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Helix

I think guitarists and bassists tend to fall into three main schools when it comes to effects (FX) as part of their sound. Some eschew them altogether, preferring to just plug straight into an amp (although, if they spend time thinking and spending money on just the right instrument, amp and cabinet you could argue that they are still investing in FX with a different form factor). Some are smitten with pedals and turn up with either a few or enough to fill the floor up. Me? I’ve leaned towards multi-FX units for a long time and think I’m likely to stay in that realm for a bit longer.

It started when I was at university and a friend gave me a Boss unit he’d replaced with an upgrade. It was effectively four or five pedals stuck together – no option for messing around with the order – but at least it only needed one power supply. I had a few years where I didn’t use much at all and then I got a Zoom unit. I think it may only have had one effect at a time but it had lots of options and also a built in tuner that was a boon. I gave that hard use over a few years until I wore the pedal switches out, supplemented by a Sans Amp DI that I’ve still got (DI and preamp – so effectively an amp sim). Then I upgraded to a Line6 Bass PodXT and, when that started to get a bit flaky after a decent period, a Zoom B3 (three FX slots, tuner, looper and more).

The B3 is still going strong but I’ve recently made a new acquisition – a Line6 Helix LT. This is definitely a step up in the game – lots more slots, all sorts of inputs and outputs for routing flexibility and some really quite stupendously detailed models. For example, when you set up a tube amp, you can not only tweak the knobs you’d expect to find on a real amp but also parameters that can simulate the apparent age of the amp, like ‘sag’ and ‘hum’. I’m sure it isn’t quite the same as having a room full of vintage and modern amps and pedals but I think it will do me to be going on with.

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