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brettmtb

Helix into Valve Amp

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Hi guys, i just got myself a Helix and am using it into my Blues Junior, its to replace my pedal board which has all the basics, Wah, Boss Compressor, DD7, and drive in the form of Fulltone Fulldrive 2, TS Mini & Voodoo Lab Fuzz into the BJ set Clean. I still run the BJ clean but found that the presets on the Helix sound pretty bad, I see all the main presets have very distorted basic settings for example JTM45 with Master and Channel level high and gain halfway or over. Would I be better using presets without an amp model, just effects? I tried it in my Alto powered monitor with the amp models on but it sounds very sterile? Plus I play in a small covers band playing in bars etc and i like having an amp behind me! I got the Helix to simplify my set up and offer more effects for certain songs. Advise?

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If you want to use an amp block in your Helix then you're best off going straight into your amp's effects return.

 

If you're going straight into your amps "normal" input then you have a full helix patch including amp (and possibly a cab?) going into real combo amp with preamp, poweramp and cab of its own.

 

So - if you want to use helix overdrive/distortion/dynamics pedals plus things like reverb/delay etc from helix - look into the 4 cable method (4CM). But that way you wouldn't use any preamp/amp/cab in helix.

 

If you do want to use the helix amp modelling then pick either a pre-amp block or an amp block (with no cab) along with any other pedals in your chain and then go straight into your amps effects return bypassing the physical pre-amp.

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Since the Blues Jr doesn't have an FX Loop, you're going to be using the Helix like a regular pedalboard, into the guitar input of the amp. Think of it that way.

Just as you wouldn't want to mic an amp into your amp, you don't want to use a full Helix amp - Amp+Cab - into your Blues jr.. Doesn't mean you CAN'T, but presets made for FRFR or amps with FX Loops aren't likely to sound good. You can, however, use a Helix amp like an "amp-in-a-box" pedal. Just either use a Helix pre-amp version, or an amp without a cab, whichever sounds best to you. No rules.

 

That said, basic rules (realities?) of modeler use:

1) All factory presets sound like crap to me/you.

2) Nobody's Customtone presets sound the way we want them to.

 

That's because everybody else's presets are made with different guitars through different playback systems in different rooms.

 

Now that all the Helixs are on the same core code, you can go on Customtone, search the HX FX presets, and find other people's pedalboard ideas. Unfortunately, too few people bother with descriptive notes, so it's kind of a crap shoot, and lots of them are made for amps with FX Loops. Just for kicks I DL'd a few non-FX Loop presets to try. I ran them into the front of my Egnater Tweaker 15 Combo, set up to be Fendery. They sounded awful. YMMV.

 

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The Blues Junior is fairly low wattage, and my impression is that it starts distorting pretty early in the volume curve regardless of using any, right?  If you have it set up so that your "real" overdrive pedals can easily push it, it's likely that all the gain stages from the preamps and effects in your presets might be pushing the amp itself into overdrive, on top of whatever drive the Helix is trying to emulate.  Have you tried turning the big volume knob on the Helix itself down?  I know "they" say you are supposed to run it at full, but with an amp that has lower headroom,  you may need to ignore that.  Also, when you say "main presets", are you just using the stock presets?  As RD2RK said above, factory presets are usually....crap.  This has been a rule of thumb since the earliest days of multieffects pedals with presets.  You'll need to futz around and make your own to suit your amp, even if the Helix volume knob tweak works.  It will be worth the time; you didn't drop $1500 just to limit yourself to what some stranger thinks you'll like the sound of!  If after a few months of tweaking, it doesn't work out, you might want to try another amp with more headroom (as you aren't a fan of the DI/FRFR sound); perhaps something in the 30-40 watt range.

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Thanks so much guys, I've taken some of all the advice and started from scratch with no amp or cab sim and just set it up as a pedalboard and it's working fine. Next step is to set up another bunch of presets for use into the PA using amp sims, thank so much guys, useful advice from everyone.

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Id use a send block to the BJ and any old amplifier for the sound coming from the helix sims.

 

My story goes like this.

A few years ago i bought an old valve carlsbro pa 60 which i dicked around with replacing caps and such. I cascaded 3 of the input valve channels to get some drive but wasn't impressed. I had planned to clone a 2204 preamp and rip out the pa 60 pre's all together.  Since at the time i had a 1992 (basically a plexi)

I lost interest. 

Couple of months ago i bought a jet city 20w head which by the way is awesome i retired the superbass as it has one sound. It sounded awesome,  but sometimes you want something different y'know. 

 

Few weeks ago i got my helix floor and the plan was the 4cm. After a while messing around with ground loop issues the thought occurred to me to use the carlsbro as a valve power amp.

Wow.

WOW

I've been using only preamp models from the helix and its better than anything ive played through. 

Full disclosure tho. I do have an early 70's 4x12 with 25watt pulsonic cones soooooo.

But yeah i fully endorse going into an effects return and utilizing helix's potential. 

Cheers.

 

 

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14 hours ago, borgis said:

Few weeks ago i got my helix floor and the plan was the 4cm. After a while messing around with ground loop issues the thought occurred to me to use the carlsbro as a valve power amp.

Wow.

WOW

I've been using only preamp models from the helix and its better than anything ive played through. 

 

 

 

 

Yup - this is similar to my experience - I played around with 4CM for a while - it was pretty good but then thought I'd simplify (less cables) by going straight into effects return and yeah - it sounded great. I ended up ditching my combo and buying an Orange Pedal Baby and running the Helix into that.. The Pedal Baby runs into a marshall 4x12 at rehearsal - it sounds astonishingly good. I run it into an Orange 2x12 at home and that sounds amazing as well.

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Nice image! Thanks for posting that!

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if you are running it into the front of an amp, most (or quite possibly all) of the factory presets are going to sound bad, b/c they have an amp/ cab block in them.  You'll need to delete/ bypass the amp/cab blocks, or just set up your own presets with no amp/cab blocks involved to use it as a pedalboard.

 

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Using an amp/cab block into a real amp is not a non-starter per se; I can safely say that in spite of some increased noise, if the amp is clean enough, you can get a pretty good sound.  However, you'll need to completely adjust the patches to dial it in for whatever amp you are using for output.  The factory presets are obviously engineered for DI use....

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