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Generic expression pedal for Helix ?


garbanzo
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Hello. As anyone can surmise from my post I know nothing about the pedals that can be used with the Helix. I have  a rack. If I have understand correctly I can use an expression pedal to change just about any thing I need, snap shots, increase/decrease things, etc depending on what instructions i have given the Helix. Now what I would like to know is:

-will any generic pedal do the trick? (I have found several for about £50 at Thomann and perhaps a cheaper one at my local music store)

-would a generic pedal need to be moded in order to be functional?

Thanks in advance

Garbanzo

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Any pedal will work with Helix as long as its pot is directly connected to the socket. 10k linear pots work best - this is what Mission Engineering pedals have.

You could buy a used Dunlop and replace the pot inside it - Dunlop pedals are all metal bullet proof design, you get the same (or better) quality as ME for one third of the price.

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Any expression pedal with a 10k linear pots should work fine, which is most of them.

 

You just need to connect it with a  TS / mono jack cable, rather than the more common TRS / stereo jack cable.

 

Almost all devices that use expression pedals need a TRS / stereo jack cable, but line 6 for some reason decided to do it differently to everyone else.

 

If you use the usual TRS / stereo jack cable then it can act strangely, but swap it for a normal TS / mono jack cable i.e. a guitar pedal patch lead and it should work fine.

 

I'm using a Boss EV 30 at the moment, with a TS cable, and prior to that I used an old hard-wired M audio EX-P, I just cut of the TRS jack and soldered on a TR jack instead.

 

A generic expression pedal does not need to be modded you just need to use the correct cable with it.

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17 hours ago, BlackJag said:

Any pedal will work with Helix as long as its pot is directly connected to the socket. 10k linear pots work best - this is what Mission Engineering pedals have.

You could buy a used Dunlop and replace the pot inside it - Dunlop pedals are all metal bullet proof design, you get the same (or better) quality as ME for one third of the price.

Thanks BJ, especially for the advice on the pot values!

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14 hours ago, evilkit said:

Any expression pedal with a 10k linear pots should work fine, which is most of them.

 

You just need to connect it with a  TS / mono jack cable, rather than the more common TRS / stereo jack cable.

 

Almost all devices that use expression pedals need a TRS / stereo jack cable, but line 6 for some reason decided to do it differently to everyone else.

 

If you use the usual TRS / stereo jack cable then it can act strangely, but swap it for a normal TS / mono jack cable i.e. a guitar pedal patch lead and it should work fine.

 

I'm using a Boss EV 30 at the moment, with a TS cable, and prior to that I used an old hard-wired M audio EX-P, I just cut of the TRS jack and soldered on a TR jack instead.

 

A generic expression pedal does not need to be modded you just need to use the correct cable with it.

Thanks evilkit, expecially the advice on the cable. Do I understand you right, ei that a regular guitar mono cable will to the trick? I make those as the need arises from a length cable.

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The pots have 3 pins and TS plugs have two - the TS cable needs to be connected with the middle pin on the pot and one of the side pins. Depends on which side pin you connect you'll get -

- 0 resistance at heel down and max (10k) at toe down

- 0 resistance at toe down and max (10k) at heel down

It doesn't really matter which way round you connect it as you can "invert" your expression pedal in helix

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Some expression/volume pedals work with Line 6 out of the box, others don't.

There are many ways an expression can be wired... saying Line 6 does it differently is unfair, it's just one method of many.

 

Any expression pedal can easily be modded/rewired to work with Line 6 products. I don't think the Helix is as critical about the 10K pot value as older units were, but it's still the standard that works best with Line 6 products.

 

line6.jpg.d19751a326758429987d20dddd0cdc8f.jpg

 

 

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3 hours ago, codamedia said:

Some expression/volume pedals work with Line 6 out of the box, others don't.

There are many ways an expression can be wired... saying Line 6 does it differently is unfair, it's just one method of many.

 

Any expression pedal can easily be modded/rewired to work with Line 6 products. I don't think the Helix is as critical about the 10K pot value as older units were, but it's still the standard that works best with Line 6 products.

 

line6.jpg.d19751a326758429987d20dddd0cdc8f.jpg

 

 

Thanks codamedia. Is there any danger of the wiring being wrong resulting in damaging the Helix? That is the main concern, reversing a wire or two is of tertiary importance, though it is important too.

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1 hour ago, garbanzo said:

Thanks codamedia. Is there any danger of the wiring being wrong resulting in damaging the Helix? That is the main concern, reversing a wire or two is of tertiary importance, though it is important too.

 

No.... all you are controlling is the amount of resistance between the tip and the sleeve. If it's wired wrong it may behave erratically or won't work at all.... that's it!

 

There is no power (eg: no electricity) in an expression pedal. If you have a pedal that requires power or batteries.... my answer does not apply :) A pedal like that would require more thought! 

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12 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

No.... all you are controlling is the amount of resistance between the tip and the sleeve. If it's wired wrong it may behave erratically or won't work at all.... that's it!

 

There is no power (eg: no electricity) in an expression pedal. If you have a pedal that requires power or batteries.... my answer does not apply :) A pedal like that would require more thought! 

Thanks codamedia. Now that it was said I can finally say "I should have thought of that"!  I appreciate your help!

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12 hours ago, plarkin said:

This one is switchable from TRS-->TS-->RTS, and is also very compact.  I've used it with the HX Stomp.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Digitech-Guitar-Expression-Pedal-DOD-MiniEXP-U/dp/B01MS9OGN9/ref=sr_1_9?keywords=expression+pedal&qid=1581543472&sr=8-9

Thanks plarkin, I will now get out and start searching the field. My search is primarily  geared toward Thomann in Germany, they have a large selection, I live in Sweden.

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On 2/12/2020 at 3:08 PM, garbanzo said:

Thanks evilkit, expecially the advice on the cable. Do I understand you right, ei that a regular guitar mono cable will to the trick? I make those as the need arises from a length cable.

yeap a standard mono guitar cable is what you need.

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On 2/11/2020 at 5:22 PM, garbanzo said:

(I have found several for about £50 at Thomann and perhaps a cheaper one at my local music store)


This is about the cheapest available, and I mention this because I have 2 attached to my Helix Floor unit. They work just fine for me, but I’m a studio rat so they don’t have to go on the road. Hey, you could buy 10 of these instead of 1 Mission or any of the others. Upgrade to one of those later.

 

https://www.thomann.de/gb/maudio_expression_pedal.htm

 

or if you use Amazon.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-Audio-EX-P-Expression-Controller-Supported/dp/B000NLRWEI

 


Hope this helps

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2 hours ago, datacommando said:


This is about the cheapest available, and I mention this because I have 2 attached to my Helix Floor unit. They work just fine for me, but I’m a studio rat so they don’t have to go on the road. Hey, you could buy 10 of these instead of 1 Mission or any of the others. Upgrade to one of those later.

 

https://www.thomann.de/gb/maudio_expression_pedal.htm

 

or if you use Amazon.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-Audio-EX-P-Expression-Controller-Supported/dp/B000NLRWEI

 


Hope this helps

 

I have one of these too. Super inexpensive, very light, and works well.

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8 hours ago, datacommando said:


This is about the cheapest available, and I mention this because I have 2 attached to my Helix Floor unit. They work just fine for me, but I’m a studio rat so they don’t have to go on the road. Hey, you could buy 10 of these instead of 1 Mission or any of the others. Upgrade to one of those later.

 

https://www.thomann.de/gb/maudio_expression_pedal.htm

 

What about the pedal range on these? Personally, I find the pedal range of the internal pedal to be absolutely perfect for my needs (even with wahs, which required a bit of getting used to and some wah block adjustments but astonished me no less, being used to the Dunlop range since decades - now I actually enjoy the additional range that I'm getting towards heel position), so I'd really like to have at least a similar range for an external pedal. From the picture, the range looks pretty small, but I really can't tell.

Also, does it have enough friction? I have an old-ish Boss pedal that simply moves way too easily for my taste. I really like a little more "solid" feel under my feet. The best solution might be modding my EB volume pedal, IMO the best pedal for all things swelling and what not - but that one is just horribly heavy, modifying isn't all that easy, either, and I'd also just like to keep it for other purposes.

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38 minutes ago, SaschaFranck said:

 

What about the pedal range on these? Personally, I find the pedal range of the internal pedal to be absolutely perfect for my needs (even with wahs, which required a bit of getting used to and some wah block adjustments but astonished me no less, being used to the Dunlop range since decades - now I actually enjoy the additional range that I'm getting towards heel position), so I'd really like to have at least a similar range for an external pedal. From the picture, the range looks pretty small, but I really can't tell.

Also, does it have enough friction? I have an old-ish Boss pedal that simply moves way too easily for my taste. I really like a little more "solid" feel under my feet. The best solution might be modding my EB volume pedal, IMO the best pedal for all things swelling and what not - but that one is just horribly heavy, modifying isn't all that easy, either, and I'd also just like to keep it for other purposes.


When you say “pedal range” then I guess that you mean how much the pedal physically travels? Well, for me they work just fine, similar to the onboard pedal. Used as a volume controller, when I push the toe down I get 100% and, likewise, with heel down 0% - result silence. As for wah duties, then I, like many other users, have found it helpful to set the peak on the top end to around 90% or sometimes even less.

 

Recently, in another, forum a guy was saying that he really loves his optical Steve Vai “Bad Horsie” unit, apart from the fact that is will not stay in a parked position to get that “cocked wah” effect. I haven’t tried one of those pedals, but these stay where you leave them. A lot of these expensive models seem to be really overpriced for what in the most part is a potentiometer being moved be a rack and pinion contraption inside a box. Ye gods, the EB even use a piece of string - that’s very high tech. I will stick with the cheap and cheerful ones, that should one fail it won’t cost me an internal organ to replace. In the past I have owned and used both Coloursound and Dunlop units, but my absolute favourite was the old Electro Harmonix Crying Muff Fuzz pedal. As usual YMMV.

 

 

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1 hour ago, datacommando said:

When you say “pedal range” then I guess that you mean how much the pedal physically travels?

 

Yeah, sorry for any potential confusion, that's what I meant.

 

Quote

As for wah duties, then I, like many other users, have found it helpful to set the peak on the top end to around 90% or sometimes even less.

 

I'm doing it pretty much the same, IMO most Helix wahs are quite too harsh in toe position. Thing is, at first I started pushing Low Fc up as well, so I would get a similar overall range as with my Dunlops, but after a while I discovered that I actually never go "all heel" with the Helix pedal when doing wah things but rather use the same pedal travel range as with the Dunlop. So I just keep Fc Low pretty much down and can now enjoy a bit more wah range in the lower register whenever I feel like without compromixing "normal" operation.

 

Quote

Recently, in another, forum a guy was saying that he really loves his optical Steve Vai “Bad Horsie” unit, apart from the fact that is will not stay in a parked position to get that “cocked wah” effect. I haven’t tried one of those pedals, but these stay where you leave them. A lot of these expensive models seem to be really overpriced for what in the most part is a potentiometer being moved be a rack and pinion contraption inside a box. Ye gods, the EB even use a piece of string - that’s very high tech. I will stick with the cheap and cheerful ones, that should one fail it won’t cost me an internal organ to replace. In the past I have owned and used both Coloursound and Dunlop units, but my absolute favourite was the old Electro Harmonix Crying Muff Fuzz pedal. As usual YMMV.

 

Yeah, I never got the horrible prices for volume/exp pedals, either. I still love my EB volume pedal, though, IMO there's nothing that feels better while using it. However, I had to replace the pot once - and boy, what a nightmare to get all that string thing re-adjusted properly. Well, not a nightmare but still as far away from userfriendly as it gets. And it was more expensive than a new one of these M-Audios.

Guess I may just order one. I will only use it for certain additional tasks anyway (such as delay manipulation) and keep using the onboard one for wah/volume. I don't exactly need any "cocked wah" sounds, so permanent wah access isn't relevant. The only thing I wish was that the Helix would remember the wah/exp switch throughout snapshots, which it unfortunately doesn't ("snaphot bypass" can't be set for the EXP 1/2 switch).

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13 hours ago, datacommando said:


This is about the cheapest available, and I mention this because I have 2 attached to my Helix Floor unit. They work just fine for me, but I’m a studio rat so they don’t have to go on the road. Hey, you could buy 10 of these instead of 1 Mission or any of the others. Upgrade to one of those later.

 

https://www.thomann.de/gb/maudio_expression_pedal.htm

 

or if you use Amazon.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-Audio-EX-P-Expression-Controller-Supported/dp/B000NLRWEI

 


Hope this helps

Hej datacommando, this sounds great. My needs are not for a mbile unit, just something simple to get the job done. Having a unit that leaves room in the wallet is even better. i couldn´t agree more about the expensive nature of many of these units that are quite simple mechanical and electronic constructions.

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1 hour ago, SaschaFranck said:

Guess I may just order one. I will only use it for certain additional tasks anyway (such as delay manipulation) and keep using the onboard one for wah/volume. I don't exactly need any "cocked wah" sounds, so permanent wah access isn't relevant.


At those prices, what have you got to lose, always handy to have a spare or even have one to stick into the back of a controller keyboard.

 

I considered one of the Ernie Ball gizmos until I realised that it was a string driven thing. I wouldn’t want to spend a wad of cash on those fancy ones, unless it was “mission critical” - ha, ha - see what did there! Feeble attempt at humour.

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Fwiw, not that I'd ever buy another one, but in defense of my EB volume pedal, I gotta say that this is pretty much built to survive Armageddon. I'm now owning it since almost 30 years already and the only thing I had to do was to change the pot once like 3-4 years ago. I don't think that's too bad for a pedal that has been the only one to make it onto each and every pedal board I ever used. The string mechanism, while seemingly strange when you first become aware of it, is actually excellent and is likely responsible for a lot of the pedals longevity. In addition, there's a reason for it to work that way, namely that the pedal can make use of the full 270" the pot provides, something most other pedals don't.

Now, all this is completely irrelevant with an expression pedal that can usually be calibrated inside whatever software, but for a pedal with audio flowing through it, built quality of all parts is quite important.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/14/2020 at 1:45 AM, datacommando said:


This is about the cheapest available, and I mention this because I have 2 attached to my Helix Floor unit. They work just fine for me, but I’m a studio rat so they don’t have to go on the road. Hey, you could buy 10 of these instead of 1 Mission or any of the others. Upgrade to one of those later.

 

https://www.thomann.de/gb/maudio_expression_pedal.htm

 

or if you use Amazon.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-Audio-EX-P-Expression-Controller-Supported/dp/B000NLRWEI

 


Hope this helps

Hej Datacommando! I just got my Mgear pedal from Thomann. Works great! Thanks for the recommendation. This opens up new features for me and makes some things much easier. Appreciate you recommendation!

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FYI: I’m using a Morley PVA volume pedal as expression pedal for my LT. I had it lying around from a former pedalboard setup, so I thought why not try using it. It works great, only issue is that you need to finetune the minimum volume pot which is normally used to limit the lower volume setting. This pot value sometimes gets changed because it’s on top of the pedal housing. Just turn it and set it to the value where you see the Helix switch Exp1/Exp2 mode.

 

Pro of this pedal compared to other pedals is that it works with an optical sensor instead of a potmeter, so less prone to wear. Con is that it needs 9V power to power the LED and optocoupler electronics, though no power is sent to the jacks.

Only issue I have to resolve is the linearity of the signal, but this is addressed in a Youtube video by Scott Grove (dr. Groovy) and is easy to solve. Just have not had the time to do it and felt no urgent need for it.

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