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doctorvague

"smooth distortion" like Morning Glory

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Hello. First time poster and new Helix Floor user. I’m using the Helix to replace a pedalboard, running straight into the front end of a Mesa Boogie Mark5 35 (that I love). I tried running into the effects return, but I like the front end better.

 

The main reason i bought the Helix was my band plays a variety of rock and bluesy stuff, about half originals, and I like getting a lot of ’stunt tones’. Like I’ll use a reverse delay on 2 songs, tremolo on 2 songs, wah on 2 songs, POG… you get the idea. Lots of extra physical pedals just to get a few special tones for one or two songs. I’m blown away by the Helix and all the possibilities, especially the editing software, which I think is fantastic. The pedal emulations are varied in quality as to be expected. I’ve gotten some nice rock lead tones with the Valve Driver and a couple of others. So I’m plowing through our song lists and been programming for quite a few hours.

 

OK, here come the eyerolls and I understand. “Transparent” “smooth” distortion. Yeah, I know. I don’t know how else to describe it. My main tone is a JHS Morning Glory (and previously a Marshall Bluesbreaker) into a clean, warm tube amp. Even though I don’t care for him, think John Mayer. I don’t like Tube Screamers or the variations I’ve tried. They’re way too colored and midrangey for my taste. The sound I like is almost clean and you can work it with your guitar tone and volume to get different shades of smooth grit. This is the main tone I use 70-80% of the night. With the gain dialed back on the pedal there’s almost no change with the pedal on or off.  Unfortunately after hours of approaching it in different ways I cannot get even close to that vibe with the Helix. I’ve tried 2 pedals in parallel dialed back, clean/parallel mix, comp>OD etc and haven’t had any luck at all. I realize I could simply hook up my Morning Glory into the loop but geez, I just spent $1600 to carry in one pedal board and go. The idea of a pedal off to the side, cables, a power supply - it defeats much of the reason for buying the thing. I know the Helix is deep with possibilities so I welcome your ideas of anything I’ve overlooked or didn’t know you could do. I’ve also tried the amp and amp+cab models instead of pedals, but the ones I tried are extremely colored sounding - the opposite of transparent, but there are so many, maybe I’ve just missed the magic one. My Kemper is like that - just a few magic profiles in an ocean of them. Also considered using channel 2 of my Mesa but it doesn’t really get there either, even after some tube swapping. It’s too gainy. Speaking of gainy, I do like the Hedgehog OD in the Helix but even at zero it’s like the gain is already halfway up. I wish they had dialed that one back a bit. I tried dropping volume before it but the tone kind of died.

 

Thanks in advance for your ideas.

 

Here’s a video of my band and the kind of sound I’m talking about:

youtube link

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SORRY - I misread the OP and edited this post...

 

You could try the Klon (Minotaur) pedal. Set the pedal block Gain low and use the Level to fine-tune how hard the Klon hits the front of the amp. Use the Tone parameter if you need to roll off the highs a bit for a clean, warm gain.

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The Teemah is based on the Paul Co, Cochrane Timmy Overdrive, another legendary "clean" overdrive.  

 

It's not exactly like the Morning Glory, but it would be another pedal I'd fiddle with if I were trying to mimic the Morning Glory. I was going to suggest the Minotaur but BBD_123 beat me to it. I'd first try that, then if you're still wanting move on to the Teemah. 

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YMMV, but I find the Timmy / Teemah a bit brighter than the Klon / Minotaur. Great pedal, but maybe the OP wants a bit more fatness and smoothness which imho might make the Klon the better of the two.

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The point of Morning Glory is transparency... IMO, the most transparent overdrive currently in the Helix is the Tee-mah (Timmy) so I would lean that direction. 

 

The morning glory is based on a Bluesbreaker pedal, and there is "currently" nothing of the sort in the Helix. I hate to even bring this up, but the 2.8 update every is anxiously awaiting will have a KOT (King of Tone) included which is another variant of the Bluesbreaker. That may provide the answer to the problem. 

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I’ve used just the “Kinky Boost” for that type of sound on an amp set a bit dirty...as well as the Valve Driver set low.. which is modeled after the Chandler Tube driver.  It’s kind of that Eric Johnson smooth tone.  Pretty tweakable too.

 

Sean Meredith -Jones

www.seanmeredithjones.com

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Try using the Bluesbreaker Pre Amp.  I did that, and it works pretty good.  Also, I used the Supro pre amp to replace my superbolt.  You can plug those pedals in the loop, and A/B them with the pre amps to match the tone.  Just set it before your amp, like a pedal.  Then rename it and change the color if its throwing you off.

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1 hour ago, mhindman1984 said:

Try using the Bluesbreaker Pre Amp.  I did that, and it works pretty good.  Also, I used the Supro pre amp to replace my superbolt.  You can plug those pedals in the loop, and A/B them with the pre amps to match the tone.  Just set it before your amp, like a pedal.  Then rename it and change the color if its throwing you off.

Oh thanks for that. I will definitely dive into it. I have an original Bluesbreaker pedal. On my Kemper I kept coming back to a couple of Supros so it's cool you mentioned that.

Also the last pedal that really tripped my trigger on some videos was a King Of Tone so the idea of even an approximation is pretty exciting. 

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For what it's worth, the idea of transparent overdrives is that they sound like your amp being pushed harder - and that's the beauty of the Helix. I know you're using an external amp, but something as simple as turning up an amp model's drive or master volume is probably the purest "transparent" overdrive. A lot of Helix amp models sound fantastic on the edge of breakup and are very responsive to dynamics, which sounds like what you're after!

 

Might not be helpful here for your situation, but just wanted to provide this insight - the most transparent overdrive is your amp's.

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2 hours ago, parkermmyers said:

For what it's worth, the idea of transparent overdrives is that they sound like your amp being pushed harder - and that's the beauty of the Helix. I know you're using an external amp, but something as simple as turning up an amp model's drive or master volume is probably the purest "transparent" overdrive. A lot of Helix amp models sound fantastic on the edge of breakup and are very responsive to dynamics, which sounds like what you're after!

 

Might not be helpful here for your situation, but just wanted to provide this insight - the most transparent overdrive is your amp's.

 

Yeah, I almost said this in my first reply and then wasn't sure how to put it, but you make an excellent point.

 

Granted the original poster is using a real amp, so that's not really an option here, but it took me a few months to realize that one of the greatest strengths of the Helix line was that if you're using the amp sims, with the push of a button you can ramp up the drive on a given amp and get gorgeous distortion.  In the old days, there were a lot of problems with that approach for a number of reasons and that's part of why various OD, Distortion, and Fuzz pedals were created in the first place because we needed something better than booking it across a stage to tweak a drive knob.  

 

The Helix allows for that though, and many times it's better (IMO) to simply skip the drive pedal and use snapshots or stomp boxes to instantly change the settings on an amp.

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5 minutes ago, Kilrahi said:

 

Yeah, I almost said this in my first reply and then wasn't sure how to put it, but you make an excellent point.

 

Granted the original poster is using a real amp, so that's not really an option here, but it took me a few months to realize that one of the greatest strengths of the Helix line was that if you're using the amp sims, with the push of a button you can ramp up the drive on a given amp and get gorgeous distortion.  In the old days, there were a lot of problems with that approach for a number of reasons and that's part of why various OD, Distortion, and Fuzz pedals were created in the first place because we needed something better than booking it across a stage to tweak a drive knob.  

 

The Helix allows for that though, and many times it's better (IMO) to simply skip the drive pedal and use snapshots or stomp boxes to instantly change the settings on an amp.

 

Exactly. Most overdrives are attempts to sound like a cranked amp. There's different utility for other overdrives (like a tubescreamer providing a mid boost for a solo), but in general, the sound of a transparent overdrive is just the sound of your amp barely breaking up.

Also, I agree with your earlier comment - if you're committed to using one of the overdrives, the Teemah is probably the clearest in my opinion. I also use the Kinky Boost in a similar way that probably echoes our thoughts on amp breakup - ideally, the boost just pushes the amp a little harder and gets that nice breakup.

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Most power amps (at least those that are push-pull) will do symmetric clipping and produce odd-order overtones. Pedals that put the clipping diodes in the feedback loop, and offer asymmetric clipping options (as Teemah! does) can produce clipping with more even order overtones that can sound a bit smoother. Amp models with drive can vary depending on how many preamp stages they have and how hard you clip them. But preamp distortion is typically asymmetric and will produce more even order harmonics with moderate clipping.

 

But the biggest difference between pedals and amp clipping is the ability to control the tone after clipping. Typically you want to cut bass before clipping to reduce mud, and cut treble after clipping to reduce fizz and ice pick. Again this is what Teemah! does and why its a good choice. 

 

But with Helix you can control pre-clipping bass with the amp’s bass control, and post clipping with an EQ, or to save a block, just use high-cut on the cab or IR model. My goto patch has a Drive footswitch that changes bass, drive, channel volume, IR high cut and switches off the compressor. By using more extreme settings you can get an great clean/overdrive tone on HX stomp without using a distortion block. Anything that saves blocks on HX Stomp is a nice plus.

 

The reason I set all these parameters on a footswitch instead of using snapshots is that snapshots can’t be combined, footswitches can. So if I also have an overdrive pedal in the patch, I can gain stage it with the drive pedal to get 4 different tones out of two footswitches.

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OP here. Thanks very much for all the insights, it's really helpful.

I'm getting some joy with a few of the preamps and amps, for the sound I was posting about, and mostly using the Teemah and Valve Driver for leads and Minotaur for clean fat boost. I'm looking forward to the King O' Tone- as I'm sure a few others are as well. 

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