How legit are variax guitars?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Facepoppies, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. donfrantz

    donfrantz Yo! You stealin’ all the cool. Silver Supporting Member

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    There has to be a new model Variax in the near future. IMO.
     
  2. John Mark Painter

    John Mark Painter Silver Supporting Member

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    About the Alt tuning artifacts...If you are playing highly effected or really distorted (Stevic) you can get away with a lot more.
    My first experience with the Variax (the James Tyler) was working on a "Saliva" record. It was great for that.

    I tend to play more natural and crunch tones and single notes are pretty 'suspicious' like that
     
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  3. SymphonicDischord

    SymphonicDischord Member

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    True enough, distortion can work to cover it up but I’ve even found my cleans to be quite serviceable, especially when put in the context of the mix. But you there’s probably a good chance that you’ve got more discerning ears than me as well.
     
  4. John Mark Painter

    John Mark Painter Silver Supporting Member

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    It's the the single notes that are a problem.
    Playing my own music, I am the only guitarist.
    In the late 90's, I used a Roland VG-8 quite a bit for alternate tunings...going to open tunings for one section to play Slide, a few very drastic open tunings, baritone GTR just for a riff.
    The benefits definitely outweighed the limits.

    But if you use tunings like Drop D, DADGAD, Open D, a lot of the strings aren't being retuned.
    That's big plus...and playing chords totally works like that for me.
     
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  5. 68Injunhed

    68Injunhed Member

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    Had one, loved the versatility and integration with Helix, but I didn’t like that the best guitar sounds came from the magnetics. I just couldn’t get on with the modeled tones. I messed with it quite a bit, because the ability to have both de tuning, and a virtual capo, is very attractive on Sunday mornings, but in those situations I just couldn’t find “my” Tele sound, especially when changing tuning from standard.

    I’m probably too picky about some things, and I’m sure it was mostly workable in FOH. But it bugged me, and that was enough. Obviously it works for many, you should definitely try one for yourself.

    I definitely count myself as a big L6 fan, and would love to see a new generation Variax, with Helix quality modeling. Personally I don’t think the current Variax is as good a guitar modeler as Helix is for the rest of the chain. Just my opinion.
     
  6. ljholland

    ljholland Silver Supporting Member

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    As a strat, my JTV-69s sounds like a great 60s era strat. The other settings are mostly used for our cover bands occasionally open G / open D stuff. In the mix of a band, no one has ever mentioned that they sound off and I don’t hear it. At home, some of the models work well and others don’t. I’m not a fan of the actual 335 tone but there are others that actually do cop a decent 335. The Les Paul model works well and I’ve A/Bed it against my LP Standard and the tone is there.

    I also use one of the acoustic sounds for one song, it works and it’s a heck of a lot easier to deal with than carrying another guitar, micing it etc. Pairing that acoustic setting with an acoustic IR really nails it.

    So - it’s not perfect but it’s a good tool for getting the job done.
     
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  7. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    Stevic does some amazing things... I think pretty much all the guitars on Twelve Foot Ninja's Outlier album are the Variax... I'm not necessarily a huge fan of that genre usually, but that album is pretty incredible.

     
  8. John Mark Painter

    John Mark Painter Silver Supporting Member

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    I am not a fan of the music at all but I think they are EXCELLENT.
     
  9. John Mark Painter

    John Mark Painter Silver Supporting Member

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    One thing to note...on my Variax Standard, you really need to dampen the strings above the nut.
    Those sympathetic/harmonics cause odd noises through the modeling.
    I have a thick soft string woven through mine.
     
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  10. JoeInOttawa

    JoeInOttawa Member

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    Have to say, my 300 tracked a LOT faster than the Standard I had in for a few days. I returned the standard, kept my 300.

    To be fair, the Standard I tried was SO bad with transposition that I believe it might have been defective.
     
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  11. Elantric

    Elantric Silver Supporting Member

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    Agreed
    ATG-1 remains the secret weapon - far superior to Variax or Roland / Boss GP-10
     
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  12. John Mark Painter

    John Mark Painter Silver Supporting Member

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    I need to tweak mine a bit.....PROJECT
     
  13. davidb7170

    davidb7170 Member

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    I have the 59 and the 69S, both since 2011 and 2012, been gigging them regularly since then. Love them both, but especially my 69S, since I'm a Fender guy. I lowered the global piezo string levels to -5.5dB on all strings on both JTV's to give the signals more headroom, and that relieves the compression that happens that squishes the signal initially. I then went through preset by preset and adjusted the preset string levels to balance the different models, and then boosted the preset volume by adjusting the pickup and/or preset volume to even the presets out to my liking. I also lowered my mags on both JTV's so the mag to model volume differences were much lessened, and the 59 to 69S mag/model levels were more on an equal setting so switching between the 2 guitars doesn't require two different sets of presets on the Helix. If I break a string on one, I pick the other off the stand switch the VDI cable and go. Interestingly enough, I've never had to do this (knock wood), but could if the occasion would arise. They've been work horses, play and sound great. I do tend to use the mags the most, but do have songs with drop tunings and lower keys, plus acoustic and banjo for some songs. Very versatile.

    The other advantage to lowering the mag pickup height is it lessens the magnetic pull of the pickups on the strings, that can cause weird interactions and harmonics on the strings that can muck up sustain and such on a regular guitar, and add bad effects to the JTV/Standard models.

    A good physical set up and my adjustments to the model presets made the models MUCH more dynamic and real sounding.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
  14. wvpv

    wvpv Member

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    I've wanted to check one out for a while, but every time I find one in-store the batteries are dead and the staff has no idea where the charger is.
     
  15. Rewolf

    Rewolf Member

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    If they can find a VDI cable plug it into a Helix or HD500.
     
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  16. vtgearhead

    vtgearhead Silver Supporting Member

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    <sigh...> This. Still. After how many years? I had to drive 200 miles to even find a Variax in stock. The only reason the batteries weren't dead is they knew I was coming.
     
  17. MikeMcK

    MikeMcK Supporting Member

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    I have a JTV-59 and it's definitely well made... not my favorite guitar to play but I use it on certain gigs where I need quick access to tunings and instrument emulations. I don't have a Helix, so I A/B the Variax... acoustic tones go to a Countryman DI while everything else goes through pedals to the amp.

    With the Helix, I think I'd be a lot more into it, but even without it you can do a lot of things you can't do otherwise... kicking in the sitar, 12-string or banjo sound at the right time or being able to the Stones-signature chord voicings (open G) is a lot more impressive to people than you'd think. It'd just be so much easier with a Helix preset... without it I have to count "clicks" on the dial because the indicators on the knobs can be hard to see (at my age). And you can do tunings (e.g. DADGAD, the "Rain Song" tuning) without wasting stage time (though you'll have to set up some of them on your own, which is easy).

    These days, possibly because I never invested in a Helix and also have other guitars I love to play, I'm slowly getting away from the Variax. I recently added a Mosaic (12-string emulator) to my board and have been carrying a Tele tuned to open E for alt-tuning stuff & can do 90% of what I did with the Variax... easy to transpose what was in open G or A, and if I really need the open string sounds in G, I just add a capo. And another added bonus about having a Helix... without one, I still have to make sure my Variax battery is charged every time I need it. I hate relying on a battery that way (and yes, I know there's a Line6 A/B that powers the Variax).
     
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  18. Lele

    Lele Member

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    Last Saturday I wanted to try a Shuriken SR250 and at the shop they had the same problem (dead battery), but luckily they had the Helix (that I also own and know very well) so that I could try it!
    And "unfortunately" it isn't bad at all...
    ("unfortunately" because now I'm really considering to buy it)
     
  19. brew58ski

    brew58ski Member

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    Big warning on this. It is my understanding that the Variax's do not perform well unless they are in standard tuning. Has to do with what the modeling is looking for frequency wise I believe.
    UPDATE
    Actually just came up with a post from an official Line 5 guy. It was a question about how the alt tuning works if the guitar itself was tuned a 1/2 step down. The answer was.

    Still works. All Alt Tunes will change relative to the physical tuning. Just don't physically tune down more than a step and a half (three semitones), or it may have pitch tracking issues start to creep in.
     
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  20. mbenigni

    mbenigni Member

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    This is an opportunity: ask about their return policy, make a low-ball offer, do what you have to do to test at home.
     

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