The future of Variax?

phil_m

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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.
I don’t know - I’d venture to bet that Line 6 has sold a lot more Variax guitars than Roland has sold GT pickups. They’re all kind of niche products, I agree, but I think people underestimate the hatred people have of programming a floor unit with a little screen. The Variax can be used as a standalone guitar, just like any other guitar without having to have a special processor. I think that’s a bigger selling point. I’m not too keen on attaching an external pickup on any of guitars, really.
 

PaisleyWookie

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maybe i was thinking more of the EH pedals that do synth sounds, i know they have the Mellotron style pedal......
There’s an SY-1 compact that‘s polyphonic and requires no pickup, then there’s the SY300 which is a bit bigger, more programmable, and requires no pickup, then there’s the big dog SY1000, which adds the VG modeling (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, etc.) and does require the GK3 pickup for that, but can also be used as the other two SY’s, with just a 1/4” cable.

After playing the GP10 (VG sounds) and the SY1 I am dying to get my hands on a SY1000.
 

sahhas

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thank you, i'm not up on my Boss pedal history, i just thought there was some version that didn't need the special pickup....thanks for the clarification!

There’s an SY-1 compact that‘s polyphonic and requires no pickup, then there’s the SY300 which is a bit bigger, more programmable, and requires no pickup, then there’s the big dog SY1000, which adds the VG modeling (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, etc.) and does require the GK3 pickup for that, but can also be used as the other two SY’s, with just a 1/4” cable.

After playing the GP10 (VG sounds) and the SY1 I am dying to get my hands on a SY1000.
 

mos6507

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482
I don’t know - I’d venture to bet that Line 6 has sold a lot more Variax guitars than Roland has sold GT pickups.
But is the market now saturated? Where do you go from here?

I think people underestimate the hatred people have of programming a floor unit with a little screen. The Variax can be used as a standalone guitar, just like any other guitar without having to have a special processor. I think that’s a bigger selling point. I’m not too keen on attaching an external pickup on any of guitars, really.
It's not an either-or condition. It's about adding a different kind of Variax, not discontinuing the guitar version.
 

firehawkkwah

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190
I don't think Variax makes much money for either L6 or yamaha.
The Standard breathed a bit of new life into the line, and at minimal tooling and engineering cost.
But it's not like there's a lot of competition, or thousands of buyers clamoring for it.
I have a Standard and replaced the bridge pickup with a hot rail type (pro track), and it's a massive improvement for palm muting. But of course that means I lose the 'ready drop d" tuning capability.
If they offered the Standard in a HSS config that would really be a killer. Especially if it had neck easily swappable with after market.

Being in a cover band, Variax is sweet. I also love it for just noodling at home since I can swap tuning and tones and play Tool then Eagles then GnR or whatever I want.

But for the future? I don't know. Seems like the hardware hasn't improved in a decade and maybe doesn't need to, especially the piezos. There's lots of software and firmware changes I'd like, but I don't think any of it is a priority compared to the cash from the Helix line.

Frankly, I'd love to see a module/kit to put into other guitars. Turn it into a diy/maker space kind of thing. Put out instructions and router template and let it loose into the wild.
Or else release some new bodies. Marginal improvements to the models (nylon string, better acoustic, improve the pain muting) would be nice but I want to see it go in another direction.
 

Hank Habanero

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734
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.
Yeah, many Gibsons sure have some #authentic nuts.... My 2011 SG was horrible in that regard.
 
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phil_m

Have you tried turning it off and on again?
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It's not an either-or condition. It's about adding a different kind of Variax, not discontinuing the guitar version
Technically true, but I just don’t think Line 6 has the desire or resources to support third party installations like that. They’ve basically ruled the idea of having an outboard kit out for a number of reasons. Trying to support something like a transplant kit would be a fool’s errand, imo.
 

mos6507

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Trying to support something like a transplant kit would be a fool’s errand
How so? Roland's been doing it for decades. You make it sound like it's got the same level of support risk as a self-driving car or something. Look, you can't try to expand your market without being willing to take some risks. I agree that Line6 has shown no interest in doing it but there is a cottage industry of Variax grave-robbers who have transplanted the guts of the Variax into guitars they would rather play. So there IS a market out there, not to mention whatever share could be taken away from Roland.

Not only that, but if anything Line6 has shown to have a much more vibrant software R&D team than Roland so I don't see how they lack the know-how or the resources to convert the Variax into a floor unit. It's simply a matter of will on their part.

But just as nobody buys ipods anymore there comes a time when a market reaches the point of saturation and you have to figure out where to go next. I think we've reached the point where further improvements in modeling or alt-tuning fidelity will have a minimal impact on variax sales, not the least of which because those who already dropped a grand into a JTV-59 are not going to buy another just for the sake of those incremental improvements.
 

phil_m

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How so? Roland's been doing it for decades. You make it sound like it's got the same level of support risk as a self-driving car or something. Look, you can't try to expand your market without being willing to take some risks. I agree that Line6 has shown no interest in doing it but there is a cottage industry of Variax grave-robbers who have transplanted the guts of the Variax into guitars they would rather play. So there IS a market out there, not to mention whatever share could be taken away from Roland.
Roland uses a magnetic hex pickup that’s simple to install. Dealing with a hex piezo system is different and more invasive. Converting to a magnetic system would probably mean that Line 6 would have to rethink its whole approach from the start. I just don’t think it’s likely. It’s been something that people have been talking about for like over 15 years now. I just think it’s self-evident that it’s not the direction Line 6 wants to go.

I think it’s more likely that Line 6 incorporates other features like wireless connectivity into future Variax guitars rather than totally redefining what a Variax is.

As far as market saturation, I don’t think that‘s really a concern. I imagine there’s plenty of people who’d be interested in a new guitar as long as the features appeal to them. I mean, the market is saturated with Strats, but Fender keeps pumping them out.
 
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mos6507

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Roland uses a magnetic hex pickup that’s simple to install. Dealing with a hex piezo system is different and more invasive.
Roland systems can use mag or piezos. There's no reason Line6 can't do the same.

Converting to a magnetic system would probably mean that Line 6 would have to rethink its whole approach from the start.
Huh? There was a time before Roland added piezo support to the VG stuff too. I really don't think it's a moonshot. I mean, Line6 could even (gasp) make the Variax unit take in a 13-pin system so they wouldn't even have to design a kit. But that would be too much of a concession to the competition, I guess.

I just don’t think it’s likely.
Neither do I. I'm not making a prediction. I'm making a recommendation. My feeling is that the market for the Variax is saturated and if Line6 has any interest in making it relevant again, this would be the way to go.

I think it’s more likely that Line 6 incorporates other features like wireless connectivity into future Variax guitars rather than totally redefining what a Variax is.
Fine, but I don't think wireless will move the needle.
 

JCW308

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I'd be totally into a new Variax if they would get rid of the hideous headstocks.
 

John Mark Painter

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I had four VG8 hex guitars in the 90's.
I did two with pro installs (a Flying V and a hollow acoustic/electric).
Then I had two guitars with the self installed pickups that you just screwed into the top of the guitar.

A BIG difference with Variax is that you need controls and power on the guitar.
This allows you to use your Variax features plugged into a normal rig.

Variax could use a floor box for that but you wouldn't be able to change presets with the pickup selector switch or pots.
That is a big feature for many I am sure.

On my VG8 rig, I was of course having to do all of the changes from the floor controller.
I didn't mind that personally....but that's a different type of rig.
 

luckymethod

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361
But for the future? I don't know. Seems like the hardware hasn't improved in a decade and maybe doesn't need to, especially the piezos.
laser sensors instead of piezos like the Lightwave would significantly improve the capabilities of something like the Variax, but I don't think there's a lot of ROI for that kind of research at the moment. I wouldn't hold my breath for a lot of new products announcements anytime soon on that front, especially considering the kind of economic situation we're going into.
 

JiveTurkey

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laser sensors instead of piezos like the Lightwave would significantly improve the capabilities of something like the Variax, but I don't think there's a lot of ROI for that kind of research at the moment. I wouldn't hold my breath for a lot of new products announcements anytime soon on that front, especially considering the kind of economic situation we're going into.
Lasers make everything better :drink
 

Lachra

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315
I would like a new generation Variax Bass guitar. With great integration with the Helix.

I know it's far-fetched.
 




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