Should I sell my Bassman for an Amp Sim? What would you do? Helix vs. BIAS vs. Kemper

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Serious, Apr 8, 2017.

  1. Serious

    Serious SS.org Regular

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    A few month back I ended up selling my Axe Fx Ultra for 800$ - I tried to sell it for more but the demand just isn't there here in Portugal, most guitarists are misinformed valve snobs who are oblivious to the current state of digital modelling and don't even care about what these machines actually do.
    I ended up selling because I had bought it alongside a friend, so if I wanted to keep it I had to pay him half of the price we payed together a few years back, but I had no money so I basically threw it away for a horrible price. Fortunately I also had a Peavey Classic 30 amp with me at the time, which I also sold (never really cared for it too much, honestly) and with the total money I ended up buying a used (but absolutely mint) Fender Bassman for about 1300$ (costs 1900$ new) - it was a banger deal. The reality of things is that I only started to REALLY get into guitar tone (and I mean REALLY get into the small details) a few months back, last December after a conversation with my extremely knowledgeable uncle, to be exact. So I got really excited about having a great tone for my band's first full lenght (which was recorded in February, with the Bassman) and for the shows we'll be playing after we release it in October and I pulled the trigger on the Bassman after selling both the Axe and the Peavey. I can't say I regret it because frankly I couldn't keep the Axe as it wasn't entirely mine, and the Peavey never sounded good to begin with. The Bassman is an amazing amp, really solid build, amazing look and definitely an incredible guitar sound.

    But that's the thing, the Bassman has ONE sound. And I don't mean that as a negative, I mean that in the sense that it's just one amazing amplifier that gives me an amazing bassman sound, be it clean or through my myriad of pedals, it sounds great no matter what, but it always sounds like a Bassman (duh). I think most of you know what I'm getting at, I ended up selling my magic box (the Ultra) and I miss it a lot. I mean, not literally the Axe FX Ultra but I miss having a top of the line amp sim that can give me any amp I want at any given moment. I'm a very versatile player and I'm also a producer and I feel that having just one option is a limiting thing in all fronts, specially when working with other bands that might want something other than a bassman. So I have a few options in mind and I'd really appreciate to hear some opinions on what you'd do in my place and why. It's very important to mention that I require very heavy studio applications AND live applications as well. What I'm most interested in is the actual quality of the modelling, FX aren't a big deal to me as I'm a big pedal guy and I have a lot of plug-ins on logic any way. Money is a concern, so please bare that in mind, but I want to have the biggest variety of sounds at the highest quality, so if necessary I would be willing to hustle for a few months in order to buy the most expensive piece of gear.

    Notes:
    - For Live gigs I will probably be using whatever amp I end up with mostly as a pedal platform, since i get all my sounds (distortions incuded) from my pedalboard (on live shows, not in the studio). This could eventually change if I changed my rig, but that's how it stands.
    - Other reasons why I'm considering selling the Bassman is because it's EXTREMELY heavy (4x10 combo, 35kg+) and I'm just scared that a tube's gonna eventually break while on tour and I'll be out of amp options - so reliability, maintenance and transportation are worrying factors with my valve amp right now.
    - I'm not considering the Fractal gear because there's not a single distributor in my country that has their stuff. So please don't suggest the AX8 or AFX II. I love Fractal but it's very hard to get it in Europe and the other 3 modellers are everywhere.
    - I don't need a lot of variety on live applications, I'll probably end up using just one amp model per concert (if I buy a sim). It's in the studio where I'll be needing everything I can get my hands on.
    - When playing live I really need to have a guitar speaker behind me as the sound guys tend to always be able to destroy our monitor playback. Powered speakers (FRFR) are not my thing either, and they're stupid expensive. I don't mind a little cab sound coloring on stage.
    - All prices are referent to the prices of the gear in Portugal and Europe in general. I actually did a direct transition (didn't convert) from € to $ so consider that everything should be slightly more expensive than the values presented.


    Option 1: Keep the Bassman for live use and buy BIAS FX + BIAS Amp or wait for Helix Native (similar price tag)
    Total cost: 300$-400$
    This is the most cost and time effective option since I already have the Bassman but my biggest question is: how do these plug-in modellers sounds compared to their hardware counterparts? If there's no tangible difference between BIAS Head vs BIAS Amp or Helix vs Helix Native why would I even consider buying the hardware products? I can see why for live use but for studio purposes it seems like a rip-off.

    Option 2: Sell the Bassman and buy BIAS Head + 2x12 cab
    Total cost: Around 350$ (1650$ - 1300$ [Bassman value])
    (BIAS Head 1400$, cab 250$-ish)
    I've been leaning towards this option lately because the powered version of the BIAS Head costs about 1400$ - which is almost 1000$ less than a powered Kemper - I'm OK with the fact that it has no built in FX since I always tend to use my pedalboard on stage anyway - but the question again remains: are the models inside BIAS Head high quality amp sims like I used to have in my Fractal? Is it in the same league? I've been recording a lot with the BIAS FX plug-in (demo version) and I quite like it, but it's not as good as my Fractal was, probably not by a long shot. And if the Head is running the same models, do they at least sound better coming from the head's DI out? If not why would anyone buy the head in the first place if you can just run a plug-in? I have good recording gear, in case you're wondering - Macbook retina 15-inch (i never get any latency) and a Scarlett 18i20 by Focusrite.

    Option 3: Sell the Bassman and buy Helix LT + 2x12 cab + power amp.
    Total cost: Around 450$ (1750$ - [1300$-ish Bassman value])
    (Helix LT 1000$-ish + cab 250$-ish + power amp 500$-ish)
    The Helix looks quite the capable part. What do you guys think, is it in the same league as the Kemper and the Fractal? Should I just wait for the plug-in because it's gonna sound the same as the hardware and keep my Bassman? Does it have better modelling than the BIAS Head?

    Option 4: Sell the Bassman and buy Powered Kemper + 2x12 cab.
    Total cost: Around 1150$ (2450$ - 1300$ [Bassman value])
    (Kemper 2100$ + cab 250$)
    I should start out by saying that I REALLY don't care about the profiling thing. I don't have any boutique amps I want to profile and I really don't care about having exact replicas of anything, I just want a great guitar sound, everytime. So the real question: is the Kemper so much more expensive than the other two because of the Profiling option (which I don't care about) or is the modelling leagues above? I would rather not have to save up for so long unless there's really a considerable difference in the modelling quality, but according to what I've seen online all of these products are top notch and the differences are negligible, but to be honest the only experience I have is AFX Ultra vs. BIAS FX and the Ultra destroys the plug-in, it's not even comparable.

    Thank you for reading and PLEASE voice your opinions and personal experiences. Feel free to suggest other options that I didn't consider, just bare in mind my personal goals.

    Would love to know what you guys would do :shred:
     
  2. Elric

    Elric SS.org Regular

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    Have you considered hunting down another Fractal? You were clearly satisfied/impressed with it and they are a bargain used now. Only down side is it may take forever or you will have to find someone willing to ship to you. You might be able to end up covering full cost of the rig with a Gen1 unit.
     
  3. steinmetzify

    steinmetzify CHUG & SLUDGE

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    Dude no hate but .... a buncha BIAS. Go Helix or Kemper and just be satisfied.

    Not sorry, PGs .... sucks.

    EDIT: I'm drinking, and realize where I am. This is a nice forum and there are a lot of guys that bought the BIAS head and are completely satisfied, and no rag on them.

    I've use BIAS is an iPad form and as a plugin, and just straight up hated it. I loved the AxeII I had, thought it was fantastic, but get that you can't buy their products. I've messed around with the Helix that a friend bought and then promptly went out of town for two weeks and left it with me, and it's legit.

    Same for the Kemper.....had a bud need some immediate $, had it and bought it to sell after playing around with it for two weeks.

    You asked what people would do in your sitch, and being the guy I am, I'd go Kemper first, then Helix.

    Keep in mind that I'm NOT a tone tweaker; I just want something usable and great, IMMEDIATELY, that I can use and jam on and record with.....there were a ton of profiles available for the Kemper that I could have used and did. Same for Helix.

    The part of BIAS that bugs me is the fact that there were absolutely NO settings I loved without using external IRs. To me, at this price point, it should be all in....you shouldn't need anything else but what's in the box to get great usable tones that you straight up LOVE.

    Free advice, do your thing broheem. Good luck.
     
  4. Serious

    Serious SS.org Regular

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    I have tried, but they're either stupid expensive or they don't exist. And I have a bit of a problem with second hand stuff, I'd rather just save some cash and buy new, I'm planning on keeping whatever I buy this time. Thanks for the advice though!

    Free advice taken! Grateful for your intervention :hbang:

    But I must voice my opinion. I do truly understand that many people hate Positive Grid because of the shady big youtuber videos all over the web, I get that. But to be fair and honest I have tried a bunch of Amp Sims and I seem to prefer Bias to all others I've tried. Guitar Rig, Waves GTR and Overloud TH3 all fall short to me compared to the Bias, specially in playing feel. I must state though that the TH3 models sound WAY more real than the Bias do when isolated, but in full mix context I always seem to prefer the Bias. But there are some pretty ....ty sounds in all of them, great sounds? Haven't found any in software Sims except one or two Bias tones I lost hours on while my demo still worked for more than 20 seconds.

    I haven't put money in any of these sims (except GR which I own for years) but I've been testing them pretty seriously. Waves GTR is unusable to me (personally) and Bias stood out, which I know many of you consider total garbage, and that's okay. All of that aside, I'm probably gonna wait a few weeks for Line 6 to release the Helix Native plug-in and demo it as well. If it impresses me enough I might go with the Helix LT which seems like a great budget option or the Plug-In itself, in case I decide to keep my "un-carriable" tube amp - pretty hard decision honestly. I like tube amps and I also like hardware modellers, too bad I can't have both right now.

    If any other Helix/Bias users out there have any good or bad opinions they would like to share, that would be great.
     
  5. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I'm sort of one of those old-school types who doesn't get along very well with modellers still - out of the options you gave, I'd absolutely put the Kemper at the top of the list. It's the only thing you listed so far that I think could convince me to live without a 'real' amp.
     
  6. endmysuffering

    endmysuffering I'm serious

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    Don't kill me guys but have you thought of getting a used pod hdx 500 and running it into the power amp section of your bassman for distortion and switching it off for the cleans of the bassman.
     
  7. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    If you want to go with a modeler, instead of getting a guitar poweramp and cab I would get a FRFR setup instead so you can use the cab and poweramp simulation in whatever you choose. Makes it a lot more versatile.

    Helix, Kemper or AX8 should all serve you well.
     
  8. domsch1988

    domsch1988 SS.org Regular

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    I'm a kemper user myself. I'd highly recommend it. I don't do Profiles myself too, but the real amp like approach to setting things up really resonates with me. I think the kemper is the best sounding option out of the ones you listed. Plus if you get the powered kemper, it's all in one. One box for everything. No seperate poweramps or such.
    If you intend to use it live, i'd also highly recommend getting the kemper remote. It's pricey but well worth it's money in gold. While the kemper supports midi, nothing can beat the one cable, no setup required approach of the remote!

    Wether to go Guitar Cab or FRFR with the kemper is highly dependent on the sound you like. Some people really like the FRFR sound, others don't. That's something you'd have to try yourself...

    Edit: After reading your post again, i think i should give a more differentiated opinion:
    I feel the heilx and the kemper are on a similar level "modeling" wise (the kemper doesn't model really...). Both are way above Bias in my book.
    Which approach you choose depends on your way to finding and using tones. The Helix, like the AFX, excells at giving you incredibly detailed control over each parameter of your sound. But they kind of require you to use and set them all to truely get the best out of them. The kemper is a more set it and forget it approach. You load a profile and see if you like it. If you do, you're down to basic amp settings (EQ, gain and volume). Everything (Amp, Effects, Output settings) works like you'd expect the real hardware to work.
    I always liked how the kemper feels like a "real" amp in that i can turn up at a show with a provided backline. I put my head up on what ever the venue provides and can plug it in like any other head. If the soundguy doesn't want the direct signal, he can just use the mic'd cab like for all the other bands. It's really easy for me. With the HD500X i always had to fiddle around to get it to work with heads provided or needed to change all patches to work with the setup on the venue. It felt like every show i was changing all settings all over again to get a great tone.
     
  9. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire baritone6/8 string hoarder

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    I have no experience with the helix or ax8 but the kemper is excellent. There's a huge variety of usable tones that come with the unit by default, plus there's a metric ton of free profiles on kemper's rig exchange if you want to play with some other sounds.
     
  10. Mr_Marty

    Mr_Marty SS.org Regular

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    Pretty sure G66 ships to Portugal. You can get an Axe-Fx II or an AX-8 from them. IME teh Fractal stuff sounds the best.
     

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