How to build a simple, clean bass preset on Helix/HXStomp in Three steps.
The Line 6 Helix range are incredibly powerful and versatile machines, but can be intimidating to those more used to the analog world. Let’s open up a new preset and quickly build a setting that can be used either as a gig ready setting itself, or a jumping off point to further explore the powers of these units.
Step One: Input settings
A lot of people don’t realise you have a noise gate within the input block of these units, which frees up one of your blocks for another effect (especially useful for HXStomp users where every block matters). To quickly dial in this setting, sit idle with your bass plugged in and your fingers off the strings. Turn the gate setting to “On” and then dial in the threshold setting just to the point where the idle hissing of your pickups completely disappears (mine tend to be completely quiet within a range of -60 to -50dB). You can leave the decay at 500ms or adjust to taste should you so wish.
Bonus Step: find the “In-Z” setting (on the second page for Stomp users) and adjust this according to the tone you desire - I will tend to use either 1M Ohm for modern sounds or 230k Ohm for a warmer, vintage sound). This in combination with the tone knobs on your bass gives a huge range of options already!
Step Two: Add a Compressor
To keep things simple, we’re going to use a very soft and simplified compressor in our first available slot to slightly tighten up our bass lines. Scroll to the first slot, then select Dynamics -> Mono -> Red Squeeze.
Set the Sensitivity anywhere between 2 and 3 (I personally prefer 2.4), set your mix to 100 and the level at 0.0dB.
Step Three: Select your Amp and Cab
This is where most of your tone tweaking can be done, but I’ll start on a relatively simple setting.
Scroll to one of your blocks between the midway and end points of your chain (slot 4 or 5 on a Stomp is ideal). Select Amp+Cab -> Bass -> Agua 51. Set Drive anywhere lower than default (I prefer 2.0), Bass to 6, Mid to 5, Treble, Master and Channel Volume to 7 and keep the Deep and Bright settings both On. We won’t adjust any of the cab settings for now.
And we’re done! If you like the sound of this preset, simply save and re-name it to something that you’ll remember. If you’d prefer a slightly different tone, feel free to adjust according to taste and add in extra effects.
It’s also worth considering that the preset will interact differently depending on the amount of volume coming in from your bass. Want it a touch cleaner? Back off the volume on your bass a touch - want it to push a little harder for a rock tone but still be able to clean up? Put something like a Minotaur (found under “Distortion”) with a low to medium gain setting on one of your foot switches, setting up your ideal tone with your volume pots maxed, then back off on the bass volume to clean up - your options are endless!
There’s never been a better time to dip your toes into the world of component modelling and really starting to seek out the tones you desire. You’ve got thousands of options for tones you wouldn’t normally get without dedicating entire rooms to equipment, now all shrunk down into incredibly portable sizes.