I wasn't really sure where to ask this question but this seemed as good as place as any so hopefully someone will be able to help. I'm not majorly knowledgeable when it comes to gear so I apologize in advance if I sound like a 'noob', so I would appreciate it if you could explain as clearly as possible.

I'm planning on a buying a multi fx pedal which has amp modeling as well, such as the line 6 helix lt, boss gt100, headrush (I'm sure this applies to all of them). I want to use the amp modeling but occasionally I only am able to plug my guitar into an actual amp. However I would like to just plug straight into the input (guitar to pedal, pedal to amp input) rather than doing what I believe is the four cable method? Anyways I'm wondering how I should be setting the eq settings for the actual amp and the amp model on the pedal. I know that generally you should set the amp to how you like it first when using just normal effects and then adjust the tone on them to what sounds good but I'm confused as to how I would set the eq on the amp model on the fx pedal.

So basically:

  1. Is it possible to just use 2 leads and plug straight into an actual amp input when using a multi fx pedal with amp models or should I really be using the 4 cable method because otherwise it will sound horrible. (my preference is not to do that if possible)
  2. Can I set the actual amps eq to how I like it, such as how you would when just using effects (my preference would be to do this as some times I may not use the amp model on the multi fx pedal and just use the effects)
  3. How do I set the eq on the multi fx amp model? To how I am setting it on the amp? So that bass, treble and mid are all at 12 o'clock? Some other setting?

3 Answers 3


Todd has it right. Instead of going "guitar to pedalboard, pedalboard to amp-input" you want to go from the pedalboard to the amp's FX-loop RETURN (which most amps have nowadays). This will take out the amp's tone-stack and just have your board going straight into the power-amp section. BTW, as a guy who has bought and used lots of pedals and pedal boards, I can say honestly that the L6 Helix is the greatest piece of electronic gear I've ever owned. I'm blown away every time I turn it on. Hands down I would recommend it above anything else. (I have an Eleven rack, a L6 Pod HD500X and a Fractal Axeffect, the Helix is miles above all of that). Have fun.


If you really want to keep using an amp model when you have an actual amp, the best compromise is to use only two cables but instead of going from the pedal output to the input jack of the amp, it would be better to go from the pedal output to the "power amp input" or "FX return" or just "return" jack on the amp.

That jack (if the amp has one) bypass all of the amp controls except sometimes the master volume and usually the reverb, so you don't have to worry about the EQ settings on the amp and you don't have to worry about using an amp model and an amp at the same time.

The one thing you still do have to worry about is speaker modeling or speaker simulation. Usually amp modelers also model the speaker, and sending the sound through the speaker model and then a real speaker usually sounds really bad. So if you can turn the speaker modeling off or bypass the speaker in the pedal, and plug into the return/power amp input of the amp, you should be fine.

If you have to plug into the input of the amp, you still want to try to turn off speaker modeling, and then I would set the EQ knobs all to the same setting, probably halfway up. It depends on the type of EQ circuitry used. Most of the time, all the knobs halfway up will work, but you might also try all the knobs all the way and all knobs all the way down and see if that sounds better. Sometimes the halfway point isn't the sweet spot so if you have a lot of time to experiment you can just start with all knobs halfway and then experiment until it sounds best.

Despite what manufacturers and some guitarists recommend, I think four cable setups are almost always more trouble than they are worth.

Personally I would rather bypass all amp modeling if I have a real amp. Real amps almost always sound better, IMHO.


The Four Cable Method is what most people will tell you, but it's not what I do, and I have the GT-100. I run it straight into a Bugera T-50 Tube amp. Set your amp clean, everything at 12. Start from there. Ignore your overdrive. Use the models and distortion in the Effects unit. If you want to use your amps distortion, then use the four cable method. Otherwise, just use it clean for the tube sound. Consider re-tubing to get a larger clean range if it's too dirty at decent volumes.

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