The future of Variax?

disconnector

It's been swell, but the swelling's gone down.
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I recently picked up a like new JTV-59 for a steal of a deal ($500). It's heavy (9lb 15oz . . .wow) but it's built very well and frankly sounds amazing. The frets are smoothly finished, the feel overall is totally quality, and the paint job is spotless. The heel is carved out so playing higher is easy and the guitar sustains like a freaking piano.

The stock pickups are great and many of the modeled sounds are flat out eerily accurate. In fact the only tones that I really think are lacking is the Tele and Strat bridge sounds. Everything else is super close - the Special sounds pretty much dead on to my LP special, the Firebird is freaking DEAD ON, the Tele Deluxe sounds are closer to recorded tones than my actual Tele Deluxe, and the Rick tones are spot on. Most of the models are right in line with expected tones. The alternate tunings can sound decent as long as you don't go up or down more than a few half-steps - for example the drop D is totally believable as is the DADGAD tuning.

The Variax Workbench HD is absolutely amazing. If you take that stock Strat bridge and change the body to Masonite and angle it a bit less then move it a scootch away from the bridge it's a dead nuts Strat tone. I'm absolutely blown away by the flexibility and most of all the *believability* of the tones. You can *feel* that the guitar isn't a Rick or a ES335 but the sounds coming out of the monitors are so close that it's ridiculous.

This dang thing is amazing. If it doesn't throw my back out I'll play the frets off of this thing.

I'm just wondering if this is going to wither on the vine. I haven't seen really any noise about the Variax guitars since Yamaha took over and there hasn't been an update in 2 years. I know that they never really took off because of initial issues with palm muting metal chugs but the latest firmware seems to clear that up fairly well.

So TGP (and hopefully Line6 folks) are there any plans to continue to develop this platform?
 

burningyen

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14,688
I actually hope they do something, because I think the concept is great, but the execution just average. I just played a Variax Standard over the weekend, and IMHO they’ve got some catching up to do with BOSS’s VG stuff.
It's always interesting how differently we all hear things. I've yet to hear a Roland/Boss clip that sounds nearly as convincing as the best Variax clips.
 

RGB

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6,152
My JTV59 is a better LP than my (ex) '04 LP STD LE. Didn't even have to have a new nut cut for it when I received it...unlike the Gibson. :p

I think it's a great guitar for both tone and playability.
 

drew365

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I've owned three JTV's. My JTV-69 was my main guitar in a cover band for about 2 years, and I still have it. I agree, they can be great guitars. When connected to my Helix floor with the VDI cable, it made life in a cover band so much easier. I could care less about palm muting for metal. Not my thing. I feel there will be an updated Variax at some point. I'm hoping there will be enough changes to give the line a new lease on life. When it will come out, I have no idea. But I'm pretty sure it's going to happen.
 

JiveTurkey

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Never tried a Variax. Would love to, some day; but I am definitely Boss leaning overall and the Variax stuff is just expensive enough that that fact, combined with not being invested in Helix land; means GK stuff will always win out for me. The best thing about this tech for me is downtuning. And palm muting :drink :Devil:drink13pin does that stuff great. Especially in the SY. Despite my usual gripes about Boss overall.
 
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trl

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73
Considering how far amp modeling and multi effects have come, it seems like the next logical step would be what variax is doing. A new generation of variax-like technology would be very popular if it can get guitar tones/tunings/etc as convincing as helix/etc can get with amps.
 

TheSchwartz

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381
I’m hoping L6 is going to come out with a dedicated pickup/floor unit that can be used with most guitars, similar to the Roland/Boss offerings.

My biggest gripe with the Variax system is that it’s surgically attached to a specific guitar, and though it can technically be transplanted to another guitar, you either have to build a new instrument, or butcher one to accommodate the electronics. Otherwise you’re stuck with what you’ve got.
 

guitarno

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Variax's are great guitars. I had 2 59's at different times and now I have a 69 which I am in the process of customizing. I also have had several GK/13-pin systems over the years and they do have some advantages and dis-advantages as compared to the Variax's. The Variax (or the GK's) do make doing cover band gigs a lot easier to do in terms of being able to cover more sounds live without constantly switching guitars.

I do hope they are able to bring out an updated Variax at some point, and it will be interesting to see what improvements they are able to make. Personally I hope they can include a nylon string model. That's one model I miss from the GK stuff.
 

mos6507

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I’m hoping L6 is going to come out with a dedicated pickup/floor unit that can be used with most guitars, similar to the Roland/Boss offerings.
This. The market for something like this is kind of limited to begin with. You limit it more by forcing guitarists to buy the guitar as if it's one huge dongle. They'd move a lot of units to people they could never reach before if they did this and that would make a bigger impact than just executing marginal evolutionary improvements.
 

sahhas

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16,080
i remember seeing Adrian Belew demo it and he liked it.

i think w/ anything dealing w/ technology, is, in 10-15 years will it still work? if it doesn't can you get it fixed? that's always been my worry.

if your regular guitar has problems 10-15 years down the road, it's not hard to fix/repair it....i guess it's anything w/ technology....
 

mbenigni

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7,806
I recently picked up a like new JTV-59 for a steal of a deal ($500).
Let me be the first to say: holy cow, amazing deal! :oops:

As we discussed in a separate thread, I ordered a JTV59 this weekend, but wound up cancelling and buying a more conventional guitar. Truth told, I want both guitars, and will probably wind up with a JTV59 sooner or later. If I could find one for anywhere near $500, that'd be a no-brainer!

I've owned a lot of Variaxes - stock and transplanted - over the years. The only ones that have really worked for me were a first gen (Variax 500) transplanted into a Parker NiteFly (great guitar, until I finally played it to death and couldn't fix it) and my current JTV89F. The bridge on the latter is worth its weight in gold IMO. The body and headstock (i.e. the entire guitar LOL) are kind of fugly, but it plays and sounds great, and holds its tuning well. That's all I can ask for.

The JTV59 is the only stock Variax that ever looked "right" to me, but I always steered clear because of the fixed bridge. Starting to rethink that now, so once I've recovered from my latest purchase, the hunt for a black/ ebony 59 will resume. :)

(P.S. The old Variax basses are also great instruments! I keep one hooked up to the VDI input on my Helix Floor, and run guitar - Variax or otherwise - into the 1/4" guitar input.)
 
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gonzoknife

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459
I’ve owned and played both quite a bit, not just basing it on clips.
I agree. I've owned both and preferred the Boss by a long shot, especially for acoustic sounds.

My issue with Variax is you're locked into that guitar. When I had a JTV-69 I used a Warmoth neck because I couldn't get along with the neck shape and nut width. I don't know if it's technically possible but I'd like to see Variax as an add on (Fishman Triple Play size would be awesome). The processing could be somewhere else besides the guitar. A dedicated box or built into a Helix.
 

sahhas

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16,080
that's sort of what I thought. i mean most of my modelers for the last almost 20 years have all had some kind of "acoustic simulator" , which usually gives you the sound or is close, exact? no , but close...
and w/ Boss releasing the SY synth pedal that no longer needs the GK pickup and can just be used like an effects box...it would seem to me that the route to go would be making the variax into some type of effects pedal, vs. being stuck with a whole guitar.
and honestly, most modelers now have like a million amp models in them, why couldn't this just be done from from the "guitar sound stand-point"? just a thought...

I agree. I've owned both and preferred the Boss by a long shot, especially for acoustic sounds.

My issue with Variax is you're locked into that guitar. When I had a JTV-69 I used a Warmoth neck because I couldn't get along with the neck shape and nut width. I don't know if it's technically possible but I'd like to see Variax as an add on (Fishman Triple Play size would be awesome). The processing could be somewhere else besides the guitar. A dedicated box or built into a Helix.
 

guitarno

Gold Supporting Member
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708
that's sort of what I thought. i mean most of my modelers for the last almost 20 years have all had some kind of "acoustic simulator" , which usually gives you the sound or is close, exact? no , but close...
and w/ Boss releasing the SY synth pedal that no longer needs the GK pickup and can just be used like an effects box...it would seem to me that the route to go would be making the variax into some type of effects pedal, vs. being stuck with a whole guitar.
and honestly, most modelers now have like a million amp models in them, why couldn't this just be done from from the "guitar sound stand-point"? just a thought...
The Boss SY-Synth Pedals you speak of do require the 13-pin cable for the guitar emulations and the altered tunings. You can use a regular guitar and cable but you don't get all the features without a 13-pin cable.
 

sahhas

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16,080
maybe i was thinking more of the EH pedals that do synth sounds, i know they have the Mellotron style pedal......

The Boss SY-Synth Pedals you speak of do require the 13-pin cable for the guitar emulations and the altered tunings. You can use a regular guitar and cable but you don't get all the features without a 13-pin cable.
 

MKB

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8,317
I liked and used my JTV-69 a lot over the years, but will probably sell it as I can mostly the same functionality I need from my GR-55, plus a universe of other sounds. But I actually liked the guitar itself more than the Variax tones, it has one of the best Strat necks I've played. It is fat and flat with huge frets. Mmmmm...

I actually ran across a JTV-69 maple neck, and made a partscaster with it (it mated perfectly with a late 90s Mexi Strat body). That partscaster with EMGs and a Ghost Hexpander is the new controller for the GR-55.
 

JoeInOttawa

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1,213
I still have a frankensteined Vax-300 that I heavily customized (3/8" flame bent maple top/binding and a 700 neck). Love it. Bought a new Standard as a replacement, returned it two days later. My FrankenVax was a far better guitar,and tracked tunings much more quickly. To this day, I'm sure I got a dud Standard, but my Vax-300 ate it for lunch.
 




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