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Interesting article...

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I wonder if he's tried the Helix yet.

 

Dr. Z on modeling tech

 

I read that earlier today - very interesting to see a highly regarded amp designer/builder talking of his embracing of technology.

It's an excellent attitude to have, and it seems to have paid dividends to him in terms of exposing even more people to the characteristics of his amps; that in turn apparently resulted in more interest and sales than before.

 

I'm all for tube technology continuing onward; I've spent time with them and honestly didn't really leverage everything I could have gotten from them, simply by way of the limitations of my environments.

But, ongoing development and creating of marvellous performing amps and sound systems inspires the creating/recreation of these and similar devices within the digital domain - I'm a lot happier hauling my Helix Rack & Control setup plus guitar(s) and sundries... with my Mono dual guitar gig back on my back like a mighty turtle, I can roll into and out of any given sit-in that I've done in one trip and without help.

And in the box is a wealth of sonic creative tools, many of which have come from the study of these tube devices.

And this is not even touching on the various other analog and digital devices captured/recreated for our enjoyment.

 

I have a lot of respect for Dr. Z (love the history on that name also, by the way) for taking steps to maintain the integrity of the profiles of his amps by taking that bull by the horns and creating his own profiles - if they make him happy, then they ought to satisfy anyone on the market for those profiles.

 

It's being said often in various other topics, and worth saying here as well; it's a remarkable and plentiful time to be a musician in need of such sound systems.

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Actually, I was just thinking earlier this week how many extra Mesa Lonestar and Friedman BE amps will get bought just on the awareness and strength of the models in the Helix.

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I've thought for awhile that tube amps would start to get more and more rare given the limited things tubes are being used for and how toxic they are to make. They are so toxic, and therefore expensive, to make here, that they don't even try to make them in the good 'ole USA. But, gee golly, where do they make them? I'll give you a hint, their enviormental guidelines aren't quite as stringent as they are in America.

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Actually, I was just thinking earlier this week how many extra Mesa Lonestar and Friedman BE amps will get bought just on the awareness and strength of the models in the Helix.

 

I briefly thought about just that with the Lonestar.  Then I came to my senses and remembered that I sold my Heartbreaker because I was tired of the chiropractor bills.  :lol:

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I've thought for awhile that tube amps would start to get more and more rare given the limited things tubes are being used for and how toxic they are to make. They are so toxic, and therefore expensive, to make here, that they don't even try to make them in the good 'ole USA. But, gee golly, where do they make them? I'll give you a hint, their enviormental guidelines aren't quite as stringent as they are in America.

Doubt it. just 'sayin.

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Doubt it. just 'sayin.

Try buying a new CRT TV...can't be done anymore. Nothing lasts forever, and sooner or later the demand for tubes simply won't exist. Won't happen overnight, but the day is coming.

 

The tone purists are rapidly aging, and the number of kids learning an instrument and really pursuing becoming a musician, even if only as a hobby, has been steadily dwindling for some time.... what with their relentless Tweeting and Facebooking, who has the time? 😤 And those who do have the talent and drive to play, are growing up with modelers. By the time I graduated from high school, my Marshall half stack and assorted pedals totaled at least $1500, quite possibly more...and that was in early 90's dollars (almost $2700 today, I looked it up, lol). Adjusted for inflation, Helix is an astounding bargain. I'd have been delerious with glee to have had access to this kind of tech, at this price, back then. Sooner or later, the bulk of guitarists will never even have been in the same room with a tube amp, and they'll go the way of the dodo. Everything does... (cue Brad Paisley's "Last Time For Everything" 😉)

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Well, as much as I do love tubes, their limitations really get in my way.  

I sold a Blackface Princeton RI some months ago and every now and then I reminisce about the way it sounded.  Then I remember that it really only had one wondrous sound... ONE.

I didn't care for its cranked sound nor the way it worked with pedals.  The sheen that I like to dial in for my clean sounds made the overdriven sounds way too buzzy for my liking so the only way to make it workable was to sacrifice some of that sheen to smooth out the overdrive sounds to some degree. This made both sounds a compromise and this is a maddening proposition to me. Here's this amp that has an amazing sound that I like but I can't use that sound if I want to use pedals in front of it.  Since even the lowly Boss GT-5, this compromise has, for me, ceased to exist. No those devices weren't quite there sonically but the instantaneous nature and flexibility of even those early pedals pretty much paved the way for me to move on from using tube amps. 

 

The Helix has a far superior feel to its amp simulations compared to other devices I've used but it still falls the tiniest (and I do mean tiny) bit short of the glory of the Princeton's one amazing (to me) sound and psychoacoustic effects. I'm sure this would apply to any great sounding tube amp... BUT, the degree to which modelers like the Helix have come to close that gap makes the loss pretty much negligible, at least, to me. I think that maybe the psychoacoustic (amp in the room) thing may be the last remaining hurdle.

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Then I remember that it really only had one wondrous sound... ONE

 

 

Yep... And that's why they are still out there. Its because you remember that "one" wonderous sound, like everyone else, and that keeps them around.  ;)

 

Not knocking Helix one bit in saying that either. But there's "still" a place for my H&K GM40 and Marshall DSL 100H in my studio too.

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Yep... And that's why they are still out there. Its because you remember that "one" wonderous sound, like everyone else, and that keeps them around. ;)

 

Not knocking Helix one bit in saying that either. But there's "still" a place for my H&K GM40 and Marshall DSL 100H in my studio too.

The thing that kept me from keeping mine is that that one sound isn’t nearly enough even when I’m just playing at home for my own enjoyment.

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The thing that kept me from keeping mine is that that one sound isn’t nearly enough even when I’m just playing at home for my own enjoyment.

 

I understand.  We guitar players are never really satisfied with gear and always looking for the next holy grail of tone. FWIW, Helix has kept me from looking for a while now.  :D

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The thing that kept me from keeping mine is that that one sound isn’t nearly enough even when I’m just playing at home for my own enjoyment.

 

Interesting... I've been playing professionally for over twenty years but I've never given a crap about tone at home for practicing. I still have the Crate practice amp I started with, and it's still what I use to learn songs. I am too lazy to set up my live rig in the LR...

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...  We guitar players are never really satisfied with gear and always looking for the next holy grail of tone. FWIW, Helix has kept me from looking for a while now.  :D

 

Me too, its not that I don't peek over the fence and salivate occasionally at the AX8 or the new 'Fractal AXE-FX III',  checked out the new Boss GT-1000, and even peered at the Headrush for a hot minute. The features and design of the Helix and its interoperability with Native and other HX products however make it the most compelling modeler out there to me. Every time I compare it with the competition I find it has my favorite options and design and I go no further. Not that the other guys don't have some features I would like to see incorporated into the Helix. It may not be all but the majority of the options most critical to me are in the Helix already, even the ones I didn't know I wanted or needed until they showed up. :D . 

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I understand. We guitar players are never really satisfied with gear and always looking for the next holy grail of tone. FWIW, Helix has kept me from looking for a while now. :D

I’m not looking for that holy grail of tone. The Helix gives me most of what I want tone wise. The Princeton, as I said, has its sweetspot. I just can’t use that sweetspot if I want to use a drive pedal as well.

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Interesting... I've been playing professionally for over twenty years but I've never given a crap about tone at home for practicing. I still have the Crate practice amp I started with, and it's still what I use to learn songs. I am too lazy to set up my live rig in the LR...

 

 

I am talking about playing for my own enjoyment, not practicing. I practice with my guitar unplugged mostly.

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I am talking about playing for my own enjoyment, not practicing. I practice with my guitar unplugged mostly.

 

Yeah, don't mind me. I've been working in this business too long. I don't remember the last time I played guitar just for the hell of it. That said my Helix just arrived and I anticipate not putting my guitar down for the rest of the day... :-)

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Yeah, don't mind me. I've been working in this business too long. I don't remember the last time I played guitar just for the hell of it. That said my Helix just arrived and I anticipate not putting my guitar down for the rest of the day... :-)

 

 

Sounds like you'll soon reacquaint yourself to playing for fun again.  I too have been playing professionally for many years (30+ in my case).

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