Bogner Helios - 50 Vs 100 Vs Eclipse

Earplayer

Member
Messages
562
Hi there!

Please share your experiences and opinions on the Bogner Helios amps. I actually never played one - no store nearby has one in stock and i dont want to buy blind or return the amps... so i will make a decision based on diff. videos and owner experiences...
So all the owners or ex-owners please share your experiences with the Helios line... THANKS A BUNCH.

Cheers, Tommy.
 

Krakenslayer

Member
Messages
92
Tommy,

I just joined this forum to receive similar information. I can help you with limited insight.

I have spent this last year patiently exploring a variety of tube amps to replace the VHT Ultralead built by Fryette that I owned for over 25 years. While I could have chased a new VHT or Fryette, I decided to discover a new amp for a new era in my guitar playing.

For the last two and a half years I have only been playing my acoustic, longing for my return to electric guitar with no compromise toward finding a leviathan of amp technology as I had once carried with the VHT.

Within this context of patience and my search through many stores and test drives of many, many amps the Helios... not the Eclipse won out. Though for me these two amps were the top contenders.

The Harmonic content of the Helios 100 watt demo in the store (57 Goldtop reissue to amp to Friedman 2x12 celestion v 30's) was rich and detailed, but at the same time a wall of sound when I wanted it to be. I could wield the character of my Les Paul's tone and volume controls with excellent response through the amp. The amp was intuitively connected as an extension of my guitar under the command of my subtle nuances through my voicings upon the guitar phrasing.

I played for like 2 hours. Cleans, low gains, saturated gains, extreme knob manipulation for varied approaches, controlling the amp settings with only guitar controls, the included footswitch and no effects provided an experience that none of the other amps offered as easily. The amp was quiet between notes, the sculpting of feedback was controlled as I desired. The low volume for bedroom playing was off the charts and it was just the same turned up.

I then forced myself to go home and think carefully. I had many other excursions seeking out more hands-on experience with amps over the following months. I came across the Helios Eclipse 100 watt.

I spent two hours with this fantastic amp. I came to realize how different it is from it's brother, the Helios. It has better footswitch capability, and EXTREME amounts of gain which proved to be a bit tougher to tame this fire breathing dragon. I absolutely loved entering the foray of tone knobs and guitar interplay just as I had with the Helios. I noticed something though...the harmonic content and shimmering framework within the texture of the tone from the Helios Eclipse was not as full and dynamic as the sparkle of the Helios. It was a fantastic, superior amp experience nonetheless.

So, I went back and played the Helios to test drive a second time. I forced myself to go home afterward and think carefully. These were the questions that emerged...

"What is more important to me? The better convenience of the footswitch capability and higher gain stage of the Eclipse with the expense of the subtle harmonic content? Or the higher harmonic content of the Helios with its separate channel inputs (that absolutely cannot be A/B boxed)?

For me the answer is...The Younger (20 something year old me) would go for the Eclipse as I played out gigging more often then and would fine greater use of the footswitch capability. Plus the Higher Gain suited me more back in that era...The older me (45) who does not gig as much but wants to build a rig with rich sound characteristics...finds the Helios as part of a proper foundation towards building a stereo amp configuration to be utilized in both live and studio applications.

I also think with today's excellent boutique pedal builders, I will be able to find great accessories from pedals to enhance with small touches to the brilliance that Mr. Bogner has skillfully engineered within the Helios.

I ordered my Helios in Ivory White and await its arrival with a matching 4x12 Helios cab. I look forward to developing new discoveries in guitar playing from it.

I love guitar textured music from My Bloody Valentine, Zeppelin, The Cure, Janes Addiction, Vai, Chon, Plini, Hum, Broken Social Scene, Deftones, Mew, and I write my own original material using a variety of tunings and guitar techniques from these kind of influences.

I hope you find this helpful in educating you toward an amp that you will enjoy.

The VHT/Fryette was mighty. I had a Pitbull Ultralead. Eventually, I ran in stereo with a Mesa Rectoverb which acted as a slight enhancement to adorn the main nexus of my tone which came from the VHT. Rather than repeat history I choose to forge a new path, but all of my friends and people who came to see us play back then always complimented the VHT and my tone. The Les Paul has been my only guitar in that time, but my search for a new electric with tremolo/vibrato arm is a whole other journey...

Awesome contenders from my amp searching would be (in no particular order):
1.) Ampete One (I never actually played this one, but I think I would love it...) German built
2.) Orange Rockerverb (Probably the weakest contender on this list, but still cool 1 trick pony) I like its clean settings.
3.) Matchless Avalon 30 (Wow...)
4.) Metropolous DVL-1 (vintage refinery with a modern twist)
5.) Hiwatt space cowboy (pedal platform) or 50 watt
6.) Morgan 30r (Pedal platform)
7.) Bogner Phi (more cleans with reliance on pedals for distortion)
8.) Swart Antares, (Satellite for stereo application with Helios)
9.) Swart 30 or 45 (amazing cleans)
10.) PWE Horizon or Horizont, I can't remember the exact name but so cool
11.) Mezzabarba Trinity (Absolute Leviathan) Italian built
12.) Reeves 50
13.) Divided by 13 (I can't remember the model but wow!)
14.) Fender Twin or Bassman (Pedal Platform)
15.) Blankenship Fender Bassman mod (Totally badass)

The Helios beat them all, but I hope to acquire a few of these in time. My next amp choice will be an amp more focused on cleans. I will use it in conjunction with a pedal board and the Helios to make my rig.

Good luck Tommy in your tone chasing. Enjoy the hunt, don't rush it. Be patient and trust your instincts. Pretend you only have one amp you can select and make it an extension of your expression. A warrior must know their weapons well.

Beej
 

Chasintonez

Member
Messages
194
I would love if Bogner would revisit the Eclipse design. For me just making a Helios 50 with the functionality of the Eclipse would be where it's at for me. The Eclipse and Eclipse+ could go away. No need for the two extra gain stages and all of the noise floor issues that seem to come along with it.

If barriers were no option:
Shiva clean channel
CH2: I would be cool with channel two of the Eclipse minus the Eclipse mode., Instead keep hot 70 and 80s mode and have a plexi toggle to go the lower gain direction if desired instead of adding gain with the eclipse mode the other way.
CH3: Similar to CH2 with the ability to get some more gain for leads/soloing. Not like the Eclipse+ level of gain, but just a nice kick of gain to solo on.
I think this would help retain more of the harmonic content and subtle nature of the standard 50 and 100 Helios.
Even better yet for me...make it a 35 watt small shell with 2 EL34s and It just could not get any better. That would be what I would have Reinhold build.
 
Last edited:

Jim S

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
15,255
When I was researching the Helios my reading comprehension collusion.... I mean conclusion distilled to this:

50: sweeter, spongier w Variac

100: more percussive, thumpier

Eclipse : wasn’t released yet

It’s seemed to me the 50 was slightly more often praised over the 100 for tonal reasons. Again, that was my interpretation. I have the 50 and I am quite happy with it.
 

flimz

Member
Messages
621
I was thinking of picking up a Helios 50 to run in stereo with my Eclipse. Both going into their own Bogner 4x12. I could set the Helios 50 for lower gain shimmering plexi tones, and blend it with the high gain grunt of the Eclipse 100.
I think that would be an awesome tonal experience!
 

Krakenslayer

Member
Messages
92
I would love if Bogner would revisit the Eclipse design. For me just making a Helios 50 with the functionality of the Eclipse would be where it's at for me. The Eclipse and Eclipse+ could go away. No need for the two extra gain stages and all of the noise floor issues that seem to come along with it.

If barriers were no option:
Shiva clean channel
CH2: I would be cool with channel two of the Eclipse minus the Eclipse mode., Instead keep hot 70 and 80s mode and have a plexi toggle to go the lower gain direction if desired instead of adding gain with the eclipse mode the other way.
CH3: Similar to CH2 with the ability to get some more gain for leads/soloing. Not like the Eclipse+ level of gain, but just a nice kick of gain to solo on.
I think this would help retain more of the harmonic content and subtle nature of the standard 50 and 100 Helios.
Even better yet for me...make it a 35 watt small shell with 2 EL34s and It just could not get any better. That would be what I would have Reinhold build.
Brilliant thoughts the Shiva has a great clean and the KT88 version is my vibe...

Yes I agree about the footswitch functioning but I think perhaps that the weakness is also the strength of the helios in this case. These harmonics might only exist due to the nature of one having to make a choice between plugging in plexi or hot.

At least that's what I conclude from intently looking at the eclipse and Helios. You describe an awesome amp here though...

It's kind of like a 30 watt epicenter of Bogner knowledge encased in one amp. Kind of like the thinking behind the Friedman Be50 deluxe.

I agree. This is an awesome idea.
 

Krakenslayer

Member
Messages
92
I was thinking of picking up a Helios 50 to run in stereo with my Eclipse. Both going into their own Bogner 4x12. I could set the Helios 50 for lower gain shimmering plexi tones, and blend it with the high gain grunt of the Eclipse 100.
I think that would be an awesome tonal experience!

We think alike. That thought has been in my contemplation.
 

Chasintonez

Member
Messages
194
I here ya Krakenslayer. Switchers add more signal pathway and can sometimes take away a lot of what makes one input/channel amps have that extra bit of magic harmonic quality with the subtle dynamics and touch sensitivity. But when trying to cover a lot of ground gig wise it is tough not to have some sort of switcher. Especially here in Nashville. I am all over the musical map at any given gig. There are some gigs where I do not even have easy access to the amp to change inputs throughout the set.

And so far from what I hear of countless vids of Bogners (probably lean toward the Helios side of his designs over the other models) and having tried a 50 watt standard Helios a while back at GC the feel and broader sound that still had some bite on the top kind of seems like what I gravitate toward over more traditional or even modded Marshall type circuits that are closer to the Marshall blueprint. Of all of the Marshall style amps that I have owned and used I always have to have an EP booster or RC booster in the loop to broaden/thicken them up while smoothing/rounding out the edges. That is the only way I get along with most Marshall style amps. The Bogners tend to kind of do that just in their nature with some low mids in the dna.

For my taste the closest M style that had a broader quality with some girth to it was the Redplate Magica. That was one hell of an amp. I just could never get the loop figured out with any buffers that would maintain the top end and transparency. Worked with Keith on that for weeks. That loop hand a tendency to lop off quite a bit of top end and I always have a delay and reverb in the loop running. The PT-15 is right on par with a Magica with an excellent loop, but still closer to a traditional marshall/modded marshall with that M style grind. Which sounds great and most players love that sound and response. No need for the EP on the Suhr as it has a pretty good balance. But on most other M style amps the EP booster was needed to shape them to more of my liking. I remember having a H&K Grandmeister 36 that I used for a while that was very "poky" with quite a bit of sizzle in the gain and the EP booster in the loop was the only way I could smooth and round it out to play on that thing. I just tend to like things a little rounder with just a touch of smoothness mixed in with the edge.

I am interested in the new XTC 35 with El34's coming, but I would still be more interested in a Helios of that size with the feature set like I described above. Or even a 50 watt version with the options I described would be nice. I just think the Helios is a closer cousin to the traditional M style amps, but has more heft and weight/girth to it. Plus that dang thing played like freaking butter under the fingers while still sounding like it had some top end to it. I have no doubt the Eclipse is close, but just don't really need 100 watts or all of the extra gain stages that come along with it. Most seem to live on Channel 2 in the Hot or 80's Mode with the Eclipse from what I have picked up in threads.
 

Earplayer

Member
Messages
562
Hi guys i have found a (barely) used Helios 50 for 1900 EUR (new one costs 2800 EUR)... hmmm i think i am ready to pull the trigger on this one. I just missed a used Bogner Goldfinger SL in mint condition for 1400 EUR (new one costs 2800 EUR)...
 

Earplayer

Member
Messages
562
damn - that 2 amp setup sounds great 100+50 on top of a 412 straight bogner cab... for cleans roll down the guitar volume...

would love to try those 3 helios amps in the flesh but no chance here in austria - no one has them in stock...
 

Krakenslayer

Member
Messages
92
7gy7kT9

It's been an amazing two weeks since I've received the Bogner Helios in Ivory. This was an absolute great decision!
 

Krakenslayer

Member
Messages
92
I here ya Krakenslayer. Switchers add more signal pathway and can sometimes take away a lot of what makes one input/channel amps have that extra bit of magic harmonic quality with the subtle dynamics and touch sensitivity. But when trying to cover a lot of ground gig wise it is tough not to have some sort of switcher. Especially here in Nashville. I am all over the musical map at any given gig. There are some gigs where I do not even have easy access to the amp to change inputs throughout the set.

And so far from what I hear of countless vids of Bogners (probably lean toward the Helios side of his designs over the other models) and having tried a 50 watt standard Helios a while back at GC the feel and broader sound that still had some bite on the top kind of seems like what I gravitate toward over more traditional or even modded Marshall type circuits that are closer to the Marshall blueprint. Of all of the Marshall style amps that I have owned and used I always have to have an EP booster or RC booster in the loop to broaden/thicken them up while smoothing/rounding out the edges. That is the only way I get along with most Marshall style amps. The Bogners tend to kind of do that just in their nature with some low mids in the dna.

For my taste the closest M style that had a broader quality with some girth to it was the Redplate Magica. That was one hell of an amp. I just could never get the loop figured out with any buffers that would maintain the top end and transparency. Worked with Keith on that for weeks. That loop hand a tendency to lop off quite a bit of top end and I always have a delay and reverb in the loop running. The PT-15 is right on par with a Magica with an excellent loop, but still closer to a traditional marshall/modded marshall with that M style grind. Which sounds great and most players love that sound and response. No need for the EP on the Suhr as it has a pretty good balance. But on most other M style amps the EP booster was needed to shape them to more of my liking. I remember having a H&K Grandmeister 36 that I used for a while that was very "poky" with quite a bit of sizzle in the gain and the EP booster in the loop was the only way I could smooth and round it out to play on that thing. I just tend to like things a little rounder with just a touch of smoothness mixed in with the edge.

I am interested in the new XTC 35 with El34's coming, but I would still be more interested in a Helios of that size with the feature set like I described above. Or even a 50 watt version with the options I described would be nice. I just think the Helios is a closer cousin to the traditional M style amps, but has more heft and weight/girth to it. Plus that dang thing played like freaking butter under the fingers while still sounding like it had some top end to it. I have no doubt the Eclipse is close, but just don't really need 100 watts or all of the extra gain stages that come along with it. Most seem to live on Channel 2 in the Hot or 80's Mode with the Eclipse from what I have picked up in threads.

I understand what you are saying about the characteristics of the M style but with the ability to achieve the kind of gain you are talking about without the boosts.

Powerful clarity of tone for studio/writing/sound creation

I have probably played the Helios about 5 times a week with each session being 2 or more hours as I'm conceptualizing and writing new material. I have mainly lived in the Plex channel using my guitar tone knobs and volume knobs. (I am happy for the Hot Channel and love it, but it probably is my 25% of the time channel.) In my time of use I have come to really understand how to wield the Helios with my Les Paul. The definition and harmonics of the tone outside of the effects loop are so rich and dynamic. It is my jam and dream amp sound. I also feel the age of my Les Paul (26 years) is really shining through with lots of resonance. I too would love just a 30 watt smaller head version.

The Effects Loop Dilemma

The effects loop is tube buffered in this amp. I can perceive to my ears a noticeable tone shift (darker) when activating the effects loop in which I counter the activation with a brighter adjustment to the presence knob and slight tinker with the mid and treble knob. (Therefore the Amp Head must be where I am standing in real time to pinpoint the sound variables I want.) I run only time based effects there (SLO, Thermae, and Avalanche Run) powered via the isolated power of the Phoenix by Walrus audio. I run no other pedals at this time.

I also played a Friedman BE 100 Deluxe and loved the Plexi Channel there as well. The effects loop experience for me was more transparent and I marveled that I did not need to tinker with anything tone wise when I activated the echoplex pedal I was using.

I mention this because, I also demoed an Ecstasy 35! I absolutely loved it. The effects loop in that is solid state rectified. I liked how my pedals behaved (a similar experience in sound to the Friedman described above.) I loved it so much that I decided to order it. I thought I would prefer more of a single channel like you mention. Yet, there is just something undeniable about the channel 2 that is absolutely compelling to dial in. It is quite amazing. So I put the Tone King Imperial Mark II to the back burner and decided to order the 35 with a OS Helios 2x12 Bog cab with Creamback and Vintage 30. That way I could take a slightly smaller cab with the Helios if I go with one amp.

Sidenote (the Diezel VH4 I tried had an amazing effects loop too), I was looking for a smaller and more affordable head to meat my needs. I will probably go with the ToneKing Mark II Imperial as my next amp for cleans. That amp blew me away.

Once I have some extended time with the Ecstasy running in a wet/dry set up with the Helios, I'll report back. I plan to run the helios dry and the wet sounds I'll place in the 35. Though I must say I will experiment with varied approaches.

Suhr Strat Antique HSS

I played one of these and can't stop thinking about it. I think I've found the other guitar tones with tremolo bar I have been looking for. I'm on target for my rig building goal this year!

Additionally...my teenage son thinks I'm Jordan Schlansky from Conan O' Brien when I start talking about guitar tone. I think he's right....Ha.ha.ha…..:/
 

Jimi1983

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,780
I understand what you are saying about the characteristics of the M style but with the ability to achieve the kind of gain you are talking about without the boosts.

Powerful clarity of tone for studio/writing/sound creation

I have probably played the Helios about 5 times a week with each session being 2 or more hours as I'm conceptualizing and writing new material. I have mainly lived in the Plex channel using my guitar tone knobs and volume knobs. (I am happy for the Hot Channel and love it, but it probably is my 25% of the time channel.) In my time of use I have come to really understand how to wield the Helios with my Les Paul. The definition and harmonics of the tone outside of the effects loop are so rich and dynamic. It is my jam and dream amp sound. I also feel the age of my Les Paul (26 years) is really shining through with lots of resonance. I too would love just a 30 watt smaller head version.

The Effects Loop Dilemma

The effects loop is tube buffered in this amp. I can perceive to my ears a noticeable tone shift (darker) when activating the effects loop in which I counter the activation with a brighter adjustment to the presence knob and slight tinker with the mid and treble knob. (Therefore the Amp Head must be where I am standing in real time to pinpoint the sound variables I want.) I run only time based effects there (SLO, Thermae, and Avalanche Run) powered via the isolated power of the Phoenix by Walrus audio. I run no other pedals at this time.

I also played a Friedman BE 100 Deluxe and loved the Plexi Channel there as well. The effects loop experience for me was more transparent and I marveled that I did not need to tinker with anything tone wise when I activated the echoplex pedal I was using.

I mention this because, I also demoed an Ecstasy 35! I absolutely loved it. The effects loop in that is solid state rectified. I liked how my pedals behaved (a similar experience in sound to the Friedman described above.) I loved it so much that I decided to order it. I thought I would prefer more of a single channel like you mention. Yet, there is just something undeniable about the channel 2 that is absolutely compelling to dial in. It is quite amazing. So I put the Tone King Imperial Mark II to the back burner and decided to order the 35 with a OS Helios 2x12 Bog cab with Creamback and Vintage 30. That way I could take a slightly smaller cab with the Helios if I go with one amp.

Sidenote (the Diezel VH4 I tried had an amazing effects loop too), I was looking for a smaller and more affordable head to meat my needs. I will probably go with the ToneKing Mark II Imperial as my next amp for cleans. That amp blew me away.

Once I have some extended time with the Ecstasy running in a wet/dry set up with the Helios, I'll report back. I plan to run the helios dry and the wet sounds I'll place in the 35. Though I must say I will experiment with varied approaches.

Suhr Strat Antique HSS

I played one of these and can't stop thinking about it. I think I've found the other guitar tones with tremolo bar I have been looking for. I'm on target for my rig building goal this year!

Additionally...my teenage son thinks I'm Jordan Schlansky from Conan O' Brien when I start talking about guitar tone. I think he's right....Ha.ha.ha…..:/
Looking forward to hearing the Helios and 35 comparisons! Which Helios do you have? I’ve got the 50 and really like it.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
10,507
If barriers were no option:
Shiva clean channel
CH2: I would be cool with channel two of the Eclipse minus the Eclipse mode., Instead keep hot 70 and 80s mode and have a plexi toggle to go the lower gain direction if desired instead of adding gain with the eclipse mode the other way.
CH3: Similar to CH2 with the ability to get some more gain for leads/soloing. Not like the Eclipse+ level of gain, but just a nice kick of gain to solo on.
I think this would help retain more of the harmonic content and subtle nature of the standard 50 and 100 Helios.
Even better yet for me...make it a 35 watt small shell with 2 EL34s and It just could not get any better. That would be what I would have Reinhold build.

Isn't this the Goldfinger Superlead to some degree? I don't know how different the 90W EL34 model sounds, but the 45W I have has a great Fender style clean channel and Marshall overdrive channel with Plexi/JMP/JCM800 switches + all tube boost for a pseudo 3rd channel for solos with gain and/or volume boost.

It's not going to sound exactly like the Helios as the GF45 is darker afaik and the 4x6V6 poweramp will have an effect on the sound and feel as well but as far as compromises go might be in the ballpark. The '77 mode on the OD channel is probably closest to the Helios 50 as it's brighter and angrier, my favorite tone in the amp.

Disclaimer: I haven't played the Helios myself, this is just based on YouTube videos of how it sounds so I may be off base here.
 

Jabby92

Member
Messages
3,967
I think the Eclipse is the way to go. Same compact shell as the 50 but its 100W. They're all good though.
 

spazmonkey

Member
Messages
265
I dug the Eclipse, a/b'd with the 100w Helios, the standard Helios was a bit more open. Went back a week later and compared again but this time with an eq pedal in the loop of the Eclipse, the Eclipse was freaking great, liked it better and more versatile than the standard Helios(which is still awesome).
 




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