Sell me on the Variax

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Gasp100, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,704
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Location:
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    Current situation - I bring 2 guitars to every gig (and will continue to do that mainly because I like to use my gear at shows AND to protect against broken strings, etc...). Amp is AxeFX II direct to PA and monitor is 99% IEMS.

    Main project does Top 40, rock, pop, modern country. I have a number of songs that "could" use parts/FX of acoustic, electricfied acoustic, etc... no alternate tunings right now for PORTIONS of songs. Examples Oasis, Zac Brown, etc... Gig about 2-3x / month.

    Acoustic duo 1-2x a month with a standing monthly show for this year (and hopefully into next year). Sometimes people will sit in but in general it's just me, my Taylor 526e which I adore, AxeFX II <but looking to scale back to G3X> and female lead. We acoustic-fy a LOT of modern hits, dance stuff, etc...

    Eagles tribute. Gigs will start late this year / early next year. 3 guitars but I notice a LOT of acoustic layers in most of the catalog. Show is expected to be top notch, totally pro so time in between songs switching guitars could be an issue. 12 string, 12 string electric, maybe some alt tuning required?

    I play an LP with P90's (never sell guitar), an MIJ 62RI which I absolutely adore and a Tele Paul rock machine monster. I might be willing to sell the Tele and/or the Tele Paul to get into a Variax and consolidate IF it makes sense. So here are my questions / concerns:

    1. Is the Variax tech too long in the tooth and do you forsee a new version coming out which would render the current models null?
    Let's say I was playing Chicken Fried or even Wagon Wheel (shudder LOL). 2. Can I easily / seemlessly open with a full acoustic tone that cuts over the band and switch right into a crispy drive tone for chorus and then switch into a decently thick lead break? And end with acoustic? If so, HOW? Pickup selector?
    I would NOT want to have to utilize the HD floorboards for this... I own the MFC101 which is already pretty big AND I use a foot controller for my light rig.
    3. Could I bring ONLY the Variax to an acoustic duo gig? It might be a shocker from a look standpoint, but if the tones are there I don't care. I do use a decent amount of FX / looping when I play acoustic as well.
    4. Does the new Yamaha version of Variax make sense? Or used Korean older version? I think the USA Tyler would be too far of a stretch unless it was an amazing guitar. Keep in mind this might have to replace TWO great standard guitars.

    What do you think?
     
  2. RLD

    RLD Member

    Messages:
    6,668
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    SeaTown
    I have a JTV-69S.
    I'm not going to try and sell you because you have to try it for yourself.
    Some love it, some hate it...I'm in the middle.
    Playing it as just a regular guitar, it's very good.
    I have the Korean model and have no complaints about quality or playability.
    Acoustic models sound very good but you need a separate clean patch to base it off so there is patch switching involved to go from one sound to another...plus the switching on the guitar knobs.
    Alt tunings are good but none of the models/tunings sound as good as a dedicated 2nd guitar would, IMO.
    So you sacrifice quality for convince.
    I used the G tuning for a Stones medley...lots of fun.
     
  3. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,704
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Location:
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    "Acoustic models sound very good but you need a separate clean patch to base it off so there is patch switching involved to go from one sound to another...plus the switching on the guitar knobs"

    I don't understand what this means
     
  4. RLD

    RLD Member

    Messages:
    6,668
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    SeaTown
    You wouldn't use the amp patch for your normal guitar sound and then just switch to the acoustic model on the guitar.
    You'll need a neutral or no amp patch for the acoustic.
    At least that what worked for me.
     
  5. c94123

    c94123 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,113
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    I think to do what you want seamlessly you would need the HD floorboard.....which is what I use and it works great. It's really the only reason I have the HD500. Otherwise you'd have to change your amp sim patch on the AFX and the guitar sim patch on your Variax at the same time to achieve what you're talking about above.
     
  6. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,304
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    East of the Sun, West of the Moon
    You could set it up in Workbench so that you have these patches in the same bank so they could be selected with the pickup selector. The thing would be, though, that you wouldn't use the same amp or patch on the Axe-FX as for an electric as you would for an acoustic. So you'd probably need to select another patch on the Axe or have some sort of A/B/Y pedal to send the acoustic sounds directly to the PA. So you'd to some tap dancing along with moving the pickup selector. With the POD HD, these transitions could be seamless and you also wouldn't really need to use Workbench to set them up. Everything could be programmed accordingly in the POD, and you wouldn't actually have to touch anything on the guitar to make the transitions. It would just all be controlled from the HD.
     
  7. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,704
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Location:
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    I see. I have "acoustic" patches on the II that use a tube preamp block (and assorted FX, etc... so you are saying I'd need to switch the patch on the floor (say this customized acoustic patch) to my broken/rock tones AND switch from acoustic to electric on the guitar itself.
    I could actually see some options (Wagon Wheel good example) where I'm using a "clean" acoustified tone and then kicking in some slight overdrive, etc... with stuff using the acoustic tones from the Variax -- do you ever do something like this?
    Again, REALLY want to avoid HD.
     
  8. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,704
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Location:
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    This is PRETTY SLICK... is this for real or what?

     
  9. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,304
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    East of the Sun, West of the Moon
    I do use my JTV69 with my non-HD rig all the time. I rarely, if ever, switch models on the Variax mid-song, though. A big part of it is that I'm not the only guitarist, so it's just not necessary. If I were doing a set where I needed to do that, I'd definitely use my HD500. I'm not saying it's impossible. Stepping on a footswitch and moving the pickup selector really may not be that difficult. The biggest difficulty more me would be remembering where I have what on the model selector and pickup switch.
     
  10. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,704
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Location:
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    Could you imagine using the Variax by itself at an acoustic duo?
    How about a mellow set 1 where they want softer (primarily acoustic-y) tones? We do some 7-11 gigs in a marina in the summer and first set it meant to try and keep the dinner crowd hanging around a bit.
    I'm going to try and find one at the local GC to test out if possible - not sure how it would be testable in that type of situation.
     
  11. svl

    svl Supporting Member

    Messages:
    327
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    Biggest issue I had testing out Variax models was the quality of the guitar itself. Some were decent, a bunch were dogs, none got me to purchase. This goes for both US & import models. The 59 USA was one of the best, but the price tag didn't match the quality.

    I love the tech, but the quality control on the necks, frets, etc etc is all over the place.

    I'm looking forward to trying the new Yamaha Variax models, hoping Yamaha brought their A game to the guitar side of the equation.
     
  12. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,304
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    East of the Sun, West of the Moon
    Possibly. I've used the acoustic models and banjo models with success before. I just think, though, if I were playing was truly an acoustic gig, I'd just bring a real acoustic. The JTV sounds great, and actually may sound better than most acoustic preamp systems, but it doesn't replace the experience of playing a real acoustic. I think having the actual acoustic sound from the guitar is a big part of the experience of playing an unplugged show.
     
  13. tvegas99

    tvegas99 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,433
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Location:
    Philly
    Yes all these sounds are attainable, I've owned 2 of the recent Korean Variax's... I know longer own any

    The biggest issue is do you bond with the guitar, are you going to enjoy playing it... me not so much

    If I found one in the $700 range and I was flush with $$$ I might try it again, I think you are much better off with the Taylor and a good electric
     
  14. Digital Igloo

    Digital Igloo Member

    Messages:
    3,350
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2010
    Location:
    Woodland Hills, CA
    There is a new version coming out, but you've already mentioned it. :)
    Yeah, pickup and model selector are very quick. If you're switching presets often, you might want to avoid the JTV-59, as it requires an extra step. You could snag a used POD HD Pro (no advantage to the Pro X in this case) and run its AES/EBU into your AxeFX II in the same rack, and use it to store 512 Variax presets that could automatically sync with your Axe presets via MIDI. It might sound odd to have to buy a POD just to get hardcore preset management, but until Cliff adds VDI to his boxes... ;) It should be noted that a few touring guys do exactly this, except they'll use POD HD Pro for pre effects as well, and up to 52 parameters can be controlled via Variax's volume and tone knobs (with custom ranges per parameter). Controlling delay feedback squeals or Whammy sounds from your guitar is just too fun.

    And you actually have fewer A/D/A conversions than going straight into AxeFX, because VDI is digital.

    Plus, the POD would power the Variax via VDI, so you don't have to worry about batteries... and the guitar is lighter.
    Yes.
    Make sure you try a few out. Like every other guitar on the planet, some may speak to you; others may not.
     
  15. hippietim

    hippietim Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,718
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Yes, it is long in the tooth. I had several variations of the original Variax series and now own a JTV-69. The guitar is better now but the modeling isn't like outrageously better. As for a new version coming out, I wouldn't sweat it. In terms of actual sound quality, Line 6 is very slow to evolve. Look at the POD line - no "upgrade" along the way was ever mind blowing compared to the previous version.

    I say you man up and don't play that **** :) Wagon Wheel is just ****ing dreadful.

    You would use the pickup selector to change guitar patches - you can reprogram all the slots however you want. There are a lot of slots.

    I wouldn't use a Variax at an acoustic gig. Even a cheap acoustic with a piezo sounds better than the Variax to me.

    There are a ton of deals out there for the current generation of imports - get one of those. The original ones are useless if the battery dies or the Variax malfunctions - the current ones are still very nice traditional electric guitars.
     
  16. VictoriluxEL84

    VictoriluxEL84 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    284
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    I really liked the Variax when I tried it for the second time recently. I returned it because of a problem I encountered. The sounds, and I was primarily caring about the acoustic guitars and banjo, were very believable. The problem I experienced was that when I was using any of the modeled sounds and I created another tuning such as dropped-D, or tuning down a half-step, there was a very perceptible latency introduced. I would pick or strum and there was just too much of a delay between my pick striking the strings and the sound produced. The latency was not nearly as pronounced when using standard tuning. My theory is the combination of modeled instrument and the virtual alternate tuning was too taxing of the processor running the software. This was just too much for me to deal with. I really wanted the Variax to work for me. Still do.
     
  17. McShred

    McShred Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,313
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    The acoustic sounds need to go to a dedicated channel on the mixing board, NOT a clean amp patch. You have to treat the modeled acoustic sounds like a piezo output on an acoustic guitar. Either send it to a DI box and then FOH, or send to an acoustic amp
     
  18. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

    Messages:
    16,410
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Maineville, OH
    If I were playing the gigs you are, I'd get one of these and not even think about it or look back.

    You will have to get a routine for how to "tame" it (the HD 500 is easier to use with it than the Axe will be, because you can do things with the direct digital connection you can't do otherwise), but what an awesome solution for that.

    I would say you could use the HD 500 ONLY for midi control of the Axe and signal routing of the Variax if you really wanted to. I don't think that would be a bad situation at all.
     
  19. hippietim

    hippietim Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,718
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    He's using an Axe-fx so he can just create a preset for acoustic that does not have amp sims without needing to route anything separately.
     
  20. 3dognate

    3dognate Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,887
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2011
    Location:
    Bloomington, IL
    Just don't buy a gutted variax and hope to buy and install replacement guts in it....

    I'm going through that right now with a JTV-89F... oy... what delima. I could do a really entertaining thread on my experience. But I'll refrain... Just don't do it. (I'm getting it sorted out... but it's not painless and not cheap.. I'll be lucky to come in at the high side of what a clean used one goes for.)

    I don't use the VDI for guitar / tuning selection. I just have models setup on the two custom slots and or manually chose model/tunings. I never switch in the middle of a song... I did some patches that I could use with the VDI cable... did it in rehearsal a few times... it was cool... but with another guitarist in the band it wasn't worth giving up being able to go wireless.
     

Share This Page