helix - didn't expect this last night...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by spencer096, Dec 12, 2019.

  1. spencer096

    spencer096 Member

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    had rehearsal with a band i just put together last night...our first rehearsal with everyone there, and the first where the other guitarist brought his own rig.

    i was playing my EJ strat thru a dr. z maz18 (w reverb) and 2x10" cab and a benson preamp. between this and my vox ac15, ive always been satisfied with a relatively stripped down rig...never found myself wanting anything.

    that is, until last night. other guitarist brought his helix and went thru the PA (playing an EBMM cutlass). i couldnt keep up with him sonically, period. it wasn't a volume thing, it was just an...i dont even know how to describe it...everything, thing. his sound was polished and professional sounding. it was ME who got lost in the mix, not his digital amp. i rolled back my volume to clean up nicely, so did he. it was the polish thing...all his tones sounded legitimately refined and 3-dimensonal while i sounded flat and rough-around-the-edges in comparison. where i was like "i can get by with a single OD pedal" before, going up against (or with, i guess) the helix made me realize how much of those extras i was missing.

    i was a digital hater...putting it lightly, given im neck deep in a tweed kick...until last night. it was hard to have the proof slap you in the face over and over and over. how could i argue that tubes are a no brainer when i didn't have a single answer for what the helix was pumping out? and with a decent rig?

    dont want this to be a tubes vs. digital argument again...both tube and digital have their own unique benefits and issues. i was just really, really impressed with the helix last night. the 'snob' was full on, and yet all of my potential critiques were answered emphatically.
     
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  2. sleewell

    sleewell Member

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    the helix is an amazing piece of gear. we are going to start practicing at our new bassists house soon and i plan to try going direct. hopefully i can pull it off half as good as you are describing. i think its awesome to hear traditionalists being surprised by the helix.
     
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  3. willie k

    willie k Silver Supporting Member

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    When going direct, can you get harmonic feedback? How, from the monitor or main?
     
  4. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Experienced musicians, with good ears and enough power, who pay attention to what's going on in the band should not get lost in the mix no mater what his/her amp choice is.

    OP, seeing as how you just put this band together, it just sounds like you have not had enough experience with it yet to know what the right amp for you is. Obviously the Maz you brought isn't going to cut it on its own.

    I think it's fantastic that you came to the recognition about this guy's digital rig. Your recognition of the utility of the other guy's rig says a lot about your ears and open-mindedness. I had a similar kind of experience a number of years back when I went to a jam with some friends and one of them showed up with a Fractal + Atomic rig. He kept up with the Super Reverbs and HRD and my 2x6L6 Valco amp just fine and sounded great! There was just no denying this.
     
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  5. spencer096

    spencer096 Member

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    the maz is borrowed from my uncle...id have probably fared better using my vox that i have more familiarity with and my preferred tones relatively dialed in. im in a band with him too, and the vox and maz are a great complimetnary pair for blusey rock. different story with the helix and more open styles. you are right about one thing, tho...i havent found the best amp for me yet.

    anyways, "lost in the mix" was probably an incomplete way to put it...i was fine in terms of volume, it's just that my tone seemed like it was lacking a whole lot compared to his. the little splashes of different reverbs and delays, etc. stuff like that. comparing us side by side, he had a full arsenal at his disposal...tweaked and tuned...it just plain sounded more able. i had a 'clean,' he had three different cleans that had varying tweaks to them that just sounded fantastic. id listen to him and go WOWOWOWOWOWOW!!! id listen to me and go MEH.

    the sheer massive database of the helix was daunting tho. there was a big learning curve...didnt even try to tweak the other guitarist's settings or make my own. that might be one thing i cant get over, but regardless...looking at digital in an entirely different light today.
     
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  6. spencer096

    spencer096 Member

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    wish i could answer this...i didnt attempt to get feedback. and the feel was pretty noticeably different from a tube amp (esp when using overdriven patches), but not in a negative way...just different.
     
    Gig Young likes this.
  7. Robot B9

    Robot B9 Member

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    I was a tube snob. I still somewhat am, but I really fell for the Helix. It’s a great unit and beats lugging a heavy amp around.
     
  8. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    I got my first amp (a brand new Ampeg VT-40) in 1972, though I'd been using borrowed gear up till then. Used tube amps through fall of 2018, though I did "experiment" with early digital amps in the early 2000s. I began using a Fractal + Atomic CLR rig a little over a year ago and I really dig it. I have to agree that the learning curve was absolutely enormous and I would totally understand anyone who started up it but decided to bail out. I almost did; wasn't until I started using the CLR and got a better handle on how to create presets that it really started working for me.

    You're absolutely right--the sound/feel is NOT the same as tube amps. It just isn't. For the most part, my tube amps are still much easier to dial in and sound and feel a wee bit better (or more natural/organic) to me. But there are so many really outstanding aspects of using this digital rig that if you can deal with the differences, make it absolutely worthwhile. I still love my tube amps and still play through them from time to time. I would miss them if I no longer had them. But for rehearsing and gigging in my bands, I've been completely happy using the digital rig.
     
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  9. C-4

    C-4 Member

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    OP,
    If you decide to try a Helix, you might ask the other guitar player to help you dial it in similar to how he dials his in for a start.

    You might even ask to try his Helix first just to make sure it feels good enough for you to get used too.

    I had a Kemper and could not, in 4 years of trying, get it to feel, or sound, in a live situation as I as I desired. Not even close.

    Two weeks ago, I traded the Kemper for an Amp1 ME and remote.

    I've tried to adapt to digital gear since it started coming out, but I'm not liking the feel difference, which to me, is as big a part of it as the sound.
    I use digital gear in the studio and it's great there, but live, it's a no-go for me.
     
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  10. DeadLazy

    DeadLazy Member

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    You’re not helping with my cold feet on getting a Kemper but I still am going to try one this spring.

    I am a Z fan but I will be traveling a lot and flying some and I want to be able to profile them and then take that with me.

    Your post was a little freaky. Especially since I’ve never liked digital.

    I guess I have to check and see if the pan is hot for myself and not just take others word for it. Hope I don’t get burned.
     
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  11. NeedmoreCrunch

    NeedmoreCrunch Member

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    :bong
     
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  12. C-4

    C-4 Member

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    Far more players have been very happy with a Kemper then those, such as me, who couldn't get it to feel as I desired. In honesty, I've been playing valve amps for 63+ years, and just prefer what I have grown used too hearing and feeling.

    Make your mind up based on trying one out, not listening to an old codger like me. :)
     
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  13. dspellman

    dspellman Member

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    I don't use it all that often, and I realize that it usually requires a loud amp close by. I have sustainers (in my case, Fernandes) on several guitars, and these provide harmonic feedback without the requirement of any additional sound system. In fact, I can sit at the board and produce it while wearing earphones.
     
  14. Pat6969

    Pat6969 Supporting Member

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    I’d say he’s an exception to the rule. Most Kemper users are emphatic about it. It’s top tier, buy with confidence!
     
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  15. Calebz

    Calebz Member

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    My first amp was a VT-22. 12 year old metal-head me hated it. Kinda wish I still had it now.
     
  16. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    That is a WHOLE LOT of clean headroom, IIRC. And LOUD, LOUD L-O-U-D!
     
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  17. Roccorobb

    Roccorobb Member

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    I love my tube amps and my helix. As a huge added benefit, helix is a great pedal board going into a tube amp. It's the first time a multifx unit hasn't felt like a compromise to me. Totally worth the cost but I'm not selling my tube amps
     
  18. Dashface

    Dashface Member

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    The other guitarist in my band has been using a Helix for a while. It really is an impressive piece of gear; impressive enough that I’ve genuinely considered one of the Helix FX units for my bar band.

    It doesn’t quite stack up to the complexity and radness that is my TC2290 and dual Hiwatt rig in that band but... What could? :D

    The Helix is a truly pro and capable piece of gear. They sound great.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
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  19. Calebz

    Calebz Member

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    Yup! And effing HEAVY!
    And if i'd had a helix back then, I probably still have the VT-22
     
  20. ford

    ford Modz Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    So he was running through the PA... were you mic'd through the PA also or just using your amp for all of your volume?
     

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