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PhilDuggan

What Is Your Method For Dialling In An Amp On Helix

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Fairly simple question, what do you generally do when you are dialing in any sound on your Helix? It's less about getting a specific sound and more towards methodology. My own goal here is simply to try another persons method and see does it affect the sound I come to in the end. E.g Will it be brighter and cut more or will it be darker and thicker etc.

 

I know my method is usually:

Set all EQ to 0

Set gain to half way or to generally where you think it fits for what you are going for and depending on the amp itself

Set Presence to half way and same for resonance (if there) and flatten all post eq(again if present in the amp)

Set your channel and master volumes as you like from here

Next ramp mids to 10 and then adjust backwards until you are happy

Follow the above except using your treble next

Adjust presence if it is a little too ice picky or not enough clarity coming from the treble

Follow this up with setting bass to 10 and working backwards 

Adjust resonance just like presence to prevent it being boomy or lacking bottom end

Then adjust your gain to better suit the EQ 

Add effects from here. 

 

So what do you do?

 

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useful trick I saw somewhere (not sure where) is to put a looper block first in the chain and put you in a loop of typical playing for what you would play with that preset, then let it loop while you fiddle and adjust stuff.  :)

 

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4 hours ago, PhilDuggan said:

So what do you do?

 

I must admit... I'm a creature of habit. The amps I go to in the Helix are the ones I've had experience with in the wild... either owned, or used frequently in backline situations. Since the Helix mimics the way the amp worked, I immediately adjust my "go to" settings for those amps and start from there. They are different for every amp. 

 

On the rare occasion I stray from what I know, I know Line 6 has done it's homework. Dial up an amp and see what they set for it by default... I know that will be close to a real world usage and just needs to be adjusted for my tastes/guitars.  

 

FWIW... I tend to go with thick mids, then adjust my bass and highs to taste... nothing boomy, nothing shrill. If anything, my tones might be considered thicker/darker than most might dial in. EG: On a typical Fender Twin (with a Tele) I would put the mids over half, the highs and lows around 2 - 3, bright switch off. Of course, this varies from guitar to guitar... and even with pickup selections. Thanks to the Helix/Snapshots, that becomes easy :) 

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well Im obviousy a bit different!

 

I start by listening to it.  I noodle a bit to get a sense of what sort of sound this is. Is it good for snappy parts?...thick chords?  fast runs, big sustain?...
Once I feel I have the gist of the amp Ill start teaking the knobs a bit to maximies the potential within the parameters that the amps has suggested.

I never pick a model on the basis of having a predetermined sound in my head.
I do, obviously go to the general gain range...so if Im looking for a bick overdriven tome I know not to start with the Jazz Rivet!

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Generally I'm emulating a reference tone from a recording, so I use that to give me a first impression of what amp and which guitar will be the best starting point for this preset.

 

I select the amp and IR and compression (if needed).  Then using the default values I get the volume set consistently with the rest of my presets adjusting the channel volume and the signal meter on my mixing board and any necessary compression characteristics.  I keep the signal meter on through the whole process to make sure I keep the volume level stays consistent as I add things.

 

I then dial in the tone and gain levels I'm looking for on the amp for the basic tone and audition other IRs to get things closer to the reference tone.

I add a final parametric EQ to make adjustments at the end of the signal chain for high and low cuts.

 

From that point I make a decision about what other blocks will be necessary and whether I'll need to use snapshots or just some simple stomps to accommodate the tonal changes in the song.  Then it's a simple matter of adding whatever blocks and signal chain adjustments the song calls for.

I'll then come back to the preset several times over the next few days to listen with fresh ears and make adjustments.

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I've been struggling a lot during my initial months with the Helix ending up with a lot of tones that sounded ok over earphones at low volume but didn't work in live situations at high volumes. I've watched as many instructional videos I could possibly find, asked for advice here on the forum and gradually started to develop a method that works for me. Now, whether that also works for you I don't know, I guess you need to figure that out yourself :-)  

 

Anyway, my current method is (roughly) as follows:

 

I start with selecting an amp + cab block on path 1 simply to get a basic idea on how Line 6 set up their models and amp/cab combinations.

Next I change the amp+cab block to an amp block and on path 2 create 2 instances of the cab that came with the original model. The cabs are put in parallel and one of them will be mic'd with a 57 or 421 (at 1 or 2") while the other will be mic'd with a 121 or 160 ribbon mic (at 3 - 5 "). The split will be an A/B split so I can adjust the level going through each path.

 

The ribbon mic paths will have a relatively high early reflections level and very often I add a room reverb in the path with the ribbon mic as well with a fairly high mix (35-45%).

Depending on the amp and/or cab I sometimes add a shelve EQ in the path with the 57 or 421 and cut around 2-3 dB above 2 kHz. Typical high cuts are around 5-7 for the dynamic mics and around 8 for the ribbon mics.

 

I prefer to use high and low cuts on the cabs, usually the low cut on the ribbon mics will be a bit higher than on the dynamic mics (dynamic ~80, ribbon ~100-120). 

 

Following this I tend to use the "Sadites" type of mastering section consisting of a parametric EQ and a studio comp (with level and gain around 5) at the very end of the chain. The EQ is very often not used I need to admit.

 

Starting from this I start playing and adjust the amp settings to my needs. I find that very often the stock settings give you a very decent tone. More than often I dial back the presence to avoid any "ice picking" sounds when played at high volume.

 

Only after that I add effects. I only use the basic ones most of the time, i.e. boost/overdrive, delay reverb and chorus. The delay and reverb go in after the cabs, the chorus very often after the amp (not sure why I do it like that). 

 

Having said all of this, there is no "one size fits all" approach and many of my presets have some variations, like e.g. an additional tilt EQ position just after the cabs are combined.

 

Oh and by the way ... I generally program in mono (just a personal choice)

Very important is to test you presets also on higher volumes and/or different speakers. Nowadays I use an Alto TS308 at home to develop the presets. This is a rather bright speaker, but I find it to work pretty well (and I believe it is nearly identical to the Headrush FRFR 8" version). The PA in our rehearsal room is much "darker" but the guitar sound still cuts through sufficiently.

 

Hope this gives the basic idea of what I do. Ask me in another year or so and I may do it totally different..... still learning every day, and I find myself playing with the device more than playing the actual instrument from time to time :-)

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On 10/3/2019 at 10:11 AM, PhilDuggan said:

Fairly simple question, what do you generally do when you are dialing in any sound on your Helix? It's less about getting a specific sound and more towards methodology.

 

A really basic thing for me is trying to stay fairly close to unity gain within Helix itself. It is *very* easy to accidentally introduce a lot of dB of gain into the signal chain, which can result in a mushy or even clippy mess.

 

What I do is start with an empty patch - no blocks - to establish the baseline for gain. Then I add the CAB block and turn it on and off to A/B with the empty patch. I tend to find that the CAB block needs its level at maximum (+6dB) for parity with the dry signal.

 

Then I add the AMP block and on/off A/B again, using the AMP block Channel Volume to dial in something close to unity gain.

 

Once this is done, you've got the backbone of the patch established. If you add gain in front of the amp or you crank the amp pre / power stages you use AMP channel volume to dial back the extra dB so that you stay fairly close to unity gain with the dry signal.

 

YMMV, but for me, this approach delivers the best string definition and generally realistic, amp-like tones.

 

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First thing i did with my Helix was to try and get it to sound exactly like my Mesa Express gigging amp, only difference being that i could possibly have all four channels rather than the two.

As the Mesa was/is my main gigging amp and i know it works for me live ,it made sense to me to use it as a benchmark , so i set up my amp alongside a frfr monitor ,set all the controls on the amp flat ,and did an ab test on both till i was happy ,once that's done it just a matter of eq'ing from the Helix back to what i actually use.

 

So i now have 4 presets which are are my modelled versions of the 4 channels on my amp, which i can effects to .

The Helix is put out front via mixer to the pa ,then also sent  to my floor monitor ,but i also have the actual amp behind me too in 4cm ,and the whole thing sounds immense.

I've never been a huge fan of mic'ing an amp , as levels can be inconsistent, so i no longer have this problem,  and the big knob is exclusively for amp volume if needed, so all avenues covered.

If my amp breaks down ,then i also have no worries, but it's really just a crutch these days.

 

The  one thing i did find was that the Mesa Express high gain tones to me, are better matched to the Helix Marshall amps, than the Mesa stuff .

I suppose the matching is only as good as the user, but i do have a lot of experience with the Mesa and have done many gigs with it ,and did it over three or four sessions to get it just right, .. but time well worth it imo.

Seems to react the same with any guitar, as it should too.

 

I don't really purchase many presets, due to the massive amount of configurations involved ,but i would definitely be interested in any that had been done in this way, because although not all amps are modelled on the Helix, that doesn't necessarily mean that with some clever tweaking, that you can't attain that amp sound.

 

My feeling is that the Helix gives me all the tools ,and i just need to learn how to use them properly.

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On 10/3/2019 at 12:14 PM, lawrence_Arps said:

well Im obviousy a bit different!

 

I start by listening to it.  I noodle a bit to get a sense of what sort of sound this is. Is it good for snappy parts?...thick chords?  fast runs, big sustain?...
Once I feel I have the gist of the amp Ill start teaking the knobs a bit to maximies the potential within the parameters that the amps has suggested.

I never pick a model on the basis of having a predetermined sound in my head.
I do, obviously go to the general gain range...so if Im looking for a bick overdriven tome I know not to start with the Jazz Rivet!

Yup. Pretty similar to what I do. The main difference might be that I go for the sounds I’ve heard on recordings. I’ve always taken this approach to guitar sound which is why most amps disappoint me. 

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