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Helix (or other modeler) and Blues

sertshark

Member
Messages
298
Anyone know of any blues players out there who use the Helix?

The reason I ask is because I've been seeing a lot of modelers out there at different gigs with other bands. I think they sound great for progressive stuff, jazz, and rock, even though I can't help but to feel like it sometimes it feels/sounds overly compressed, or maybe kind of over-processed, especially in a harder rock setting. I don't know, but i's just something that doesn't sound authentic to me. I'm willing to accept the fact that it just might be me, but I don't hear it, for instance, when I hear many of the great players right now (Bonamassa, Kenny Shepherd, Derek Trucks, etc), or even some regular no-name guys out there who are playing bars and using a couple pedals and an amp.

Is it possible that people who have these modelers have so much at their fingertips that they have to put every conceivable combination in their patches, amps/pedals/speakers/mic placement/etc, rather than to keep it simple, like we do with a couple of stomp pedals on our board and our amp, and it tends to muddy things up? I also realize a lot of this can be the sound guy too, so there is also that to consider.

I'm looking for guitarists out there (whether they are known, or you guys, or other cover band guys) who use a Helix, etc, and use it for blues, or even Southern Rock type of situations.
 

Watt McCo

Member
Messages
10,307
Anyone know of any blues players out there who use the Helix?

The reason I ask is because I've been seeing a lot of modelers out there at different gigs with other bands. I think they sound great for progressive stuff, jazz, and rock, even though I can't help but to feel like it sometimes it feels/sounds overly compressed, or maybe kind of over-processed, especially in a harder rock setting. I don't know, but i's just something that doesn't sound authentic to me. I'm willing to accept the fact that it just might be me, but I don't hear it, for instance, when I hear many of the great players right now (Bonamassa, Kenny Shepherd, Derek Trucks, etc), or even some regular no-name guys out there who are playing bars and using a couple pedals and an amp.

Is it possible that people who have these modelers have so much at their fingertips that they have to put every conceivable combination in their patches, amps/pedals/speakers/mic placement/etc, rather than to keep it simple, like we do with a couple of stomp pedals on our board and our amp, and it tends to muddy things up? I also realize a lot of this can be the sound guy too, so there is also that to consider.

I'm looking for guitarists out there (whether they are known, or you guys, or other cover band guys) who use a Helix, etc, and use it for blues, or even Southern Rock type of situations.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
5,809
All my modeling rigs have used pretty simple patches consisting of your basic fx setup (wah, overdrive or compressor, delay, reverb, sometimes chorus and parametric or graphic EQ), amp and cab sims. You can make them as complex or as simple as you want.

I've had an Axe-Fx Standard, II, Yamaha THR100HD and now have a Helix Floor. All of them would be perfectly fine for blues. Probably a bit overkill for that if your thing is just a couple of pedals and an amp.

I now only use my Helix for effects simply because routing is easier and faster than pedals, less need to worry about power supplies, cables, noise etc and it works as a MIDI controller to control my amp.
 

Rayf

Member
Messages
391
In my uninformed opinion, a lot of the guys that play blues in bars tend to be an older crowd. Metal, high-gain and progressive tends to attract a younger crowd and as such, are more willing to try new tech(or more likley, they didn't weren't scared off by the total garbage digital stuff that existed in the 90's).

To play blues, you need an amp and an overdrive pedal. Not much use for the Helix, but to answer your question, the Helix does a great job with vintage clean and edge of break up amps. The whole mic cabinet thing is where it starts to be a compromise between modelers and real amps. But it still is far away better than dragging an amp around and you don't have the upkeep.
 

Tito83

Member
Messages
2,687
I'm using it exclusively for every gig for the last three year, that includes Blues. Knowing guys from the local Blues scene, I think most don't use modelers exactly because they only need a couple of different pedals and that's it. I do wedding/corporate stuff, also play Metal and Hard Rock now and then, so a modeler makes it possible for me to go to any gig with exactly the same rig.

Here's me playing Blues with Helix

 

John Mark Painter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,950
It sounds like what you what it to sound.

“Over processed” happens a lot with Helix because you CAN.

Basic blues tone can easily be gotten on a good amp. And they don’t generally want to change between multiple amp tones all night.

So the advantage still is portability, being able to play at lower volumes, having consistent tone from night to night
 

phil_m

How did this get here? I'm not good at computer.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
11,837
I don't play the blues exclusively, but the one band I'm in plays a good number of blues tunes. I actually think a typical blues tone is one of the easier types of tones to achieve on the Helix. I think the big thing is, though, that the blues scene is full of guys having wet dreams over vintage gear. So in one sense, they aren't the target demographic for modelers.

My friend Anthony, who runs the Texax Blues Alley website, uses a Kemper for a lot of his demos and lesson nowadays.
 
Last edited:

Watt McCo

Member
Messages
10,307
Pretty good bluesy tones in that video! :cool: I wonder what the patch routing was for that. I think there's a fine art to setting up patches to avoid the "Overly Compressed" sound the OP was talking about.
Avoiding overly compressed sound in a modeler is the same as it is in amp/pedal land: don't use a compressor, an overly compressing OD pedal, or an amp set in an overly compressed manner.
 

sertshark

Member
Messages
298
Love the vids. Sounded great. For bluesier stuff one poster is correct that all you really need is a guitar and an amp with minimal effects. I think another poster kind of hit it on the head though by mentioning being able to keep great tone at lesser volumes. That does seem to be a huge bonus, aside from also having less cables to deal with/troubleshoot if you lose sound.
 

the swede

Member
Messages
2,562
Im having much easier getting good clean/breakup and mid gain sounds than i have getting the sounds i really need :D My helix (stomp) sounds great for low gain stuff.

I just use the Litigator (Line 6 amp, said to be a fender/dumble crossing) with the minotaur (klon) in front. And a 2x12 cab block with a ribbon 160 at 3”. No compressor or EQ or anything.... sounds great... i imagine it would sound even better with a strat/tele type but my very metal’esque ibanez gets me close with coil splits. And i can get away with clean to mean with just the pickup selector and volume/attack controll...

I also like aproaching the ”breakup” stuff from both ways. One snapshot is the amp set for clean but with sag and bias turned up so theres that slight conpression feeling in the attack and and i have to push it real hard with both minotaur and bridge pickup to get the dirty stuff. Next snapshot the amp is set to higher gain but sag and bias turned back for tighter lows and mids and with the klon driving it over. There i can switch off the minotaur to get cleaner or use coil split /volume to calm things down...

Awesome times for modeling!
 
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JPenn

Member
Messages
1,808
i play mostly blues or blues-based stuff, and have been very happy with the helix for a couple of years now.
i don't really buy into the whole internet theory on what gear you have to use to be authentic though. in fact, i kinda like using gear that is very non traditional, playing traditional music
 

Guitardave

Member
Messages
9,869
Anyone know of any blues players out there who use the Helix?

The reason I ask is because I've been seeing a lot of modelers out there at different gigs with other bands. I think they sound great for progressive stuff, jazz, and rock, even though I can't help but to feel like it sometimes it feels/sounds overly compressed, or maybe kind of over-processed, especially in a harder rock setting. I don't know, but i's just something that doesn't sound authentic to me. I'm willing to accept the fact that it just might be me, but I don't hear it, for instance, when I hear many of the great players right now (Bonamassa, Kenny Shepherd, Derek Trucks, etc), or even some regular no-name guys out there who are playing bars and using a couple pedals and an amp.

Is it possible that people who have these modelers have so much at their fingertips that they have to put every conceivable combination in their patches, amps/pedals/speakers/mic placement/etc, rather than to keep it simple, like we do with a couple of stomp pedals on our board and our amp, and it tends to muddy things up? I also realize a lot of this can be the sound guy too, so there is also that to consider.

I'm looking for guitarists out there (whether they are known, or you guys, or other cover band guys) who use a Helix, etc, and use it for blues, or even Southern Rock type of situations.
It's a combination of personal taste - lots of "modeling" fans are striving to match what they hear on a recording. Combined with playing thru full-range speaker systems that accentuate the high-end way more than a real guitar speaker cab does. It definitely sounds fake to me most of the time. But it can be dialed in to sound great..

Use a real guitar speaker cab (or a Powercab) is the easiest way to avoid that.
 

Dave Merrill

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,451
Works for me. I'm not straight blues most of the time, but I have patches that I like for that sort of stuff.

I used my Helix, then pretty new to me, for the 40-somethingth reunion of my high school horn band, lots of Butterfield etc.. It was in a really huge barn, very high ceiling, nice acoustically. I used a pair of Alesis Alpha 112s for speakers as back line, only vocals and horns were in the PA.

Helix sounded great, wonderful mid-gain and clean tones, ballsy and cool. 112s barely cut it. I was too quiet. A lot until I moved the speakers further back, so I heard less of me and more what everyone heard, then still a little. Some of that I think was because of how I was hearing it, and some was because the 112s' limiter lights were on a lot, they didn't have much more to give. Bottom line was I was very happy with my tones.

Other channel: Not sure if you're talking about this, but using a modeler in a rootsy low-tech situation feels weird socially. I get a pass in this situation, because I took one :), we all knew each other, and there was so much other unique context (hadn't seen each other for many decades etc.). If you were just going down to your local Blues Night, on a tight stage, everyone sharing amps, any modeler is probably not a great solution. There's a thread talking about this.
 

Elric

Member
Messages
4,564
TBH, I’m most impressed with the clean and mild crunch tones on the Helix. So I would expect it to be great for Blues...

I do struggle a little more with dialing the higher gain stuff on the Helix.

As @John Mark Painter and others said, it might be easy for folks to go bananas with all the tools the platform offers when tweaking those sounds.

You can get great results for any genre if you are persistent and pay attention to what you hear. IMHO
 

OPENYOUREYES

Member
Messages
1,651
I'm using it exclusively for every gig for the last three year, that includes Blues. Knowing guys from the local Blues scene, I think most don't use modelers exactly because they only need a couple of different pedals and that's it. I do wedding/corporate stuff, also play Metal and Hard Rock now and then, so a modeler makes it possible for me to go to any gig with exactly the same rig.

Here's me playing Blues with Helix

sounds ok but rather thin to my ears but then again its recorded from a phone likely.
 




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