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Help Needed - At a Crossroads


hallissyc
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I am a recent Helix owner, and need some help. I am a bedroom hobbyist; no more, no less. I don't play out and I don't play in a band. I just want to play good for myself. I like to figure out licks and songs, and just have an outlet for my life. 

 

I played guitar as a kid from 13-23 and gave it up the last 10 years or so when we had our kids. I sold everything to fund their childhood, hah. 

 

I recently acquired a few items to get back into it; a Fender Blues Junior, a few pedals and a Music Man Cutlass HSS. I briefly dabbled in the pedal game, but quickly realized that it (1) gets out of control quickly and (2) there are just too many options out there. I started to think that a multi-effects unit was my better option in terms of cost and convenience. So I sold my Blues Junior and all pedals and picked up a used Helix Floor and Powercab 112 Plus locally on CL ($1200 for all). I have enjoyed it the last month or so, but am starting to get spooked by the fact that this unit will eventually go the way of the antiquated units that Line 6 now has in their lineup, where a tube amp wouldn't have that issue. 

So my question is, what do you all think about my current rig for my situation? Do I hold the Helix/Powercab or sell/trade back in to the tube/pedal world?

 

What's ya'll's reasoning for sticking around?

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For what it's worth, I packed up my tube amp and sold off my pedal collection after having the Helix LT for 3 months. In my experience, its a Swiss Army Knife which allows for so much tweaking and customization that I can't imagine ever getting to the bottom of it. Each major update has improved it, too. Every time my G.A.S. rears up, a hour spent with Helix tamps it down again. If I long for the simplicity of an amp and a tube screamer, I whip up a quick patch with only those blocks and I'm off and running. I don't miss anything about my amp/pedalboard setup, frankly.  Good luck!

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Hi hallissyc,

 

Welcome to the forum. I have played guitar since age 14, so I get where you are coming from. I am 55 now though. I had played in many bands over the years and cut back significantly when my career was taking up more time and helping my bass player load his gear in his truck at 2am after a gig was getting old. 

 

I am asking kind of the same questions. I have two Hughes and Kettner Grandmeisters to run stereo. Each go in to their respective 2x12 cabinets with V30s. This was kind of a downsize since I previously had a Hughes & Kettner Triamp with a 4x12 cabinet and it was just too heavy and too loud for my needs. I had a small rack of effects with that amp set up and sold all of it for the Helix. Now, I am getting some pretty good tones with the Helix, but running into the two Grandmeisters is bringing up the same issues of all of this extra gear that I really do not need. So, I find myself just running into my studio monitors from the Helix these days and love the tone I get with the IRs in the Helix. The Grandmeisters are great and have true tube tone, but I just spent some money re-tubing one of them and it reminds me of the fickleness of tube amps and with the Helix, I can have a pedal on the floor and two cables running to my studio set up. I am also considering selling one Grandmeister and putting the other in storage and just using the Helix with studio monitors but am thinking of getting two PC+ 112s to run in stereo. 

Not sure what others think about this. I started a post about this earlier today and hoping to hear some ideas. 

 

To answer your question. I do not think this technology is going anywhere. The only thing I see happening in the future is that the Helix might get a hardware upgrade with more DSP power and that would mean people selling off their current Helix and going with a new one, but most would stay with the Helix since they are familiar with it. I would think the Power Cabs would stay the same and would only get software upgrades and should be around for a while. 

 

I have been around this scene for a long time and I have been a tube snob for years, having gotten really frustrated with the POD XT Live and the Vetta, but when I tried the Helix, I realized we were in to new territory. Now a lot of people that I know that were true tone purists are playing Kemper or Helix and some are eagerly awaiting the Quad Cortex by Neural DSP. That will have four DSP engines compared to Helix's two. A much smaller footprint than the Helix. Some great effects, good models and the ability to do amp profiling. But, does not have the routing power of the Helix yet and is limited in a lot of areas that Helix still rules on. Plus, all of the companies that are moving in this direction have used Line 6 as the template because they were the first, so no... this stuff is not going away. I will stick around because the future looks really bright for some amazing things. Remember, just because Helix has a lot of things it can do does not mean you need to use it all. A swiss army knife is usually good for the knife, but the screwdrivers and can opener do come in handy now and then. 

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4 minutes ago, j_hotch said:

For what it's worth, I packed up my tube amp and sold off my pedal collection after having the Helix LT for 3 months. In my experience, its a Swiss Army Knife which allows for so much tweaking and customization that I can't imagine ever getting to the bottom of it. Each major update has improved it, too. Every time my G.A.S. rears up, a hour spent with Helix tamps it down again. If I long for the simplicity of an amp and a tube screamer, I whip up a quick patch with only those blocks and I'm off and running. I don't miss anything about my amp/pedalboard setup, frankly.  Good luck!

Good perspective - and don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the Helix isn't good. In fact, it's great. I am just worried that I will need to buy Helix2 in a few years, and my current rig was expensive hah. 

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15 minutes ago, hallissyc said:

Good perspective - and don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the Helix isn't good. In fact, it's great. I am just worried that I will need to buy Helix2 in a few years, and my current rig was expensive hah. 


You most like won’t need to buy anything new, but you probably would want to... Needs generally have little to do with it.

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5 minutes ago, phil_m said:


You most like won’t need to buy anything new, but you probably would want to... Needs generally have little to do with it.

Ok - yea, I get it. You could hold onto old products for a while after they are superseded but I wouldn't run into the same "problem" with a tube amp and pedals. Now, there are certainly upkeep costs associated with tubes, so there is that. I am just trying to protect my purchase the best that I can. 

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23 minutes ago, Wondo100 said:

Hi hallissyc,

 

Welcome to the forum. I have played guitar since age 14, so I get where you are coming from. I am 55 now though. I had played in many bands over the years and cut back significantly when my career was taking up more time and helping my bass player load his gear in his truck at 2am after a gig was getting old. 

 

I am asking kind of the same questions. I have two Hughes and Kettner Grandmeisters to run stereo. Each go in to their respective 2x12 cabinets with V30s. This was kind of a downsize since I previously had a Hughes & Kettner Triamp with a 4x12 cabinet and it was just too heavy and too loud for my needs. I had a small rack of effects with that amp set up and sold all of it for the Helix. Now, I am getting some pretty good tones with the Helix, but running into the two Grandmeisters is bringing up the same issues of all of this extra gear that I really do not need. So, I find myself just running into my studio monitors from the Helix these days and love the tone I get with the IRs in the Helix. The Grandmeisters are great and have true tube tone, but I just spent some money re-tubing one of them and it reminds me of the fickleness of tube amps and with the Helix, I can have a pedal on the floor and two cables running to my studio set up. I am also considering selling one Grandmeister and putting the other in storage and just using the Helix with studio monitors but am thinking of getting two PC+ 112s to run in stereo. 

Not sure what others think about this. I started a post about this earlier today and hoping to hear some ideas. 

 

To answer your question. I do not think this technology is going anywhere. The only thing I see happening in the future is that the Helix might get a hardware upgrade with more DSP power and that would mean people selling off their current Helix and going with a new one, but most would stay with the Helix since they are familiar with it. I would think the Power Cabs would stay the same and would only get software upgrades and should be around for a while. 

 

I have been around this scene for a long time and I have been a tube snob for years, having gotten really frustrated with the POD XT Live and the Vetta, but when I tried the Helix, I realized we were in to new territory. Now a lot of people that I know that were true tone purists are playing Kemper or Helix and some are eagerly awaiting the Quad Cortex by Neural DSP. That will have four DSP engines compared to Helix's two. A much smaller footprint than the Helix. Some great effects, good models and the ability to do amp profiling. But, does not have the routing power of the Helix yet and is limited in a lot of areas that Helix still rules on. Plus, all of the companies that are moving in this direction have used Line 6 as the template because they were the first, so no... this stuff is not going away. I will stick around because the future looks really bright for some amazing things. Remember, just because Helix has a lot of things it can do does not mean you need to use it all. A swiss army knife is usually good for the knife, but the screwdrivers and can opener do come in handy now and then. 

Thanks for the note - I appreciate your experience and sentiment. I think you are spot on - the convenience of the digital gear far outweighs the benefits associated with the analog counterparts. 

As to your post - I will make my comments over there, but I have been generally happy with the PowerCab 112 Plus that I have. No complaints, but my threshold for tone is low. I am over here playing scales and beginner licks on ~$5000 worth of gear, haha. 

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1 hour ago, hallissyc said:

Do I hold the Helix/Powercab or sell/trade back in to the tube/pedal world?


 Seems to me, that is a decision that only you can make, but come at it from another angle.
 

If you sit in your bedroom with your Fender Blues Junior plus a few pedals, that’s it. Oh, you could go out and buy another pedal or two for a novelty, but it’s not just buying the the 2 pedals is it? No, you need to power them, could mean another 2 power supplies, then patch cables and what order do you put them in. Oh, that nasty cracking noise from a bad connection- spend the best part of a day finding and fixing the fault in the spaghettini. Or plug your Music Man Cutlass HSS into the Helix and PC112+ and power them up. Instant access to more than 80 amps, beyond 200 FX etc, no unnecessary messy cables and wall warts. 

 

I know which way I would go - no contest - chose to go with Helix 5 years ago and it just gets better and better, especially with this latest firmware update. I don’t understand why you would imagine this stuff would become obsolete?

 

Hope this helps/makes sense

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1 hour ago, hallissyc said:

I am a recent Helix owner, and need some help. I am a bedroom hobbyist; no more, no less. I don't play out and I don't play in a band. I just want to play good for myself. I like to figure out licks and songs, and just have an outlet for my life. 

 

I played guitar as a kid from 13-23 and gave it up the last 10 years or so when we had our kids. I sold everything to fund their childhood, hah. 

 

I recently acquired a few items to get back into it; a Fender Blues Junior, a few pedals and a Music Man Cutlass HSS. I briefly dabbled in the pedal game, but quickly realized that it (1) gets out of control quickly and (2) there are just too many options out there. I started to think that a multi-effects unit was my better option in terms of cost and convenience. So I sold my Blues Junior and all pedals and picked up a used Helix Floor and Powercab 112 Plus locally on CL ($1200 for all). I have enjoyed it the last month or so, but am starting to get spooked by the fact that this unit will eventually go the way of the antiquated units that Line 6 now has in their lineup, where a tube amp wouldn't have that issue. 

So my question is, what do you all think about my current rig for my situation? Do I hold the Helix/Powercab or sell/trade back in to the tube/pedal world?

 

What's ya'll's reasoning for sticking around?

 

In the end, it all boils down to your individual wants/ needs. If you really want to emulate the tones of the music you're playing along to, then there's nothing better than a modeler, because a Blues Jr is never gonna sound like anything but a Blues Jr... which is fine, but it won't do a particularly good Mesa Boogie impression if you're playing along with Dream Theater tunes. Whether or not that matters to you is entirely your call.

 

Also, even though you may not be doing it now, you may want to dabble with home recording at some point... which is difficult to do if you have to mic a real amp, unless you have a full blown sound-proofed studio in your house...ringing phones, barking dogs and screaming kids will ruin take after take. Modelers are infinitely easier to work with in that regard, as you can record direct, re-amp after the fact...and do it all at 3am with headphones and not wake the rest of the house.

 

Will the Helix eventually go the way of the dodo? Yes... all tech-heavy products like this will eventually stop being supported and will be replaced by the "next big thing"... but so what? As long as your unit continues to function, and you're happy with the results, nothing is forcing you to spend money upgrading.

 

And fwiw, tube amps aren't maintenence free either... depending on how much you play and how hard you push them, those tubes will eventually need to be replaced and the amp re-biased... that can cost several hundred dollars, depending on the amp.

 

Bottom line is,  no matter what you use, nobody's ever really "done" spending money on gear until the day you stop playing altogether.

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The original POD came out in, what, 1995?

I have a friend who bought one of the first. He uses it into an old Spyder amp he paid $75 for.

For the kind of music he plays - hard rock/punk/metal - it sounds great.

25 years later.

 

What guarantee do you have that you'll still be ALIVE in 25 years?

There are very few companies in the world still making tubes. They're horrible for the environment, and will likely cost a lot more in 25 years.

 

There's no guarantees in life. Play what sounds good to you NOW, and worry about the future when it gets here! 

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3 hours ago, hallissyc said:

I am just trying to protect my purchase the best that I can. 

 

Let me save you the suspense... you can't. Technology evolves at a ridiculous pace today, and that pace will only increase as time goes on. As a result, we live in a disposable economy. In the end, this means that the planned obsolescence of anything more complicated than a Pet Rock is inevitable. Helix will not be your last piece of gear... and neither will anything else you might select in it's place. And that is the only certainty here...

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1 minute ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

Let me save you the suspense... you can't. Technology evolves at a ridiculous pace today... couple that with the fact that we have a disposable economy we're, and the planned obsolescence of anything more complicated than a Pet Rock is inevitable. Helix will not be your last piece of gear... that much is a virtual certainty.

This is a good point - I guess I just thought that a tube amp was more or less rock solid in that it doesn't need firmware updates and will last as long as you maintain it; which is different than the Helix which requires Line 6 to continue their support of the product. 

I agree, though - I think I just need to understand that this product is what I am using right now, and it doesn't need to be my forever solution. 

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33 minutes ago, rd2rk said:

The original POD came out in, what, 1995?

I have a friend who bought one of the first. He uses it into an old Spyder amp he paid $75 for.

For the kind of music he plays - hard rock/punk/metal - it sounds great.

25 years later.

 

What guarantee do you have that you'll still be ALIVE in 25 years?

There are very few companies in the world still making tubes. They're horrible for the environment, and will likely cost a lot more in 25 years.

 

There's no guarantees in life. Play what sounds good to you NOW, and worry about the future when it gets here! 

That's definitely an interesting angle with regard to the environment - I never thought about it in those terms. 

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1 hour ago, hallissyc said:

This is a good point - I guess I just thought that a tube amp was more or less rock solid in that it doesn't need firmware updates and will last as long as you maintain it; which is different than the Helix which requires Line 6 to continue their support of the product. 

 

 

This is only partially true... your Helix doesn't need firmware updates either. It was fully functional when you opened the box, and barring a catastrophic hardware failure, it will very likely stay that way for a good long time. It's nice that we still get updates 5 years into the product's life cycle, and one day they will stop coming...but even if v3.0 were to be the last one we ever get, whatever is in the device today will still be there tomorrow, with or without continued development. Hell, the first kidney bean POD I bought in the late 90's is laying around here somewhere, and it still works. Official support for it ceased long ago, but who cares as long as it functions as advertised?

 

Here's the bottom line... for most of us these things are toys. You don't buy toys because you need them, you buy them because you want them. And sooner or later, your gonna want something else... that's life. And if you were a full time professional musician, you would eventually need "the next big thing" to keep current, make your life/ job easier, or because you destroyed your old one on the road and they don't make that thing  anymore, etc etc. Either way, gear acquisition never really ends...

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Hopefully the point is coming through to you that modeling is simply the newest variation for playing guitar.  Just like digital 3d imaging is the latest variation on how to do special effects in movies.  I'm not a psychic, but I'm reasonably sure that you won't be seeing Disney going back to hand drawn animation anytime soon...if ever.  I'm sure there will always be people that will do hand drawn animation because of it's charm, but it can't really compete with what's available now in computer animation capabilities.  That is what you're concerning yourself with.

Just to feed my experience into this so you might better understand the impact of modeling.  Like you I started playing in bands when I was around 13 and continued doing so through college and even touring for several years back in the '70s before I shut it down to raise a family.  Even then I still played in bands part time and even now in my retirement years at 68 years old I'm still playing.  So you can well imagine all the variations I've endured over those years when it comes to amps, guitars, keyboards and drums and all the various equipment I've owned and used during that time.

I was an early adopter I would say of modeling, and there were numerous things it fixed that had always aggravated me.  Like how hard it was to represent different styles and genres of music with just one amp or one guitar, or the sheer amount of equipment one would need to get all those various sounds, not to mention the inability to realistically represent the sound you would hear on a recording that was manipulated and managed by very creative people in a studio who creatively used all sorts of equipment in different ways to achieve certain sounds.  Once modeling achieved a level I felt was a real replacement for my amps and pedals which was an HD500X, the amps and pedals were replaced and I haven't looked back...and I doubt I ever will.

And we, as guitarists, are not alone.  I have several musician friends who are keyboard players that went through this same transformation in their musical space.  Fifteen years ago most of them would never have dreamed of replacing their Hammond B3's and Leslies with an electronic keyboard, yet they all are using high end electronic keyboards consistently and most have sold off their old gear.  In fact it happened in keyboards long before it became popular for guitars.

When Disney starts putting out hand drawn animations and the latest Marvel super hero movies all start getting made again with green screens backdrops, I might reconsider the death of modeling...but I don't expect that anytime soon.  And even if they come out with a super duper Helix, I can't say I'll be first in line for it unless it specifically fixes something my current Helix doesn't fix.  It could happen, but I'm not counting on it.

 

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2 hours ago, rd2rk said:

The original POD came out in, what, 1995?

I have a friend who bought one of the first. He uses it into an old Spyder amp he paid $75 for.

For the kind of music he plays - hard rock/punk/metal - it sounds great.

25 years later.

 

Before I bought the Stomp in July, I was still using a Boss SE-50 that I bought used back in 1992.

It was even good enough for rehearsals, plugging it directly into the PA, instead of having to bring the Fender Blues Deluxe with me every time.

So that one was in use for 28 years.

Heck, my Blues Deluxe is now also 26 years old.

 

In 28 years, I'll be 81. 

The Stomp may still be working by then. Possibly even the SE-50.

Not so sure about myself though, haha…

 

5 hours ago, hallissyc said:

What's ya'll's reasoning for sticking around?

 

I'll keep the Fender amp for the time being. I also play bass, so I have a small and a mid-size bass combo as well.

I'm not much into pedals though. Recently I've been using my decades old Boss CS-3 and TW-1 for guitar, also OC-2 and TW-1 for bass. If any.

But in fact, all I've used since July was just the Stomp, be it at home, in rehearsal rooms with bands, and on one occassion (uh, there weren't many this year) also live. Straight to the desk or into any random power amp or amplified speaker that there is. It just works…

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I used an X3 Live for over 10 years before I got my LT, and my reason for updating had nothing to do with tone and everything to do with control. When I got my LT I gave my X3 to my bassist, and his tone is killer and he has no complaints at all. The X3 isn't antiquated, it's just a previous iteration of the same thing. Still completely usable, still completely relevant. I still use PodFarm in my studio because it sounds great. You'll see POD 2.0, XT, X3 and stompbox modeler rack units in studios all over the world. The Helix will always be an incredibly powerful, versatile unit well after they've made an even more powerful, versatile unit.

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