Making a Variax feel like a guitar?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Eric Pykala, Jun 15, 2005.


  1. Eric Pykala

    Eric Pykala Member

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    I've been playing my Variax for about a year-and-a-half now, and while I still appreciate the technology, I freakin' HATE the way it feels. I guess I've just gotten spoiled by playing "real" guitars. I've tried a number of tricks on the neck to make it feel a bit more friendly, but it's kinda like giving a bandaid to a guy headed for the guillotine. I've also looked at doing the Warmoth thing, but cringe at the thought of investing lots more money in a guitar that goes down in value dramatically every time I look at it.
    Has anyone found anything that helps? The Japanese 700 is built better, but darned if I'm making the same mistake twice. I've priced-out doing a Warmoth Tele with a real neck and some cool magnetic pickups, just so I can justify the dough by ending-up with a "new" guitar with some unique sounds other than the stuff in Variax. Nice idea, but putting another grand+ into a guitar that if I ever had to resell it would garner $500 doesn't seem quite sane. I walked into this situation fully aware of the "computer as an investment" oxymoron, but its utility value has been the only thing stopping me from just taking the hit and dumping it. I'm sure there are others like me around; any suggestions? -Eric
     
  2. Eric Pykala

    Eric Pykala Member

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    ...and yes, I read the whole institute of noise marathon post. I was almost tempted to do it myself, as I've built a number of fine guitars, but after Warmoth came out with a factory rout for the guts I realized life is too short (besides, I fix guitars for a living; busman's holiday).
    C'mon you enablers, what have I missed? -Eric
     
  3. tms13pin

    tms13pin Supporting Member

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    I think you have to weigh the personal value of positive use vs.
    resale in cases like this. If you can't stand your Variax the way
    it is, it isn't doing you a lot of good and is probably inhibiting
    your creativity. If you build something that YOU will enjoy, then
    don't think of your build in terms of selling the guitar in the
    future, think of it in terms of how it will work for you now.

    Think of your guitar more like your car than your house. Tough
    to do around here with all the members of the "QUE" (the
    boutiQUE cliQUE) but many of these fancy axes aren't
    commanding in resale what folks paid for them (most
    Andersons, etc.). How many cars have you sold or traded in
    a couple years later for what you paid for them?

    Something like the Variax is more like a multi f/x pedal or
    modeling amp than a vintage strat or LP. How much are
    most multi f/x boxes worth a year later?

    If you put some thought into your build, the guitar will do more
    than just the Variax stuff anyway.

    --Tom
     
  4. Klatu

    Klatu Member

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    If you buy the Warmoth neck, you wouldn't be loosing any money becuase you could always reinstall the original neck and use the Warmoth neck for another guitar.

    The neck is the most important part of the guitar to me, and I would try the Warmoth option if I were in your shoes.
     
  5. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I had a 500 and hated it. Really hated it. I ordered a Warmoth Strat Variax body and a neck. Then I had an offer to get a 700 and I sold my 500 (did I tell you I HATED it yet?) and got a 700 Hardtail. I canceled my Warmoth order (but the neck was done, so I actually still have it in a box :D).

    Night and day. I actually like the 700 as an instrument. Well made, after some work and a setup it plays great. I enjoy playing it.

    Get to a store and try one out.

    I would also second the poster that mentions just getting a neck to your specs and trying that.
     
  6. DigitalTube

    DigitalTube Member

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    Why doesn't Line 6 pack all those electronics in a box, and let us use whatever guitar we want?
    Obviously we'd need a special pickup, but that woud be a much better option than having to use their guitars, no?
    E.B.
     
  7. Ldavey

    Ldavey Silver Supporting Member

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    I've had my Variax 500 from around the time it was featured on the cover of GP. I'd guess I'm the exception, I'm okay, maybe even fine with the neck. But I recently went ahead with the change of tuners that many have suggested, to the Planet Waves, and I can feel and hear a difference in some of the sounds. Again, maybe it's just me, but the Gibson LP sounds, seem to have a bit more sustain and life.
    Anyway, even though I paid more than they're asking now for the 500, I don't regret having bought it when I did.
    Larry
     
  8. Riscchip

    Riscchip Member

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    Amen. I'd be all over that. Love the technology, hate the guitars.
     
  9. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I got my 500 when they came out, put Planet Waves tuners on it and used it for a year, on and off. Even gigged with it. Now, whenever I pick it up, aside from the feel issue, I just can't get it to sound alive like my strats (or CU22). It sounds good, interesting, but not alive. I'd use it for special eff, acoustic sounds, etc, but for electric guitar sounds, it doesn't come close to my 'real' guitars. Lord knows I've tried................. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    It just stays on the wall, waiting.......................... for what, I'm not sure..... :confused:

    jon

    edit - my relevant point is that I considered making a tele or strat version of my V/ax and canned it because it just doesn't sound good enough to warrant the time and money investment. Just my impression......
     
  10. Eric Pykala

    Eric Pykala Member

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    Thanks for the input guys! Swapping out the neck was the first thing I thought of, but the Vax neck bolts are on slightly different centers, so if I wanted to use it on an axe with a Strat-compatible neck pocket I would have to dowel and redrill the neck. While I do this all the time on other folks' guitars, I strongly feel that on my instruments I want the screws going into virgin wood. Fender-style guitars are all about neck-to-body fit.
    13pin: just the type of answer I thought I'd get on this board, you enabler you! Right now, I only use the Vax for acoustic sounds (and my synth pickup is mounted on it), so this whole scenario may change when my PRS HBII AP piezo arrives (sure ain't putting the synth pickup on that!). Since I'd still need a platform for the synth, making a nice Tele for it might be the answer. I was thinking of doing one with completely different sounds, like maybe TV Jones Filtertrons or HD Z90s, with just a master volume where a LP switch would be and a mini 3-way on the treble side bout. Much easier to justify the bucks when you get a unique new guitar out of it, and to hell with resale value. This scenario is coming truer by the moment.
    Still interested in any other spins you folks may have, but thanks all for your help. I feel the darkside creeping in...-Eric
     
  11. Swampash

    Swampash Member

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    Hey DOC,

    Have you upgraded your guitar's firmware up to the 3.0 level yet? It makes a profound difference..in a good way. :cool:
     
  12. Swampash

    Swampash Member

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    They did....it's called a Variax 300 :D
     
  13. Orren

    Orren Member

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    I have honestly thought about getting one just to yank the electronics. :) But does anyone know how much room they take up? Can you yank the electronics from the 300 and still have room for a tremolo bridge, other electronics, etc?

    Orren
     
  14. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    The electronics on the 300 are all under the pickguard.
     
  15. Orren

    Orren Member

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    Good to know! But that only sorta kinda answers my question. :) I guess you have all that wood above the guitar strings without a pickguard, but the pickguard takes up most of the guitar:

    [​IMG]

    Could you still fit a mid boost, etc. in that cavity? Since the pickguard goes under the strings, could you still fit springs for a tremolo, etc?

    Inquiring minds want to know... ;)

    Take care,
    Orren
     
  16. MOJO

    MOJO Member

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  17. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    That Jeff Miller is one talented guy. Plays and builds great guitars.
     
  18. sonicparke

    sonicparke Member

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  19. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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