I'm doing it! Going all in on modeling.

StrangerNY

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I guess modeling amps work for those who know how to use them. Unfortunately I hear a lot that are just awful. Like a kid that got the box of crayons with 300 colors and wants to use them all.

I was talking with a friend about this last night - a lot of people buy modelers and expect them to sound great straight out of the box.

Most of them don't, and you need to decide what's useful and what's not and tweak from there.

I've found that certain amp models work really well with certain guitars and not so great with other guitars. That's why I limit my programming to what works well for the guitar I'm playing in a given situation (and which effects work well with that limited number of amp models) and disregard all the other bells and whistles.

And I pay pretty much zero attention to the presets - I look at them more as suggestions or demos of what the unit can do more than patches that are useful in a live situation.

And I still put my modeler through a tube amp, so I'm still clinging to old school gear in that respect. I firmly believe that a well-tuned modeler sounds worlds better through a good tube amp. Everyone's mileage may vary on that one. :)

- D
 

tfarny

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I was talking with a friend about this last night - a lot of people buy modelers and expect them to sound great straight out of the box.

Most of them don't, and you need to decide what's useful and what's not and tweak from there.

I've found that certain amp models work really well with certain guitars and not so great with other guitars. That's why I limit my programming to what works well for the guitar I'm playing in a given situation (and which effects work well with that limited number of amp models) and disregard all the other bells and whistles.

And I pay pretty much zero attention to the presets - I look at them more as suggestions or demos of what the unit can do more than patches that are useful in a live situation.

And I still put my modeler through a tube amp, so I'm still clinging to old school gear in that respect. I firmly believe that a well-tuned modeler sounds worlds better through a good tube amp. Everyone's mileage may vary on that one. :)

- D
I didn't expect the Helix to sound great straight out of the box. But I am surprised that the company seemingly makes no effort to provide users with a preset of, say, a nice AC30 with a little bit of reverb. Or even provide any information on how to get the Helix to sound nice. The difference between what comes in the box and what this youtuber guy made (and I bought) is night and day, almost a different product. And I think that what you say about certain guitars and certain patches is just as true for real amps - I set up my amps for specific guitars and some combos are better than others!

I don't have a clue why you would put a modeler in front of a tube amp, though. The only reason to use modeling is to not have to use real amps. I mean, I've used my helix in front of a real amp, but not with amp modeling on, just as a stompbox.
 

StrangerNY

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I don't have a clue why you would put a modeler in front of a tube amp, though. The only reason to use modeling is to not have to use real amps. I mean, I've used my helix in front of a real amp, but not with amp modeling on, just as a stompbox.

I run my modeler through an Atomic Reactor, the first FRFR combo amp. The amp doesn't even have a volume control. The manufacturer called it 'an amp without an attitude.' It's specifically built to be used with a modeler.

It's not like I'm running a modeler into an active tone circuit. The amp literally does not have one.

R.efac2ffb2d5af91341a8eb097cb9e3da


And like I said - the modeler sounds better through a tube amp to me (I also use it by running into the FX return of my Two Rock with a 1x12" cabinet from time to time if I need more power). They're just livelier and more responsive than a solid state FRFR cabinet. I've tried a few and they sound brittle to my ears.

- D
 
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Willie Johnson

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If a modeler sounds way better through a tube amp...doesn't that mean you already have a tube amp anyway?

I'm not opposed to this stuff, I just don't know how to use it.
 

tfarny

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I run my modeler through an Atomic Reactor, the first FRFR combo amp. The amp doesn't even have a volume control. The manufacturer called it 'an amp without an attitude.' It's specifically built to be used with a modeler.

It's not like I'm running a modeler into an active tone circuit. The amp literally does not have one.

R.efac2ffb2d5af91341a8eb097cb9e3da


And like I said - the modeler sounds better through a tube amp to me (I also use it by running into the FX return of my Two Rock with a 1x12" cabinet from time to time if I need more power). They're just livelier and more responsive than a solid state FRFR cabinet. I've tried a few and they sound brittle to my ears.

- D
Oh so your frfr is tube based? I thought you were referring to a normal amp like a deluxe. Btw I’m going into the head rush 112 frfr. Picked it up very cheaply and it sounds great to me, very neutral which is the goal.
 

StrangerNY

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Oh so your frfr is tube based? I thought you were referring to a normal amp like a deluxe. Btw I’m going into the head rush 112 frfr. Picked it up very cheaply and it sounds great to me, very neutral which is the goal.

Yeah, tube based. I've got two of them, the 18 watt one and a 50 watt one which I don't use much any more because it's kind of overkill for most of the venues I play. The biggest tube amp I can get away with is the Two Rock, which is 35 watts, but I only use it in bigger rooms and outdoor shows.

I've tried the Headrush with what I think had a 10" speaker in it, and the Line 6 cab with a 12. Didn't like either one of them much, the Atomic just sounds warmer and rounder to me.

If a modeler sounds way better through a tube amp...doesn't that mean you already have a tube amp anyway?

I'm not opposed to this stuff, I just don't know how to use it.

Well, yeah. But it's not like plugging in to a Twin or a Deluxe. It's strictly a power amp, there's no tone circuit to color the output. That's all done through the modeler.

Remember, before solid state amps became really popular, guys used to run MacIntosh tube amps to power their sound rigs. Same idea.

- D
 

Blrfl

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But I am surprised that the company seemingly makes no effort to provide users with a preset of, say, a nice AC30 with a little bit of reverb.

When you've got a lot of amp models, there's no pleasing everyone. Somebody will wonder why there isn't a Bogner Uberschall patch from the factory and there was space wasted on one for the AC30 they don't care about.

As you pointed out, it's difficult provide something that's going to be great with every guitar right out of the box because there's no control over what's upstream of the input and downstream of the output. These things are toolboxes and the factory patches are, IMHO, starting points. Most of the factory presets in my Ampero don't work well with most of my guitars, but a number of them turned out to be hidden gems that required small amounts of tweaking. Making those adjustments was a good way to get to know the box before developing new stuff from scratch.

Or even provide any information on how to get the Helix to sound nice.

Fender and Boss don't provide a master class on how to assemble their amps and pedals into something that sounds good; people buy those and figure out how to make them sound the way they want. Other than getting the hang of the user interface and not having to deal with the spaghetti of power supplies and patch cables, using a Helix is the same thing.

Buying canned presets is paying someone else for having spent the time to get over the learning curve. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is a shortcut.

I don't have a clue why you would put a modeler in front of a tube amp, though. ... I've used my helix in front of a real amp, but not with amp modeling on, just as a stompbox.

One box with a hundred or two effects that can be set, strung together in any order and saved as instantly-recallable presets is the killer app.

The stompbox work-alikes are built around the same circuit-modeling technology as the amps. The amp and cab blocks are like the ring modulator: they're in the library but don't have to be used if they're not needed. I wouldn't put an amp and cabinet model in front of a real amp and cabinet, either. I've tried it to see what would happen and didn't like it.
 

StrangerNY

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I wouldn't put an amp and cabinet model in front of a real amp and cabinet, either. I've tried it to see what would happen and didn't like it.

Depends on how you use it. If you're going straight into the front panel of the amp (and its tone circuit), there's a greater than zero chance that your tone is gonna suck.

If you're running into your effects return you bypass whatever tone circuit the amp has, and you're not piling one tone circuit on top of another. And if you're using an amp like an Atomic Reactor, it's the same as using an FRFR powered cabinet. No tone circuit at all, and it depends upon the modeler for any tone settings. It's just substituting tubes for whatever solid state amp the FRFR cabinet would be running.

I've got patches set up in the modeler for rock, country, R&B, whatever type of gig I'm playing. Works for me.

- D
 

swarfrat

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I know a lot of people run them into amps. Or even PA amps into guitar cabinets. To me that's kinda missing the point. Put in the effort to get it to sound good into a monitor and you should have a good time in the mains.
 

swarfrat

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Yah yah. Heard it before. This is the modeler section, btw. I have, have owned, built and modded tube amps. And never been as happy as I am now.
 

StrangerNY

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I know a lot of people run them into amps. Or even PA amps into guitar cabinets. To me that's kinda missing the point. Put in the effort to get it to sound good into a monitor and you should have a good time in the mains.

I hate the way my guitar sounds in monitors. Always have, even pre-modeling era. Too boxy and small. I'd rather have an amp behind me. I always make sure to schmooze the sound guy to let me have a little extra level so I can actually hear my guitar on stage.

A little tube warmth goes a long way in taking the digital edge off a modeler.

- D
 
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tfarny

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When you've got a lot of amp models, there's no pleasing everyone. Somebody will wonder why there isn't a Bogner Uberschall patch from the factory and there was space wasted on one for the AC30 they don't care about.

As you pointed out, it's difficult provide something that's going to be great with every guitar right out of the box because there's no control over what's upstream of the input and downstream of the output. These things are toolboxes and the factory patches are, IMHO, starting points. Most of the factory presets in my Ampero don't work well with most of my guitars, but a number of them turned out to be hidden gems that required small amounts of tweaking. Making those adjustments was a good way to get to know the box before developing new stuff from scratch.



Fender and Boss don't provide a master class on how to assemble their amps and pedals into something that sounds good; people buy those and figure out how to make them sound the way they want. Other than getting the hang of the user interface and not having to deal with the spaghetti of power supplies and patch cables, using a Helix is the same thing.

Buying canned presets is paying someone else for having spent the time to get over the learning curve. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is a shortcut.



One box with a hundred or two effects that can be set, strung together in any order and saved as instantly-recallable presets is the killer app.

The stompbox work-alikes are built around the same circuit-modeling technology as the amps. The amp and cab blocks are like the ring modulator: they're in the library but don't have to be used if they're not needed. I wouldn't put an amp and cabinet model in front of a real amp and cabinet, either. I've tried it to see what would happen and didn't like it.
Hey man, I appreciate the thoughtful responses. They all sound like lame excuses for a company not properly supporting its customers though. It would not be that hard for them to provide a dozen classic, basic tones from amongst the 120 presets or to provide a manual that guides people in how to use the product. Even a printed one!
I am sure that my new third-party preset equipped Helix would turn some tube purists heads at this point, which Line 6 ought to want to do, assuming they are in business to make money.
 

xjazzy

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It's funny how this stuff works.
I had zero use for Britt's presets!
Made all the presets myself and I'm pretty happy with the Stomp that I got in 2019.
I have two bands. In one I use a real amp and the Stomp is my multi-fx, in the other I run direct with the Stomp providing everything.
 

drmordo

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I didn't expect the Helix to sound great straight out of the box. But I am surprised that the company seemingly makes no effort to provide users with a preset of, say, a nice AC30 with a little bit of reverb. Or even provide any information on how to get the Helix to sound nice. The difference between what comes in the box and what this youtuber guy made (and I bought) is night and day, almost a different product. And I think that what you say about certain guitars and certain patches is just as true for real amps - I set up my amps for specific guitars and some combos are better than others!

I've posted about this before - the Line 6 Flextone II defaults sound great. I spin the knob to the Plexi model, dial in/out a bit of gain and reverb, TURN OFF THE SPEAKER EMULATION, and rock.

Then when they introduced the FIII series, the pre-loaded amp sounds went to crap and instead they focused all their attention on style patches that sound like a certain song ("Start Me Up" and "StreetsHavNoName"). So with the FIII if you just spin it to the Plexi, it sounds pretty bad and you have to tweak it, but if you call up "Highway to Hell" it sounds good.

So the question is, "why did they do this?" I do remember significant backlash at the FII because it sounded 'unrealistic', and I've come to suspect part of that is because it sounded too good. If you plug a guitar into a Plexi for the first time, you don't know how to dial it in and it may sound bad. So I suspect there was a psychological element that folks plugged into a FII and it immediately sounded good, which made them think it sounded fake. It's a bit like guys who are repulsed by super hot women who have had plastic surgery; they may look great, but it isn't "real".

So I think Line 6 made the decision years ago that they weren't going to make the default amp sounds too good because it ultimately turned people off. Some players need to put their stamp on a sound for them to accept it.

All that said, I have not messed with a Helix so have no advice/thoughts to offer on it.
 

codamedia

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A little tube warmth goes a long way in taking the digital edge off a modeler.

I just don't hear any digital edge at all with my current gear.

I'm with you @tfarny ... none at all in my setup which is extremely mobile. I'm not tied to a single monitor setup, although "quality" is certainly a prerequisite.

Nor do I. But if I run the modeler into the FX return of my Mustang III or my Crate Power Block, it's definitely there.

I don't have a Mustang II or a Crate Power Block so I can't comment on those. However, my Helix goes direct to FOH and I monitor my Helix in many ways including Monitor wedges, IEM's, studio monitors and FRFR - what you describe is not there on my presets ;)

I also have the same presets tweaked with the cabinets removed so I can plug into the return of tube amps. In all honesty, I see no benefits in doing that (FOR ME) - and actually lose my flexibility... not because of the tube power, but because it's tied to a single cabinet/speaker. I much prefer "full range" where I can dial in my tone exactly as I want the people to hear it through the FOH.

This is all personal preference, anyway. Tube amps with my modeler work for me.

100% ... we all need to remember most of this is nothing more than "preference".
 
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Toast

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I don't think I'm going to sell all my tube amps (OK, I have two, just two) but who knows.
If modeling amps continue to evolve, then tube amps might become less desirable. Sell them while collectors are still chasing magic tones.
 

tfarny

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If modeling amps continue to evolve, then tube amps might become less desirable. Sell them while collectors are still chasing magic tones.
I don't have any collectible amplifiers, and I don't think people are paying $2500 for an original blackface Deluxe solely because of the tone or because of anything to do with modeling amps (which have been replacing tube amps in the professional world for many years now).

I think it's an "investment" mindset of a rare and old item. My neighbor's wife had a bunch of old collectible dolls and doll houses. When she passed, he sold them for many thousands of dollars.
The circuits themselves don't get better with age and are easily reproduced these days, unlike an old guitar which is made with old (often extinct) wood that cannot be replicated or replaced. They used to use Brazilian Rosewood on even the cheapest Gibsons.
 

Blrfl

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Hey man, I appreciate the thoughtful responses. They all sound like lame excuses for a company not properly supporting its customers though.

Hey, thanks. Thoughtful makes for better discussion.

I understand where you're coming from and don't have any insight into Line 6's thinking other than having been through product development myself. Most products are the result of a lot of horse trading between engineering and marketing about the feature set, cost to manufacture and support. A lot of that is driven by market research, and it may be that the Helix reflects what most of their customers want. I could see people saying that it takes ten minutes to build up a basic patch around a given amp and that they'd rather see the unit ship with more-sophisticated examples that show off what the unit can do. No matter how they play it, some aren't going to feel like they're getting everything they want.

It would not be that hard for them ... to provide a manual that guides people in how to use the product. Even a printed one!

Line 6 does provide a manual for the Helix, and it isn't bad a manuals go. It's not the place to look if you want to understand the theoretical fine points like how to properly gain stage a patch for best results. Everybody has a different line between what needs to go into the manual and what doesn't. Mine is that anything required to operate the product needs to be in it and anything that falls under the heading of general theory doesn't. A lot of these threads make me think there's a market for a separate book about the stuff that's left out. Maybe there's a retirement project in it.

I'm no longer a fan of printed (physical) manuals. They take up space in my file cabinet, are a pain to search and don't do any good if I'm away from home and didn't bring it. They're also a cost sink. A dollar each across 10,000 units is enough money for about a month of mid-level engineering time. If that money's going to be spent at all, improving the product gets more bang for the buck than paper that will be out of date after the next revision of the firmware.
 




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