Helix with Bass – How Useful is a Line 6 Helix for Bass Guitar Players?
I originally bought my Line 6 Helix LT primarily to use with guitar. Although the fact that it is designed to be used with both guitar and bass was a big selling point for me. If you’re not familiar with the Helix products, they are essentially digital amp modelling and multi effects units.
You can set the unit up like a pedalboard. It has eight foot pedal switches for turning effects on and off. And many of the effects in the Helix are modelled on famous guitar and bass effects pedals. For example you can use a digitally modelled version of a Boss CE-1 chorus pedal or an MXR Phase 90. There are many preset patches already installed in the product when you buy it. Most are for guitar but there are plenty for bass. And you can also make your own patches. Or buy patches from other musicians online and install them into your Helix.
What are the patches I used?
The patches in the video are a mixture of preset patches, 3rd party patches and one that I created myself. Although I have tweaked all of them a little bit to suit my own playing. I’ve marked on the video the patches that are presets. There’s one called Boots Bass, which is clearly designed to sound like Bootsy Collins. Generally I would prefer to mix the sound of this preset with the clean sound of my bass. But for the sake of this demo, you are just hearing the sound of the preset patch.
The other preset is called Tuck n’Go, which features a model of the Ampeg B15. It’s a classic amp from the 60’s, played by bass legends such as James Jamerson, John Paul Jones and Jack Bruce among many others. The patch includes both a compressor and a drive pedal that you can control with two of the foot switches. Of the two demos I did of this patch, one has the drive switched on and the other doesn’t. Both have the compressor on.
Of the other three patches in the video, two were 3rd party patches that I bought from other musicians. The synth bass patch came from an American bass player called Chad Carouthers and the heavily reverbed patch came from the guitarist Johnathan Cordy. The final patch featured in the video was one I made myself from scratch.
Make a Bass Sound Like a Guitar and a Bass – Bass Practice Diary – 1st June 2021
For a long time I’ve been playing with the idea of making electric guitar sounds on bass. As technology has improved over the years it’s getting easier and easier and the idea is becoming more and more popular. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the popular duo called Royal Blood. Bassist Mike Kerr makes his bass sound like a guitar and he takes care of all the guitar and bass parts at once. It used to be the case that there were a lot of octave pedals on the market that created an octave or even two octaves down. But there weren’t many good affordable pedals that could create an octave above.
Using Line 6 Helix with Bass
The Line 6 Helix range of products, which includes the Helix LT that I’m using, have caused quite a sensation amongst guitar players. But they’re not as heavily used by bass players. However, the Helix products are designed to be used with both guitar and bass, and although I wouldn’t use them for everything bass related, there are a few situations where they are really useful. For example, if you want to create a vintage bass tone without investing in heavy and expensive vintage gear, the Helix has some good vintage bass amps modelled, like the Ampeg B-15.
Another situation where the Helix comes into its own is when you want to use lots of effects. You can set the Helix up to be like an all in one pedal board with all your effects controllable by foot switches. You can also import patches into your Helix from other artists. That’s exactly what I’ve done here with this lead guitar patch from the guitarist Johnathan Cordy. It’s worth knowing that he sells his entire patch collection for Helix for £5 including the patch I’m using in the video. However, be aware that he is a guitarist, not a bass player and the patches are all designed to be used with guitar.
My setup in the video is actually pretty simple. I’ve split my signal coming out of the bass using a Morley ABC pedal (although I’m only using A and B). From the Morley pedal, one signal goes straight to my Warwick Hellborg bass amp and the other goes to the Helix. I recorded the lead guitar sound straight from the Helix and I took a line from my Warwick Hellborg Preamp for my bass sound.
The patch from Johnathan Cordy is doing all the work. The patch contains an octave pitch shift, distortion, reverb and delay as well as guitar amp simulation. You could probably reproduce all of that with individual pedals and a guitar amp. But it might end up being more expensive than buying a Helix and maybe not sound as good. For live use I would use both a guitar amp and a bass amp and I would plug the Helix into the guitar amp.