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DugT

What are your favorite 3 amps?

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I'm wondering if there is much consensus on the best amp models in the Helix? When my Helix arrives on Friday I want to have a bit of a head start on which amps to try to make a few presets. I'm fairly generic so if everyone else really like an amp I will probably like it too. So, please list your favorite amp models.

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You’ll get more useful results if you describe the type of music you like to play. A blues lover will give you a very different answer than a metal lover.

 

After your Helix arrives you can also get a good idea of the amps you like by browsing the factory presets.

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Thanks, Silverhead.

On my current Multi-Effects board I use three presets and I categorize them like this:
Clean and slow jazz.
Good for acoustic guitar tone classics like Blackbird
Overdrive like Fogerty
Heavier overdrive like Hendrix or Back in Black

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I haven't seen anybody really express the opinion that any of them are BAD. Like preference for particular types of amps aside (ie. high gain vs "class A"), I've never seen anybody say that such and such an amp in one category was good but another in the same category wasn't. Occasionally someone comes on here and says they're all bad. Fair enough. But the point is that they seem to be all more or less equally accurate to their origin amps, so it really comes down to what you wanna use. For the clean you might want to try a blackface Twin model, because that would tend to be the amp you would use for that if you had one. For the overdrive you could try a Deluxe Reverb or an AC30 or any number of mid-gain amp models the Helix offers. And both Hendrix and AC/DC are famous for using non-master volume Marshalls, the models of which are in abundance on the Helix. I know the sheer number of models can be daunting. I'm still daunted. But you'll find something you can use.

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1 hour ago, DugT said:

Thanks, Silverhead.

On my current Multi-Effects board I use three presets and I categorize them like this:
Clean and slow jazz.
Good for acoustic guitar tone classics like Blackbird
Overdrive like Fogerty
Heavier overdive like Hendrix or Back in Black

 

Yes...that makes it MUCH easier to characterize.  My favorite amps are the ones that best match the style of song I'm playing.  But in your case:

Clean and slow jazz - I used to use only the Jazz Rivet (Roland JC120), but I've pretty much moved from that to the Archetype Clean.

Acoustic guitar tone is best done without an amp model.  Follow Jason Sadites recipe on YouTube for piezo-acoustic guitar tones.

Southern rock crunch like Fogerty - I tend to go with the WhoWatt (Hiwatt) and sometimes the Interstate Zed (Dr Z Route 66)

Hendrix and AC/DC are quite different, but classic rock I tend to use the Placater Models (Friedman) or sometimes the Litigator.  Brit Plexi Brt for older classic rock.

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Thanks everyone! Your info will help me get a better and faster start. 

I probably should have said this earlier, I know very little about amps. I'm currently using a Boss GT-100 multi-effects...and I found it best to not use its amp models. Instead, my tone is totally controlled with effects. I considered doing it this way with my Helix, which will arrive this Friday, but since the Helix amps are good I might as well take advantage. 

I played acoustic guitars (mostly classical) off and on for forty years and switched to electric about five years ago. My hands are good but my repertoire is modest. My GT-100 taught me a lot about pedal effects but not much about what different amps are good for or how they sound.

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6 minutes ago, DugT said:

I probably should have said this earlier, I know very little about amps.

Honestly, there's not much to know, really. 90% of the amps ever made are some kind of variation of only a few basic circuit designs, mostly designed by Fender decades ago. The Helix offers almost limitless choices to explore these slight variations but it's possible that for someone in your position it's more of an educational tool.

 

Here's some of the basics you need to know (when I mention an amp, I'll type the real name and then put the name the Helix uses in brackets).

 

The basic Fender design is present in a number of amps they made back in the day - the Champ (US Small Tweed), the Deluxe (US Deluxe), and the Twin (US Double) are the examples we have in the Helix. The difference between these amps is basically output power, the Champ being the lowest power, the Twin being the highest. More output power means more volume for a given level of power amp distortion (more headroom). So a Champ will break up at a lower volume than a Twin. But these amps were designed long before distortion was considered a desirable quality and that's why the Twin is considered the benchmark of clean tone. The Champ is really a practice amp and wouldn't be very useful in most performance situations, but the Deluxe was one of the first amps that introduced the concept of distortion as a desirable quality, because to get it loud enough to play with a drum kit, you really have to turn it up, whereas the Twin is powerful enough to stay clean at just about any volume. The Deluxe is known as the quintessential country lead guitar amplifier for this reason.

 

The other basic Fender design is the Bassman (Tweed Blues). As the name suggests, it was designed primarily for bassists, but guitarists started using the amp because of its unique distortion characteristics. The Bassman is considered the quintessential American blues guitar amp, and its basic circuit is the most copied amp circuit ever - the first Marshall amp, the JTM-45 (Brit J45), was an exact copy of the Bassman circuit using components more readily available in the UK, and most if not all of Marshall's amps up to today are variations and innovations on that basic circuit design. Not only that, many boutique amps are themselves based on Marshall amps.

 

The other member of "the big three" is Vox. Vox's flagship amp is and was the AC-30 (Essex A30). Vox amps have circuits that are unrelated to Fender and Marshall designs, with unique features and controls and a completely unique sound. The word most associated with the AC30 is "chimey". They sing. They can be clean, they can be dirty, but they always sing. The Beatles used them, Queen used them. Need I say more?

 

So those are probably where you want to start - Fender Deluxe (US Deluxe), Fender Twin (US Double), Fender Bassman (Tweed Blues), Marshall JTM-45 (Brit J45), Marshall Super Lead (Brit Plexi), Vox AC-30 (Essex A30). These are the building block amps. Some of the other amps in the Helix are in one way or another derived from these amps. Some are completely unrelated from the point of view of circuitry, but even many of those are attempts to innovate based on the sounds of these classic amps. Others are their own animal.

 

Be sure to download HX Edit. It's just a much better platform for experimenting with sounds and building presets. And always have the manual handy, there's a lot to learn in terms of controlling things, as there are a few different approaches available to you. I hope I was able to help and I hope you have fun.

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I've only been Helixing for a couple of months now but these are the amps I'm liking the most, in my limited experience. I'll cheat because I'm usually playing in parallel Stereo, so:


1) Jazz Rivet/Us Double (maybe this is the jazzy combo you want, dear OP?)

2) Cartographer/Voltage Queen

3) Whowatt/Placator Clean (Add a muff and treble booster and whooah).

Overall I've been most surprised/shocked by and enamored by the Cartographer. Purrfect crunch for days.

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36 minutes ago, StaccoP2P said:

I've only been Helixing for a couple of months now but these are the amps I'm liking the most, in my limited experience. I'll cheat because I'm usually playing in parallel Stereo, so:


1) Jazz Rivet/Us Double (maybe this is the jazzy combo you want, dear OP?)

2) Cartographer/Voltage Queen

3) Whowatt/Placator Clean (Add a muff and treble booster and whooah).

Overall I've been most surprised/shocked by and enamored by the Cartographer. Purrfect crunch for days.


I'll be playing in stereo too so I will definitely try those amp combinations. 

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As a HX stomp user fav amp means two things for me: either those that I like the most, or the ones that sound ok but use much less processing power. The ones I like the most is probably the whowatt, derailed Ingrid, PV Panama, sorry cannot stay with 3 I need to Include the matchstick jump too

 

The ones I use the most in my patches is badonk & litigator ATM, as they can sound very nice and won't break the bank. I've fallen for quite CPU hungry effects and as I need both a clean and a heavy amp in my patches I have not much wiggleroom with the stomp processing power. Would be rad if line 6 made the amp+cab blocks so that I can bypass the amp/cab separately and free up a little more power. 

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For Cleans I like: Jazz Rivet 120, US Double NRM, Archetype Clean

For Crunch I like: Essex A30, Brit 2204, 

For Hard Rock and Metal Distortion i use: Cali Rectifier, Archetype Lead

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7 hours ago, ossianott said:

Would be rad if line 6 made the amp+cab blocks so that I can bypass the amp/cab separately and free up a little more power. 

The reason it doesn't fully turn off blocks and only bypasses them is because it would cause an audible gap in the signal, the same way changing presets works. If that audible gap isn't an issue for you and you want to free up some CPU power for other effects, you can just use separate presets with single AMP+CAB blocks.   

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1) Matchless TM DC30 Channel 2 (Matchstick Ch2), a Vox on Steroids for anything with chime at the edge of breaking up 

2) Fender® Deluxe Reverb® (US Deluxe Vibe)  for Clean, Jazz  and Blues Tones

3) MESA/Boogie® Mk IV (Cali iV) all 3 Channels depending if Clean, Texas Blues or even High Gain is needed

4) Marshall® Super Lead 100  (Brit Plexi Jump) for Hendrix like Tones

5) BE/HBE channel of the Friedman BE-100 (Placater Dirty) for classic rock tones

 

sorry more then 3, but these are my favorites. One more advice focus one or two amps as a starting point, listen to the original may be on youtube. This helped me a lot to get a decent tone. At the beginning I was trying too many different amps at the same time. It ended in a mess and I was not happy with my tones.  But after I focused on 1 or 2 amps, there was light at the end of tunnel and now I am really happy with my tones. 

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Kind of off topic, but was very important to me.  The Cab you use (or I use).  I use the stock 1x15 bass cab with the gain up to 5.2 low pass at 90, high pass around 8k. I have an eq block at the end that does more high/low cuts).   I play the Helix lt through a DT25 with the line6 cable and xlr outs into a xr18 through EV ZLX's as my home rig.  At gigs, I use the DT25 and then xlr's to FOH.  

 

Back to the cab.... IMO, I did not like any of the other cabs... I would match watch Jason S. was doing and the other cabs still sounded too brittle.... then I used the 1x15 cab.  To me it sounds great.... and on every amp.  So to me, I believe the Cab is as important as the amp (I know that is not what this thread is, sorry.... just thought it was important since the OP is going to be learning stuff).

 

I have what i call a Master set list that I put the patches i will use in a gig on... I try to keep it at 4 banks (16 patches).  I have another setlist that I am going through each amp and building patches based on each amp and grouping them together.  When I find something that blows me away, I replace something in my Master Set List with it.

 

So, now to my fav amps:

- clean:  arch clean, Tweed Blues, Lux Nrm, and the Zed

- crunch/drive:  Plexi, J45, Cali Rect., Tweed blues

- high gain:  Solo and the Revv amps

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2 hours ago, ingen63 said:

1) Matchless TM DC30 Channel 2 (Matchstick Ch2), a Vox on Steroids for anything with chime at the edge of breaking up 

2) Fender® Deluxe Reverb® (US Deluxe Vibe)  for Clean, Jazz  and Blues Tones

3) MESA/Boogie® Mk IV (Cali iV) all 3 Channels depending if Clean, Texas Blues or even High Gain is needed

4) Marshall® Super Lead 100  (Brit Plexi Jump) for Hendrix like Tones

5) BE/HBE channel of the Friedman BE-100 (Placater Dirty) for classic rock tones

 

sorry more then 3, but these are my favorites. One more advice focus one or two amps as a starting point, listen to the original may be on youtube. This helped me a lot to get a decent tone. At the beginning I was trying too many different amps at the same time. It ended in a mess and I was not happy with my tones.  But after I focused on 1 or 2 amps, there was light at the end of tunnel and now I am really happy with my tones. 


I plan to focus on only a few amps at first, like you recommend. I thought I might as well start with the best amps and that is why I started this thread. However, like someone here said, it seems like all the amps are good and therefore there are lots of different favorites. The good news is, it should be easy enough to get started with good tone and then make it even better. 

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The Matchless and Placater are awesome clean to middling tones.

I love the Achetype versions for middle to heavy. Then Mahadeva and Solo for heavy (and some Cali).

 

Those 5 amps are my go-to for starting anything. So much so that I use amp switching and snapshots more than effects, or at least as much as effects (Minotaur and Teemah primarily). 

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