Jump to content
johnbeamon

[Solved] input gain, different pickups, all amps dirty, Pad vs Gain block, etc

Recommended Posts

Greetings. Helix owner 2wks now. Have made several presets from scratch for both guitar and bass. Spent most of setup playing with SD 59er pickups, which I would have called "vintage, medium-output" humbuckers. I've finally plugged in my P90s and another "medium-output HB" guitar, and they're dramatically lower. I'd like to configure the input levels for guitar changes, preferably by bumping the lower guitars up a tad for the sake of my drives. BUT, I may need to pad input and incorporate some sort of gain block or boost. These are my symptoms.

 

I found during initial setup that my 59ers made practically every amp model dirty out-of-box and most of the drives really gnarly. I presumed this was intentional because guitar players like breakup, but I've been kind of fighting with it. I had to run my bass (only active pickups I own) through AUX, and even then every bass amp came out dirty except A360. I read on helixhelp.com (unofficial, but good) just today to turn on Global Pad and leave it. I wouldn't have thought to pad passive pickups out-of-box in a million years. So now I have presets configured around my 59ers that my other guitars won't breakup at all and feel like I need to go fix everything.

 

I clearly "did it wrong" in some way, 'cause the lighter pickups sound awesome even in their cleanness. I need to do SOMETHING LIKE "global pad, then either a gain block or a Kinky Boost for the quieter guitars". I configure 4 snaps/ 4 stomps and change guitars maybe twice a set, so I'd rather not consume a footswitch for this. What are the common ways to normalize input, both for my too-driven issue and for different pickup types? Thanks, y'all.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Humbuckers will almost always be "hotter" then single coils and tend to push amps a little harder. 

 

I go about this by making different presets for different guitars. 

 

If you want to "clean up" the amps, play around with lowering the drive and master parameters and raising the bias and channel volume

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Humbuckers will almost always be "hotter" then single coils and tend to push amps a little harder. 

 

This is known. I tried lowering drive and master to clean up amps. I lowered until the volume totally went away. Even the bass amps and the Fender guitar amps were still driven with pre-gains at 25%. That's what prompted me to think this was a system-wide configuration problem.

 

I'm also specifically trying NOT to make guitar-specific copies of everything. But, I do appreciate that I asked how people are doing it, and you answered. I'm hoping to fix the input dynamics with a push-button solution. Something like a Global Pad plus LA comp-limiter plus Gain block might do the job, normalizing the volume without normalizing tone and dynamics. I could put that pickup control block in a Template and use it at will. It's just a question of how best to implement it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only thing "global" for this is the input pad to tame the hot humbuckers. Other that if you want to use the same presets for different guitars, you may want to build yourself a few "template" presets that utilize gain blocks or different amp settings for different guitars. 

 

There isn't going to be a "push button solution" to make a guitar with hot buckers play the same (tonally and dynamically) as a single coil guitar. 

 

I even have some presets that are specific to different single coil guitars just because of the those differences. I have some that sound great with my strat, and not so great with the tele. And vice versa. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That this can't even be approximated is hard to believe. I used a Keeley Comp Pro with very minimal adjustments to share a rig between 59 HBs and P90s. (Strats and Teles are not on my list.) All I had to move was the release switch and about "2hrs" on the Level knob. I'll keep an eye on the thread and take this on as a project. From everything I've read today instead of working, I'm fairly impressed that the 59 HBs and active bass pickups are buzzing all the amps for lack of a Global Pad. The padded 6db can be restored to the chain at the Input's Level out or with a Gain block or the Level out of the comp I always start with. That leaves the P90 bump for a Gain block, which I might just leave under the joystick and click it when I change guitars. That's not much real estate sacrificed if it gets the job done, and it's extremely portable. I'll try to get that tested by tomorrow night and post an opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why not just ad a Gain Block as the first block in your chain?  Set it to lower the DB of the hotter pickups if you want to clean it up.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The fact is your signal chain is dependent on the signal input and it's more than just signal level.  Everything following it will be reflective of it because it builds off of it.  It's just physics and the response of the circuits to a given signal.  Even on the same physical (non modeled) amp, different guitars with different pickups will sound different.  That's because they're supposed to.

 

I perform with a variety of guitars including a Les Paul, Strat, Tele, Gretsch hollowbody, and a Gretsch rectifier.  They all use different presets because I design the preset for that specific guitar.  I could play a different guitar through that preset, but it's not going to sound the same without some serious surgery on the signal chain.  Even then it's likely to be somewhat different than the original.

 

In my pre-modeling days if I used a different guitar I knew it was going  to sound different and made adjustments to the amp.  At least now I'll get the consistent sound I want when I change the guitar and the preset.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The answer should be just to put a simple gain block (volume > gain on the block menu, not an overdrive or boost) as the first block in the signal chain. No matter how loud your HB pickups are, they will quiet. You can turn that gain block down to 0.1 if you have to, but the loudest active pickup humbucker played with the claw end of a roofing hammer will get quieter than the weakest single coil played with a sleeping butterfly's wing. And the reverse is true; even if one gain block doesn't have enough boost by itself, you can stack 2, or even 3 as long as there isn't a lot of input noise. There isn't anything that turning off the input pad and  inserting a gain block reducing the volume of the HB guitar shouldn't fix.

 

But, if I'm understanding correctly what you are reporting , I actually wonder whether there isn't something wrong with your particular Helix unit. I alternate between 4 different electric guitars (2 single coil, 2 humbucker), and I've never experienced this to the degree you are reporting. Yes, the presets made for one guitar don't sound as good with another guitar, but nothing like the dramatic difference in breakup it sounds like you are getting.

 

What stands out most to me is that your HB guitar overdrives the amps even if you turn the amp gain all the way down until you have zero volume. That shouldn't be the case in most of the amp models for any passive pickups, no matter how loud they are. Please clarify a couple things.

 

(1) Does the HB guitar overdrive every amp model the way you describe? (I think your answer is "yes," but have you tried the Highwatt and JC120?)

 

(2) Do the other guitars fail to overdrive every other amp model the way you describe. (Again, I think your answer is "yes," but try the Placater, I don't think it has a setting that isn't saturated with gain.)

 

(3) Have you tried bypassing every block in the signal chain other than the amp/cab (or for blocks that have a "headroom" parameter, have you tried turning all of those to the highest setting)?

 

(4) This might be silly, but are you running a preamp block into an amp block? I could actually see that being a good explanation for what you're reporting. Also check whether you are using an amp block with no cab or IR block, an amp/cab block into another cab or an IR block, a cab block into an IR block, or any other combination that isn't 1 amp going into 1 cab per parallel path. 

 

(5) Related, are you using an amp that has two drive channels (Divided by 13, Lonestar, Mark IV Lead, etc.)?

 

(6) Do you have the noise gate in the input block turned on? Is it set to something extreme?

 

(7) Does the same thing happen with all the factory presets as well (both clean and dirty presets)?

 

If those all check out, does the HB guitar stop overdriving amps as you roll off the guitar's volume knob? If it cleans up, does it clean up gradually, or all of a sudden  past a certain threshold?If you plug one of the quieter guitars into an external compressor like the Keeley you mentioned, and then into the Helix, and push the level on the compressor up to max, can you get it to overdrive the amps? 

 

If you can't isolate what is causing the problem running it through all of that, I'd guess there is something wrong with your Helix unit. I'm assuming the guitars and the instrument cable you're using all work as expected in other setups. I'm interested to see what it turns out to be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My only active pickups are in my bass, and I started using it through AUX. The problem with all amp models distorting was resolved by activating Global Input Pad.

 

I've been avoiding the idea of writing separate patches for every guitar. I played several guitars into my old pedalboard with a simple compressor Level change. I added a comp to some of my current patches, 25% mix and about 40% actual compression, and they're much better with P90s now. I still feel like I have to iron this detail out better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I may ask one stupid question...

 

why play other guitars if you want it to always sound the same?  

 

I have never adjusted anything much BUT volume for different guitars.  With Amps or modelers.  

Obviously you’ll have some  presets tailored for a specific guitar.  But if you use a generic preset with different guitars, embrace the differences.  

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

im glad i saw this post because since i put the pad on I think im gonna keep it on,it smooth out the sound for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/2/2018 at 11:06 AM, johnbeamon said:

 

On 7/13/2018 at 8:31 PM, dandesy said:

If I may ask one stupid question...

 

why play other guitars if you want it to always sound the same?  

 

I have never adjusted anything much BUT volume for different guitars.  With Amps or modelers.  

Obviously you’ll have some  presets tailored for a specific guitar.  But if you use a generic preset with different guitars, embrace the differences.  

 

My original question was specifically about volume, emphasis copied from the original.

 

 What are the common ways to normalize input, both for my too-driven issue and for different pickup types? Thanks, y'all.

 

The Global Input Pad thing was a surprise; I was shocked that every amp in a Helix distorted that early with ordinary guitars. You said the only thing you've ever adjusted was volume, as did I. I was hoping the "Auto Impedance" setting could be leveraged in some way, but that didn't prove useful. This thread isn't the only place I've been told "well why don't you just write different presets for different guitars?", and in some cases outright rudely. Those were a lot of the same people who groused about fixing all 500 of their reverbs when 2.60 came out. My material best uses preset as rigs, not as songs, so I was naturally inclined to make one change instead of many. I've got a modest compressor setup, and I can make a subtle adjustment in Level between guitars. A simple EQ or a 3-band comp could do that in more detail, but then all my guitars would "sound the same" at the expense of more DSP. This'll do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/13/2018 at 8:31 PM, dandesy said:

If I may ask one stupid question...

 

why play other guitars if you want it to always sound the same?  

 

I have never adjusted anything much BUT volume for different guitars.  With Amps or modelers.  

Obviously you’ll have some  presets tailored for a specific guitar.  But if you use a generic preset with different guitars, embrace the differences.  

 

You make a good and interesting point - "vive la difference". I think many players like to both embrace the difference between for example a Les Paul and a Strat but also modify their settings to take advantage of and optimize the sound of their guitars' individual characteristics as matched to the preset. I often find the two goals, maintaining the guitar's unique character and optimizing the preset aren't mutually exclusive unless you are over-processing the signal to the point of every guitar sounding close to the same. With that said I'm certainly for any hint,quick fix, or setting that allows fundamentally different guitar and pickup variations to sound good on the same preset.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×