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Variax live

Discussion in 'Recording' started by maintiger, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    does it really live up to it? Does it really work? is it worth it? would like to hear from people who have used it, not from people giving their opinion never really having used it (happens a lot you know, more than you think) Thanks :D
  2. cyclotron

    cyclotron Guest

    I've had a Variax 700 for 2 years. In every way it is a real guitar, and its versatility is endless. I played for 5 years on a church worship team using a Guild acoustic. I replaced it with the Variax and used the acoustic tones for more than a year, switching between 3 different models and the 12-strings. I used it in the studio for a church CD as an electric, to play both clean and heavily distorted tones. I've played it through combo amps, modeling amps and direct to PA & mixer. It is the real thing. Now the build quality is a different story. I went with the 700 hardtail electric after watching the Variax reviews for a year and trying out a 500 (now hard to find). The 700 is a very decent guitar, solid, though I had to spend some money to get it setup properly. I've also heard good things about the newer 600. But watch out for the 300, I have read that the build quality is hit and miss. That said, for the price it is a lot of guitar.
  3. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    thanks- looks like what I'm looking for- a versatil guitar to take giging so I don't have to cart around 4-5 guitars - any more feedback? can i leave my martin acoustic back at the studio? my 12 string?
  4. cyclotron

    cyclotron Guest

    A lot will depend on how you plan to use the Martin and 12-string. The Variax 12-string models generally sound good in a mix, but the 12-strings are not yet perfect because the "pitch shifting" that is employed, which is a very taxing process for signal processors, currently has problems. Line 6 is reportedly working on a firmware fix at present to improve the 12-string "warble" that some complain about. From my experience I'd say, yes you can indeed leave the Martin 6-string at home, even for solo gigs, but you would have to experiment to see if you like the 12-string sounds as a solo thing. I have personally found that using light gauge acoustic strings with a wound G improves the acoustic tone (but not the warble). You can change the sound of all the models in the Variax using software called "Workbench". You'll have to purchase a "Workbench Interface" for about 100 bucks to do this, unless you own a Line 6 POD XT Live or Vetta II, which will also serve the purpose. And you need a standard internet cable for the connection, but a more solid connection is the Varaix Digital Cable (about 30 bucks), which has an XLR-like connector. Some ahve tried using the cheap internet cables live and found that they not only don't last but can actually get stuck in the socket and cause the whole I/O assmebly to yank loose from the guitar. So the official cable or equivalent (there are some out there) is recommended. If you have Workbench you can fix up the electric models by mixing and matching different kinds of pickups and you can save alternate tunings for all the models including the acoustics, except for the 12-strings. But though you can't use the alternate tunings with the 12-strings, you can "detune" them to sweeten them to taste as well. My favorite is a patch that has a 12-string model tuned to 5ths. Here is a sample of that that I made a few days ago if you're interested:
    If you have a POD XT Live, you can program it to change both your amp model and guitar model at the touch of a footswitch. This has a tendency to make lazy guitarists like myself become quickly spoiled. My usual rig is a POD XTL and Variax with the special cable, straight to the PA. The digital cable not only interfaces the Variax but powers it too. So the number of wires needed is minimized.
  5. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Something about the Variax tone that isn't beautiful to my ears, but I guess it has its place. The other more serious problem those guitars have is thier narrowing of expressive control. Pick hard, sounds the same. Pick soft, sounds the same. Squeeze, brush, stroke, move from the bridge to the neck...it sounds the same. Drives an expressive player friggin nuts.

    I think the acoustic version, and the japan made mahogany/swamp ash/tremelo versions are better instruments. Same expressive limbo though.

    You can get a custom Tele or Strat body with the Variax routs from Warmoth.com , just transfer the electronics and bridge from an older used Variax 500, and you can have a better guitar. Add a custom neck, 25 1/2" or 24 3/4" scale, fat stainless frets, top of the line hardware, and you'll have something Line6 might never produce in a Variax. Especially if you add traditional pickups and electronics. Check it: http://warmoth.com/guitar/line6/line6.cfm?itemID=5
  6. cyclotron

    cyclotron Guest

    I haven't found mine that way at all. It responds just like any other guitar. It is not a midi guitar. I do have the nicer quality version but without the trem. I think it offers lots of new possibilities for expression. I even heard one guy who programmed alternate tunings into five adjacent banks and uses the toggle switch to create arpeggios. Very cool! Hey I didn't say *I* could do it, though. :wink:

    The new body is a great idea. There is a cottage industry that has grown up around doing Variax conversions. I just read that Line 6 has finally licensed a major guitar maker to use the Variax electronics (Parker). Unfortunately the version they are using them in right now is about 10 grand.

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