Where are we heading?

LesterLester Posts: 1,706Member, Moderator
image image image

Above are three of my pedalboards:

1. My electric setup when I am not using a guitar combo: Boss multi-FX (which is so old it predates amp and cab sims) EQ, DI box.

2. My classical guitar pedalboard: preamp, compressor, reverb, DI box.

3. My bass pedalboard (in the making): compressor, delay, DI box.

I also have an acoustic guitar pedalboard: Bodyrez (compressor and EQ in one pedal), reverb, DI box.

Each pedalboard setup ends with a DI box so that the sound engineer gets a direct signal. Rarely these days do I get to use my much loved guitar combos.

What with Megi's recent multi-FX pedal purchase that, I think, he plugs into a PA combo, and other friends that now have Kempler modelling amps or Bose L1 PA setups where everyone plugs into the PA instead of their own backline, I am starting to wonder how many more years I will hang onto mostly unused guitar combos? Am I just slow to adapt to new technology? If so that may be because my setups work for me and why change what isn't broken?

As a discussion opener, what are your thoughts on the future of guitar amps, effects & accessories? What is your experience? Where do you think are we heading with all this stuff? What is the future? Or perhaps you already call it the present!


  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,220Member
    edited December 2018

    Every venue has small (high output) discreetly fitted speakers and each instrument has a wifi connection on it. The sound is backfed to the band on stage who adjust the levels themselves.

    More band member fights is what I envisage, "I'm not loud enough !" wails the guitarist.

    Where are we going ?

    Band-set means Band-set. Then we spend two and a half years arguing about what that means.

  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 968Member
    I play at several levels of gigging with several bands/arrangements. At one base level a small vocal only PA is used (and barely adequate). In another scenario a full subs/tops Yamaha PA and 16 Ch desk with everything miced/plugged in.
    I think if you gig in a big city where all the venues have decent house sound, then you don't need a car/van and public transport with a pedal board/emulator and a guitar on your back is quite practical. If you travel to more extreme out of town venues and need to be fully self contained, cars/vans lighting and PA mean having old school backline is the preferred method.
    Many years ago I owned, shipped and ran a 6kw PA with 4 way monitors of 2.5kw and about 18 PAR can lamps with a dimmer rack. I was younger then and have no wish to go back to all that humping, but I did learn about wheels! Everything had proper cases with castors and we had a couple of sack barrows for things that didn't. The trailer had a ramp and we didn't do stairs without a price hike and extra roadies. Times have definatly changed, things have got smaller and lighter.
    Have we reached the tipping point yet? I think that varies with each persons situation.
    To cover @Lester and his pedal board point more specifically, I have a Big plywood cased pedal board about 100x60cm (and 12cm tall). That is pre-cabled so I just connect in the radio transmitter at the input, pull out the long mains lead and output lead and connect to the mains/amp as applicable. Quick, reliable, excellent sounds and You can work around any failure if it were ever needed. What I like about it is I can have my choice of what in my opinion is the best 'chorus/overdrive/tremelo/whatever' in association with any other without compromise. Can anyone else hear the difference? I doubt it and it is heavy. I also have a rehearsal 'bag' with a festoon typepower supply and four loose pedals. Overdrive, chorus, echo and comp. The associated leads and spares are in the bag and with that in one hand and small combo in the other I'm mobile.
    For acoustic I've just bought a Mesa Rosetta unit. It's a biggish pedal with comprehensive tone Eq, bandpass and anti feedback like a quality mixer channel. Guitar goes in one end and an XLR goes to the PA.Once the sound is dialed in it sounds immense and I feel little need for further effects. It's new enough to still be carried about in it's own cardboard box. I suspect I will mount it with a tuner etc. in a proper board/case in due course.
  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,716Member
    I use a Tech 21 Flyrig now. Best piece of kit I've bought in years. I can walk into a gig with guitar in one hand, bag in the other, and that's it.

    I still use an AER Compact 60 for acoustic gigs, and I doubt I'll ever sell my Laney VC30 as there are occasions when the PA isn't up to the task of using the Flyrig, but those are rare dep gigs, these days.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 1,001Member
    Lots of interesting options here. I’d love to have an excuse to get a Tech 21 Flyrig. What a cool thing!
    I have a modelling rig, for bass and guitar, because I do looping and need everything to go through the looper. I also have a Marshall 4x10, because I can, it’s fun and sounds great. I also have a Fender Mustang III that is perfect for limited space and time. So really, I have lots of options. Nowadays that’s what we have - options, and it’s up to each player what they want.

    I watch quite a few Premier Guitar rig rundowns on YouTube and find it fascinating that everyone has a completely different rig, even for similar size shows. Modeling opens things up so you really can do what ever you like and sound great.

    As long as you can tell the difference, that’s all that matters!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,206Member
    I do accept ES's point re his "traditional" pedal board setup allowing him to choose his ideal chorus, flanger, distortion etc. - there is something to be said for that. I think I knowingly accepted I was loosing this advantage when I got the Line 6 Helix LT. But I also knew I was getting several advantages in exchange...

    With the Helix, I can choose from umpteen different delay types, umpteen chorus's etc. etc. - if I want to I can have a patch with 15 delays in it, or whatever combination takes my fancy. The quality of the many included effects, in my humble opinion, is very high. Add to that the integrated, excellent switching - no longer do I have issues with tap dancing to switch individual pedals on and off. No patch leads to worry about, no power supply with associated power leads. It's neater and more compact than my old pedal board, and does way more. And then added to that, we have all the amp and cab modelling, and the ability to DI straight into the PA and/or a powered "FRFR" speaker(s). It's a massively powerful thing, and it cost me considerably less to buy than I spent on my previous limited pedal board setup.

    On an individual comparison basis, is it quite as good-sounding as a top line valve amp and nice pedals? - a subjective judgement anyhow, but for most people I doubt it. But it does sound great to me, I wouldn't say a huge gulf at all, and on ease of use, flexibility and versatiliy there's absolutely no contest. Another thing - speaking as a gigging musician who plays in several bands and a variety of venues - is the consistency with which it gets good results. So I think it's easy to understand why this kind of product may be taking a lot of market share away from traditional amps and pedals.

    The above said, a fair proportion of my gigs are still with just a guitar into a clean amp, and no pedals/multi fx at all. :)
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 968Member
    I get where you are Megi, I have been back and watched this vid again and it peeks my interest.

    That old man fits my sound profile a bit. The ease of use, size and weight are a huge draw. Some of the sounds are close and usable (some irritate me), I would be lying if I said I wasn't tempted. Perhaps familiarity and conditioning is my problem, certainly at the price of that unit it would be cheaper than my assorted pedals.
    My other restraining thought is breakdown/failure. If the unit breaks/fails in any major way it is probably not economical to repair and for that gig/session or even the next few ! You suddenly have no effects or work around. Having been at this game for decades experience tells me that will bite me in the bum sooner or later so I would need a backup/plan of action.
    It's pretty high up here on this fence, but I'm not ready to jump quite yet.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,206Member
    edited December 2018
    I'm not trying to convert you, I promise ES - just stating the considerations that have weighed with me, and I suspect a lot of others. In fact, I'd have to say think very carefully - if you really have, with current setup, everything you would ever want in terms of available sounds, with your ideal pedals, can easily switch between those sounds, and it all works great for you, then seriously, why change? With me, I've always had a bit of an exploratory mindset, and I like being able to try new things without (many) limits. But as we know, for most gig situations, this isn't needed - access to good, simple basic effect sounds is fine and enough.

    I came to this after I got the helix, but one thing that made me realise I wasn't going back, was the amp modelling - which suddenly gave me a world of far better (to my ears) overdrive and distortion sounds than before. It was a genuine surprise for me. But previously I was a guitar-effects-clean solid state amp man - a valve amp user, who perhaps uses a drive pedal to push the amp on occasion, might not perceive such a marked improvement. So I guess in a way, that ironically, one of the benifits of the helix for me is that I can now appreciate some of the benifits of valve amps, albeit in virtual form.

    But just chatting really, and as I say, for an experienced gigging guitarist, it is something that merits careful consideration, don't blame you at all for that.
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 968Member
    Thanks Graham, I'm interested in an update a few months down the line to see how you're getting on with this in various situations. If I did anything it would still be with my proper amps, I'm too much of a die hard and I do too many venues without a decent (to my mind) sound system.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,206Member
    ESBlonde said:

    Thanks Graham, I'm interested in an update a few months down the line to see how you're getting on with this in various situations. If I did anything it would still be with my proper amps, I'm too much of a die hard and I do too many venues without a decent (to my mind) sound system.

    Cheers - I have had the unit (a Helix LT) since the beginning of the year, so I do feel on fairly safe ground to say that I have been converted away from pedals. Indeed, a couple of months ago I sold off nearly all that remained of the old pedal board, including the power supply and patch leads. Still have one overdrive, just because it was, for my taste, the best one I ever found (a DopeFX Black Lotus). ...But I may sell that soon too. :D

    You did make a fair point re what if the Helix goes wrong - in my case, I think I'd survive - clean amp for some gigs and I'd be OK, for the others I'd use my Roland Cube 80 amp, which has very basic built in FX. Ultimately, if the Helix couldn't be mended, worse came to the worst, I guess I'd get another one, or maybe one of the competitors if I was sufficiently fed up with it. That said, I'm optimistic I won't have any such bother - it seems well made, and I'm the sort of person who looks after gear carefully.

    Re venues - yes some don't have a decent sound system it's true. In such cases, I can generally get enough volume from my FRFR cab, or cabs if I'm running stereo. If the venue is so large that I absolutely have to go through the PA also, and that's rubbish, then it would be a case of making the best of things - the eq and sound shaping facilities on the Helix can help here. And in that situation with a traditional amp, you'd have to have it miked up and then still go through the PA too, so I don't see any disadvantage to be honest.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,706Member, Moderator
    I wonder whether a decent sound system partially depends to some extent on the group's decision to have everyone plug into DI boxes, Bose L1s or similar or to have a traditional backline.

    A friend in the USA has his band plugging in everything direct and everywhere they play they get thanks from the staff for not being overly loud and that translates into lots of repeat business.

    I imagine there are too many variables, eg. venue size and acoustics, musical genre, group decision, that there is no one recipe that fits all scenarios. All the same, with the improvements in digital technologies, the door to possibilities is ever widening.
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 968Member
    Good points well made Megi and Lester.
    I've not even got around to procrastinating yet! But when the time comes the device I posted in yesterdays video is at the top of the list. I'd probably run it and keep all the pedals for a year or two because thats how I am. Typical guitarist using 1950s amps and guitars. ;-)
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,206Member
    One thing I meant to mention was that you're clearly not considering something with the ability to DI and amp/cab sims etc. ES. So if it's basically a multi FX to replace the pedal board - then do think carefully. And imo a good idea to keep the pedal setup for a while, and not burn bridges too readily. HX Effects I believe does have a couple of loops so you can incorporate the odd favourite pedal? Of course, if doing that, you still kind of end up with a pedal board though, which is maybe not fully getting the advantages of either option.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 1,001Member
    For me, the biggest draw for digital effects is having presets. I don’t always use delay at the same settings and wouldn’t have enough space for twelve little Sharpie marks beside each knob on a pedal. Having the tempo sync is also a bit of a must at times.
    The other thing is like to have the option of weird sounds from time to time things like whammy and odd combinations of sounds, but not for a whole song.
    The flexibility of digital far outweighs anything else for me. In fact, I’ve only ever used digital for that reason. I recently bought a few distortion boxes for fun, for use with my Vox combo, but otherwise, it’s digital all the way!
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 1,001Member
    By the way, Lester, have you thought of using cab sims when you’re going direct?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,206Member
    edited December 2018
    I do have to agree about presets Nick - not only can you switch on and off any number of effects instantly, you can also change the settings without limits. Add to that the ability to choose from a hundred or so effects for each preset (IIRC for the Helix) - impossible with the traditional pedal board.

    I've just got back from a lunchtime jazz gig, at a local venue. It has an excellent house sound system and modern high quality mixing desk, manned by a excellent sound person (a local musician who I happen to be friends with). Anyhow, I used the Helix, with stereo outs to the desk, and two modest FRFR monitors (Alto 210's) in stereo for myself on stage. If I say so myself, it really was a superb sound - I would say 50% of the gig was just my clean sound, which just has a touch of compression, and a bit of reverb, using a model of the amp part of a Fender Twin, into a IR taken from a Polytone jazz amp cab. The other half of the time, I was using presets with a range of effects - delays, chorus, phaser, and some of the bigger-sounding reverbs.

    As I was loading my fairly light/portable gear into the car at the end, I got talking to the guitarist in a blues band playing a bit later on (they will be half way into their first set as I type). He complimented me on my guitar sound (I was using my blonde Ibanez semi-acoustic) and we chatted a bit about gear and stuff, as you do. He had a couple of 2x12 valve amps to set up (a Marshall and a Fender - I've probably got models for them on the Helix), also 3 guitars and I don't know what else in the way of pedals and stuff. The sound guy was getting to work miking everything up as I left - I'm sure it will sound great, but I couldn't ever see myself using that kind of setup, just way too much work.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,706Member, Moderator
    Nick, sort of but I am having another look. The red DI box in the 3rd of my opening photos has a speaker sim built in, as does another DI box I have. I have no amp sim and so I tend to add my MXR 10-band EQ (in the first photo) and top and tail the frequencies until it sounds right to my ears. It is certainly primitive but it gets me somewhere near how it should sound with sims.

    Megi, I have just re-read your jazz odyssey topic and notice that I was asking questions about your new Helix LT at the start of this year.

    Having now watched a handful of videos (that Italian guitarist Marco is a great advert for it), one thing that would draw me to the Helix LT is that it seems like an up-to-date version of my Boss unit, with added extras that were not available, 30 years ago, such as amp and cab sims, an extra 97 effects (that would take me from 7 to 104) and balanced outputs.

    After the Christmas gigs are done with I might just get everything out that I wouldn't need if I went with a Helix LT and have a think about whether now is the right time for me to kind of wipe the slate clean and have a rethink of the whole kit (ie. amps and pedals).
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,206Member
    Lester, I too had forgotten that we'd already chatted re my then new purchase of the Helix LT. It's worked out very well for me personally, as someone who so far only ever uses it for electric guitar - I've no experience of how it would work for bass or acoustic/electro-acoustic use. And I am impressed by the purposeful look of your three existing pedal boards, so again I'd advise a bit of caution. In my view, it would be very useful if you were able to spend a bit of time with a Helix, and be able to compare with what you use now - not always possible I know.

    I just had a look on the Line 6 Helix web pages, and apparently we are now up to 192 effects, 72 amp models, 37 cab models and 16 microphone models (you can play with things like how far the virtual mic is from the cab and other parameters). So plenty to go at, and periodically Line 6 release a new firmware version, which often adds new effects and/or amps/cabs. I suppose a good question to think about is how useful all this stuff would actually be though. I kind of like having it there myself, but admit there are things that I'll probably never use.

  • Pete_BPete_B Posts: 563Member
    I still have my Tech 21 Sans Amp GT2, damn great pedal, just dial in your amp, can go to a DI or I play it through a Marshall AS50R
    There is no Mojo!
Sign In or Register to comment.