The future of Variax?

phil_m

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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.
Yeah, that’s the SIM1, and it’s guitar modeling through IRs, I believe. It doesn’t have any of the transposing or alternate tuning capability that the Variax has, either.
 

insucedible

Member
Messages
80
I seem to recall @Digital Igloo saying VDI connection adds $50 to the retail price.

I own several Variax and have owned a bunch more (acoustic, nylon, bass, you name it), so I do love them. Also had a Roland GK-3 + VG99 and I think the Variax is a better, simpler approach for the player.

Looking into the future I’m more “worried” about full software solutions like Bluecat’s ReGuitar or Bias FX Guitar Match. I also own both and the experience is not quite there yet, but software moves way faster than hardware. I think it’s hard to invest in a new Variax guitar when maybe there’s an option to include the Variax value prop in Helix 2 for any guitar, with no special hardware requirements, just through software/firmware.

I have to say a part of me actually hopes that’s what the Digitech team and co. are also working on.
 

VaThump

Member
Messages
48
This market might open up if the Variax/Helix duo could also perform as a guitar-based controller for softsynth voices, using an approach akin to Jam Origin's Guitar2MIDI.

That would likely require significant engineering additions to the floor and rack Helix, and maybe some extra processing muscle. But it feels more future-oriented (less backward-facing?) to address the market of musicians who play contemporary production-oriented music.
 

phil_m

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Looking into the future I’m more “worried” about full software solutions like Bluecat’s ReGuitar or Bias FX Guitar Match. I also own both and the experience is not quite there yet, but software moves way faster than hardware. I think it’s hard to invest in a new Variax guitar when maybe there’s an option to include the Variax value prop in Helix 2 for any guitar, with no special hardware requirements, just through software/firmware.
Well, there will never be a way to do the sort of alternate tuning the Variax does apart from having individual string processing. I know, never say never, but it’s not something that’s going to happen anytime soon.
 

Rewolf

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868
Look at what you can get in USB bus powered Audio interfaces these days.
Doesn't it "just" need a pickup with a signal per string (piezo, magnetic or optical) with AD conversion and control position detection to midi using the Ethercon for ruggedness but the same protocols as USB into a processing device. It could be a set of replacement pickups and wiring that to fit any of the common guitar layouts.
In software a learning mode/setup process to neutalise the guitar, pickup, setup, player style and in theory any guitar could have a new model overlayed.

Of course I am sure that the really smart people have already thought of all of this.
 

Beagle1

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376
I have come to really enjoy my JTV 59 over the years. It is a rock-solid gigging guitar that plays and sounds great on it's own, even without the Variax electronics. I can bring it to gigs and rehearsals and leave my nicer axes at home. I like that the guitar has all the electronics/processing built in. I would definitely not want to have to carry around an extra box to get all the Variax modeling and alt tunings (which is the most useful feature for me). They have made it so easy to control all that stuff right from the guitar itself.

My only complaint is that I feel the ball was dropped on the Variax workbench software right after the HD 2.0 update (which was back in 2013 IIRC) and the full potential of the current gen Variax guitars has never been realized. I would like to see more guitar and pickup models that could be loaded in to the guitar (or even to replace some of the models I don't use much), and also some other helpful instrument models like mandolin, or nylon string. In addition, I was never very happy with the Strat and 335 models after the 2.0 HD Workbench update. I thought those models sounded better pre version 2.0, but there are so many other benefits of 2.0 that it's not worth downgrading.
 

luckymethod

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308
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.
Line6 anchored large part of the strategy on Tyler's name recognition to legitimize those instruments to the pro crowd. They thought it would move the needle for them but nobody really knows that brand vs Suhr or Tom Anderson so the move didn't really buy them much and made the guitars ugly and expensive.
 

jaded1592

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83
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.

That is, of course, what the marketing department is hoping for.

That closed ecosystem stuff is actually what keeps me away though. I want something that integrates equally well with any rig. I'd be way more interested if it could be controlled with MIDI, even if it required a VDI converter "stompbox" of some kind.
 

phil_m

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Line6 anchored large part of the strategy on Tyler's name recognition to legitimize those instruments to the pro crowd. They thought it would move the needle for them but nobody really knows that brand vs Suhr or Tom Anderson so the move didn't really buy them much and made the guitars ugly and expensive.
I think the main reason Line 6 decided to work with Tyler is that Rich Renken, the product manager for the Variax line back then, had a good relationship with James Tyler. I think, overall, it was successful for them. I don’t think they had any illusions that guitars in the $3,000 to $4,000 range we’re going to be flying off the shelves. It was a cool option, though.

Aesthetics are subjective, but I certainly don’t think any of the JTV guitars are ugly. I like the 89 and 89F designs the least, personally. I think my 69 is a nice looking guitar. I like the look of the 69 body better than the Standard, for sure.

But I do get disliking guitars for aesthetic reasons. I’ve been tempted to get a PRS Silver Sky, but I can’t get past then pointy headstock and the birds.
 

mos6507

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373
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.
Which would also work if it were an onboard kit. There's no reason it HAS to be a floor unit. Look at the Fishman Triple Play, for instance. All the processing is onboard but it still doesn't require buying a whole guitar to do.

Generally speaking, guitarists are very particular about the instruments they play. They are reluctant to buy a guitar just to access a certain feature. If you view the Variax as a glorified FX pedal, that's what you're doing--buying a whole guitar just to be able to use that "pedal". I know people here want to deny it, but it's a dongle, plain and simple. Now, if you love the guitar for its own sake, then fine. If you don't, though, then it's a compromise.

And you know, Roland did respond to the Variax by building a Strat with VG electronics built-in. Andy Summers used it on the Police reunion tour back in 2007. I don't think it sold that well.

BTW, for the record, I don't like the closed-off way the Fishman works either, so much so that I'm working on a short-run of 13-pin adapters so that it can be moved to the floor. Hassles aside, 13-pin is an established general-purpose polyphonic audio bus. It can host different kinds of devices that can and should run in parallel.
 

JoeInOttawa

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1,213
Because of the number of controls on a full Variax system, they would have scale it back to make it a kit. If people were willing to accept, let's say, a rotary dial to select between, let's say, 16 programmable presets, that could be doable, but two knobs, a 5-way switch, a toggle, and a pair of dials is just not doable as a retrofit for most people.

That said, if they did a knob-and-bridge replacement kit with a micro switch at a reasonable price, I have a couple of guitars that would get upgraded. I just don't know if it's doable for Line 6.
 

mbenigni

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7,806
Which would also work if it were an onboard kit. There's no reason it HAS to be a floor unit. Look at the Fishman Triple Play, for instance. All the processing is onboard but it still doesn't require buying a whole guitar to do.

Generally speaking, guitarists are very particular about the instruments they play. They are reluctant to buy a guitar just to access a certain feature. If you view the Variax as a glorified FX pedal, that's what you're doing--buying a whole guitar just to be able to use that "pedal". I know people here want to deny it, but it's a dongle, plain and simple. Now, if you love the guitar for its own sake, then fine. If you don't, though, then it's a compromise.

And you know, Roland did respond to the Variax by building a Strat with VG electronics built-in. Andy Summers used it on the Police reunion tour back in 2007. I don't think it sold that well.

BTW, for the record, I don't like the closed-off way the Fishman works either, so much so that I'm working on a short-run of 13-pin adapters so that it can be moved to the floor. Hassles aside, 13-pin is an established general-purpose polyphonic audio bus. It can host different kinds of devices that can and should run in parallel.
Any comparison with Fishman Triple Play is apples to oranges. That’s a pitch to MIDI solution; it doesn’t perform any tone generation on-board, to my understanding.
 
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273
Which would also work if it were an onboard kit. There's no reason it HAS to be a floor unit. Look at the Fishman Triple Play, for instance. All the processing is onboard but it still doesn't require buying a whole guitar to do.

Generally speaking, guitarists are very particular about the instruments they play. They are reluctant to buy a guitar just to access a certain feature. If you view the Variax as a glorified FX pedal, that's what you're doing--buying a whole guitar just to be able to use that "pedal". I know people here want to deny it, but it's a dongle, plain and simple. Now, if you love the guitar for its own sake, then fine. If you don't, though, then it's a compromise.

And you know, Roland did respond to the Variax by building a Strat with VG electronics built-in. Andy Summers used it on the Police reunion tour back in 2007. I don't think it sold that well.

BTW, for the record, I don't like the closed-off way the Fishman works either, so much so that I'm working on a short-run of 13-pin adapters so that it can be moved to the floor. Hassles aside, 13-pin is an established general-purpose polyphonic audio bus. It can host different kinds of devices that can and should run in parallel.
And don’t forget about this half assed abomination:

 

uitar99

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1,315
I picked up a V600 back when they came out. Love the ability to change guitar guts when I get bored. and the ability to save patches to the "old" xtl floorboard makes a slick light package for gigs, playing through the pa, when available.

Customers FOH don't know any different.
 

mos6507

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
373
They missed the mark SO BAD with that guitar. It was almost like they were trolling everyone with that release.
That came and went without me even knowing about it--and it was only last year. I read a youtube comment saying it was like 5K Euros. That alone is a showstopper for what you get. A used Boss GP-10 and a stick-on GK pickup would get you more functionality for your existing guitar for about $500.
 

yeky83

Member
Messages
2,845
Which would also work if it were an onboard kit. There's no reason it HAS to be a floor unit. Look at the Fishman Triple Play, for instance. All the processing is onboard but it still doesn't require buying a whole guitar to do.

Generally speaking, guitarists are very particular about the instruments they play. They are reluctant to buy a guitar just to access a certain feature. If you view the Variax as a glorified FX pedal, that's what you're doing--buying a whole guitar just to be able to use that "pedal". I know people here want to deny it, but it's a dongle, plain and simple. Now, if you love the guitar for its own sake, then fine. If you don't, though, then it's a compromise.

And you know, Roland did respond to the Variax by building a Strat with VG electronics built-in. Andy Summers used it on the Police reunion tour back in 2007. I don't think it sold that well.

BTW, for the record, I don't like the closed-off way the Fishman works either, so much so that I'm working on a short-run of 13-pin adapters so that it can be moved to the floor. Hassles aside, 13-pin is an established general-purpose polyphonic audio bus. It can host different kinds of devices that can and should run in parallel.
Fishman TriplePlay requires a buncha plugins and hardware to run those plugins. Not a good comparison.

Line 6 could make a simpler TriplePlay-like dongle, and maybe move the processing to the Helix, could be cool. But then you'd be locked-in to the Helix, and you'd lose a buncha cool Variax features like assignable knobs.

Yeah, guitarists are particular about their guitars and reluctant to buy a guitar just for a feature. But the TriplePlay stuff seems waay less popular than the Variax anyway, so it seems to me guitarists are just as reluctant to put dongles on their guitars.
Because of the number of controls on a full Variax system, they would have scale it back to make it a kit. If people were willing to accept, let's say, a rotary dial to select between, let's say, 16 programmable presets, that could be doable, but two knobs, a 5-way switch, a toggle, and a pair of dials is just not doable as a retrofit for most people.

That said, if they did a knob-and-bridge replacement kit with a micro switch at a reasonable price, I have a couple of guitars that would get upgraded. I just don't know if it's doable for Line 6.
The Variax guts are huge and the battery is big too, so you'd also have to rout out huge chunks of your guitars.
 

Rewolf

Member
Messages
868
The current Variax guts are 10 to 12 years old. Look at what you can do with a much smaller package these days... wireless in a jack

You can do pitch to midi and synthesis and sample playback and looper and backing tracks all in an iPhone, right now
 

laurabaileysirishcre

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
433
I really just want a Yamaha PAC612/611 with variax guts. I would probably be happy with the standard, but I am not a fan of the headstock.
 




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