response on the high and low end of the signal and minimizing string noise. I say "helping to control" because just eliminating them would probably severely impact the flexibility half of the equation and affect the tone adversely.

 

I do understand the incredible challenge, or even paradox the device manufacturer has to resolve in trying to provide something that provides the flexibility to suit a multitude of tastes and an infinite variety of guitars and monitoring equipment. In other words, without knowing what signal will be input, and subsequently what will be used for output they need to make certain predictive assumptions and provide methodology to provide maximum flexibility without turning the process of getting a good sound into a full-time job suitable only for rocket surgeons. An incredibly difficult thing to achieve and that's why they get paid the big bucks(or at least they should).

 

One of the reasons many modelers offer multiple global output options e.g. "Line", "Combo Amp", "Stack", etc. is to provide a starting EQ and signal level profile that may be better suited to the rig the guitarist is using. That sort of option is one element of the implementation of predictive design I was referring to. In the case of an FRFR, pretty much all the tone shaping needs to happen on the guitar and the Helix, it is not going to happen on the FRFR. That is a very different requirement than that of a combo amp where the sound is largely determined by the inherent limitations and design of the preamp, power amp, and most of all the extremely limited range and frequency response of the guitar cabinet, all of which are specifically designed to provide great guitar tone. Although there are limitations there is more latitude in many respects for what the Helix can output to a combo amp and still get a great tone. With an FRFR, most everything needs to happen upstream on the guitar and Helix.

 

As users I believe it is incumbent upon us to do our best to learn how this powerful and complex tool works and participate actively in getting "our" tone. The Helix is a flexible piece of pro-level equipment, I don't expect to have things handed to me on a silver platter. More than willing to get my hands dirty, a little guidance on some of the more challenging issues is critical though. I have to say though that I prefer not to be presented with a tabula rasa where every part of the signal is co-equal and my jumping off point is having to figure out how to get rid of the nasty bits. I'm just lazy that way. Not saying the Helix does that but it is still IMHO trickier in some scenarios than it needs to be to get rid of parts of the signal you generally don't want to be hearing. Using a high quality FRFR with a relatively wide frequency range and frequency response that is even across that range tends to make it even more challenging to get to a subjectively "great" guitar tone. I find string noise and spikey high end to be the primary culprits that have to be dealt with. The FRFR is more work for sure but well worth it when you get there and it provides you with the ability to faithfully mimic or create a huge range of tones.

 

I have a pretty good handle on the methods for getting my high/low end right but still feel profoundly challenged by string noise. Thankfully there is the forum as well as the active participation by Line6 developers and product managers in assisting us in the process of getting great tone. It would be very helpful to see Line6 chime in with some recommendations here that can be done on the Helix on how to pull back on string noise.  As previously stated I do what I can on my end with guitar strings and technique but you can't rewrite the laws of physics. String noise, to a lesser or greater extent, is inherent and even desirable in the instrument. It just needs to be in the proper balance to the pickup signal.

 

UPDATE: HX Edit 2.51 just released. Not expecting anyone to give a hoot about this post and who can blame 'em.  :)

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I agree with you on basically everything you said.

At first I didn't like the pick attack on helix, now I like it to the point where I would miss it if it wasn't there.

I too would like to see L6, or even other pros address this. But I aM with you on the balance. Just wouldn't want to give up too much of that nice pick attack.

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