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Helix with Fender Super Sonic Head & Palmer Load Box


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Hey everyone,


This is my first post as I'm new to the Helix, so thanks in advance for any help! TL/DR at the end...


I've been playing professionally for about 13 years, all that time using my GT-8 into a PA (my version of an FRFR, I suppose, when I built it all those years ago). My main flow is musical theatre orchestra pits, so a lot of shows require a crazy amount of tones and switching.


I recently got a helix while I was in a long run – I left the GT-8 at the gig and started playing with the Helix and building some tones. Fast forward to last week and I started rehearsals for a new show. It's a heavier-ish rock and roll show and they're setting us all up Fender Super Sonic heads that will go into Palmer load boxes.


Here's the thing – I've been programming patches for this show, getting really insane into amps/heads/speaker cabinets/IRs for each specific tune (some of them are real songs from the '70s, some of them are songs heavily inspired by artists from the '70s, so there are some rather specific tones I'm trying to land on and that the composer and music director are looking for). Yesterday during the first load-in from the rehearsal space to the theatre, I semi-casually mentioned to the sound designer (when discussing saving space) that, oh, we could possibly get rid of the Super Sonic for my rig since everything can be handled by this amazing piece of technology I have at my feet.


I'm not sure if he didn't understand what I was saying, if he's not familiar with the power of the Helix, or if he just has a very specific vision in his brain, but he more or less squashed that idea right away. I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers – especially when the sound designer has the credits that this guy does and they brought him in from New York just to do this show –  so I just said, "Great! We'll find a way to implement it all."


So, my ultimate question is this – what's the best way to implement the tube head, Palmer load box, and my Helix? I imagine it's something with the 4cm, but I also don't want to ditch all of the amp/speaker emulations I've worked on. I will if I have to, but I'm hoping to keep the Roland Jazz Chorus sound for a few things and the Marshal Plexi sound for a few things and the Vox sound for a few things ... you get the idea. Sometimes it might be rad to use the Super Sonic in the chain, as well, but – then am I able to use that head in my chain (4cm in an effects loop?) but still use a speaker/mic model?


Sorry if any of the questions are dumb or obvious – I'm just still new to the Helix and all its glory. Plus, it's super rare that a theatre will set us up with an amp and load box and not rely on us for all of our own equipment, so it's just not something I'm super practiced on.


TL/DR: Best way to implement Helix, Fender Super Sonic Head, and Palmer load box while being able to use the sound of the Fender head AND/OR amp/speaker models I've built in the Helix depending on the patch.


Thanks so much again, all!




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Hi PJ,


It sounds really easy to me.   The sound designer clearly thinks that the Head and load box are going to give some specific tone he is envisioning though I didn't hear mention of cabinet emulation in their design.   So for those sounds, create a patch with a send/return block in it instead of a helix "amp" block, and take the send from the helix at instrument level to the input of the Fender head, and run the output at line level (or whatever the output is) of the Palmer to the return of the Helix, and connect the Helix output to the mixer.   Put a helix cab or an impulse response after the block and can select that block and show the sound designer you are using the amp and dial it in however they think it should sound.  I imagine it will sound really good.   I don't see any reason to do a 4CM unless you really want delays and reverb from the Helix between the premap and the power section of the Fender Supersonic.


Then you can use your patches for the specific amp models and effects you want and completely buypass the head/loadbox.


Another option would be to use the head/loadbox and IR patch with the helix drives in front of the fender amp set to clean on the edge of breakup.  You should be able to get just about any of the artist sounds (maybe not the jc120 cleans from a Fender Supersonic) AND use their gear.


The Helix is amazingly versatile and I think you can accommodate everyone.  I'm sure you will have lots of suggestions from others before this thread is done.

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Hey Bob,


Thanks so much for the response! I think you're right that the sound designer has an idea in his head about some specific tone. I don't know what it is, but I'm going to play along – I'm in the business of keeping and getting more gigs, not pissing someone off and never getting a call again. Ha!


That said, I haven't heard anything about any specific cab emulations. All I've been told is that "Palmers are coming." Anyway, I think your idea is perfect and is definitely what I'm going to do. It's easy enough to wrap my head around, I'll probably use the Supersonic and Palmer for most of the tones, and then just bypass it once in a while for the very specific tunes. So, thank you for that!


Now, forgive my ignorance, but I just don't know much about the load boxes and that world. I saw something earlier that made me paranoid – will I need to worry about the amount of power coming out of the Palmer and going into my Helix? I imagine (and from what I can tell from the Palmer site) that it could be a line level and that'll be perfect to throw in a return on the Helix. I mean, the idea is that the Palmer would go to a mixer at line level, so going into the Helix should be the same, right? I just don't want to blow up the Helix...


Thanks so much again!

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Hi PJ,


Yes, it's something that you need to pay attention too. In the global settings there are options to set the send/return to either Instrument or Line.   I don't remember if the send can be instrument, and the return set to line.   You would have to experiment.    The levels can be set on the return so they don't cause clipping in your chain.


I don't have any load boxes so I am limited in my knowledge there.  But if the Palmer sends line level to the mixer, then you can run an instrument cable from the Palmer to the Helix. 


If the Supersonic/Palmer thing works well, you can set the gain to the clean/edge of breakup and just use the great distortion/overdrive models included in the Helix.  I think you can get just about any kind of amp sound you will need for those shows from just messing with those and good gain staging.  


If all of this works out well, then you don't need to use the four cable method through the amp.  But that is also an option albeit a bit more complicated.  Regardless you will be using sends and returns in you patches, and it will become intuitive.  I've used the 4CM with my Helix on the line6 DT25, and it sounds fantastic.   Now I just run line6 link to the DT25 and use the preamps in the Helix and the amp/cab stages from the DT25.   I've been "thinking"  about using the XLR output from the DT25 in the same way as using a load box and then I can use CAB/IR blocks to get more control of my sound in Helix.    Mostly just because I can.   


I only play out several times a month, and when I do, I send my output directly to front of house, and use in-ears for monitoring.  I am super happy with the rage of tones I can get and the feel of the amps.   I miss a small amount the "amp in the room" sound, but not to the degree of some of the folks who post here enough to drag my DT25 with me.





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