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BBD_123

Guitar input pad - does you or doesn't you?

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Guitar input pad on or off? It's a big decision imho, which I fudge by turning the pad on but putting a +5.5dB gain block front of chain for single coil tones. The hottest humbucker I use is a JB bridge (not right up against the strings :-) ) and it's too hot for pad off. A bit scratchy and farty with the JC 120 even with gain right down to 1.0.

 

Very interested in what you all do with the pad, and why you went for on or off. Please, share your thoughts :-)

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I use a fairly wide range of guitars and consequently pickups that include a Les Paul w/ Burstbucker Pro, Tele and Strat Elites with 4th generation noiseless single-coils, a Gretsch Silver Falcon with Filter'Tron pickups and I've always left the pad alone and had no problems with any of my patches.  But all of my patches are built for the specific guitar that will be used with it.

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Okay, one vote for off, with the hottest hb the BB Pro (I think, as not played the Filter'Trons).

 

 

 

 

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I don’t use it at all, but only because it is not currently assignable by preset. All of my presets are guitar-specific and remembering which ones I need to manually switch the pad on/off for is just impractical. I actually like how it helps me dial in humbucker tones, and if I could assign it per preset, for instance if it lived in the input block like the gate, I would use it. But I can’t. So I dont.

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I keep the pad OFF at all times. I have tons of guitars and each sounds different. I like them that way.

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I only turn it on for EMGs, and I am not convinced I even need it in this case.

 

For everything else, including fairly hot pickups like a Super Distortion or a Duncan JB, it's off.

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One vote for "on." I have a frankenstrat with the EMG DG-20 set. I leave it on to give me headroom for using the eq boost, if the mood strikes.

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Thanks for your thoughts...

 

After over a year of leaving the pad off, I finally decided that actually, the hbs *do* sound better with it on - including low-wind PAF clones - and single coils sound fine so long as there's that ~5dB boost at the beginning of the chain. This gets around the fact that you cannot currently assign the pad state to individual patches.

 

I was quite surprised at the improvement - subtle but definitely there - with the pad on. I don't really do high-gain tonez, so we're talking Bassman, Deluxe and Plexis clean, crunchy and cranked. Of course YMMV, but I was and am interested to see the spread of opinion about this.

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I was leaving it off but I noticed recently that my clean sounds were kind of harsh.  I tried adding a compressor (which I hate to do) and that didn't work.  Finally it dawned on me to try the pad and it instantly made my clean tones better.  I am using fairly high output pickups (EVH).  I don't really hear much of a difference with distorted tones.

 

Listen to your ears and try out all of your guitars before you decide.  I still don't understand exactly what the Pad feature does, technically.  

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That's where it shows up clearest, sure, in the clean tones, but (YMMV) I think I hear 'better' preamp distortion in several models with the pad on playing humbuckers. I do have an EVH pickup - the Frankenstein - which isn't as hot as the Wolfgangs but it does still benefit from the pad being on. For example, the tapped passage in Eruption has a more liquid or bell-like quality to it with the pad on, more like the original.

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I leave it off... but I have a gain block at the front of every path and adjust the input with that.

I find the gain block gives me more control (up or down) than a fixed pad level.  

 

EDIT TO ADD: Later in the thread... posted April 26th 2019.... I have changed my approach to this. 

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That's interesting. So not just me then who feels that some fine tuning of input gain is worth the effort. Tonight I'll experiment with the gain block approach vs the pad. It's logical and more flexible, so if *all* the pad does is a ~5dB gain cut - no special tonal sauce - then the gain block is the way to go, I suppose.

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2 hours ago, BBD_123 said:

...so if *all* the pad does is a ~5dB gain cut - no special tonal sauce - then the gain block is the way to go, I suppose.

I found myself wondering about exactly that a couple of years (!?!) ago. Some good reading for you here:

 

 

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Thank you for the link, V-B. Following on from that and other threads here and at TGP I get the impression - subjectively supported by my ears - that a modest cut in input gain does result in better humbucker tones, even with low output HBs.

 

The canary in the coal mine for problematic input gain seems to be the JC 120. It's surprising how many pickups sound bad with the pad off. Assuming that there's nothing unusual about the JC 120 model in Helix, this suggests that with the pad off, many pickups are hitting the front of the amp - any amp - hard enough to make a bit of mess that shouldn't be there. Of course this would affect all tones, all the way up to cranked, and a number of commenters think that it does (including me). So although it's an old chestnut (sorry), maybe worth a revisit.

 

If curious, I'd suggest to anyone wanting to check - try a few guitars through the default Jazz Rivet block with the pad off and on, dig in a bit with the playing, and see what you think.

 

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Off, even with hot pickups, like 8 string active Blackouts and JBs very very close to the strings for 6ers, better tone, hopefully with this next update they will include signal meters so I can finally accomplish my goal of recording with a Scarlett 2i4 and then reamping with the Helix, although I'm not sure I'll need to do that because I'm getting really comfy with the Helix and rarely have to reamp, only sometimes if I want to nail the brightness of an impulse so it fits the mix just right or something like that.

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I keep it on for headroom. My main guitar has dimarzio fusions and second guitar has a carvin m22 sd in the bridge. I absolutely love that pickup.

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12 hours ago, vstrattomusic said:

Off, even with hot pickups, like 8 string active Blackouts and JBs very very close to the strings for 6ers, better tone,

 

Have you tried the JC 120 test?

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5 hours ago, BBD_123 said:

 

Have you tried the JC 120 test?

 

No, I have no idea what that is, but I'm using the Helix's Roland 120 model with some pedals for recording cleans on a friend's album and it's fine, he's using EMGs. I had the pad on for a while a couple of months ago and did a couple of my own songs like that, later on I was angry about it because I quickly did an A/B test and the guitars sounded a bit weaker with the pad on. I don't know I only do high gain tones, cleans and different effects, never use any mid-gain amps or cranked vintage combos, there's a lot of stuff like that in the Helix that I never use.

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I've been fighting my own input signal issues, but wonder if turning the pad on would help as well.  Is there a way to find typical JC120 settings that someone would use on the real Amp?  I know that is a fave of Metallica's clean tones....I'm curious where the gain knob is on the real thing for those tones vs where I have it set.  I definitely have 'headroom' to turn the gain up if I put the pad on....I just typically leave it off and keep the gain lower. 

 

I do like the 'tone' on the crunchier presets with the pad on, but the amps tend to lose some of their bite then. 

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I played with the pad in the beginning but do not use it. I use guitars that have different gain structure but with the same patches. I tend to program them with my guitar volume on about 8 and I have room to go bigger or not depending on the guitar.   

 

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On 2/21/2019 at 7:39 PM, vstrattomusic said:

No, I have no idea what that is, but I'm using the Helix's Roland 120 model with some pedals for recording cleans on a friend's album and it's fine, he's using EMGs.

 

Just what you say you did - run through the Helix Jazz Chorus 120 model and listen out for artifacts arising from pushing the front of the model too hard - slight fartiness in the low strings and scratchiness in the high strings. I'm amazed you can get EMGs to sound good through the JC 120 with the pad off. For a good, crystal-clean tone, even with low-wind PAFs, I prefer the pad on for best results. With a bridge JB, I *need* the pad on or it sounds crappy.

 

On 2/21/2019 at 7:39 PM, vstrattomusic said:

I had the pad on for a while a couple of months ago and did a couple of my own songs like that, later on I was angry about it because I quickly did an A/B test and the guitars sounded a bit weaker with the pad on.

 

All you need to do is increase the gain at the end of the chain, either with a gain block or by tweaking the output gain parameter. That way, you get (imho) much cleaner cleans, but no loss of gain with the pad on. What you take away at the beginning of the chain, you add back in at the end.

 

On 2/21/2019 at 7:39 PM, vstrattomusic said:

I don't know I only do high gain tones, cleans and different effects, never use any mid-gain amps or cranked vintage combos, there's a lot of stuff like that in the Helix that I never use.

 

I'm getting an impression that the high gain fraternity are less sensitive to input gain issues than the rest of us :-)

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22 hours ago, themetallikid said:

I've been fighting my own input signal issues, but wonder if turning the pad on would help as well.  Is there a way to find typical JC120 settings that someone would use on the real Amp? 

 

I would think anywhere between 2.5 and about 5. It's a pretty loud amp IRL.

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4 hours ago, BBD_123 said:

 

Just what you say you did - run through the Helix Jazz Chorus 120 model and listen out for artifacts arising from pushing the front of the model too hard - slight fartiness in the low strings and scratchiness in the high strings. I'm amazed you can get EMGs to sound good through the JC 120 with the pad off. For a good, crystal-clean tone, even with low-wind PAFs, I prefer the pad on for best results. With a bridge JB, I *need* the pad on or it sounds crappy.

 

 

All you need to do is increase the gain at the end of the chain, either with a gain block or by tweaking the output gain parameter. That way, you get (imho) much cleaner cleans, but no loss of gain with the pad on. What you take away at the beginning of the chain, you add back in at the end.

 

  

I'm getting an impression that the high gain fraternity are less sensitive to input gain issues than the rest of us :-)

 

I'll try what you said, the cleans in my friend's album are dirty cleans because I'm also using the Kinky Boost in front of the JC120, but I do use really clean sound for my songs and there's no problem with artifacts or scratchiness. Usually my cleans are never fully clean when I record, if I do that the clean part will sound very underwhelming, out of place and lacking brightness after a heavy riff, if I add just the right amount of gain it's a lot better.

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17 hours ago, vstrattomusic said:

I'll try what you said, the cleans in my friend's album are dirty cleans because I'm also using the Kinky Boost in front of the JC120

 

The JC 120 is solid state, so overdriving it with hot pickups, no pad *and* the Kinky Boost is unlikely to produce good results :-) It's just not how the amp is designed to be used...

 

From what you say, you might be better with the bright slider all the way up on the JC 120 model (equivalent to the bright switch 'on' on the original). That will get you plenty of clean bite, but it will sound unpleasant if the amp is being pushed too hard from the front.

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I only play single coil Strats and Teles... so no. 

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how do I access the input pad? I can't find it in the helix or the manual?

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12 minutes ago, anthdidj said:

how do I access the input pad? I can't find it in the helix or the manual?

 

Go to global settings.  It is the first option on the bottom left on the Ins/Outs page.

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I can't find it anywhere in that menu. The first option is for Input Level and you can only choose between line and Inst?

Is it available on the stomp hx?

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I don't use the guitar input pad, but I may start doing so. I can easily clip the input of my audio interface. My guitars have high output pickups and I play quite hard with .50mm picks.

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Earlier in this thread I posted that rather than use the pad... I would just insert a GAIN control in the first block and attenuate that as needed for higher gain guitars.... BUT my thought process has now changed. 

 

According to DI (Digital Igloo) the INPUT PAD is an analog pad applied prior to the A/D conversion so I now keep it on. At the very least... it's a safety net in case you swap out for a particularly hot instrument... but I also know that the digital realm likes to have headroom, there is NO HARM in coming in a little softer and compensating later. 

 

I still keep a GAIN control in the first block... but now I use it to "increase" the level for lower output guitars rather than attenuate for higher output guitars.

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Always off unless  I am using my one guitar with Hetfield EMGs. I used to keep it on for all humbuckers. To be honest, I really can't tell the difference, except with the EMGs.

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9 hours ago, anthdidj said:

I can't find it anywhere in that menu. The first option is for Input Level and you can only choose between line and Inst?

Is it available on the stomp hx?

Ahh...HX Stomp, not Helix.  Things are a bit different.  From page 41 of the HX Stomp manual:

If your guitar or bass has really loud active pickups (or if you just happen to prefer the sound of a "padded" input level for your instrument), choose "Line" - Or, just try both and trust your ears.

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23 hours ago, codamedia said:

I still keep a GAIN control in the first block... but now I use it to "increase" the level for lower output guitars rather than attenuate for higher output guitars.

 

+1

 

:-)

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Resurrecting this old thread, because I've had a big epiphany with this setting. Using EMG DG-20 pickups, I've moved to leaving the pad off but setting the input impedance to 230k.  This tames the spikey transients but still provides a good, strong signal to the modeller. As per some of the earlier advice, even my EMG DG-20 with the boost fully engaged won't cause input clipping.  Good luck!

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I leave the pad off, because my pickups are fairly far away from the strings to increase sustain. This cuts the output by around 8 dB, so the pickup distance is the "pad."

 

However, another factor is that I use Helix almost exclusively for multiband presets. The filters needed to create different bands reduce the signal level because they're filtering out some of the audio. To compensate for this, I increase the EQ output levels, which also helps compensate for the pickups being further away. 

 

I like with Helix Native that you can adjust the input level. It's more important with a plug-in because of the potential gain-staging issues.

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I’m re-resurrecting this semi-necro thread, for which I am semi-apologetic, but I have to change my vote. Previously I stated that I left the pad off even though I liked it in some applications, because it is not selectable per-preset. My position has changed. These days I leave the input pad on all the time because I find that it actually makes my input signal hit the amp more like I think it should. Lemmee ‘splain. I do a lot of squeaky clean playing and have been consistently surprised at how far back I’m having to dial master and drive levels to keep amps like the Twin Reverb and Deluxe Reverb from breaking up. These are amps I’m familiar with and I have some idea of how my guitars hit them, and they just seem to break up way too early. With the input pad on though, suddenly things are more in line. To me it plays more like having turned an input boost off than turning a pad on, if that makes sense. Yes, if you build a patch with the pad off and then turn it on, then everything sounds wimpy and anemic. But if you build it from the ground up with it on, then everything is there. More-so even, because you don’t have to choke the amp to keep it clean. IMHO, YMMV, etc, etc...

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1 hour ago, Verne-Bunsen said:

To me it plays more like having turned an input boost off than turning a pad on, if that makes sense. Yes, if you build a patch with the pad off and then turn it on, then everything sounds wimpy and anemic. But if you build it from the ground up with it on, then everything is there. More-so even, because you don’t have to choke the amp to keep it clean. IMHO, YMMV, etc, etc...

 

That's my experience too, but again, a personal view.

 

 

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