Want to give modeling another chance

MichaelAndrew3435

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I tried an Axe FX a couple years ago and wasn’t wowed enough to keep it. I admit that I purchased the Axe without really knowing what I was getting since it was my first time buying a high end modeling amp. I was pretty intimidated by all the buttons and features and just didn’t feel like I had the patience to try and figure everything out, and I only had so much time before I was able to send it back for a full refund. Moral of the story, I should have done more research on the unit and spent more time learning how to use it.

Anyways, the past is the past and I think I’m ready to give it another try. I don’t think I want to go with Axe this time around and I’m more interested in a Kemper. Is a Kemper more or less user friendly than the Axe? Are there other high quality modeling amps that are more user friendly than Kemper or Axe? I’d be primarily using the unit for at home practice with headphones. I have some speakers I could use it with as well but it would mainly be for practice, hooked up to my Mac.
 

Hamtone

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I have not taken the plunge but been researching and listening to others who have. My understanding with kemper is, it is a platform for amps, and does it quite well. From the vids ive watched it's pretty simple to use.
 

MichaelAndrew3435

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I have not taken the plunge but been researching and listening to others who have. My understanding with kemper is, it is a platform for amps, and does it quite well. From the vids ive watched it's pretty simple to use.

Is there a good modeling amp that comes with a footswitch so I could easily move between pre-sets?
 

PierM

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Is there a good modeling amp that comes with a footswitch so I could easily move between pre-sets?

If you want to preserve the “amp in the room” tone, a Kemper + cab is a good option.

For more portability, a Helix stomp thorugh a powercab, it can be a great set. I do have a Helix+PC112 and sounds reeeeally goood, once you know how to properly setup.

If you just want a all-in-one modeler amp, there are plenty from L6.
 

mdubya

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I think the Helix is more user friendly, with a caveat. The Helix LT is a spectacular bargain and packed with features.

*The caveat - the stock Helix probably sounds fine, but...most seem to end up with aftermarket IR's and models before they are truly happy.

The Fractal stuff sounds great out of the box.

There is no doubt a learning curve. I had some growing pains with my AX8, but 2 years on, I am more impressed with it all the time because my ability to use it has grown.

I stick to a handful of favorite models, but I cannot imagine living without the things the AX8 allows me to do.

This Rhett Shull video sums things up as well as anything I have heard.


Some of the things that keep things interesting for me: I split my signal between monitors and real amps (used as monitors) and I mix in my favorite real pedals with the AX8.

I wanted a simple solution: AX8 and FRFR monitor, and what I have is great, but variety (aside from endless amp modeling possibilities) has made things much more interesting to me and keeps me from getting bored.

On the flip side, when I go back to my amps, while they sound as good as ever, the limitations of a single amp bothers me more than I ever thought it could or would. Knowing I can go from one amp to the next to the next to the next with all of the possibilities of effects and so forth is just plain awesome. And I have become addicted to the looper function. My one man band might not sound very good, but I sure have fun.
 

NotScott

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I gig with a powered Kemper and the Kemper foot controller through a variety of conventional cabs. I am quite happy with it. The Kemper is very simple to operate and tweak. However, it really depends upon the profile you start with. I have had best luck using profiles with more gain than I need and modifying them to have less gain. They typically tweak well. Adding a lot of gain to a cleaner profile doesn't seem to work as well.

For my setup, I typically setup the foot controller for (5) different sounds:

Fender clean
Vox semi cleasn
Marshall rhythm
Dumble overdriven
Fuchs overdriven

I can switch instantaneously between them all and just use this switching instead of programming drive stomps. I only use a touch of reverb with an occasional chorus for FX. I also have one stomp setup as a pitch transposer for when our singers decide at the last minute that they can't do that song we do in E and need to drop it to Eb. I then have a couple Mission pedals connected to it, one for volume and one for wah. I can easily roll my rig in with a Home Depot tool bag and be setup in 15 minutes.

That being said, if you are only wanting a headphone/practice rig, the Kemper may be overkill. Unless you really want the most accurate edge of breakup vintage Vox and Tweed tones, there are other, less expensive options. I use an Amplifire 3 for my headphone/practice time. It does modded Marshall tones as well as any other device and has very good tactile response. It is also relatively inexpensive.

Basically, all of the modern modelers do the Marshall thing very well. If that is your bag,just get the unit that works best for you. If you want/need the most realistic amp tones out there and cost is of no concern, then the Kemper is your thing.
 

dspelman

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I think the Helix is more user friendly, with a caveat. The Helix LT is a spectacular bargain and packed with features.

*The caveat - the stock Helix probably sounds fine, but...most seem to end up with aftermarket IR's and models before they are truly happy.

I have the Helix (not the LT). I've also got an older Axe.

I chose NOT to buy the LT; there are a lot of differences, and I really don't see the LT as a "spectacular bargain." It is cheaper, but it depends on what your preferences are, and what you see as important. The basic firmware is the same. The LT is folded metal construction, the Helix is cast aluminum. Major difference in feel and longevity. The Helix has the LED scribble strips, the LT does not. You don't realize how useful these are until you don't have them. The Helix also has a different I/O setup, including four FX loops and more. Some functions are shared (you get one or the other) on the back of the LT, but separate and discrete on the Helix. You have more additional expression pedal outlets (again, until you don't have them)... And more.

The "caveat" above is from someone who does not *have* a Helix. I have a few aftermarket IRs (including a Taylor 314 "miked in air" IR that was free). I'm not sure "unhappy" is a thing with the Axe, Kemper, Helix or any of the other IR-capable units. The point is that you have access to all of these, not that the original unit is lacking without them. The truth is that most Axe and Kemper owners have a few presets that they use and they're done. It's far more difficult to set up rig chains with those pieces, and you really need to add a foot pedal (and program it) in order to use the units. The Helix editing setup makes routing far more easy and the foot pedal portion of a Helix has far more in the way of ergonomics than do most MIDI pedals.

Since I'm able to purchase any of the available modelers it was really (for me) a choice related more to which one made the most sense for me. I don't need some of the deep dive things available on the Axe. I need more than a few presets available to me. I loved the ergonomics of the Helix and felt there were things missing on the LT. I loved the editing software of the Helix. I don't need to profile gear using a Kemper. And I like the ability to replace the Helix fairly easily in any city at a reasonable cost should something go wrong and I need it quickly. And it's cheaper.
 

dspelman

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Is there a good modeling amp that comes with a footswitch so I could easily move between pre-sets?

The foot pedal setup on the Helix (not LT) is probably the best in the business. It's NOT a modeling *amp," however. It's a foot pedal with modeling built in, and you can attach any kind of FRFR powered speaker cabinet.
 

CaptainT

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User friendly?

Headphone?

Home use?


Get a HEADRUSH!!!!;)
 

MichaelAndrew3435

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So a used Helix would run me at about $1200. Is this a unit I can plug into right away and start playing? Does it come with stock pre-sets? Can I instantly hook it up to my Mac with ease or do I need a special device to do so?
 

MichaelAndrew3435

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mdubya

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HeadRush with an FRFR is Tracii Guns main rig these days. Check out his IG.

That said, Fractal has some amazingly good high gain models, dozens of them. Diezel, Orange, Friedman, Mesa, tip of the iceberg.
 

DarrellV

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So a used Helix would run me at about $1200. Is this a unit I can plug into right away and start playing? Does it come with stock pre-sets? Can I instantly hook it up to my Mac with ease or do I need a special device to do so?
Yes to all of the above.

I have the LT unit as its all I could afford, but sound quality wise it's all that.

Can hook to anything with USB. Appears in Studio One as an input for recording. Has a headphone jack on it.

2 or three banks of presets, customizable and savable to several empty banks for user presets.

I use the dual XLR outs and stereo effects to play through the FOH mains and use floor monitors for me.

Not everyone's ideal, but it works for me and keeps down the amount of heavy gear I need to pack.
 

matthew bear

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I've got the helix, and it's quite easy to use. I never use aftermarket IRs, as I feel the stock cabs are just fine.

I previously owned a temper, it was also easy to use and frankly, I didn't even scratch the surface of what it could do. I have some regret over letting it go from time to time... I think my monitoring system sold it short.

But, I honestly use my tube amps all the time now. I'm able to play at living room volumes whenever, so headphones aren't needed. I hated playing thru headphones on either unit.
 

fleahead

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Spent $285 on a Mooer GE200. Stupidly good deal for the money depnding on your needs. Stacked up well to both my friend's Kemper and Headrush.
New Rig.jpg
 

jkes01

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Anyone try Positive Grid’s Bias Head? I use their iOS apps and they sound really good. They are also unbelievably tweak-able and user-friendly.


 

hbucker

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I've got an AX8 but I'm assuming that every one of these products has a learning curve that steps a little beyond just opening up the box, plugging in and playing. This certainly applies to the AX8, but it was only about a 2 week process to really get into it.

I much prefer making my own presets as apposed to buying them. But this is one form of a plug and play option for you. The stock Fractal presets are generally really good. But for more custom sounds you can buy someone else's presets and just turn some eq knobs to do your final adjustments.

Learning curve aside, these can be as complex or as simple as you want them to be. I don't use most of the deep editing features on my AX8. There are a couple that I've gotten use to tweaking and that are essential for setting up my presets to sound the way I want. But once you're familiar with the unit, these are easy to access and adjust in an instant. Especially with a computer and editing software.

In the beginning, it will be much more complex than just plugging into a traditional amp though. If this is a deal breaker for you, then I do understand. It's just the way it is.
 

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