Getting Started with a Helix

Discussion in 'Amp Modeling' started by drew365, May 17, 2016.

  1. drew365

    drew365 Senior Member

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    I got my Helix a little less than a week ago. It's pretty easy to use, but the first few days can be perplexing. I figured I'd start this thread and ask some questions and post some observations. Anyone else can add to the knowledge and maybe we'll help me and some other new owners down the road. Or is that up the road? I can never remember.
    My Helix was a return. How do I know? Well it was missing the USB cord and adjustment tool for the expression pedal. Plus it had 56 user presets loaded, including 18 from Glen DeLaune! Score!!!!! His presets are the best ones I've tried so far. I don't know where the others came from, but they are all usable.
    So I'm way ahead and I had a USB cable anyway.
    To start with, I'm plugging my Helix into the FX Return of one of my tube amps, and they into my guitar cab, because I don't have a SS amp or FRFR speaker yet. FRFR stands for Full Range Flat Response speaker. Basically a PA type of speaker that doesn't color the sound.
    When using a tube amp like I am, and going into a guitar cab, I found that it's best to use a pre amp model in the patch, but not an amp model or a cab model. You can get by with an amp model, but a cab model really puts a blanket on the tone. To start with select a factory preset, highlight the cab model block (speaker icon) and press "Bypass" to disengage the speaker cab.
    Now you're ready to make some noise.
     
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  2. drew365

    drew365 Senior Member

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    The best way to learn the controls is to use them. Building a preset from scratch is a good project. Here's a video that Rocco Crocco posted in another thread, that really helps to get going on a new patch.



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY3ggZzCbMA
     
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  3. drew365

    drew365 Senior Member

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    So here's my first question. I put together a new patch today. I used two OD pedals, one in front of the pre amp and one behind it, to push my amps power section.
    But I still want a boost for solo's. I didn't see a boost pedal available. Should I just use an OD pedal and pull the gain down, and the level up? How are you guys adding a solo boost?
     
  4. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    You can get some nice boost off some of the compressor models. I use the Red Squeeze - whatever they call the MXR Dyna Comp - and set it more for a boost than a compressor. I do that on my analog board also. I am at work, but if you want how I set it, I can let you know later.
     
  5. drew365

    drew365 Senior Member

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    Towards the end of that video I posted above, he makes a boost from the amp model. He mumbles while he's doing it, and I didn't really understand what he did, even after watching it three or four times.
    But yeah, if you want to post your settings, I'll give it a go. I have a test patch going that I don't care how I tweak it. It's just a learning exercise.
    I guess another way to create a boost would be using an EQ pedal, which I sometimes do on my real pedal board. I'll give that a try also.
     
  6. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    So far the coolest thing that I have discovered about the Helix is that I can do pretty much ANYTHING that I can do with my analog effects. I haven't even touched the "outside the box" aspects like some of the videos show. Hahaha, I am still in a single path with one "amp" and a bunch of serial effects. I am excited about the possibilities and the fact that it's gonna take me a while to grow into this piece of gear.

    I will pull up my compressor setting tonight and post it. It's an option. I think I am gonna try something you did - put a boost AFTER the preamp model. I don't have an FRFR yet either, so I am using the Helix in the return of my amp also. I think trying that boost might be cool. Thanks for the idea!!
     
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  7. frankv

    frankv What Are You Waiting For? Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    The effects availability is something that many don't even consider when looking to go this route. it is an incredible feature..
     
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  8. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Frank - I never explored the Axe, but I will tell you, the routing on the Helix is awesome. I LOVE the way you put multiple effects on one button. On the patch I used last night, I had an OCD and a DOD 250 on the same button - stacked to provide a killer lead tone with a VOX AC-30 preamp.

    The next thing I am going to try is putting a couple of different preamps in a patch, combine them with the NECESSARY effects (reverb, etc) dedicated to that preamp tone and then make them all switchable with the same button.

    Since I am currently using an S-120 as my power section, I have access to two tube power amps with the wattage assignable from 7 to 60 watts. Over the weekend I may try a parallel patch with a different preamp going to a different power amp, and actually run a dual "amp" set up. Should be pretty awesome....

    Drew - here are my settings for the Red Squeeze Compressor:

    sensitivity = 2.1
    mix = 72%
    level = - 3.0db

    That setting lifts the volume a little and makes everything "fuller" without squashing it.
     
  9. drew365

    drew365 Senior Member

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    Today I did an edit session just using the Helix unit, without the computer. Easy, peasy! I used the joystick and action button to move blocks down and then insert a volume pedal at the start of the chain. I then added an EQ at the end of the chain to use as a lead boost.
    If you get your power switching to work, you'll have to attempt to explain it a little more. Sounds pretty deep.
     
  10. drew365

    drew365 Senior Member

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    I've had my Helix for a week today. I'm going to take it to band rehearsal tonight. Cold turkey, no pedal board back up. Like Franky said, this ain't rocket science. Lord have mercy!
     
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  11. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    It'll go great man!!!! Post your findings/results!!!
     
  12. frankv

    frankv What Are You Waiting For? Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    I was kidding .... hahahahaha
     
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  13. Rocco Crocco

    Rocco Crocco Senior Member

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    There's a bunch of ways to accomplish this. You can assign an EQ LAST in the patch, and boost the mids and/or level, then assign a footswitch to the EQ.

    What I do is assign a footswitch to the power amp patch volume, which I am not sure you have access to since you are using only preamp models for now. I'll take a look and see how to work around this when I get home from work today. It's best to do it this way to save DSP, rather than assign a whole block to an EQ just to get a simple solo boost.

    Thanks for starting this thread. I gotta get back to work :sadwave:
     
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  14. Malikon

    Malikon 仮面ライダー V.I.P. Member

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    There is so much tech to learn getting into this stuff, making pre-sets and patches, downloading things, making sure your chain is in the right order? When to use a Cab sim?

    gah...too much work.

    Plug me into a Tube/SS amp and turn it up. :laugh2:

    I don't want to learn how to program a computer to play guitar, I just want to play guitar.

    You guys have the patience of saints. I'd never have that kind of patience to play with a computer when I could be playing guitar.


    ..I do think some of the tech is really neat though. Perhaps lamenting my own shortcomings in knowing I'd never have the patience to spend days learning how to use a computer so I could play guitar.

    Read a Deftones interview where he's talking about how he shifted to Fractal and it took a real long time to get used to it. And he kept messing things up and deleting things by accident. Sounded like a nightmare. :laugh2: Something about 'Scenes' and he deleted his scenes and f**ked everything up.

    ....figure 20 years from now I wont even recognize the guitar world.

    It'll probably be Carbon Fiber guitars with USB cords plugged into computer amps and laptops.


    brave new world and all.
     
  15. Rocco Crocco

    Rocco Crocco Senior Member

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    Trust me Mal, you'd pick up on this stuff pretty quick. It's really just an initial time investment (plus lots of cursing and tears... not gonna lie. Lol), but then after that initial investment, you have a whole slew of tones most of us could never afford or even have the space to keep in the house.
     
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  16. Malikon

    Malikon 仮面ライダー V.I.P. Member

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    yeah I hear ya, I just think I already went through a, "cursing and tears" phase in my guitar-craft and aren't anxious to do it again. :laugh2:

    Remember when your fingertips are so raw that air hurts them?

    Or when they just give up and start going numb and you have no feeling in your fingertips for a week or two? :laugh2:
     
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  17. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Hahaha - it's not so bad. The Helix, like the Axe and Kemper, just offers a lot of options. It's really no different than when I used to sit around wiring racks with switching routers and MIDI control over stomp boxes, rack effects, preamps and/or channel switching on heads.

    The BIG difference - and the NICE difference - is that it's all in the box. No more making patch cables to the right length or holding a flashlight in your mouth while you poke around plugging all this stuff in. The BIGGEST difference is I can make multi amp and effect set-ups and carry it all around in a 4 space rack instead of a 20 space rack that takes 2-3 guys to carry/move.

    Last time I had a rig THIS flexible and functional was when I was running the 12 space rack with the GCX unit, racked stomp-boxes, a 4 channel multi effects unit, and an Egnater Tweaker 40. Even then, I couldn't program the level of convenience that I can program with the Helix.

    Sure, if you only use a couple of pedals into an amp it is kind of overkill....BUT, if you are like me and in a variety of live and studio situations depending on the month you don't have to have different rigs for every situation. I have been able to consolidate all my needs into the Helix AND actually be MORE than happy with the results. All my live patches sound like the tube amps I was using. The stomp boxes I was using are pretty much in there - the ones that aren't, I have FOUR effects loops I can assign and use. SO far though, I have been MORE than happy with what is in the box.

    The learning curve is so easy that I had my Rivera sound created in 15 minutes. My Marshall sound created in 5 minutes. My Fender sound? Five minutes. Terribly easy - especially if you have ANY experience with modelers, drum machines, soft synths, rack effect processors, DAWs, etc.
     
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  18. Malikon

    Malikon 仮面ライダー V.I.P. Member

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    I think that's my problem. I'm too simple minded.

    I just throw a TS in front of the amp and call it a day. Maybe a 'metal' pedal or something for more OD if I need it.

    Totally get why people love all the options and everything the modeling stuff has. I'm not knocking it.


    ....I hear "rack" or "rack mount" and just shudder. :laugh2:
     
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  19. drew365

    drew365 Senior Member

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    My experience taking the Helix to rehearsal last night was mixed. Some of the songs it sounded great, some not so great. But I was able to just bend down and make multiple adjustments to tweak the sound just like I would with my pedal board.
    One of my problems was getting the balance of volumes between my guitar, the Helix and the amp. I was plugging into the fx return of an Egnater Renegade head, which is 65w. But several times the band was playing really loud, (mostly the keyboardist), and I was getting drowned out. At times I had the Helix cranked, my guitar cranked and the amp way up past where I've ever used it. I had so much volume that I was on the edge of feedback, but what I was playing had no definition. All of my fills got totally lost. I know the real answer is to get the band to play at a more balanced volume, but that's like asking a group of cats to pay attention. I think I'm going to hurry the purchase of an FRFR cab and amp and hope that helps. Plus I'll try going into the PA, where the keyboard was, and maybe have a fighting chance. I think the days of putting the Helix into a tube amp may be numbered, especially when playing with the band.
     
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  20. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Drew365 - thanks for the feedback on your live use. Continue to fill us in!!
     

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