The Line 6 Helix is one of the most popular processors on the market. But what is a Line 6 Helix? For people new to digital processing, this is your first stop!
What Is A Line 6 Helix? It Depends On The User…
We have talked a lot about Line 6 recently, and for good reasons. Line 6 is one of the best companies when it comes to digital processors, and in fact…Line 6 was one of the first to attempt it. We think Line 6 is one of the best because of the vast array of products offered. You can have something small like the HX Stomp, or you can have what we will be going over today: The Flagship Helix.
We have talked about the Helix a lot, and even went into detail as to how you can use it to record. But what is a Line 6 Helix? That is a pretty big question for someone totally new to floor processors. Today we are going to break it down as easy as possible, for those of you who are brand new to Line 6.
Upon first look, the Line 6 Helix can be very intimidating. In fact, I have a lot of experience with Line 6 products and I found it intimidating as well! But everyone has to start somewhere, and that’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Let’s take a very “not so in-depth” look at what the Helix does, and explain how it works!
The Line 6 Helix
The Line 6 Helix is one of the most advanced processors ever made! With hundreds of amps and effects to choose from! Used by pros and amateurs alike, the Line 6 Helix is everything you’ll ever need from a guitar processor
What Is A Line 6 Helix?
In simple terms, the Line 6 Helix is a multi-effects unit and amp simulator that can be used with or without an amp. The Helix has hundreds of amps sounds that mimic popular amplifiers, and hundreds of effects. Line 6 is famous for the huge assortment of guitar effects that it offers, especially: delay, chorus, octave, and stereo effects. The Helix is an all in one unit for all kinds of applications, and can even replace your entire guitar rig.
That’s right! The Line 6 Helix is designed to be able to replace your entire rig if you wish. In fact, this is how most people use the Helix. With the unit itself, and a good FRFR speaker, you can easily have a fully functioning guitar rig for the studio and stage.
The Line 6 Helix works by making “patches”. Each patch is a different sound. It comes preloaded with some really cool sounds, out of the box. You can, however, create your own patches and switch between them using the foot controller buttons. You can have over 200 unique patches programmed at a time. Each patch, has a beginning, though…
So what is a Line 6 Helix? Let’s start at the very top! First and foremost, it is an amp modeler. The Helix replicates tons of different amplifier sounds that can be used for any genre. It has classic amps available like a “Fender Tweed” clean sound, but it also has more modern amps used for Metal, like the 5150. The first step with your helix is going to be selecting an amp model. You can do this on the unit itself with the built in screen, or you can plug it up to your computer and use the HX Edit Software.
The amp sims are designed to sound as much like the real thing as possible. The amp sims react just like a real tube amp would in most cases. Line 6 put a years of research and development into the amp sims in the Helix. In a blindfold test, I bet most guitarists would be hard pressed to tell the difference between “real” and the Helix amp collection.
The amp simulators have all the same settings as a regular amplifier that you would use in real life. They have a gain, volume, and EQ that you can set to reach your desired tone. You can also use speaker cabinet simulators. These cab sims can replicate many popular cabinets. They have selections for 4X12, 2X12, and 1X12 cabinets. So if you ever wanted to know what a high gain amp plugged up to a huge 4X12 cab sounds like…you can do that!
Cab sims are called IRs, and this stands for “Impulse Response”. The Helix comes loaded with all kinds of realistic Impulse response cab sims. But you can also download 3rd party IRs to use with your Helix. The cabinet should not be overlooked when programming your patches, as it can change your whole sound.
Next you have effects to choose. Line 6 is known for having some of the best quality effects on the market. Once you have chosen your amp sound, and locked in your tone, it’s time to pick some effects. The Line 6 Helix has tons to choose from. It has several chorus, distortion, delay, and reverbs to choose from and tweak however you want.
Most of the basic effects are modeled after popular pedals that you may have used before. Like the amp sims, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the sim, and the real pedals!
The Helix also has some effects that are much more rare in the pedal world, or expensive. It has octave effects, octave fuzz, regular fuzz, and quite a few effects for bass guitar as well. Some of these effects are based on boutique designs that cost a lot of money! At first, it can seem a little overwhelming when you see the sheer number of choices that you have. I recommend starting off simple and building your patches slowly.
You do not have to do a seriously deep-dive to get some great sounds out of the Helix. I personally like to keep it as simple as possible when creating a new patch. I like to use classic amplifiers for clean tones, and more modern amps for my distortion/lead tones. I always like to build patches in this order:
- Amp Model
- Speaker Type
- Distortion Effects
- Delay/ Chorus Effects
- Reverb Effects
It’s very easy to program once you do it just a few times. Once you have some good patches programmed, you can easily flip through them all, and change your sound at will. It really is cool how many sounds you can get out of the Helix. Your patches stay saved and can be seen clearly on the full-color screen.
What Is A Line 6 Helix? It’s A Powerful Tool For Tone!
Today we talked about the basics when is comes to ‘what is a Line 6 Helix” and we broke down the core of the unit. But the Helix is capable of doing much more than just what we explained in this article. This is much more a beginner’s guide, to get people started as to how the Helix works.
The reality is that the Helix and the Helix LT are powerhouse processors that can be enjoyed by the hobbyist guitar player, as well as the pros. I think the Helix can be the first and last digital processor that you buy for quite a while! Like music itself, just when you think you know everything about it…you find out that you have just scratched the surface. The Helix is great for anyone that wants an amazing tone, without having a warehouse full of amps and pedals.
The Line 6 Helix LT does almost everything it's big brother does, with a few slight changes. The Helix LT is still a powerhouse "all in one" solution to your guitar rig!
Christoper HortonChristopher has been playing guitar and piano for 27 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. He has toured for years with several bands and music projects. He worked in LA as a studio musician and engineer working with bands like IAMSOUND, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, Reflux, and Tripping Daisy. In between giving private lessons, he is recording a solo album for 2022-2023. Christopher plays Schecter guitars, BOSS amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.
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