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Guitar input clipping hot pickups?


JamieCrain
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Hi all

Since upgrading to Helix I've come across an issue with one of my guitars. 

 

I have four guitars, three of them have active circuits with mags and piezo, and one of them is a standard passive circuit. One of the active guitars has hot pickups, so when I plug in into Helix, the input indicator flashes red and the sound is distorted like it's breaking up, even on clean tones (or with no amp). It seems the Helix just can't handle the signal coming from the guitar. 

 

Things to note:

  • This didn't happen when I owned the Firehawk FX, only since using Helix.
  • It happens on all patches, factory or user
  • It's mainly when the strings are strummed hard, but you can hear it affecting the tone quite dramatically.
  • It does not affect the piezo, which I run through the FX Return input. It's only when the mags are selected going through the guitar input.
  • I have tried the Guitar Pad option on and off, it doesn't seem to change anything.

 

The only solution I have found is to roll back the volume pot a little, but this is not an ideal solution TBH. None of the other three guitars are affected.

 

Are there any other ways to reduce the input signal through the Helix?

 

Thanks!

 

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Does changing the 'Guitar In-Z'(impedance) on the Input block help? If neither that nor the pad make it better, lowering the pickups on the guitar may be an option. You could also try inserting a compressor block in the first position in your signal chain, cut the makeup gain, set the threshold to catch any peaks, and see if that helps everything else downstream. The '3-Band Comp' might be ideal for this purpose as it may help you hone in and just compress the offending frequencies without dulling your dynamics. A different guitar cable may also help, some cables suck more tone than others. If none of this helps it may be that your active electronics may just, as you noted, be too hot at their more aggressive settings for the Helix.

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On 10/29/2021 at 5:45 AM, JamieCrain said:

Correct, but I have to say I can't hear much of a difference TBH.


That's weird, the difference in volume between on and off should be drastic... did you check in an empty preset?

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On 10/31/2021 at 8:29 AM, HonestOpinion said:

Does changing the 'Guitar In-Z'(impedance) on the Input block help? If neither that nor the pad make it better, lowering the pickups on the guitar may be an option. You could also try inserting a compressor block in the first position in your signal chain, cut the makeup gain, set the threshold to catch any peaks, and see if that helps everything else downstream. The '3-Band Comp' might be ideal for this purpose

Thanks for the tips.

Impedance setting doesn't seem to help. The pad makes a small difference, but not enough to remove the distorted sound. It just lowers the volume slightly and stops the input icon flashing red because of the clipping.

 

Lowering the pups is not an option - they are direct mounted to the body so the height is fixed.

 

However adding the 3-band Comp worked a treat. I tried all the compressors, and the 3-band made an instant improvement to the sound without having to change any settings. Even better, when I tried it with my other guitars, there was no perceptible change to their tone. Somehow it is removing the offending part of the signal without changing the rest of the tone. :)

 

Thanks everyone for the help.

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9 hours ago, CraigGT said:

So if adding the compressor solved the problem then the input wasn't clipping.

There must be something else set too high in your patch.

 

Craig

 

 

Even if the input wasn't clipping(after the OP switched on the pad), if the guitar's active electronics were overly accentuating certain frequencies, the compressor may be catching those, lowering their levels, and preventing them from causing unpleasant things to happen to the tone as the signal proceeds on to being processed by the other blocks. With that said, sure, you could be right, might be issues with something else in the preset but as has been pointed out many times on the forum, if it works, even if it doesn't seem like the "correct" solution it might be right for you(or at least a good workaround).

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9 hours ago, CraigGT said:

So if adding the compressor solved the problem then the input wasn't clipping.

There must be something else set too high in your patch.

 

No that's not correct. The clipping/distortion happens on all factory presets, and also blank presets with no blocks assigned. Most of my user presets are just the factory ones with maybe an added chorus or delay.

 

The pad removes the clipping visually (the red flashing mostly disappears) but sonically doesn't change much. You can still hear the problem, just a little softer. The compressor is somehow successfully attenuating the right parts of the signal to remove the distortion.

 

It's funny, until now I've never found a practical use for compressors. I haven't seen one used in a way that improves the tone with any significance, with maybe a couple of exceptions. But this one is really helping. I might be a convert.

 

 

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I maintain that, if you clip the input (really make it output all 1's) not just flash a red light then It's distorted and it's not coming back from that. Yes you can use whatever method to filter out the harmonics generated but it's still distorted. 

 

Are you certain that your output levels are suitable for whatever your listening on?

 

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1 hour ago, CraigGT said:

I maintain that, if you clip the input (really make it output all 1's) not just flash a red light then It's distorted and it's not coming back from that. Yes you can use whatever method to filter out the harmonics generated but it's still distorted. 

 

Are you certain that your output levels are suitable for whatever your listening on?

 

Not sure what you mean. The distortion disappears once I activate the compressor block even if I crank it up.

 

Output levels are fine and generally low. Between 3 and 5 out of 10. As per the original post, it's only really one guitar that's affected and it has all new electronics. One of my other guitars with active circuitry also shows a very slight tendency to distort/clip but I have to hit the strings hard (which I don't normally do), so I can live with it.

 

I think the compressor block is a reasonable solution, and importantly, it hasn't dampened the tone of the other guitars. They still sound the same.

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I did some testing with a 500Hz sine wave into the Guitar Input, pad off, 1M input impedance and a blank patch.

It takes 2.6V RMS to turn the input indicator red but it doesn't distort until almost 3V RMS.

 

By comparison, strumming an open E chord on a Strat produces 80mV, a Les Paul 200mV and my only active guitar a Charvel Model 6 produces 500mV.

 

So my highest output guitar only produces 16% of the signal required to clip the input.

 

Something is very strange with your setup but it's not the design of the Helix input.

 

Craig

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/4/2021 at 10:35 PM, CraigGT said:

Something is very strange with your setup but it's not the design of the Helix input.

My setup is pretty basic. I run the guitar straight into the helix Guitar input and the FX return via Y cable, that’s it. How do I measure the output of the guitar?

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On 11/12/2021 at 11:05 PM, JamieCrain said:

My setup is pretty basic. I run the guitar straight into the helix Guitar input and the FX return via Y cable, that’s it. How do I measure the output of the guitar?

 

You need a multimeter or preferably an oscilloscope to measure it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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