Thoughts on Modeling- IF you use it, what are the pros/cons?

Big Twang Theory

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Thanks all, the only thing I know is I love it, it rocks, it's groovy, and it services me well.

Why would Boss emphasize solid state other than to scramble that simple chunk of fat in my head.
I totally agree with you that the Katana sounds great! The other guitarist in my band was gigging with one for a bit, and he always had a good tone with it.

As far as why Boss would do this, I think it's pretty simple. I think when they launched the Katana series, there was still a lot of cork sniffers (myself included!) that looked down on modelers. While that hasn't gone away, I think there's way more acceptance of them in guitar world. So they were trying to use buzz words like "analog" to attract players who otherwise wouldn't consider it. And then just like other companies' entries into modeling, Helix, Iridium, ToneMaster, once people tried them they genuinely liked how they sounded. And now while the stigma is still there, the technology has REALLY proliferated among serious professionals who tour and record for a living.
 

TheCheapGuitarist

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I only have one amp, and it's a digital modeling amp (Marshall Code). I also have a Zoom floor unit that I use for gigs. I've been a tube amp guy since the 90's, and had most of the great ones (JCM 800 and 900, Mesa/Boogie, Laney, Fender, etc.). On stage, yeah I like the experience of having a half-stack blasting my arse wide open, as I currently use the modeler D.I. and use the stage wedges to hear myself, which ain't the same as having your arse blown wide open. BUT, if I wanted to I could use a power amp and a cab to achieve that but that's just more stuff to carry and I'm 55.....
 

basslicker

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Of course this is going to be contextual and dependent on who you ask, but I went all in on a very simple digital setup (tiny board built around the HX Stomp) and there are almost no downsides for me.

Basically I just have a compressor (Cali76) running into the Stomp, which runs into a tiny looper (Ditto+), which runs to a DI, so my entire pedalboard fits on a Pedaltrain Nano and it’s incredibly versatile and powerful. It’s also MUUUUUUCH easier to operate over the massive pedalboard I had before it, especially once I got my head around snapshots and I got an external dual foot-switch to add two buttons (and found a way to connect to it via MIDI wirelessly with my phone/computer). It’s so small that I often just keep it on my desk when I’m using it in the studio, when I had a big pedalboard I avoided using it all the time because it was so cumbersome.

The list of pros is incredibly long for my setup and for my usage patterns. I use my board for gigging, recording, and practicing. Pros for this setup:

  • Super tiny, my entire pedalboard actually fits on top of my amp, or on my desk.
  • Incredibly versatile. With the simple turn of a knob I can have a full board setup for guitar, or for bass, or for my digital piano. I have loads of presets that I can swap through in an instant that have completely different effects chains and snapshots.
  • Super versatile. Just using the Stomp I have a virtual pedal board with limitless options, a DI, stereo outs, an effects loop where I can put external pedals wherever I want, an audio interface I can plug into my computer for recording, a cab simulator, a MIDI device I can use for a bunch of different reasons (as a clock, pedal manipulation, etc), and more.
  • FAR easier to use than a huge pedalboard with regular pedals. With the HX Stomp I can create a virtual pedalboard however I want, re-ordering pedals isn’t an exercise in patience and dealing with a bunch of cables -I just move them at will, I can use snapshot to change any parameter on my virtual board, so I can easily do something like turn off the chorus pedal, turn up the gain on the amp, modify my overdrive tone, change my delay parameters, etc - all of this with the single press of a button, and I can customize this in any way I want. This is MUCH harder to deal with on a standard pedalboard.
  • Fewer points of failure. For as powerful as this setup is, I really only have a few points of failure. The connection from my Cali76 to my Stomp, the connection from my Stomp to the Ditto+, the connection from the DItto+ to the DI, and the connection going into my board. I’ve dealt with large pedalboards before and it’s a mess of cables everywhere where I had to troubleshoot problems and it’s a much bigger pain, even with good cable management.
  • Very cost effective. My Stomp cost me $600. That’s like 2-6 pedals (assuming buying new), but with the Stomp I can do WAAAAAY more.

I would say that the biggest con is being entirely reliant on one pedal (the HX Stomp), so if that goes down then my entire rig more or less goes down. This isn’t a big deal for me because I gig as a bass guitarist, so I can easily get away with going from my Cali directly to the DI and out to the PA if my Stomp goes down, but if I gigged as a guitarist then it could be quite risky being entirely reliant on this one pedal. If I wanted to do this as a guitarist then I would actually have a board with two HX Stomps, one just for backup.

Again though, this pertains to my particular setup and my particular situation. The thing with pedalboards and such is that they are all our own personal decisions so it’s really not a matter of one particular way or setup being better, it’s what is better for that individual based on their personal needs.
 

Frodebro

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OP here with an update. After dipping my toe in the water, I've decided to jump in fully! Played my first couple of gigs with HX Effects integrated into my pedalboard with my analog drive pedals, and it was fantastic. So I purchased the Helix. Gets here Friday. Can't wait to give it a whirl!

Welcome to the Dark Side. Helix is a bit more involved than the HXFX (I have both), and it has a few little quirks that may frustrate you if you're not aware of them, with the biggest one being the stock cabs in the unit. I'm no newbie to digital (first got into it in the early 90s with a Digitech processor) and can usually dial in a good sound quickly, but I did struggle a bit with the Helix.

If you have any questions, start a thread in the Digital & Modeling area. There are quite a few people here who can get you sorted out quickly.
 

Big Twang Theory

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Welcome to the Dark Side. Helix is a bit more involved than the HXFX (I have both), and it has a few little quirks that may frustrate you if you're not aware of them, with the biggest one being the stock cabs in the unit. I'm no newbie to digital (first got into it in the early 90s with a Digitech processor) and can usually dial in a good sound quickly, but I did struggle a bit with the Helix.

If you have any questions, start a thread in the Digital & Modeling area. There are quite a few people here who can get you sorted out quickly.
Good to know, thanks for the heads up! I will definitely post a thread if I get stuck. I've been trying to read up and watch as many YouTube tutorials in the meantime until it arrives!
 

Frodebro

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Good to know, thanks for the heads up! I will definitely post a thread if I get stuck. I've been trying to read up and watch as many YouTube tutorials in the meantime until it arrives!

You've already got a head start with the HXFX, the user interface is pretty much the same as the Helix. The effects blocks are essentially all the same, so the new stuff for you will be the amp & cab blocks.

One of the coolest features of the Helix is its integrated audio interface (sound card). Plug it into your computer with a USB cable and you can play along with your music library or YouTube through headphones or studio monitors. I wish I had this stuff when I was still working in a cover band, it would have made learning new songs so much more easy (there was no internet when I was still doing the bar band thing so I had to use compact discs or cassettes and learn everything that way).
 

Big Twang Theory

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You've already got a head start with the HXFX, the user interface is pretty much the same as the Helix. The effects blocks are essentially all the same, so the new stuff for you will be the amp & cab blocks.

One of the coolest features of the Helix is its integrated audio interface (sound card). Plug it into your computer with a USB cable and you can play along with your music library or YouTube through headphones or studio monitors. I wish I had this stuff when I was still working in a cover band, it would have made learning new songs so much more easy (there was no internet when I was still doing the bar band thing so I had to use compact discs or cassettes and learn everything that way).
Cool, didn't know that. I think my biggest worry is that I'm going to be limited by the blocks I can use, 12 correct?
Right now with the HX Effects integrated into my normal pedalboard I use:
2 amps always on in dual mono, sometimes wet/dry but mostly dual mono.
Always on Xotic RC Booster
Always on slapback delay
Always on Strymon Volante for long delay that I control the mix with an expression pedal
1 compressor
2 drive stages. Ibanez Mostortion and Prince of tone for varying degrees of dirt
2 boost pedals klone for clean and TS10 for a slightly dirty boost.
Then the HX Effects with the 6 stomp mode switches for modulation and reverb.

So that's 16 effects I use, so I'm going to have to lose 4 of them. Obviously I can use different presets for different applications, but for gigs, I like not having to scroll through presets. I mean some of those effects I use sparingly, but still, it's nice to have everything available at once without scrolling.
 

Frodebro

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Cool, didn't know that. I think my biggest worry is that I'm going to be limited by the blocks I can use, 12 correct?
Right now with the HX Effects integrated into my normal pedalboard I use:
2 amps always on in dual mono, sometimes wet/dry but mostly dual mono.
Always on Xotic RC Booster
Always on slapback delay
Always on Strymon Volante for long delay that I control the mix with an expression pedal
1 compressor
2 drive stages. Ibanez Mostortion and Prince of tone for varying degrees of dirt
2 boost pedals klone for clean and TS10 for a slightly dirty boost.
Then the HX Effects with the 6 stomp mode switches for modulation and reverb.

So that's 16 effects I use, so I'm going to have to lose 4 of them. Obviously I can use different presets for different applications, but for gigs, I like not having to scroll through presets. I mean some of those effects I use sparingly, but still, it's nice to have everything available at once without scrolling.

The Helix doesn't have a maximum number of blocks you can use, it will let you keep adding more until the processor is tapped out.

It has two processors, each of which is dedicated to a path. So you would run your pre effects and amp block on the upper path, then direct the output of that path to feed the input of the second path, which is where all of your post effects can go. Depending on where your CPU usage is heavy, you can also run the amp and cab blocks on the second path, or the amp on the top path and the cab on the second path.

There are also blocks that are both the amp + cab combined, but they're a bit more limiting (unless the combination works for you, then it's a nonissue).
 

Big Twang Theory

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The Helix doesn't have a maximum number of blocks you can use, it will let you keep adding more until the processor is tapped out.

It has two processors, each of which is dedicated to a path. So you would run your pre effects and amp block on the upper path, then direct the output of that path to feed the input of the second path, which is where all of your post effects can go. Depending on where your CPU usage is heavy, you can also run the amp and cab blocks on the second path, or the amp on the top path and the cab on the second path.

There are also blocks that are both the amp + cab combined, but they're a bit more limiting (unless the combination works for you, then it's a nonissue).
Gotcha. Thanks for the info, most helpful! And if need be, I bet I can find a single amp that will get me close to the sound of the combined tweed and blackface, since there's so many to choose from.
 

fleezinator

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Gotcha. Thanks for the info, most helpful! And if need be, I bet I can find a single amp that will get me close to the sound of the combined tweed and blackface, since there's so many to choose from.
You could run your signal in to an A/B split to get both amps in to their own cabs or merge them back to feed in to one cab.

That’s the great thing about the Helix platform: experiment with signal chains until you run out of DSP (which is A LOT)
 

edvard

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Pros: I can do high-gain heavy tones through pretty much any speaker/mic combo I want that won't bother the neighbors or wake the sleeping wife.
Cons: The Impulse Response rabbit hole. Headphones revealing shortcomings that loud speakers graciously cover up.
 

MarshallHeart

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So I've recently dipped my toe in the modeling world when I purchased the Line 6 HX Effects. So I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it. What do you like or dislike? And like the title suggests, I really want to hear from those of you that use it. Those of you that plug your straight into a tube amp, I get it, you probably loathe them. But that's not really helpful, and honestly I was one of you until recently. I didn't plug straight in, always used a pedalboard. But I've always been resistant to modeling. I've used mostly analog effects into really nice tube amps. So what changed my mind?
I basically had two different live music listening experiences that nudged me into looking into the modeling. First one is a local soul/pop/rock band. The guitarist is probably THE guitar player here in Tucson, AZ. Unbelievable player always has exquisite tone and he has used a Helix ever since I started seeing him. Made me think, but I never saw him play a "real" rig, so I didn't have context.

Then recently I went and saw one of my favorite local bands that I've been seeing for years. They play music of the Jerry Garcia Band. He usually plays a normal pedalboard through a Fender Twin. Great tone. At the last show as I listened I thought his tone sounded really great that evening. I was distracted because I had brought my dog to the beer garden, so I was focused on the pooch instead of checking out his rig. I went up to check it out at set break, thinking maybe he got a new amp. I was pretty shocked when there was no amp, just an amp/fx modeler on the floor. It made start to rethink things.

I went out and bought a used HX Effects and set it up on a pedalboard. Like I said, I'm just dipping my toe in the water. I still have my analog OD's and my Volante delay on the board and plan to just use it for modulation. For context I play Americana/roots music, with a dash of Jam band stylings. My usual rig is my "normal" pedalboard into both a Fender Princeton reverb and either a Winfield version of a Tweed Deluxe or his version of a AC15 (GREAT AMPS!)

Just for fun I A/B'd it against the pedals that I have that are in the HX: Tubescreamer, KoT (clone) Klone, Boss vibrato and chorus etc. I honestly couldn't tell the difference (after a few minutes of tweaking the HX.) I haven't tried it at a gig yet. Will have that opportunity this weekend. But it has me wondering, do I go all the way in and try a Helix with no amp? Even if I did, and liked it, I still plan on keeping my amp and pedal collection. I probably will still gig with them at times. But oh man, the thought of such an easy setup sounds amazing. I'm scheduled for a surgery consultation for a spinal fusion, so the idea of not having to lug my two amps to a gig is VERY appealing.

Long winded set up, I know. Just trying to give some context. So any of you out there that are using modeling for gigs, what are your thoughts? What are some of the things you miss from your regular rig when using modeling? Thanks in advance for any information!
Cheers! Cody
Since I have my Kemper Profiler ("profiled,not modeled") with high quality profiles, my 13 tube amps stay mostly cold,because it sounds like the real thing and I can buy my dream amps for almost nothing with a simple download...this thing is amazing!
 

Fiesta Red

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I’ve been an unabashed and proud user of a Line 6 POD (version 1.0) since right around the time the version 2.0 came out. I got it on a massive discount at MARS Music (remember them? 😢) because they were blowing all the 1.0’s out to make room. When I registered the purchase for the warranty, Line 6 even sent me the chip to “upgrade” it to vs2.0, which I never installed because vs1.0 sounded good enough to me and vs2.0’s upgraded features were too complicated for my tiny brain.

I also briefly had a ridiculously complicated rig consisting of my Big Ol’ Board of Sonic Bliss pedalboard running to a 63RI Vibroverb, a ‘72 Bassman Ten and the Line 6 POD—all mic’d and/or running through the PA while playing rhythm and slide guitar with one particularly loud band…what we didn’t have in talent, we made up for in volume…the less said the better—in fact, I’ve probably said too much already…

I used the POD alone on several occasions in a live setting (plugged into a PA system), and it worked pretty dang good, but not great. I missed the air being pushed behind me, and the speaker simulation was “meh”, so I ended up using it primarily in the studio.

The thing I finally got through my head was to quit expecting the “XYZ” model to sound like a vintage “XYZ” amplifier. When I just ignored the labels and tweaked the settings until I came up with a sound I liked, it was fine. I would “save” that setting and write down what song I used it for recording (if I wanted to get that sound again), and all was good.

In fact, I remember one guy saying (after listening to one of our CDs), “Man, you really gave that Vibroverb a workout! It sounded great!”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him (an avowed tube-a-phile) that it was a Line 6 POD emulation of a tweed Fender or a “Bluesbreaker” Marshall model 1960.

I have nothing against digital amps except the fact that the ones I’m most interested in are getting extremely pricey and their lifespan may or may not be in line with the amount of money I pushed across the table to get it.
 

Togman

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The Helix doesn't have a maximum number of blocks you can use, it will let you keep adding more until the processor is tapped out.

It has two processors, each of which is dedicated to a path. So you would run your pre effects and amp block on the upper path, then direct the output of that path to feed the input of the second path, which is where all of your post effects can go. Depending on where your CPU usage is heavy, you can also run the amp and cab blocks on the second path, or the amp on the top path and the cab on the second path.

There are also blocks that are both the amp + cab combined, but they're a bit more limiting (unless the combination works for you, then it's a nonissue).
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you could also use the HX effects pedal in the effects loop of the Helix if you wished to do so.
 

Frodebro

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you could also use the HX effects pedal in the effects loop of the Helix if you wished to do so.
Yep, and if you wanted to put in the extra few minutes you could set the Helix to change presets on the HXFX via midi PCs.
 

ping-ping-clicka

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I may be mistaken , I think that there are preamp pedals that are "modeling" the sound of actual amp channels. large Bogner Blue/ Uberschall, Diezel, Strymon Iridium, Earthquaker Acapulco Gold, Catlinbread Dirty Little Secret, Revv G-2, G-3, G,4, to name a few,that simulate the sound of an actual Guitar Amplifiers. The mythical "Acme JMC 800", may not sound like an real Marshall JCM 800, but it does reproduce some or many of a JCM 800 characterizes.
Alone the pedal version of your favorite amp may not be convincing, but in the context of a trio/quartet musical setting performs satisfactorily. I reflect on how some setting sound great alone and yet sound like pooh when combined with a rhythm section.
Context: What is the desired result of using a particular amp or amp in a box?
Can I manifest my intentionality using this tool.
As Steward Brand editor of the Whole Earth Catalogue has stated
" if it works, put it in the Catalogue."
Being a virtual shut-in that pursues vanity projects for my own gratification using
Propellerheads Reason 12 , VST Instruments and a collection of stomp boxes, and software processing plugins, the distinction of tubes/no tubes/ plugin/ hardware is of no interest to me after all in the end what comes out of the monitors and "Can I Live With It"? is
"the nub of the biscuit" as Frank Zappa put it.
Yes today is not the era of the Newport Folk festival where well rehearsed folk groups sang Murder Ballads and Goin' ah Courtin' songs in 4 part harmony live and on stage. This is the modern world of Mr. Analog accepts Blue Ray Digital versions of Cinnamon Girls and
Cortez the Killer as satisfactory.

44 magnum CAT.jpg
 




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