Boss GT-1000 vs Helix: Which should you buy?

Boss GT 1000 vs Helix

All-in-one multi-FX pedals have really been brought to the forefront of modern guitar playing in recent years.

It was only a few short years ago when the best we had to play with were models like the original Line6 Pod.

Today there are quite a few really great digital multi-FX pedals with amp emulation, and two of the market toppers are the Boss GT-1000 and the Line6 Helix.

They offer a lot of the same features and model a lot of the same amps and effects. So, which one should you get?

We’re going to look at 9 factors that will influence your decision between these two monsters.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this Boss GT-1000 vs Helix comparison:

  • Amps
  • Effects
  • Cabinets
  • Design
  • Connectivity
  • Portability
  • Software
  • Price & Value For Money
  • Pros & Cons

Ready? Let’s get started…

30-Second Summary: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

So when it comes down to Boss GT-1000 vs Helix, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:

  • Go for Boss GT-1000 if you want to be able to edit parameters of the pedal from your phone or tablet, or you need something super portable, and you’re not terribly concerned with having a bunch of vintage effects and amp models at your fingertips.
  • Go for Helix if your main priority is having access to a wide range of vintage modeled amps, cabs, and effects units, and if you don’t mind lugging around something a little heftier.

1. Amps: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Amps: Boss GT-1000

The GT-1000 is a modeling amplifier, which essentially means that the engineers at Boss have spent years studying famous analog amps, and found ways to replicate those delicious tones via digital algorithms.

Obviously, this is quite the journey, and as such Boss has decided to represent that by dividing their amp models into three categories.

The first category is their ‘classic’ amp models, which are direct replications of 12 famous amps, including:

  • Roland JC-120 combo
  • Fender 4×10” Bassman
  • VOX AC30
  • ORANGE ROCKERVERB
  • Marshall 1959

The second category is a selection of MDP (Multi-Dimensional-Processing) amps. This further extends the technology Boss applied in some of their X-series pedals, like the DS-1X, OD-1X, and CP- 1X.

The third and final category is Boss’ latest offering, known as their AIRD preamps.

These preamps are the culmination of years of amp modeling, and they are essentially a set of completely original amps loosely based on a variety of famous amps. You could say that they’ve taken the best out of the best and brought those ideas together to create their own digital amp models.

For example, the Natural setting is somewhere between a Roland JC-120 and a Fender Blackface.

As you can probably imagine, this wide variety of amp models affords GT-1000 players a world of tones, and endless hours of bedroom tweaking.

Amps: Helix

The Helix has an equally impressive array of amp models, using two dedicated DSP chips to deliver both depth of sound quality and breadth of tonal choice.

However, instead of offering both vintage-modeled and original amp choices, the Helix goes all-in on the modeling amp game, offering many more amps models that you know and recognize.

Some of these amps include:

  • Fender Champ
  • Fender Bassman
  • Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus
  • Vox AC-30 with top boost
  • Orange OR80
  • Marshall Super Lead 100 (jumped)
  • ENGL Fireball 100
  • Peavey 5150
  • Matchless TM DC30
  • Marshall Plexi Tremolo 50

And that’s just a selection of more than 80 modeled amplifiers, including a bunch of dope bass amps.

Amps: Bottom Line

Arguably, this one is a matter of preference.

The Line6 Helix wins it if you’re looking for a huge range of vintage-modeled amp models, though the GT-1000 has some really cool original amps.

In my opinion, most players who are weighing up different multi-FX pedals like these aren’t looking for original amps. Rather, you’re probably trying to find the unit with the best selection (and sonic representation) of your favorite analog amps.

So, with that in mind, the Helix wins.

Amps Winner: Helix

2. Effects: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Effects: Boss GT-1000

Given that Boss is primarily known for its epic range of guitar effects pedals, you’d probably imagine that the GT-1000 has no shortage of effects.

Well, you’re right.

The GT-1000 has a bunch of delays, distortions, overdrives, and various other effects units to plug into your signal chain.

Many of them emulate original Boss pedals, of course, but you’ll still see other classic units such as the Ibanez TS-808 and ProCo RAT.

A lot of the effects in the GT-1000 aren’t necessarily modeled units, but simply digital effects patches created by Boss for the multi-FX pedal itself.

In total, the GT-1000 packs in 116 effects. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who needs anything more than, so it should keep pretty much all guitarists happy.

Effects: Helix

Again, the Line6 Helix takes the approach of modeling absolutely everything it can. So, while it has fewer effects in total (104), it offers a wider variety of vintage pedals.

Some of these pedals are, by the way, highly-coveted. Like the by Klon Centaur, which sells for several times the price of the Helix.

The Helix packs in a number of modeled vintage and modern effects units, including:

  • MAXON SD9 Sonic Distortion
  • Garbage’s special BOSS FZ-2
  • Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI V1
  • Horizon Devices Precision Drive
  • MXR Phase 90
  • Leslie 122
  • TC Electronic 2290

Effects: Bottom Line

Though the Boss GT-1000 packs in more effects units in total, I’m actually going to give this round to the Line6 Helix.


That’s because it has a much wider variety of effects that have been modeled from actual guitar pedals, basically giving every guitarist access to a million-dollar pedalboard.

Effects Winner: Helix

3. Cabinets: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Cabinets: Boss GT-1000

The Boss GT-1000 doesn’t offer any specific cabinet models, strictly speaking.

Each amp model is custom-matched to one of the different cab models inside the GT-1000, and though you can change it, you’re essentially choosing between different ‘sizes’, such as a 1×8 or a 4×12.

This is as opposed to being able to select say, an Orange PPC412 or an oversized Mesa Recto cab.

However, you can load your own third party cab impulse responses, so all is not lost.

Cabinets: Helix

As you’ve probably come to expect, if you’ve read this far, the Helix takes an entirely different approach.

Line6 does go as far as modeling real life cabinets, and boy are there some nice ones in here.

There are easily more than 30 cab models, including:

  • 1×12″ Bogner Shiva CL80
  • 2×12″ Fender Twin C12N
  • 1×8″ Fender Champ
  • 2×12″ Roland JC-120
  • 4×12″ MESA/Boogie 4FB V30

Seriously, you can’t ask for much more.

Cabinets: Bottom Line

The Helix wins this round. No explanation required.

Cabinets Winner: Helix

4. Design: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Design: Boss GT-1000

If the nomenclature of the GT-1000 appears familiar, that’s because it is.

The GT-1000 is basically the modern, heavily-upgraded version of the old-school GT-100.

However, though the GT-1000 has definitely brought this offering much further forward into the future, it still leaves a little to be desired, as far as design methodology goes.

It’s small things like the finish, the LEDs, and the feel of the buttons, switches, and rotary encoders, that really tells the difference between these two units.

Don’t get me wrong: the GT-1000 is a solid pedal in it’s own right. But the Helix really leaves this pedal in it’s dust when it comes to design and finish.

Design: Helix

What’s so great about the Line6 Helix, then?

The LCD display is crisp, clear, and incredibly smart-looking, as are the LED scribble strips above each footswitch. Yeah, scribble strips. Pretty cool.

The rotary controllers feel sturdy and a touch luxurious, and the touch-sensitive footswitch aren’t sticky or tough to engage, nor are they flimsy feeling components.

Design: Bottom Line

On the whole, the Line6 Helix feels like a pro-level multi-FX pedal. By comparison, the GT-1000 feels like, well, a mid-tier unit.

To it’s credit, the GT-1000 is nearly half the price (nearly), but if we don’t account for that, the Helix is definitely the better-designed pedal,

Design Winner: Helix

5. Connectivity: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Connectivity: Boss GT-1000

The GT-1000 has a pretty decent input/output list:

  • MIDI in and out
  • 3 dedicated expression/amp control jacks
  • A USB port for computer editing (more on this later)
  • 2x XLR sub outputs
  • 2 effects loops
  • A headphone output
  • Stereo outputs
  • A single guitar output

The fact that it has two sets of effects sends and returns is pretty impressive. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen pedal that does this before.

This allows guitarists to set up a couple of different analog amps using the four cable method (though I guess it’s 6 at this point), or create a combination setup with digital and analog effects.

Not to be sniffed at is the fact that the GT-1000 can connect directly to iOS and Android devices, and also has Bluetooth built in. That means you can adjust paramaters of the GT-1000 from your phone or tablet!

Connectivity: Helix

The Line6 Helix doesn’t fall short in this department either, offering:

  • A Variax port for Line6 Varix guitars
  • Digital I/O on S/PDIF and output on AES/EBU
  • A USB port to connect to your computer (more on this soon)
  • MIDI in, out, and thru
  • Stereo outputs on both TS jack and XLR
  • A headphone output
  • A microphone input
  • A guitar input
  • An aux input
  • 4 inputs for expression pedals an external controllers
  • 4 sets of sends/returns

Okay, so now that’s the second pedal that has more than one effects loop, and this baby goes as far as offering 4 loops!

There’s no Bluetooth connectivity, sure, but that’s the only thing it misses out on from the GT-1000’s array of I/O.

Connectivity: Bottom Line

This one’s a tie.

The Helix offers more I/O, particularly in the analog domain, but the GT-1000 does have that Bluetooth function and the ability to work directly with iOS and Android devices, which is pretty cool

Connectivity Winner: Tie

6. Portability: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Portability: Boss GT-1000

The Boss GT-1000 is a pretty portable pedal, all things considered.

It weighs under 8lbs, with it’s longest dimension not much more than 18 inches.

It might not fit in a small backpack, but it’s definitely light enough to throw over your should and carry off to a gig.

Portability: Helix

The Line6 Helix, on the other hand, is a bit more of a beast.

It weighs about twice what the GT-1000 does, and is a few inches larger in each dimension as well.

It will probably stay put on stage a little better than the GT-1000, to be fair, but it cefintely doesn’t lend itself to carrying on your shoulder as easily.

That said, it’s still a hell of lot lighter than carrying a 4×10 Fender Bassman and a stack of pedals.

Portability: Bottom Line

The Boss GT-1000 is by far the smaller and lighter device, so it wins the portability round.

PortabilityWinner: Boss GT-1000

7. Software: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Software: Boss GT-1000

As already discussed, you’re able to edit parameters of the GT-1000 using an app on your phone or tablet called the Boss Tone Studio.

This same app is available for your desktop computer or laptop as well, which is ideal for those of us who like to spend time endlessly tweaking patches in our bedrooms, then taking those tones to the stage.

The software is fairly easy to use, if slightly dated and clunky feeling. Then again, most software platforms in the audio realm seem to leave a little to be desired in the GUI area, so this is forgivable.

Software: Helix

The Line6 Helix has a software editing platform too, called the HX Edit.

Just like the GT-1000’s software, it allows you to craft your own tones using a mouse and screen rather than the little physical knobs.

HX Edit is a fair bit more attractive, modern, sleek, and user-friendly than Tone Studio, however.

Software: Bottom Line

Yes, I know, it’s about the sound. But when it comes to software editing platforms, GUI matters. So, in this case, the Helix wins.

Software Winner: Helix

8. Price & Value For Money: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Price & Value For Money: Boss GT-1000

You’ll pay just over a grand for the Boss GT-1000, which by pretty much any measure is insane value for money, considering the number of amp models and effects units you have access to.

Price & Value For Money: Helix

You’ll pay a little more for the Helix: closer to $1700.

That said, the Helix offers arguably better amp models, effects, and overall design methodology.

Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line

It’s tough to really say whether either amp offers better value for money. The GT-1000 is cheaper, by quite a bit, but the Helix is better, by quite a bit.

This one’s a draw.

Price & Value For Money Winner: Tie

9. Pros & Cons: Boss GT-1000 vs Helix

Boss GT-1000 Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Decent amp selection
  • Strong effects section
  • I/O is pretty good
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Cons:

  • No cab modeling
  • Not a lot of model analog amps

Helix Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Diverse amp selection
  • Incredible selection of effects
  • Really strong I/O
  • Modern, flexible design

Cons:

  • No Bluetooth
  • Big and heavy

Conclusion & Takeaway

To summarize our findings in this Boss GT-1000 vs Helix comparison, here are the winners for each category:

  • Amps – Helix
  • Effects – Helix
  • Cabinets – Helix
  • Design – Helix
  • Connectivity – Tie
  • Portability – Boss GT-1000
  • Software – Helix
  • Price & Value For Money – Tie

Overall: Helix

The main takeaway here is that the Line6 Helix is the better multi-FX pedal of the two, offering superior amp modeling capabilities, better I/O, a more modern and sleek design, and a greater array of effects and cabinet models.

The GT-1000 does have a few areas of benefit, mostly in that it’s more portable and quite a bit cheaper, and also the fact that it has Bluetooth connectivity.

All in all, though, the Helix comes out on top.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIdf4ms2kxg 

Product Links:

Boss GT-1000

https://www.amazon.com/BOSS-GT-1000-Guitar-Effects-Processor/dp/B079BCNXY2 

Helix

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Helix–line-6-helix-guitar-multi-effects-floor-processor 

Products Comparison Table:

Spec / Feature

Boss GT-1000

Helix

Pedal Type

Multi-FX

Multi-FX

Number of Effects

116

74 (104 with firmware update) 9 x effects simultaneously

Amp Modeling

Yes

Yes

Looper

Up to 38 seconds

60 seconds (mono), 30 seconds (stereo) full speed

Inputs

(1) 1/4″ (instrument), (2) 1/4″ (return)

(1) XLR (mic), (1) 1/4″ (guitar), (1) 1/4″ (aux), (4) 1/4″ (return)

Outputs

(2) 1/4″ (main out), (2) 1/4″ (send), (2) XLR (sub out)

(2) XLR, (2) 1/4″, (4) 1/4″ (Send)

MIDI

In/Out

In/Out/Thru

Bluetooth

Yes

No

USB

(1)  Type B

(1)  Type B (8 x 8)

Headphones

(1) 1/4”

(1) 1/4”

Compatability

PC, Android, iOS

OS X 10.10 or later, Windows 7 SP1 or later

Power Source

9V DC power supply (included)

Standard IEC AC cable

Dimensions

2.75 x 18.18 x 9.76 inches

3.58 x 22.05 x 11.85 inches

Weight

7.93lbs

14.6lbs

Effects

Reverb, Delay, Pitch Shifter, Octave, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Vibrato, Harmonist, Chorus, Auto Wah, Compressor and more

Distortion, Delay, Reverb, Modulation, Pitch shift, Synth filter, Compressor/Limiter, Wah, Impulse Response support