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"All in”on modeling and Helix (w props to the Mustang GT)

Discussion in 'Modeling Amps, Plugins and Apps' started by burntfrijoles, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    That was quick. It didn’t take long for me to become a convert. Since May I’ve gone through a Mustang GT40, a Line 6 Firehawk and finally a Helix.It all started with the Mustang which really opened my eyes to the quality of modern modelers. I never expected it to be a good as a Kemper, Helix, etc but it exceeded my expectations.

    I proceeded to the Firehawk, having some gear that I could trade for it. It was a step up from the Mustang. The Vox and Marshall tones were better, the effects models and routing are better. The App was better too. It’s quality and ease of use tipped me over the edge about modeling. I realized that this was the easiest way to play at home, record, be space efficient and without any "it's too loud" issues, etc. I realized that it was inevitable that I would want a Helix or Helix LT. So I returned the Firehawk for a Helix (financial assist from trading more unwanted, surplus gear). I also got an Alto TS210 powered PA speaker as low budget quasi-FRFR speaker.

    The Helix requires no further reviews but here are my impressions after a couple of days.
    1. User interface is pretty straight forward although navigation is not as quite as easy as the youtube videos suggest. It’s easy to get a simple patch built without too much time spent learning anything but the device is very sophisticated in terms of functions so there is a learning curve.
    2. The modeling (both amps and effects) is top notch as you would expect. There is more depth to the sound is how I would describe it. Plus there are endless ways to tweak the tone. Modeling has come a long way since the original POD, almost 20 years ago. That said, the presets are nothing to write home about.
    3. Effects routing and signal chain editing is outrageously good.
    4. Patches and set lists are easy to set up and navigate (not that I have any set lists built yet).
    5. One feature I particularly like is “Snapshots”. Essentially you could build a “Jimi” patch with a couple of amps and a fuzz, ovtavia, wah, Univibe, delay, reverb, etc. Then you can take 8 “snapshots” with different combinations of gain, effects, settings and label each snapshot: P Haze Intro, Haze Lead, Foxy, Wind, Voodoo, Machine, L Wing, Red House. In essence one patch has all your basic Jimi tones. That’s amazing.
    I am happy with the Alto although it’s not a true FRFR speaker. It is really solid.

    So the value to me is that I no longer have to worry about finding an amp that can produce any tone at bedroom levels. I don’t need a huge pedalboard or bother switching out different pedals to achieve a specific tone. I don’t have to bother to mic an amp for recording. I have purchased my last amplifier and effect pedal.

    I’m not getting rid of my PRRI and effects but it will get less use. I actually plan on doing an A/B with the PRRI to attempt to build a patch in Helix that sounds exactly like my favorite tone setting with the PRRI. I will be selling trading in a few more pedals for which I will no longer have a need.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
    Allthesound, 9fingers and 7171551 like this.

  2. 9fingers

    9fingers Tele-Meister

    Nov 11, 2012
    Same journey here - decades of tube amps, then various Boss multis, HD 500, Mustang III v2, GT 100 & now Helix LT. I put a full range Eminence neo speaker in my Mustang III and am using that on the Studio Preamp setting (all params flat, no cab sim) to amplify the Helix & it sounds amazing. I also have only scratched to surface of the Helix but it is amazing how great it sounds, how flexible it is, and how deep yet easy to use it is. I'm done for now!

    The Mustang GT 100 also got me realizing how good modelling can sound and inspired me to go to the next step. Now that I have the Helix, the GT can go up for sale.
    burntfrijoles and Allthesound like this.

  3. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    Modeling fan here as well... I've been a Line 6 user since the POD was first released back around '99, before that it was a Sansamp (Classic). I love my SF Vibrolux and play it often (about 50% of the time) along with a standard pedal board, but I'm equally as comfortable with my HD500 at any gig. In the studio (and at home) I only use modeling. I'd love to upgrade to a Helix, but can't do it at this time.

    Why would you say that? Any decent PA/Monitor is an FRFR cab, they just cost less than one that is marketed as such :D. There might be better cabs, but what you have there is more than adequate and allows you to explore the Helix to the fullest.

  4. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Great to hear. If I hadn't had some unwanted gear to trade I would have gone the Helix LT route as well. I am not sure the few extra features in the Helix warrant the huge price difference between the two units. The processing and modeling are the same. Actually I was quite pleased with the Firehawk Fx.
    I too have just scratched the surface. I've created about three test patches but have played around enough to know that all the sounds I want to hear are in the Helix. I plan on spending more time experimenting with the individual parameters such as mic selection, mic placement/early reflections, sag, bias and the high/low cut filters.
    Today is the day that I try to match my own PRRI, which has a 12" Jensen in it, with a patch in the Helix. Then I will try to match the sound of the PRRI with my KoT in the Helix.
    Also today I am going to use the Helix Edit software on my Mac to download my first "custom tone" from the user community. It's a Dumble patch.
    Enjoy your LT.

  5. Allthesound

    Allthesound Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 21, 2011
    Congrats on the Helix. Your in for a whole new world of possibility. I went with the Floor over the LT myself and can say its worth the extra $$ , having the scribble strips and the two extra FX loops for me was worth it alone , but when you factor in the $300 discount you get on Helix Native it's a no brainier. Now that you have a modeler that's capable check out some of the IR's (impulse responses) from Celestion & Ownhammer they really make a difference over the stock cabs which are actually pretty good.

    I went deep down the rabbit hole buying and selling more tube amps than i can even remember, vintage & modern fenders , marshalls, mesa's, laney, orange, vox , egnater, blackstar ect ect ect sold most of them off and bought an Axe Fx XL got discouraged after a while sold that and bought a Mesa Boogie Mark V had that for a few months and traded it for the Helix. Best move i have made. I still have a Orange Dual Terror and a Laney IRT Studio i run through the Helix with a Surh reactive load sometimes for ****s and giggles but honestly if the Helix was my only piece of gear i would be perfectly happy.

    A good pair of FRFR's is a must to get the most out of any good modeler. I started with a pair of Yamaha HS8 studio monitors which held me over until i got my Matrix Q12's . They are expensive new (as much as the Helix) but so so worth it.
    burntfrijoles likes this.

  6. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

    Feb 7, 2011
    Lewes De.
    Word Police here. We will have to ticket you for your use of "All In" , unless you can show us a receipt from a Hold 'Em tournament.

  7. jpjr50

    jpjr50 Tele-Holic

    Sep 9, 2015
    South Florida
    Thanks for your reply on this.

    As a new guitar player, May of 2015 I went the normal path that I thought all guitar players do....Buy as much **** as possible. Bought an amp, pedals, cab, mic's, etc.

    It got to the point where I was messing with more gear and not playing much guitar. My wife finally after 6 months was like are you playing guitar or playing with all this gear.

    Total light bulb moment and I use her saying all the time now.

    I sold everything and went completely digital. Then after my last guitar purchase I decided to take a year off from buying gear to focus on learning guitar.

    I started a YouTube Channel to document my journey and 2+ years later I'm doing covers from beginning to end on my channel. Foo Fighters, Whitesnake, The Darkness, etc.

    I just sold my Line POD 500X and I'm going to pickup a Helix around Black Friday.

    Play guitar not gear!

  8. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Well I've been chasing gear for the past 20 years. I began playing as a teenager in the 60s but didn't play much at all for the better part of 20 years as life, kids etc, took priority. I took it up again in the mid 90s. I bought and sold more gear than I care to think about. Recently, I was ready to go the "boutique" route for an amplifier, or perhaps adding a Marshall and a Vox to my Fender. Then of course there are all the pedals to augment said amps.
    After my experience with the Mustang GT40, I started realizing that modeling may be answer. The GT40 gave me some rich tones for the money. After all of that I decided the most feasible, practical and economical way to have a wide palette of tones was a really fine modeler which I believe the Helix to be.
    I literally haven't looked at my PRRI and KoT et al in the past week other than to try and replicate my favorite tone from this combination in the Helix. It's just to easy to find a great tone in the Helix rather than fool with an amp and pedals.
    I'd much rather spend my time playing guitar, learning new material than fooling obsessing over which new gear will help me reach tone nirvana.
    To be sure, it will take me time to build and tweak the patches I want but part of the fun is creating those tones.

  9. jpjr50

    jpjr50 Tele-Holic

    Sep 9, 2015
    South Florida

    Building the patches is the fun part plus once they are made great tone is foot press away.

    I took up the guitar at 44 (46 now) and I wish I knew back then what I know now. I would have went modeling from the start.

    I don't gig, I don't play with a lot of volume so tubes pretty much a waste, I only play in my home studio and I don't want fill the room up with gear (I have OCD).

    This route isn't for everyone but it seems to fit much more people than I thought. Once you get over everyone saying tubes are the answer to everything and give it a try most are surprised.

    Can't wait to get my Helix, probably next month.

    We just got our first dog from hurricane destroyed Puerto Rico to turn into a service dog for my son who suffers from seizures. It got quite expensive the last few days so I have to wait for the Helix.

  10. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    First off, sorry to hear about your son's seizures. That puts a lot into perspective.

    While I am not OCD, I am tired of the amps, pedalboard clutter. It's not just the clutter, it's the bother of it all.
    As for it not being for everyone, you hear and see more and more amateur and professional players use a Helix or other high end modelers for gigging.
    I appreciate the warmth and rich harmonic content that tube amps produce so I will always have one but they are not all that practical for home use. You really want to get those tubes going for many tones. So modeling can replicate those tones pretty well at almost any level.
    Enjoy your Helix when you get it. I just created two tones that are pretty simple: Peter Green Need Your love so Bad and Allman Brothers Stormy Monday patches. Would have also been easy to create with a tube amp. Nothing fancy.

  11. Plumber

    Plumber Tele-Meister

    Jun 5, 2014
    I'm downsizing my tube amps form 4 to 1 shortly - nothing I can get out of the helix sound like a tube amp turned up but its just so much easier to programme and get sounds that are close enough in a band context

    I'll keep a great tube amp, my strymons and overdrives for home use where I can truly appreciate them

  12. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Exactly. I will keep my PRRI etc for my personal enjoyment when I am in the mode but the Helix (or good modeler) is much easier for playing to backing tracks, recording etc. In fact, I've often thought that the "can you tell the difference" youtube videos are misleading. If you're sitting in the room comparing the two, I think many would discern a difference. Over the internet, in a mix, it's much harder.

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