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Maidlife

Why there is almost no distortion from the amps

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I’ve owned a helix LT for almost a year,  the problem I have it since the first days, the presets pre installed sound nothing like in the videos on YouTube...so I gave up on using them, then noticed that when creating a patch, I had to add compressors or ODs before the amp to get a decent distortion... 

recently I found this user on YouTube called Alex.guitars, and he has this video  (link below) where he shows how each amp sounds just with default settings...my helix doesn’t sound even closer to that, there is also another user commenting the same.... I went to this guy webpage  and copied this settings on the helix, same...to give you an example, the tweed blues brt at 0:48, It sounds so clean on my helix, I can’t get that driven sound even setting the drive at max.  Can someone try the tweeed blues bright with just a low high cut eq (400-5k)and room reverb at the end and let me know if sounds like that? thanks in advance 

 

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Funny you say that, I find my presets don't sound anything like this either. I haven't tried to make a 1:1 replica of it, but when I hear it I think "man, this can't be the same device"

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There are a lot of other variables. What guitar is he using? What one are you using? What amplifier is he running through? What one are you running through?

 

I mean . . .  it IS the same device, despite however it might feel. 

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I’d suspect input impedance differences, or maybe the pad is on. 

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I'm not using the same guitar he's using.

I have no idea how he recorded those examples.

You and I are beyond doubt using different playback systems.

All that said, and taking into account the effect of listening to ANYTHING on YouTube, I set up the simple signal chain as in the video and cycled through some of the amps he used, and they sound just fine. REAL GOOD in fact. Some sound BETTER than the clips!

So, my takeaway is that you guys are expecting to hear something WAY different than me, and I've had my Helix Floor for over 2 years.

Maybe it's time for Craigslist? You can try AXE, Headrush, BOSS and Kemper.

Tell you what though - my bet is that they will NOT sound like the YouTube sound clips!

They'll sound like YOU, playing YOUR guitar through YOUR playback system. For better or worse

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1 minute ago, rd2rk said:

I'm not using the same guitar he's using.

I have no idea how he recorded those examples.

You and I are beyond doubt using different playback systems.

All that said, and taking into account the effect of listening to ANYTHING on YouTube, I set up the simple signal chain as in the video and cycled through some of the amps he used, and they sound just fine. REAL GOOD in fact. Some sound BETTER than the clips!

So, my takeaway is that you guys are expecting to hear something WAY different than me, and I've had my Helix Floor for over 2 years.

Maybe it's time for Craigslist? You can try AXE, Headrush, BOSS and Kemper.

Tell you what though - my bet is that they will NOT sound like the YouTube sound clips!

They'll sound like YOU, playing YOUR guitar through YOUR playback system. For better or worse

I have no desire to sell mine. Was just sympathizing with OP as I feel what he is feeling. 

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I suspect the issue is mostly in the playback system you are using and the volume levels feeding it. What is your Helix LT master volume set at, and what are its outputs connected to? Please describe each component in your playback chain, from the LT output jacks to your ears.

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I think in this video Alex is just recording straight to USB? that's how I'm comparing. Recording same patch in USB isn't as great sounding as his. 

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12 hours ago, Maidlife said:

I went to this guy webpage  and copied this settings on the helix, same...to give you an example, the tweed blues brt at 0:48, It sounds so clean on my helix, I can’t get that driven sound even setting the drive at max.  Can someone try the tweeed blues bright with just a low high cut eq (400-5k)and room reverb at the end and let me know if sounds like that? thanks in advance 

 

FWIW.... My Tweed Blues sounds pretty much the same as the video.... other than expected variations due to guitar and user. I never changed anything.... it was just the default settings when I added it.

 

If NONE of your amps are breaking up then it is an input level problem... check the following

  1. Make sure your guitar is turned up full
  2. Make sure you are using a "known" good cable
  3. HELIX GLOBAL SETTING: Make sure the input is set to INSTRUMENT... not line.  (very, very important)
    Ignore #3... it was a terrible assumption on my part since I am always using other inputs on the Helix and need to adjust these things regularly.... false assumption that I assumed this was also adjustable. 
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1 hour ago, codamedia said:

 

  1. HELIX GLOBAL SETTING: Make sure the input is set to INSTRUMENT... not line.  (very, very important)

 

There is no such setting. There is an option to set the 1/4 OUT to Instrument, but nothing with input.

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1 hour ago, codamedia said:

HELIX GLOBAL SETTING: Make sure the input is set to INSTRUMENT... not line.  (very, very important)

 

If you're after my Homer Award, I warn you, I'll defend it with every donut at my disposal!

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1 hour ago, xmacvicar said:

Funny you say that, I find my presets don't sound anything like this either. I haven't tried to make a 1:1 replica of it, but when I hear it I think "man, this can't be the same device"

Tried a replica of everything....if its close, I get it...but not even close

 

1 hour ago, Kilrahi said:

There are a lot of other variables. What guitar is he using? What one are you using? What amplifier is he running through? What one are you running through?

  

I mean . . .  it IS the same device, despite however it might feel. 

yeah, guitar could be the issue if it is a LITTLE different, but the tone is 100% different, I agree it is the same device...but sounds like a different one.

I tried  different guitars, also the other guy commenting in the video has 3 guitars,  I contacted  him and he has the same problem with all of his guitars.

 

1 hour ago, amsdenj said:

I’d suspect input impedance differences, or maybe the pad is on. 

on his page you can find all his settings, I copied everything...also tried other settings cause we are using different guitars...still, not even closer... Im using a PRS custom 24.

 

1 hour ago, rd2rk said:

I'm not using the same guitar he's using.

I have no idea how he recorded those examples.

 You and I are beyond doubt using different playback systems.

 All that said, and taking into account the effect of listening to ANYTHING on YouTube, I set up the simple signal chain as in the video and cycled through some of the amps he used, and they sound just fine. REAL GOOD in fact. Some sound BETTER than the clips!

 So, my takeaway is that you guys are expecting to hear something WAY different than me, and I've had my Helix Floor for over 2 years.

Maybe it's time for Craigslist? You can try AXE, Headrush, BOSS and Kemper.

Tell you what though - my bet is that they will NOT sound like the YouTube sound clips!

They'll sound like YOU, playing YOUR guitar through YOUR playback system. For better or worse

He is recording thought USB and Im copying his settings....I get what you say, and you are 100% right...but the distortion...how could be that different, the same amp sounds almost clean on my helix.

 

 

1 hour ago, silverhead said:

I suspect the issue is mostly in the playback system you are using and the volume levels feeding it. What is your Helix LT master volume set at, and what are its outputs connected to? Please describe each component in your playback chain, from the LT output jacks to your ears.

Im playing thought headphones (he is also playing thought headphones and recording through USB),. I have the volume knob at max cause I control the preset volume from the ch volume on the amp. So its just Guitar - > Helix -> headphones...let me know if Im missing some information. Thanks.

 

1 hour ago, xmacvicar said:

I think in this video Alex is just recording straight to USB? that's how I'm comparing. Recording same patch in USB isn't as great sounding as his. 

He is

 

1 hour ago, codamedia said:

 

FWIW.... My Tweed Blues sounds pretty much the same as the video.... other than expected variations due to guitar and user. I never changed anything.... it was just the default settings when I added it.

  

If NONE of your amps are breaking up then it is an input level problem... check the following

  1.  Make sure your guitar is turned up full
  2.  Make sure you are using a "known" good cable
  3.  HELIX GLOBAL SETTING: Make sure the input is set to INSTRUMENT... not line.  (very, very important)

Yes, none of my amps are breaking up...i always need some OD to push it...maybe I should try a factory reset, I will try at home tonight and will let you know how it went. I will also check the input setting before doing the factory reset. 

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11 minutes ago, Maidlife said:

He is recording thought USB and Im copying his settings....I get what you say, and you are 100% right...but the distortion...how could be that different, the same amp sounds almost clean on my helix.

 

If the settings you copied are his "Recommended Global Settings", he keeps his Input Pad ON for some reason, but even doing that it didn't change the distortion noticeably. I'm using a guitar with relatively low output humbuckers, and the high gain amps he demo'd are anything BUT clean!. Maybe after you do a reset something might change...... does seem strange, though, that the other commenter has the same problem....

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32 minutes ago, Maidlife said:

on his page you can find all his settings, I copied everything...also tried other settings cause we are using different guitars...still, not even closer... Im using a PRS custom 24.

 

 

Just switched over to my Custom 24 (older model HFS/Vintage PUPS). Way hotter than the Steinberger Spirit I was using last post. And MORE distortion! 

Damn, sometimes when I don't play the PRS for a while I forget how good it sounds......

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Yes, none of my amps are breaking up...i always need some OD to push it...maybe I should try a factory reset, I will try at home tonight and will let you know how it went. I will also check the input setting before doing the factory reset. 

 

I play single coil strats and I find that most of the amps have too much gain and I have to clean up the amps to be useful for my purposes. So I find it odd that you aren't getting any breakup whatsoever on any of the amps.

 

Clearly the issue you are experiencing is about input level. Gain structure is everything -  if you don't have enough signal at the beginning of the signal chain, nothing is going to be operating in "the sweet spot." Lower your impedance, turn off the input pad. Try different guitars, different pickups. If a guitar with hot humbucking pickups isn't getting you close to those "default" tones, then there's something wrong with your unit's physical input and you should contact Line^ about having it repaired.

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7 hours ago, rd2rk said:

 

If you're after my Homer Award, I warn you, I'll defend it with every donut at my disposal!

 

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13 hours ago, Maidlife said:

 

Can someone try the tweeed blues bright with just a low high cut eq (400-5k)and room reverb at the end and let me know if sounds like that? thanks in advance.

 

 

Hi Maidlife,

 

Here’s an quick idea - hook up your HX LT via USB, create a new patch using the Tweed Blues Bright with just a low high cut eq (100-5k) and room reverb at the end and record an example of what comes out of your equipment. Post it here and we may be able to figure out  a solution. We know what Alexdotguitars sounds like, but without your audio we have no real comparison and are clutching at straws,

 

TIA.

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9 hours ago, rd2rk said:

If you're after my Homer Award, I warn you, I'll defend it with every donut at my disposal!

 

That was a bad assumption on my part. I use all the returns and such on the Helix for extra instruments so I've needed to adjust those (and the outputs) regularly... I just assumed the input had it as well. Time to go stand in the corner :) 

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@Maidlife when you record via USB, what is your DRY guitar track peaking/metering at if you record off of USB 7 or 8? If NONE of the amps are breaking up or you have to really push the gain on models like Panama/Angel/Placater something is up with your input signal. Getting distortion out of the amp models has nothing to do with your monitoring system, so that's not an issue. The only things I can think of are that something is wrong with your pickups, your cable, or the physical input on the Helix. You're not accidentally using a speaker cable, or one of those cheap little 5' instrument cables that comes in a "starter pack" or anything? I'm not trying to be condescending, I just know when I'm having an obvious problem it usually comes down to me skipping over something simple and over-thinking my troubleshooting.

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9 hours ago, Maidlife said:

Yes, none of my amps are breaking up...i always need some OD to push it...maybe I should try a factory reset,

 

I see you are using a PRS Custom 24... that should not have a problem with gain. There are certainly some amps on the Helix that are not intended to break up, but the majority should with varying degrees of gain. Many of them should be downright dirty as you load the default values, while the Tweed Blues you mention should breakup nicely - just as it does in the video you posted. 

 

Here is something you can try.... 

  1. Plug your guitar into a Return .... doesn't matter which return, just remember which one
  2. Insert the return before the amp block, leave it at it's default settings.
  3. Make sure the return/loop is set to "instrument level" in the Global settings

What that does is eliminate the "GUITAR INPUT" from the chain along with the PAD, GATE, IMPEDANCE that comes with it. If the problem goes away, then you know the problem has to do with your INPUT (physically) or the INPUT SETTINGS. If the problem continues, it could be the unit itself - providing you've eliminated the guitar/cable as a problem. 

 

8 hours ago, amor4jc-2 said:

I play single coil strats and I find that most of the amps have too much gain and I have to clean up the amps to be useful for my purposes. So I find it odd that you aren't getting any breakup whatsoever on any of the amps.

 

Clearly the issue you are experiencing is about input level. Gain structure is everything -  if you don't have enough signal at the beginning of the signal chain, nothing is going to be operating in "the sweet spot." Lower your impedance, turn off the input pad. Try different guitars, different pickups. If a guitar with hot humbucking pickups isn't getting you close to those "default" tones, then there's something wrong with your unit's physical input and you should contact Line^ about having it repaired.

 

+1 on everything you just said.

 

I am also a STRAT/TELE user and my guitars have vintage spec pickups, nothing hot or even mildly hot about them. I often have to lower the gain on the amps to get them clean enough. A PRS Custom should have no problems driving the Helix amp models into distortion. 

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Excellent advice on using the loop to take the input out of the equation. FWIW I only use low to medium output pickups, like the input pad ON, and still have buckets of breakup and all out dirt. I’m only new at Helix so I don’t have great advice. Hope you can get it sorted. 

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Definitely try with a different guitar cable. A guitar cable developing a short can result in significant loss of signal strength. Likewise with wiring issues within the guitar. Do you have access to an amp you can plug in to to check out the guitar?

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thanks everyone for the comments,

@codamedia I tried what you said, but the issue persists. Right now I’m in japan so I don’t have a pc with me...and don’t know when I will get one. So I used my iPhone to record through USB, it loses some quality,  but not that much, and the amount of distortion gain you can listen is still the same... 

 

Regarding the cable, The brand is “providence”, not the most exp, but not a cheap one.

 

 

Forgive me for the sloppy play, it’s 1am here and it’s not the purpose of the video.  

 

 

I don’t know how explain this one.. maybe saying lack of gain is wrong I guess... the distortion sounds nothing like in the other videos. 

 

 

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It's hard to say since I don't have the best monitoring, but it kinda sounds like what I would expect from having both pickups selected and the volume/tone rolled back a little. The PV should be crunchier with humbuckers.

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1 minute ago, gunpointmetal said:

It's hard to say since I don't have the best monitoring, but it kinda sounds like what I would expect from having both pickups selected and the volume/tone rolled back a little. The PV should be crunchier with humbuckers.

Sorry, I forgot to provide those details,  Guitar volume/tone at max, using the bridge pickup 

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25 minutes ago, Maidlife said:

Sorry, I forgot to provide those details,  Guitar volume/tone at max, using the bridge pickup 

That's kind of what I was figuring since you're trying to get more gain out of it. Is it possible that something is wired out of phase (I don't know if those pickups can be split) in the guitar. Those tones are sort of reminiscent of combining two single coils in strat.

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7 minutes ago, gunpointmetal said:

That's kind of what I was figuring since you're trying to get more gain out of it. Is it possible that something is wired out of phase (I don't know if those pickups can be split) in the guitar. Those tones are sort of reminiscent of combining two single coils in strat.

 

My thought as well.  I use an older Les Paul with the '50s wiring that puts the tone roll-off before the volume and using humbuckers.  My settings are middle pickup selector position, tone between 7 & 8 for both and volume at 7 for both, and a 1.14mm pick.  Normal touch creates a rich clear sparkle tone.  Little heavier touch give some crunch.  Volume maxed give some real crunch.  This crunch is not actual distortion OD.  It is just a good non-creamy lead tone for blues, Mississippi slide, driven rhythm, etc.

 

Dennis

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There is no real shortage of gain in those clips... that is sort of what I would expect. BUT - it does sound a little dull and almost lifeless. The tone appears to be rolled off a little... even though you have said you have your guitar full. 

 

1 hour ago, Maidlife said:

Regarding the cable, The brand is “providence”, not the most exp, but not a cheap one.

 

Personally, I don't trust any cable to be "in good working order" just because it is new, or based on any given brand name. I'm not saying your's is causing a problem... but I still won't discount it either. Do you have a decent "2nd cable" to try that is a different brand. That "lifelessness" that I mention earlier is a side effect of a cable, or something wrong in the guitar as others are questioning.

 

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6 minutes ago, codamedia said:

There is no real shortage of gain in those clips... that is sort of what I would expect. BUT - it does sound a little dull and almost lifeless. 

 

 

Personally, I don't trust 1 cable at any given moment. Do you have a decent "2nd cable" to try that is a different brand. That "lifelessness" that I mention earlier is a side effect of a bad cable, or something wrong in the guitar as others are questioning. 

Sorry for the misinformation, dull and lifeless sounds like the accurate description.

 

unfortunately I don’t have a second cable, but I will go to the store and try another helix, with my guitar and a different cable, so I can figure out where the issue is. 

 

I will try to do it tomorrow or day after tomorrow. I will share what happened then. 

 

Thanks! 

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A bad cable and/or a funky electrical issue with the guitar are the two easiest things on earth to rule out. Try a different guitar and cable, one at a time... you'll know if either is the culprit inside of 2 seconds. 

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8 minutes ago, Maidlife said:

unfortunately I don’t have a second cable, but I will go to the store and try another helix, with my guitar and a different cable, so I can figure out where the issue is. 

 

A few more things to consider....

  • Do you have the GLOBAL EQ turned on... if so, turn it off. 
  • Do you have a "high cut" filter applied anywhere in the chain... either on an effect or in the cabinet.
  • I see this mentioned in above posts, but don't know if you have checked. Take at look at the Helix input "impedance setting". If that is set too low it will limit the high end... AUTO is often a good place to start, but I do like to fine tune it for each of my guitars. 

BTW: Thanks for posting those clips... it really helps us to zero in on the real problem. 

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Take a multimeter and measure the DC resistance of your bridge pickup (short patch cable in the input jack, volume and tone turned up full, pickup selector to bridge only).

 

Post the result here.

 

I have a Yamaha Revstar that has rather anemic "vintage output" pickups, in the 7k range.  They don't overdrive the amps that much, they are more of a classic rock grit level.  They sound very similar to your clips posted above.

 

I have a PRS Custom 24 with the HFS pickups, if I recall correctly, they are in the 10-11k range.  A lot more output, although still considered medium.  They'll drive all the classic amps at anything from AC/DC gain levels to the most extreme of 80's hair metal.  Sounds glorious.

 

The hottest one I have is a EBMM Axis with super hot Dimarzios (factory), which are a whopping 17k.  Those drive everything over the top with hair metal to extreme modern metal.

 

So if you have low output pickups, this would be your problem, and is what I am hearing in your sound clips you posted.

 

Cheers

BP

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Hi, again, Maidlife,

 

Thanks for uploading those clips - it’s a big help in understanding your issue.

 

Having listened to the samples, I find that I have to agree with the others about the “dull and lifeless” description of the tones. They are certainly not what I would expect to hear from the bridge pup of a PRS Custom 24.

 

I also think that the suggestion above, from “BrianPeter”, about checking the resistance of your guitar pickups is definitely worth checking out. From your previous post, I understand that you’re currently in Japan, and having access to electrical test gear may be an issue, so try using a new cable first.

 

One thing about this that I really don’t understand? In your original post you mention that:

 

“I’ve owned a helix LT for almost a year,  the problem I have it since the first days, the presets pre installed sound nothing like in the videos on YouTube...so I gave up on using them, then noticed that when creating a patch, I had to add compressors or ODs before the amp to get a decent distortion... ”

 

From this comment, I can’t figure out if your unit has always been “dull and lifeless” right from day one, or did that happen a short time later? It’s not the sort of situation that I would have tolerated for almost a year, I would have been chasing Line 6 for a replacement LT as soon as. I’m a little surprised it has taken you so long to seek advice on this - there are always helpful Helix folk here, day and night.

 

Let’s hope it can be solved quickly.

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Try another unit. Go to the nearest musical store with your guitar and cable, and try another helix. If the result is ok, then it is your unit. Send it back since it is still under warranty, and get another. If your guitar and cable are lifeless in the other unit, then it is your guitar or cable broken.

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Update: went to the store with my guitar and my cable, tried another until, same results ... so I tried with another cable, same...tried a strat with single coil in the bridge pickup...for this one I had to disable the PAD since it was too quiet...with the pad off sounded ok...but still lifeless. I will stick to use it  as I did until now 、hours of tweaking .

 

Thanks to everyone who helped with the Issue.

 

@datacommando Thanks! 

I never use the  presets that came with the unit, I build my own ones and of course sounds much better. The issue is that watching videos on YouTube, like the one I posted, using just an amp, no od, no tweaks, the tone is amazing, while mine sucks. 

 

 

 

 

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To bring some life back to your guitar, try putting a Parametric EQ in front of your chain with these settings:

Low Level: -5dB

Low Freq: 495Hz

Low Q: 1

Mid Level: +12dB

Mid Q: 0.5

Mid Freq: 5kHz

High Level: +12dB

High Q: 0.5

High Freq: 10k

 

Adjust the Low/Mid/High gains to taste.

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On 4/10/2019 at 12:02 AM, rd2rk said:

 

Just switched over to my Custom 24 (older model HFS/Vintage PUPS). Way hotter than the Steinberger Spirit I was using last post. And MORE distortion! 

Damn, sometimes when I don't play the PRS for a while I forget how good it sounds......

 

Apologies for the topic hijack but how do you like the Steinberger Spirit? Always loved the headless Steinberger design and the Spirit can be had fairly cheap these days.

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13 minutes ago, HonestOpinion said:

 

Apologies for the topic hijack but how do you like the Steinberger Spirit? Always loved the headless Steinberger design and the Spirit can be had fairly cheap these days.

 

I like it a lot! I have the older GT Pro (HSH) that is all maple. The newer ones have poplar "wings". Does it matter? Is there even enough wood there to make a difference? IDK. 6LBS.

 

The only PITA is setting the intonation. No screws, push pull. The bridge can be set to "float", but the range is limited and the trem action is stiff. Unless you're fond of deep dives and pull ups, it's sufficient for it's intended purpose (vibrato). It stays in tune nicely, but those who claim that the Steinie bridges "never go out of tune" must have better drugs than me.

 

Headless does take a bit of getting used to. They hang differently (especially the basses - I also have an XT-2), and when I first got it my hand kept flying off the end of the neck when I went down low quickly. 

 

Bobbin sniffers always change out the pickups, but they're just not real high output, and sound just fine to me. The "Steinberger" branded PUPS are based on the original EMG design. As a whole, it's very neutral sounding. A bit bright (tiny maple body), but neither tele nor LP sounding. It's own thing.

 

If you get one, buy a couple extra sets of strings. I've never broken a string, but you won't find them at your local GC! You can get the OEM (Gibson) strings at SW and on Amazon, and D'Addario makes sets with slightly different gauges.

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5 hours ago, jonandtice said:

To bring some life back to your guitar, try putting a Parametric EQ in front of your chain with these settings:

Low Level: -5dB

Low Freq: 495Hz

Low Q: 1

Mid Level: +12dB

Mid Q: 0.5

Mid Freq: 5kHz

High Level: +12dB

High Q: 0.5

High Freq: 10k

 

Adjust the Low/Mid/High gains to taste.

Great tip, JCM 800 came to life after it as a metal amp of post production! Thanks !!

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21 hours ago, jonandtice said:

To bring some life back to your guitar, try putting a Parametric EQ in front of your chain with these settings:

Low Level: -5dB

Low Freq: 495Hz

Low Q: 1

Mid Level: +12dB

Mid Q: 0.5

Mid Freq: 5kHz

High Level: +12dB

High Q: 0.5

High Freq: 10k

 

Adjust the Low/Mid/High gains to taste.

 

16 hours ago, arislaf said:

Great tip, JCM 800 came to life after it as a metal amp of post production! Thanks !!

 

Yes it is.  I actually had been modifying several of my patches last night using the Parametric EQ.  I tripped over it by accident because of a patch I had made for Dreams and for the life of me couldn't tell why the base patch for Dreams stood out more in the mix more than my other base patches.  I was going a little OCD when I noticed the Dreams patch had the Parametric EQ after the speaker.  So I added the Parametric EQ to most of my other patches using a FS to activate upon request.  And the guitar(s) and amp/speaker setting(s) I use demand level and frequency adjustments.

 

Thanks again for pointing this out to the group

 

Dennis

  • Upvote 1

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