Analyzing Joost Assink’s SRV Little Wing Patch

This is a brief analysis of the Ultimate Fender John Mayer Clean patch created by Joost Assink (JazzInc) and posted in the Line 6 Helix forum. I’d like to thank Joost for posting this patch and the included speaker impulse responses, and giving us the opportunity to analyze an interesting and different patch. Hopefully he’ll correct any mistakes I made in reconstructing the patch design and any of the included details.

There are three signal paths, two for parallel guitar amps and one for stereo playback through Return 1/2.

Path 1: Guitar with clean amp, delay and chorus

Path 1 starts with multi-input for guitar directly into a volume Pedal block. In this case, the volume pedal controls the drive into the amplifiers and can be pulled back just a little to eliminate the small amount of breakup you hear at full volume (especially with double coil pickups).

The Looper is next in the signal path meaning the raw guitar (after the volume control) is what is recorded in the loop. When overdubbing and playing along with the loop, all overdubs and the live guitar are going into the same amp and effects. Putting the looper at the end of the signal chain allows you to have different effects in different loop overdubs. In this configuration, its important to keep the amp pretty clean as any distortion created by the louder signal, either the loop or guitar, will tend to “duck” the other when the amp distorts. Note that the Looper is stereo, but should probably be mono since it is followed by mono blocks. This will increase the potential length of the loops.

There is a split following the looper to create two parallel paths, 1A and 1B. Path 1A has the Transistor Tape delay while Path 1B has 70s Chorus. Using this parallel path separates the delay and chorus so that the delay repeats are not modulated and retain their clarity.

The 1A and 1B paths come back together into the US Double Nrm amp model, the Normal channel of a Fender Twin Reverb. This is a pretty low gain amplifier and that helps keep it clean. The power amp is set to be as clean as possible, with Master on 10 to minimize preamp distortion from the Drive control. The Bias is set high and Bias X set low to make the amp even cleaner. Sag is set low to maintain articulation and tight response. Drive is set so the amp just barely starts to breakup when the guitar is played hard.

The ’63 Spring Reverb is chosen and placed between the amp and the speaker to better simulate the Fender Twin Reverb. Since the reverb is going into the speaker IR model, the brightness of the springs will be tamed by the speaker. This isn’t exactly the same as a Twin Reverb since the reverb unit is after, not before the power amp. However, this won’t make that much difference if the amp is mostly run clean. A Hall reverb would likely sound better after the speaker, to better simulate the speaker in a room.

Next is an Impulse Response block containing a speaker IR. I’m guessing what’s in the IR based on its name, and the file names in the Redwirez IRs. It looks like a G12M with a U67 condenser mic at CapEdge set at 50% blended with a Weber-Blue 12 with a Royer R121 ribbon mic at Cap set at 50%. This will be a pretty warm sounding speaker. Joost likes to close-mic the speakers, so these might be set at 0″.

The speaker is followed by a Studio Tube Pre Preamp set to be transparent. This is likely acting somewhat as a limiter using the Drive control to add some distortion to clip off the overly bright clean peaks.

The last thing in the signal chain is the LA Studio Comp compressor. I’m not sure exactly how the compressor is being used. The peak reduction is set to 0, so the compressor should not be applying any compression. The Mix is set to 54% meaning the compressor is being run essentially in parallel with the dry signal. This would provide some sustain as the compressor releases, by preserve pick attack which can get chopped of by a fast attack time, which the LA-2A has. I’m guessing the compressor is playing a similar role to the tube preamp, it just tames some of the harsh peaks that can come from a very clean guitar amp played loudly, but do it without adding any distortion.

Path 2: Guitar with slightly dirtier amp and distortion pedal

Path 2 receives the same multi-input and also starts with a Volume Pedal block. This block, and the one in Path 1 are both controlled by EXP Pedal 2 so that both amps are controlled together. Again, the volume pedal block is in front of the amp so it controls amp drive, similar to the volume control on a guitar, but without the high end loss from cable capacitance.

Next is a distortion block using the Scream 808 model, set reasonably hot and bright. Turning this pedal on provides distortion, but only in Path 2. Path 1 still has the clean sound, blending the clean and distorted sounds together. The Tube Screamer this model is based on also blends direct signal with the distorted signal, but this configuration provides greater control of the blending. Blending distorted and clean tones together can give the best of both. The distortion adds sustain and rich harmonics while the clean tone provides solid pick attack, articulationn and chord clarity.

The amp model in Path 2 is a US Deluxe Vib which will break up sooner than the US Double Nrm in Path 1. The amount of breakup is reduced a little by turning down the Master a little, and setting the Bias all the way up and Bias X all the way down. I’m not sure, but I think the US Deluxe Vib model has the bright switch on while the Nrm models don’t.

Again in Path 2 the reverb is between the amp and the cabinet IR. In this case a Plate reverb is used to provide a warmer, or different color reverb.

Next is the Impulse Response block for the speaker. Again I’m guessing, but it looks like a G12M with a U67 condenser mic set at 50% blended with a Weber-Blue 12 with a Royer R121 ribbon mic set at 40% followed by an EQ high-pass filter at 50 Hz and set at 40%. This will also be a pretty warm sounding speaker, but a little brighter than the other IR in Path 1.

A footswitch is configured for a minimum at 80 Hz and a maximum at 160 Hz. The same footswitch controls a 75 Hz and 180 Hz Low Cut on the IR in Path 1. These are probably to remove mud from the distorted tone. I prefer to use an EQ block to place the low cut before the distortion so that the low frequencies don’t create a lot of intermodulation artifacts with the mids. This clean up the mud and also makes the distortion smoother and sweeter. Both IRs also have High Cut set to 8 kHz to remove any fizz from the distortion without having much impact on the clean tone.

Path 2 has the same Studio Tube Pre block and LA Studio Comp after the speaker IR. The compressor has a small amount of peak reduction, and the Mix is set to 100% so there is no blending with the dry signal. This is likely to complement the compression in Path 1 and reflects the different role the amplifier plays in this path.

Combined Amps

Both amps are mono and centered on the output so that their tones are blended into a single cohesive whole. This is important since the effects in each amp are quite different. This is a great example of using different amplifier and effects for different purposes, and blending them together to combine the effects. This makes it easy to optimize each path for its intended purpose or contribution, then to blend them together, using their output volumes and panning to control the mix. This is an interesting patch that can help us learn more about how to use the Helix. Thanks Joost for the excellent contribution.

Here’s some final thoughts from Joost:

  • There is also a mid boost, which simulates the mid-cap bypasses you see on such amps. Can be handy for cutting through a dense mix.
  • The 35 impulse response adds some room sound and indeed is a little brighter on the darker amp
  • The LA2As just add a little something even when they’re not compressing, and they do take the edge off. Same goes for the tube preamp. Basically, I do what I would to in the studio: get some great speakers, great mics, a good preamp and a good compressor to capture the sound of the chain before it. I also really like the Emphasis control on the LA2A to tweak response. (same goes for the power amp characteristics on both amps to tweak feel and response.)
  • The double amp setup gives a lot of options. For instance, the treble on the Twin is a bit too much for me, so I like to tone that down and bring in the thicker, sweeter treble on the DeLuxe. Vice Versa for the Presence. For different applications these two amps can also be used to their strengths together.
  • I really feel you need very good IRs to get the best out of the Helix.
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6 thoughts on “Analyzing Joost Assink’s SRV Little Wing Patch

  1. Wow, Jim, you honour me greatly by taking the time for your analysis. After reading your blog, you just about nailed my thoughts. You almost nailed all the IR recipes as well. Here are some more thoughts behind the tone:

    -There is also a mid boost, which simulates the mid-cap bypasses you see on such amps. Can be handy for cutting through a dense mix.
    -The 35 impulse response adds some room sound and indeed is a little brighter on the darker amp
    -The LA2As just add a little something even when they’re not compressing, and they do take the edge off. Same goes for the tube preamp. Basically, I do what I would to in the studio: get some great speakers, great mics, a good preamp and a good compressor to capture the sound of the chain before it. I also really like the Emphasis control on the LA2A to tweak response. (same goes for the power amp characteristics on both amps to tweak feel and response.)
    -The double amp setup gives a lot of options. For instance, the treble on the Twin is a bit too much for me, so I like to tone that down and bring in the thicker, sweeter treble on the DeLuxe. Vice Versa for the Presence. For different applications these two amps can also be used to their strengths together.
    -I really feel you need very good IRs to get the best out of the Helix

    By the way, for people wondering what the return one and two are for, this is something I really highly recommended. I bought a Bluetooth receiver and plugged it into the return 1 and 2, so now I can play backing tracks or use the amazing slowdowner to write out fast solos, or just learn new songs for the band

    And if you want a little more hair on your clean tone, just reset the power amp settings to their default on both amps

    The way it sounds now through my atomic clr, it’s very close to my two rock clean channel

  2. Pingback: Creating a Helix Electric Guitar Patch (updated) | jimamsden

  3. Jim – I’ve been battling with my Helix for a few weeks now and am looking for (and failing) a great Fender Twin patch. This one of Joost’s sounds ideal, but the link on Line 6 forum is dead. Would you be able to email it to me (details below) – I would be very grateful. Thanks.

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