The future of Variax?

Rewolf

Member
Messages
885
Hadn't heard of this before so did a bit more research... not that new, and not that popular either. No interest from @Elantric because it doesn't support palm muting due to the shield.

And Willcox Guitars are only an hour or so drive from Line 6.

The question still stands though.....

If Line 6 have a not so new now team of specialists in pitch shifting etc, and they have mainly been working on something other than Helix Pitch Shifting. Then what have they been doing?
 

glanum3

Member
Messages
110
I love my variax and it actually pushed me into helix. I was using a hd500 and variax and considered going fractal or maybe kemper, but the integration was the lock. My JTV59 isn’t my best playing (or maybe even sounding) guitar but it does everything is need it to do. When learning thru material, it’s my first grab because of the tuning and tone capabilities. That said with gig/band $$ nonexistent at the moment, new gear purchases are on hold.

I think L6 could improve some things modeling Engine and speed. Wireless has been called a very well expensive nonstarter. I think if there is going to be a future for variax it has to be a GOOD guitar first. L6 isn’t likely to copy Roland/boss and do a pickup. I had mixed experiences with standard and even the 69.
 

Mooselake

Member
Messages
1,229
My only complaint with my variax is that it hasn't aged well. I'd love for them to come out with something on the high end side, SS frets, locking tuners, much better switches/pots-- guitar I'd want to own/play without the variax features, and maybe a Helix-based modeling. Probably too pricey to be practical.
 

phil_m

Have you tried turning it off and on again?
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,378
My only complaint with my variax is that it hasn't aged well. I'd love for them to come out with something on the high end side, SS frets, locking tuners, much better switches/pots-- guitar I'd want to own/play without the variax features, and maybe a Helix-based modeling. Probably too pricey to be practical.
They do have the US JTV guitars still. They were probably too expensive to ever really sell well. I really like my JTV69US, though. It came with Hipshot locking tuners, fwiw.
 

Holdsworthy

Member
Messages
917
Hadn't heard of this before so did a bit more research... not that new, and not that popular either. No interest from @Elantric because it doesn't support palm muting due to the shield.

And Willcox Guitars are only an hour or so drive from Line 6.

The question still stands though.....

If Line 6 have a not so new now team of specialists in pitch shifting etc, and they have mainly been working on something other than Helix Pitch Shifting. Then what have they been doing?
Many of the specialists had been given the role of mentor to the then-new interns; this took valuable time away from their main duties.
 

Mincer

Member
Messages
4,550
I sill use the Acoustic Variax, but I think the future of that is way passed. It has developed a strange static when powered by the XPS power supply which makes me hesitant to gig with it, although I've done many many gigs. But finding people who even know what this instrument is, much less how to fix it is becoming a rarity.
 

firehawkkwah

Member
Messages
187
I think the biggest indicator for the actual future of Variax is that neither the HX stomp nor Pod Go included vdi.
Not exactly a priority for line 6 to include.

Years back one of the reasons I went with firehawk fx was the ability to integrate with Variax, even though I didn't have one. Just seemed like a cool thing. Then years later I bought a Variax and indeed, it is a cool thing! So then I upgraded to Helix because I didn't want to lose that functionality. And now I'm pretty invested in the L6 ecosystem so probably won't leave.
In that regard, the Variax is what got me into the ecosystem. But Line 6 clearly doesn't think that the extra cost (and maybe size) is worth it for new hardware.
I guess we'll see if the Helix 2 includes vdi. If it doesn't, then that's the death knell for sure.
If it does, but no new variaxes come out for years, well, then I guess we're right where we are now. Ha.
 

burningyen

Member
Messages
14,697
I sill use the Acoustic Variax, but I think the future of that is way passed. It has developed a strange static when powered by the XPS power supply which makes me hesitant to gig with it, although I've done many many gigs. But finding people who even know what this instrument is, much less how to fix it is becoming a rarity.
Have you tried opening a support ticket with L6? At the very least I bet they could refer you to an authorized repair tech who could fix it.
 

corvay

Member
Messages
62
VDI was a nice idea but things have moved on, it’s too niche for taking forward. Next variax should be wireless, same with the next refresh of all but the cheapest line 6 products.

Even if the modelling was improved I would find it hard to justify a new variax unless it brought more to the table. Combine a NUX mightyplug with a wireless variax and now you are talking. Would make having a headphone jack useful and could turn up to a small gig without a pedal board just plug into amp (wireless dongle), turn guitar knob new song patch + guitar model to fit. Or even use DI at a pinch.

If the VDI technology was moved into wireless so you could also control spider, helix or Helix native that would be compelling. Being able to switch patches via the guitar or control fx like you can now.
 

ragingplatypi

Member
Messages
280
What would be cool and make sense pragmatically for us consumers is for Yamaha to start offering a Variax option on all of their guitars. So for a set extra amount I can special order the guitar with the Variax built in. That way I can try out the Yamaha guitars, see what feels right and get an instrument that is supported by Line 6 and Yamaha.

In interviews I’ve seen with Line 6 folks the Variax was referred to as a “labor of love” which I’d imagine means they’re not making big money on them. It was also said that there was a lot that went into programming the system to play nice with the specific guitars they are in. Theoretically offering a Yamaha Variax option would open up the market a bit without Line 6 needing to invest too much.

Seeing how active the company is regarding HX and PodGo vs the Variax, my hope is that they are quiet about Variax because they are developing something completely new. Or at least new in as much as Helix is a departure from the HD500.
 

phil_m

Have you tried turning it off and on again?
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,378
VDI was a nice idea but things have moved on, it’s too niche for taking forward. Next variax should be wireless, same with the next refresh of all but the cheapest line 6 products.
Have things really moved on? Other than Roland and Line 6, no one else is doing anything in this space. There was the short-lived Anteres system, or whatever. It never really gained any traction. There’s that other pedal that does pickup modeling, but there’s really not anything else.

I think the thing is that it’s an area that requires a lot as far as capital investment, but it doesn’t promise a lot in the way of returns. I don’t think Line 6 is going to abandon it, but I don’t think they have a lot, if any, competitive pressure on them to force their hands.
 

guitarno

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
727
Well I hope that Line6 does not give up on the Variax and I disagree that we've "Moved On". The existing Variax's are very useful and if more people tried them I think that cover band players at least would realize their potential value. I sure wouldn't mind seeing some enhancements but I am currently using Variax's and have been for a while and they are great the way they are, anomalies and all.

I think guitar and pickup emulation whether it's onboard a guitar like the Variax's or in a box ala Roland is a very complicated thing to pull off. If more people would embrace this technology it would be easier for companies like Line6 & Roland to justify more development.
 

mbenigni

Member
Messages
7,839
VDI was a nice idea but things have moved on, it’s too niche for taking forward. Next variax should be wireless, same with the next refresh of all but the cheapest line 6 products.

Even if the modelling was improved I would find it hard to justify a new variax unless it brought more to the table. Combine a NUX mightyplug with a wireless variax and now you are talking. Would make having a headphone jack useful and could turn up to a small gig without a pedal board just plug into amp (wireless dongle), turn guitar knob new song patch + guitar model to fit. Or even use DI at a pinch.

If the VDI technology was moved into wireless so you could also control spider, helix or Helix native that would be compelling. Being able to switch patches via the guitar or control fx like you can now.
In practical terms, VDI isn't all that "niche". It's a CAT5 cable with (optionally) a little mechanical bracing for sake of durability. You can buy this stuff at a Home Depot. Compare/ contrast with Roland GK cables, which cost a fortune, are hard to find, and serve absolutely no other purpose (putting you at the mercy of Roland's future roadmap.)

One other thing to consider: as cool as wireless would be, it would eliminate the option of powering Variax without worrying about battery charge. A wireless option? Yeah, I'm all for it. Basically just a hybrid wireless audio/ MIDI control protocol.
 

JiveTurkey

Trumpets and Tants
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,751
In practical terms, VDI isn't all that "niche". It's a CAT5 cable with (optionally) a little mechanical bracing for sake of durability. You can buy this stuff at a Home Depot. Compare/ contrast with Roland GK cables, which cost a fortune, are hard to find, and serve absolutely no other purpose (putting you at the mercy of Roland's future roadmap.)

One other thing to consider: as cool as wireless would be, it would eliminate the option of powering Variax without worrying about battery charge. A wireless option? Yeah, I'm all for it. Basically just a hybrid wireless audio/ MIDI control protocol.
I have zero idea how ANYONE could advocate 13pin cable over an ethernet cable.
 

mbenigni

Member
Messages
7,839
Well I hope that Line6 does not give up on the Variax and I disagree that we've "Moved On". The existing Variax's are very useful and if more people tried them I think that cover band players at least would realize their potential value. I sure wouldn't mind seeing some enhancements but I am currently using Variax's and have been for a while and they are great the way they are, anomalies and all.

I think guitar and pickup emulation whether it's onboard a guitar like the Variax's or in a box ala Roland is a very complicated thing to pull off. If more people would embrace this technology it would be easier for companies like Line6 & Roland to justify more development.
I agree. As with all high-tech guitar solutions, the key is to make the experience as seamless as possible the first time a potential user encounters the technology. The Variax concept - keeping the modeling on the guitar - simplifies matters considerably. Provided the battery is present and charged up, you hang the guitar on the wall like any other, and it can sell itself. In contrast with a Roland solution where the right guitar has to be displayed with the right processor, everything has to be powered up and configured properly, staff has to be trained, etc.

The real roadblock has always been pretty simple, though: there just weren't all that many Variaxes in brick and mortar stores to begin with. Less of a variable now, in the midst of a pandemic with everyone shopping online. As things are now, if you want to sell Variaxes, you need to keeping putting VDI inputs on new products, so owners say, "Cool, how can I leverage this?" I was disappointed to see VDI omitted on the Pod Go, but I imagine there would have been a substantial impact on cost.
 

JoeInOttawa

Member
Messages
1,223
There was a guitar modeling system out of Italy last year -- name escapes me. Does anyone know if it was any good? Or even remember the name? I'm not giving up my FrankenVax, nor am I giving up hope on a Yamaha VaxStar, but, in the mean time, I AM curious.
 

thomas4th

Member
Messages
997
I think if they're going to continue to make you buy a whole guitar for the Variax system, at this point they should just make them Pacificas and Revstars. I've always thought the JTVs were ugly, the Shuriken is okay but boring (I am not a metalhead), and the only one I think looks good is the Standard, which is a Pacifica in all but name. The Pacificas have always been good-looking Strat variants and the Revstars are lovely as well. It makes sense to sell the system with those elegant designs rather than something that already looks like a knockoff.
 




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