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dnostrand

Helix EQ Settings for Guitar to Stand Out

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Hey Helix family - struggling a bit here and was looking for some thoughts, examples, etc for EQ or other settings in a patch to help the guitar cut through the mix in a live band setting. - Only vocals going through PA - I have my Helix and PC+, using a guitar with two humbuckers - the other guitar player uses a Tele with a humbucker in the bridge, and we have a bass, drums, and keys, and we play mostly rock-style cover songs. I have an EQ block on all my patches, but only use it for Low Cut/High Cuts. Where do folks place the EQ block if you have one, and what do you live players use for EQ settings, specifically your mid boosts - what frequency, how much boost, if any? 
Thank you

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41 minutes ago, dnostrand said:

Hey Helix family - struggling a bit here and was looking for some thoughts, examples, etc for EQ or other settings in a patch to help the guitar cut through the mix in a live band setting. - Only vocals going through PA - I have my Helix and PC+, using a guitar with two humbuckers - the other guitar player uses a Tele with a humbucker in the bridge, and we have a bass, drums, and keys, and we play mostly rock-style cover songs. I have an EQ block on all my patches, but only use it for Low Cut/High Cuts. Where do folks place the EQ block if you have one, and what do you live players use for EQ settings, specifically your mid boosts - what frequency, how much boost, if any? 
Thank you

 

It's an often asked question with no easy answer, I'm afraid... every mix,  every room is different, and my "special sauce" won't necessarily be a magic bullet for you.

 

Often this is a volume issue... specifically the volume at which a patch is created vs. your stage volume. At lower volumes, the tendency is to boost highs and lows... its a perception problem that we all have, just how our brains work. The unfortunate result is that when you crank up the glorious tone that you had at home at lower levels, both the lows and highs become much more prominent, the mids drop out, and you vanish from the mix. 

 

If the are any universal "secrets" to EQ, it's this: you'll often get better results by getting rid of what you don't want to hear, as opposed to reflexively boosting frequencies that you perceive to be "missing"... because then you just end up with way too much of everything, and even more mud than you had before. 

 

Try more aggressive, and/or more specific frequency-targeted low and high cuts before overdosing on mids...but trying to guess at what the necessary frequencies will be from afar is pretty much futile... we're all in the same boat on that one. You just have to experiment with it, and trust your ears. You'll know when you're done. 

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Very Helpful - Thank you!

Its just that sometimes, I don't trust my ears...........

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tube comp (la2a) last on chain, always, set to limiter, 1.6 emphasis, gain arround 7 to 7.5. (just before it clips) ALWAYS

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19 hours ago, dnostrand said:

looking for some thoughts, examples, etc for EQ or other settings in a patch to help the guitar cut through the mix in a live band setting.

 

19 hours ago, dnostrand said:

Where do folks place the EQ block if you have one, and what do you live players use for EQ settings, specifically your mid boosts - what frequency, how much boost, if any? 

 

I don't change anything I am doing in the Helix from how I use to do it on a traditional pedal board and amp. My thought is... I didn't need EQ's to cut through the mix when I used an amp, why would I need it now? 

 

The "general tone" should be achievable without the use the any EQ. Find the amp character you like (eg: choose an amp), sprinkle in a few effects and from the amps controls alone you should get a great tone. Like you... I may use a little LPF/HPF but that's about it. Just EQ the amp to find your place in the spectrum. 

 

The next stage it cutting through on a solo. I do that in two ways. For cleaner tones I run a boost (eg: Kinky boost, or even just a gain block) at the end of my chain to increase the overall volume by about 3db. For dirty tones I goose the overdrive tone with a Tube Screamer or variant... any overdrive with a perceived mid boost. 

 

YMMV... there are many ways to do this. I'm just sharing my approach :) 

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3 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

 

I don't change anything I am doing in the Helix from how I use to do it on a traditional pedal board and amp. My thought is... I didn't need EQ's to cut through the mix when I used an amp, why would I need it now? 

 

The "general tone" should be achievable without the use the any EQ. Find the amp character you like (eg: choose an amp), sprinkle in a few effects and from the amps controls alone you should get a great tone. Like you... I may use a little LPF/HPF but that's about it. Just EQ the amp to find your place in the spectrum. 

 

The next stage it cutting through on a solo. I do that in two ways. For cleaner tones I run a boost (eg: Kinky boost, or even just a gain block) at the end of my chain to increase the overall volume by about 3db. For dirty tones I goose the overdrive tone with a Tube Screamer or variant... any overdrive with a perceived mid boost. 

 

YMMV... there are many ways to do this. I'm just sharing my approach :) 

 

I liked this thinking, but I've always been too paranoid to follow it because the entire modelling community is very hardcore on the need for EQ.

 

That's one thing that has confused me though, when the models work . . . do they have higher frequency ranges than the original amp did?  It would seem if it were to model the amp accurately it would have the SAME frequency response. 

 

Yet, if we're always saying the only way for a modeler to sound as good as the real thing is to RELIGIOUSLY apply high and low cuts, and then all sorts of boosts and reductions, then it always seemed to me like the model can't be that accurate, at least not on the frequency response. 

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On 5/9/2019 at 5:54 PM, dnostrand said:

Where do folks place the EQ block if you have one...

If I use an EQ block I place it near "the end of the road" in order to have that little corrections which are needed to round up "my sound".

 

This video was very helpful for me! Jason Sadites is absolutely amazing! :-) And there is much more to learn for me...

 

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Good stuff here guys, Thank you for the great insights. I agree, when I used an amp and cab or just a combo amp, I never used an EQ.....but it seems like a huge topic amongst the modelling community.... 

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6 minutes ago, dnostrand said:

Good stuff here guys, Thank you for the great insights. I agree, when I used an amp and cab or just a combo amp, I never used an EQ.....but it seems like a huge topic amongst the modelling community.... 

 

None of us did... largely because all the unpleasant/ unnecessary highs and lows that FRFR speakers are able to produce were filtered out naturally by the limited frequency response of a guitar cabinet. No need to cut what ain't there to begin with...

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1 minute ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

None of us did... largely because all the unpleasant/ unnecessary highs and lows that FRFR speakers are able to produce were filtered out naturally by the limited frequency response of a guitar cabinet. No need to cut what ain't there to begin with...

 

Agreed . . . but WHY don't the modeled versions cut those out automatically? 

 

I mean, shouldn't they? It's not like it's impossible. We're cutting them manually, after all . . .

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So maybe through an un-mic'ed, real speaker cab (1x12, 2x12, etc.), one would not need to raise or cut anything? Now, I know that many players have always used an EQ in their analog chains before digital modelling, but when you look at Rig Rundowns on Premier Guitar, you don't really ever see an EQ in the chain......maybe all that happens at FOH.....dunno, food for thoughts

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53 minutes ago, Kilrahi said:

 

Agreed . . . but WHY don't the modeled versions cut those out automatically? 

 

I mean, shouldn't they? It's not like it's impossible. We're cutting them manually, after all . . .

 

Should, shouldn't, why, or why not...I don't care anymore. It's all been discussed/ debated / argued over, ad nauseam... and it'll happen 1000 more times. And each time when the dust settles, we still won't have an answer. Besides, knowing "why" won't help the uninitiated grasp what's going on, or understand what to do about it. It like asking "why is everyone who gets elected to public office wildly inept,  and/or brazenly full of $hit?" It just is...

 

To paraphrase George Carlin,  "I enjoy looking at the world, observing how things are, and hopefully finding a way to make it funny. I have no interest in how things "ought to be", and I certainly have no intention of fixing them"...;)

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53 minutes ago, dnostrand said:

So maybe through an un-mic'ed, real speaker cab (1x12, 2x12, etc.), one would not need to raise or cut anything?

 

It will make it those cuts largely necessary, yes... but you will also lose much of the versatility that a modeler affords. At your fingertips you have the ability to sound like nearly anything you want... Fender,  Marshall, Vox, etc etc... but a Boogie 2x12 is never gonna sound like anything but a Boogie 2x12... which is irretrievably awful imho, but I digress. ;)

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59 minutes ago, Kilrahi said:

Agreed . . . but WHY don't the modeled versions cut those out automatically? 

 

They do... well, the cabinets do, because that is really where the cuts are happening in real life

Remember, the Helix is not "amp in the room" tone, it is "miced up amp" tone... which is very different.

 

You cannot compare a Helix through an FRFR to an Amp sitting in the room. You need to compare it to that same amp, with a mic on it, pumped back through that same FRFR. When you do that, you will find the Helix to be remarkably accurate. 

 

 

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45 minutes ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

Should, shouldn't, why, or why not...I don't care anymore. It's all been discussed/ debated / argued over, ad nauseam... and it'll happen 1000 more times. And each time when the dust settles, we still won't have an answer. Besides, knowing "why" won't help the uninitiated grasp what's going on, or understand what to do about it. It like asking "why is everyone who gets elected to public office wildly inept,  and/or brazenly full of $hit?" It just is...

 

To paraphrase George Carlin,  "I enjoy looking at the world, observing how things are, and hopefully finding a way to make it funny. I have no interest in how things "ought to be", and I certainly have no intention of fixing them"...;)

 

Well, just to be clear, I ask more because I'm almost certain they DO model the same EQ as the original. Which means if they do, I and many others are misunderstanding how they work, and if we're misunderstanding than, at least in my case, I'm not using the tool as well as I could.


I do agree though that sometimes you just have to go with the flow. 

 

 

27 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

They do... well, the cabinets do, because that is really where the cuts are happening in real life

Remember, the Helix is not "amp in the room" tone, it is "miced up amp" tone... which is very different.

 

You cannot compare a Helix through an FRFR to an Amp sitting in the room. You need to compare it to that same amp, with a mic on it, pumped back through that same FRFR. When you do that, you will find the Helix to be remarkably accurate. 

 

 

 

Well, to be clear, I DO find them remarkably accurate. That's part of my problem. Yeah, sometimes I'd use an EQ on a traditional amp, but often I was happy with it just the way it was.

 

When I would use the HX, I often had that exact same feeling. Sounded great to me - without an EQ! However, I'd see so many people, some of them the very highest regarded in the Helix community (and rightly so) saying that for a modeler - specifically a modeler - you must ALWAYS do some EQ work to get in the realm of good sound, unlike a traditional guitar amp, or it will sound like trash. 

 

Because of that strong emphasis on EQ, the only natural conclusion I could draw was that the model, for some reason, models all sorts of things about the cab EXCEPT the natural EQ of the cab - but then it's not really modelling it accurately! Nevertheless, even though I'm often happy without an EQ, I STILL throw one on out of sheer paranoia that I must be wrong because conventional wisdom says to always use it. 

 

Knowing that it does in fact model the range of the cab makes it easier to trust my own ears really so thanks tremendously for your feedback. 

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4 hours ago, Kilrahi said:

Well, just to be clear, I ask more because I'm almost certain they DO model the same EQ as the original. Which means if they do, I and many others are misunderstanding how they work, and if we're misunderstanding than, at least in my case, I'm not using the tool as well as I could.

 

A lot of players do not realize that the limited frequency range (that we desire) of an amp is NOT the amp, it is the cabinet/speakers. Plug a Marshall/Vox/Fender directly into a full range speaker and watch the paint peel from the walls - LOL!

 

I have always maintained that the stock cabinets are the weak point of the Helix, not because they are not accurate (they actually are quite accurate) but because they lack versatility. They don't give you the ability to move a mic from CENTER to EDGE on a speaker cone. We are stuck with center position.... while every 1" toward the edge gets warmer and warmer... eventually to mud :)

 

We get around that existing limitation with IR's... and/or with extensive high cuts and/or EQ. Not to stir the pot here, but I do have high hopes for the TILT EQ which is coming in version 2.8. Knowing how tilt EQ's work, I have a hunch that it may be an acceptable alternative to moving the mic from center to edge. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, Kilrahi said:

 

Because of that strong emphasis on EQ, the only natural conclusion I could draw was that the model, for some reason, models all sorts of things about the cab EXCEPT the natural EQ of the cab - but then it's not really modelling it accurately! Nevertheless, even though I'm often happy without an EQ, I STILL throw one on out of sheer paranoia that I must be wrong because conventional wisdom says to always use it. 

 


Be careful about "conventional wisdom" because some would say based on remarks by many users that EQ should always be done in Global EQ...which of course is dead wrong.

Is there a strong emphasis on EQ?  I suppose so in that you'll see it used quite often even in Jason Sadites videos as a final EQ on a patch.  But I would agree that it's not always necessary.  I think a lot of why you hear conversations about it is that it's an easy fix for less experienced users to compensate for their lack of knowledge on how to correctly configure cabinets or IRs.  That's understandable since that particular area of the Helix is far more oriented toward the traditional practices used in a studio than practices on stage.  But if it makes you feel any better, I have a considerable number of patches that use no EQ at all depending on the guitar being used, the style of the music, and the amp model...as long as I get the cab/IR configured correctly.

One other thing to consider when talking about modeling.  Modeling in general doesn't deal with being acoustically accurate.  It deals with accurately modeling circuits mathematically, which results in an accurate output.  Cabinets and IRs are the only exception.  When you look at it that way it makes sense why those things are so important to achieving the sound you're going after.

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4 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

Is there a strong emphasis on EQ?  I suppose so in that you'll see it used quite often even in Jason Sadites videos as a final EQ on a patch.  But I would agree that it's not always necessary.  I think a lot of why you hear conversations about it is that it's an easy fix for less experienced users to compensate for their lack of knowledge on how to correctly configure cabinets or IRs. 

 

^^^ this ^^^

 

A good tech knows that "mic choice and position" is 99% of the battle to getting that "amp in the room" to translate to a great tone at the FOH (PA) or onto a recording. Studio engineers in particular obsess with mic choice and position.... for very good reason. In the past, guitar players usually never had to worry about that stuff... but with the Helix (or any modeler) it is in their best interest to LEARN IT! Choosing the right cab/mic/position or IR (based on the same) virtually eliminates the need for any "corrective" EQ. 

 

Jason Sadites videos are great... in particular, the back end of his signal paths... what he does after the cabinet. 

That's the studio chain... the stuff guitar players have never thought about in the past. 

  1. He pays close attention to MIC choices and position (during the cabinet). He takes the time to get that right.
  2. He adds some reverb/delay after that cab, just as a tech would do. This is always adjusted to taste.
  3. He's got a parametric eq in the chain (as DunedinDragon says above)... but usually only uses it for filters! He treats that like the guitar strip on a console.. and is usually very subtle in applying it.
  4. He's got an LA Studio Compressor near the end.... just like studio engineers would add to the guitar track during mix down. A little goes a long way with this one.
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I used to have up to 3 eq blocks on my patches (two simple, one parametric) that I would automatically tweak in similar ways on most patches. I mostly did this as a response to reading forums and watching YouTube tutorials. Honestly, though, I was overdoing it. In some cases I was sucking all of the life and dynamics out of otherwise awesome tones. Now, I just use one eq as a lead boost (to bump some mids), and that works for me.

 

Sometimes I tweak tones based on what I have read, instead of just using my ears, but I’m trying to change this habit. There is just so much information out there to read! 

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On 5/10/2019 at 4:11 PM, Kilrahi said:

That's one thing that has confused me though, when the models work . . . do they have higher frequency ranges than the original amp did?  It would seem if it were to model the amp accurately it would have the SAME frequency response. 

 

Yet, if we're always saying the only way for a modeler to sound as good as the real thing is to RELIGIOUSLY apply high and low cuts, and then all sorts of boosts and reductions, then it always seemed to me like the model can't be that accurate, at least not on the frequency response. 

 

Late to party again, but what codamedia said. The end of chain PEQ tops and tails the mic'd cab signal, and starting with the basic brackets at 100Hz / 12kHz and tightening as needed to get rid of flub and screech is the way to go, imho...

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