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Boss AC-3 vs Variax Acoustic Models

dwolfggc

Member
Messages
434
I haven't played a variax at all but some of the video clips i've seen sound really good. I tried an Ac-3 at guitar center the other day and liked what it did, i think i could probably get something i could use out of it. I would like to hear form anyone that has used it straight to the board as well.

So are they comparable? Is one way better?
What do you think?

thanks
 

EricPeterson

Senior Member
Messages
48,875
kinda apples to oranges, the Variax is a straight up guitar with modeling the Boss is a pedal, I guess I dont see them as substitutes. The boss is much cheaper I guess and if you can get a usable acoustic tone out of it you can save some cash. FWIW the low end variax models that sell for 500 bucks dont get great reviews, so if you want a decent instrument you have to get the more expensive ones, at that price I would look for a Fedner VG Stratocaster. They are basically a US strat w/ electronic modeling as well. I have played one and I liked the versatility and the acoustic models were decent.
 

ERGExplorer

Member
Messages
6,051
I've tried a Variax before, and own an AC-2 and a clone of a clone of the AC-2.

I've found that any kind of acoustic simulation, or even an acoustic guitar with a decent pickup, sound great when recorded direct or when run through a full range, flat response (FRFR) system. Otherwise, if one is running through an amp intended for electric guitar, it sounds like an electric guitar, due to the amps having a particular character.

Incidentally, this is also why modeling systems like the Axe FX, POD and the Boss GT series sound better with a FRFR system. Running a simulation of an amp gives you all the characteristic amp noise, and then running that through another amp just gives you all that noise again.

You know, though, you're really comparing apples to oranges in terms of what is better. The Variax is a guitar, and they tend to either be sub-optimal in terms of fit, finish and playability, or hugely expensive. If you're only thinking of the acoustic models, and aren't looking for a guitar which does it all, you're probably better off with a couple of pedals.

I suggest you do some reading on the Variax forums, so you gain a little familiarity with the issues which have come up in the user community. If you want the facts of Variax use, going to those who use it is a good move.

Good luck!
 

dwolfggc

Member
Messages
434
they are definitely two different routes but to the same goal. the thing is i was thinking about getting one of the new Tyler Variax guitars and, while the many different models would be cool, the main thing i would get it for is the acoustic sim. My plan either way would be to plug my guitar into an A/B box and switch to direct box when i used the acoustic sim.
So my question is does the Boss sound good plugged straight in, or is it cheesy? And if its no good is the variax any better (again plugged straight in and purely in terms of sound not playability)?
 

ERGExplorer

Member
Messages
6,051
On my eight-string guitar, I can get really natural sounding acoustic-through-a-sound-system sounds with my AC-2 and my Biyang Woody. I use it also for the sound of an acoustic upright bass with that same 8-string guitar. The AC-2 was less than $50 used, and the Biyang was probably around there new. Since there is no available 8-string Variax, I only had one option for the sound. *laugh* Even so, I think the Boss AC-2 was a worthwhile purchase for me, and it does manage to do just what it purports to do.

I suggest you find a music store which has an AC-2 or AC-3 and give it a whirl. Remember to pull back on your volume, and don't treat it like an overdrive. Experiment with the controls a bit. I find that adding a drop of reverb ot the AC-2 makes it sound more acoustic; the AC-3 has reverb already available in the unit.
 

dwolfggc

Member
Messages
434
thanks, I think i'm gonna just pick up a used Ac-3 and see if i like it. If i do then i've saved myself buying a Variax, and if i don't then i can just flip it.
 




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