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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

"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 Poster Extraordinaire

    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
    dotpc, privatesalt, RyCo1983 and 3 others 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.
  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.
    dotpc and privatesalt like this.
  4. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    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.
    dotpc, privatesalt and burntfrijoles like 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!
    dotpc and adamsappel like this.
  8. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    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.
    dotpc likes this.
  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.
    dotpc likes this.
  10. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    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.
    dotpc likes this.
  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
    RyCo1983 likes this.
  12. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    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.
  13. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 13, 2014
    Rochester, NY
    Thank you for this thread - it is encouraging me!

    My journey has been almost the opposite of yours’, but I’m starting to come around full circle.

    When I started gigging I was a Multi-FX addict! I had a Zoom GFX-8, Korg modeler, and a Zoom G2.u before I went all in on Line 6. At the time that meant POD XT Live and a pair of Spyder amps.

    One of my band mates was critical of my tone and encouraged me to try a tube amp with pedals. I ended up buying a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and spent years and thousands of dollars amassing pedals and better amps.

    Now my main live rig is a Vox AC30 and a humongous pedalboard. I love my tone, but all that gear is so heavy! I also feel the need for more flexibility at times that my current rig doesn’t support.

    I still have that POD XT Live and use it all the time, but I don’t like using it on stage because it lacks feel and sounds harsh. Cannot get the warmth I feel in the AC30.

    That said, I am on the precipice of going back to a digital unit and seriously considering the Helix LT (based on price point). I think would actually just run it direct and skip the amp on stage altogether. Easy for practice, easy for recording, and easy for gigging.

    I’m glad to hear that the sound quality is getting to the point where it’s no longer ALL about convenience.
    dotpc likes this.
  14. bgavin335

    bgavin335 TDPRI Member

    Sep 23, 2016
    I used to gig with a Zoom g5 and I was very well satisfied with the sound. The classic amp models were great (I didn’t mess with the hi gain stuff). I would start just the amp model, get a good tone, then add a compressor in front, some slapback and reverb after the amp. I could only assume the helix could sound even better.
    I currently am back on traditional amps as I couldn’t stop tweaking when I should’ve been practicing. I can only be trusted with 3-5 knobs — lol
    dotpc, TheletterJ and RyCo1983 like this.
  15. RyCo1983

    RyCo1983 Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 15, 2012
    Central PA
    I went all in on the Helix in late September. Sweetwater was offering 48 month 0% financing and a free Helix backpack.

    Thing sound unbelievable.

    I picked up a used JBL Eon 612 for monitoring from the L6 Helix Facebook group. Sounds wicked good. Bettee than the EV ZLX12P units I have for my practice PA.
    Allthesound likes this.
  16. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 13, 2014
    Rochester, NY
    So that reminded me of one of my reasons for going tube amp + pedals also: no matter how much I tweak I can never seem to get the volume levels of patches on modeling units just right.

    I have this issue where the clean patch sounds great but then kicking into crunch or distortion is either way too loud or too compressed and drops out of the mix. This has been the biggest flaw I’ve found with my POD. Too much time spent twiddling knobs.

    For you Helix guys, can you relate? Do you find the Helix addresses some of this?
  17. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    That's just "balancing the patches"... If a patch is too loud, turn it down and save it. If a patch is too compressed.... remove some compression and save it. That may sound over simplistic but I do believe that is the key - don't over think it! Just because you have a million options doesn't mean you have to use them or get buried within them.

    This works for me... YMMV. After I get a basic patch written (one that mimics my pedal board and amp) I save it to many locations. That saves me from starting from scratch each time. When I need a chorus I swap out my tremolo for a chorus in a new patch. From there the patch may just need a slight EQ adjustment. Each patch remains consistent with each effect change as long as you keep the gain structure in tact.
    dotpc likes this.
  18. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 13, 2014
    Rochester, NY
    Good tip on creating a base tone as a preset! I’ve been experimenting with this technique and it definitely helps setting consistent volume across patches.

    Where I have historically run into trouble is in a band setting where I want a certain patch to be louder. I find myself tweaking setting between songs a lot.

    It’s all good though, not going to let my own lack of proficiency deter me from moving forward.
    dotpc likes this.
  19. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    This is where I find the mindset with modeling is so much different than a pedal board / amp. With the latter, you are ALWAYS trying to tweak tones to perfection in the band setting... with a modeler people complain that they have to :D

    I'm sure that has to do with a menu system.... and it's perceived as being much more difficult. True... some modelers are not user friendly, but many (especially the newer generation) are. I know my way around my modelers so well that I can tweak whatever I need to fast enough that I don't bother anyone in the band while dialing in my tones.
    dotpc likes this.
  20. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 13, 2014
    Rochester, NY
    Yeah man, I use a Line 6 M9 for all my post drive effects and it is super easy to edit patches on the fly, even upper and lower limits on my expression pedal.

    I’ve been watching videos on the Helix and I love that it had touch sensitive foot switches and an M9-like array of knobs under the display. It looks pretty easy to tweak compared to my old XT Live.
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