A little rant on the Line 6 Variax

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Scott Peterson, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I have done 4 shows with the Acoustic Variax now. Last night was another.

    I cannot express how pleased I am with this guitar.

    You can be full volume, right over your amp - up FULL - with the FOH going full tilt at a big festival.... with your hands over your head clapping along.

    On any other acoustic guitar, you'd be killing everyone with feedback. Rumble, you'd be blowing up power amps. And deafening your audience.

    The Line 6 Variax Acoustic?

    Dead quiet.

    It is so inspring, so inspirationsal and so damn FUN to use this thing live it is stupid.

    The tones, especially the Jumbo in my case, are incredible. I got a board tape and listened breifly before the singer made off with it last night; that thing sounds like a guitar in a studio with a wicked good mic on it and a wicked good compressor just touching it.

    I could not be happier.

    Well, I did a few things to it. Rubbed out the neck with Micro Mesh (I do this alot to all my guitars); added fossilized Ivory bridge pins (aesthetic upgrade only on *this* guitar); added new self-locking 18:1 Grover tuners (they are soooooooooo cool) and it is at a luthier getting a new proper Bone nut (NO plastic nuts for me please) whilst I go away on vacation next week between shows.

    I am using the regular capo on these gigs, the virtual capo on it works fine but it is hard to remember sometimes in the heat of a gig on the fly that I had the 2nd fret virtual capo on the Dread model and the 1st fret virtual capo on the Jumbo model, etc.... so I like the comfort and foolproof method of just putting the capo on and *knowing* I won't start the next song in the wrong key. (I started twice in the wrong key in rehearsal twice and rethought using the virtual capo live).

    Just a glowing rant. :D
     
  2. rjmmusic

    rjmmusic Member

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    Scott, does the virtual tuning stuff work well (aside from having to remember how you set it :) )? I haven't had the opportunity to try one yet, but my fear is that it would sound pitch shifted when playing out of normal tuning.
     
  3. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Yes and yes. :D

    Yes it works; it works really well.

    And yes it is completely odd to play the guitar and hear the strings acoustically when the amplified tone is completely tuned differently. If you are playing live and loud, it is no issue at all. Even loud in a small room... well, it is an issue. What the audience hears if fine, but on stage it sounds funny to me.

    The guitar isn't acoustically "that" loud, but you can hear it and it bothers me.

    So I capo.

    One of the coolest things it does though is when you setup a preset to shift the low E and A one octave lower - it sounds fantastic and there is no odd pitch shift to your ear as you play.

    So to summerize, it does bother me unless you are playing loud enough to drown out the actual physical sound of your playing. BUT what is amplified is indeed 100% believeable.

    Just being honest. And in deference to Line 6, it does state the exact same thing in the manual.
     
  4. Funky Chicken

    Funky Chicken Member

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    +1 on the open tunings sounding pure when amplified.
     
  5. Den

    Den Member

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    I'm glad to hear you're really digging your Variax, Scott. I know you were thinking about going another direction entirely at one point. I've got to believe this route gives you far more versatility ... sounds like a much better solution for your live acoustic work. Thanks again for the report.
     
  6. eugewong

    eugewong Member

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    Scott,

    You mentioned that it sounded good in the board recordings, would you say that you would get similar results in a proper studio setting going direct?

    What's your live signal chain for the Variax? I'm guessing guitar->DI->FOH.

    Have you tried recording it direct in your own studio and what have the results been?

    Thanks, just a thought that came into my mind.
     
  7. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I have not tried recording it just simply due to time constraints; I willl week after next (I am heading out of town for a family vacation for a week).

    Live chain is Guitar - DI - FOH. I have a Fishman Loudbox primarily as a personal monitor; it has a DI out on the back.

    Given the results I have heard from the board tapes, I have *no* doubt it will indeed sound very good recorded direct. I iintend to try it once I come back (and get my Variax back from my luthier with its new nut!) and will report in full.
     
  8. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    Guitarist magazine has a review and a 10 min (approx) demo on the attached CD. Incredibly impressive. WOW

    While it seems that a bit of the "air" is missing in the recording since there is no room sound, in a live situation, no one would know. Hell - most people who listen to CDs would never know.

    Think I'll wait till they show up used on Ebay in bulk.
     
  9. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Seems to me that the L6 acoustic is a wonderful solution to the many problems of playing acoustic live, in a typical club setting especially.

    To me, this is a wonderful use of technology, whether or not the sound is "perfect", since most acoustic guitar transducers sound like crap and feed back anyway.

    In other words, this isn't a solution in search of a problem, as I feel some of the other L6 gear is. Acoustic guitars live really need that technology fix!

    Good report, not a rant at all. :D
     
  10. San

    San Member

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    Great report Scott and congrats on the new axe. I read another glowing review in Guitarist this month and the sound samples on the CD were amazing!

    The Sitar sound just blew my mind.

    As Les said this is a wonderful application of technology!

    San.
     
  11. KLB

    KLB Member

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    Scott,
    What makes Micro-Mesh better than 0000 Steel Wool?

    I assume you are trying to get rid of the sticky feel?

    Cheers,
    Ken

    PS - I see that Luthier's Mercantile International (LMI.COM) has a Micro-Mesh kit for $16.95 with several grades of paper.
     
  12. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Micro mesh is so far superior to steel wool it is hard to put in words.

    It is a bonded flexible reuseable medium that goes from 1500 grit to 12,000 grit. It was originally used to take the scratches off of plexi-glass windows on aircraft.

    Steel wool leaves your neck with a haze; Micro mesh (if you use it wet) will leave it just as "soft" to the touch (like satin necks) but as high gloss as a PRS "dipped in glass" look. And with no metal bits sticking to your pickups like with steel wool.

    When I do this to a guitar, it not only removes the "sticky feel" it also rounds off the fret ends and polishes them nicely. It makes for a *very* easy to play and comfortable guitar neck.
     
  13. KLB

    KLB Member

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    Thanks for the heads up. I need to try some of this wonder stuff!
    I especially like the easy ability to smooth fretboard and fret edges.

    I use the tiny #1175 Stew-Mac fret dress file with the two smooth sides for rounding the sharp point where the fret end touches the board (smooth side glides easily over the board.) The Micro-Mesh will make it easier to do the rest of the job.

    I see that Stew-Mac carries Micro-Mesh by the sheet.

    - Ken
     
  14. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Get the full blown set; it matters and it makes all the difference. Trust me.
     
  15. It's Time!

    It's Time! Senior Member

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    That's it I'm ordering my acoustic Variax and doing the Scott Peterson custom job to it :cool:
     
  16. BuddyPo'

    BuddyPo' Member

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    Scott...If I remember correctly the acoustic variax reproduces numerous acoustic instruments. Could you comment on how it convincingly handles these various settings?

    Thanks
    BuddyPo'
     
  17. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    IMHO - after dozens of rehearsals and half a dozen shows now - it is my opinion that the main guitar tones: the Parlor, OOO, Dread and Jumbo are all excellent. I use the Dread and OOO all the time in the country band.

    I use the banjo setting on one tune; I am not utterly thrilled with it, but it works.

    The two reso settings are completely outstanding. Man they are dead on. Grab a slide, do the altered tuning setting and bam - it is spooky good.

    The other settings are okay for what they are; but I don't need nor use them so my opinion is sort of useless on that.

    I had to do some things to the guitar (as detailed on earlier posts) to make it work better for me (mainly the nut) but man, this thing really causes you to rethink amplified acoustic work.

    For instance, using an EQ is not really needed. You just use the mic placement slider to tweak the EQ. I have gone to a rig now where basically I run a DI to FOH and then run a signal to a powered JBL G2 monitor on the floor for me. The tones are incredible. EQ for the room is handled FOH. I have not needed to mess with it on my monitor yet. Indoors, outdoors, big rooms, small rooms, dead rooms and bright live rooms. Move the virtual "mic" slider to nail the tone and poof - done deal. Getting your head around that is a huge leap for me; but if you think about it, well, you don't have eq on your mic'd up acoustic on stage.... you move the mic. If you need EQ for FOH, then you do it on the board. Same thing happening here.

    Another mind blower that I detailed earlier is the utter absence of feedback. This is extraordinarily a new reality on stage for me. True acoustic tone - authentic real acoustic, not processed EQ'd cheese from a piezo - and utterly no feedback even at OUTRAGEOUS stage volumes if needed. I shake my head at it still.

    I also like that it is a thinner instrument for playing standing up; it just feels more natural than hugging my dreadnaught on stage. Less fatique after a few sets; easier to play than a given acoustic - even better than a wonderfully setup acoustic.

    I am utterly convinced and a true believer in what they have done with this guitar. It is a smashing success IMHO and totally sets the bar.
     
  18. Den

    Den Member

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    Hi Scott ... thanks, as always for your informative posts. Another VA question: Does it make any sense for playing at home at lower amplified volumes? I also do some small room gigs that would only allow low amplified volume. I'm thinking that the altered tunings might be really cool, but do they need a great deal of volume to overcome the actual guitar?

    Thanks, Den
     
  19. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Thanks Den for the kind words.

    It works great for low volume late night acoustic recordings. But; there is always a but :D; unless you crank the headphones the thing will sound funny to you in the alterned tuning mode. There is a bit of latency that bugs me and it sounds really awful when you are playing if you can hear the actual acoustic sound; the recording will sound fine. It is a strange thing; but just trying to be honest.

    I have gone to using my capo when recording and live. If I need an open tuning or what have you, I just tune it the old fashioned analog way. With the tuners. :D
     
  20. Den

    Den Member

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    Thanks Scott.
     

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