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-   -   Variax guitars (http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1573095)

Clay-man 11-15-2012 05:30 AM

Variax guitars thread
 
I just learned about these. They seem really amazing, at least what I've seen so far. I'm mostly looking at it for the depth in styles of electric guitar.

I play a lot of varying music and sometimes I'm frustrated with how my guitar doesn't give out the best tone for the type of music I'm playing. Even if it's a nice tone, sometimes it needs more twang, more brightness, or maybe it needs to sound fatter.
Indie stuff would call for maybe a telecaster, some alt rock toward a strat. I got an SG and it's decent for metal and heavy stuff, but it's definitely not the best in the brightness department.

I've seen the new Roland GR-55 which has modeling features as well, but I like how the variax doesn't need a pedal and is all in the guitar.

What do you guys think? I imagine a lot of you would say just to get the guitars separately, but that's incredibly expensive unless I buy a bunch of shitty low end guitars for each type of guitar I need. Do any of you have any thoughts or experience with these guitars?

Zaphod_Beeblebr 11-15-2012 06:37 AM

A single good guitar and a single good amp can get you all the sounds you will need, you may need to tweak it a bit but that's generally the case. Unless, of course, you're looking for something very specific.

Showiddlydiddly 11-15-2012 07:26 AM

As much as I love the Variax, it does many guitars very well, but it's not the same as actually having an example of that guitar. Tonally, I mean. For example, in a side by side comparison, it's noticeably less snappy than an actual Strat, but for general use it does the job to a high standard.

Also, if you do get a Variax, I'd highly recommend a POD HD series amp/effects modelboard and/or a DT series amp.

Dick Foster 11-15-2012 11:09 AM

If it's just guitar modeling you're after then Roland's VG-99 may be the better choice and closer to Line 6's Variax as both are guitar modelers alone.

I think the VG 99 is probably thought of more highly than the others. While the RG-55 has Roland's COSM in it too, it also has more bells and whistles (literally) as it's more of a synth than a straight guitar modeler. The RG-55 costs less than the VG too so it must do something better since it is less in the way of synth i.e. it does fewer jobs but it does them better. The VG isn't going to try to sound like a grand piano or a Hammond B3 because it just isn't made for it.

Personally, I don't care for how Line 6 supports their products or rather doesn't support them so that gives anything Roland an edge in my mind. You'll be going along fat dumb and happy then Line6 will suddenly decide to no longer support the product and won't even provide data for it so you're really stuck. IMHO that's what you call a piss poor attitude and should not be tolerated by anyone.

Just be aware that modeling is for folks that are not technically challenged i.e. you need a good right brain/left brain balance. This kind of techie stuff isn't for those that are highly artistic but with little or no technical skills which explains why there are so many that are so vehemently opposed to anything new or technical like anything that says modeling. They live all over this board too, I just ignore them because you can't reason with them.

There is a lot of techie toy to this sort of thing so if you don't mind fiddling with computers and such then go ahead but if you have to call The Geek Squad or go to the Apple store to get your computer up and running then this stuff probably isn't for you. I can almost guarantee that you won't like most of the patches that come with any of this stuff out of the box and you'll need to fiddle with the patches to get what you really want from it. It is not plug and play by any stretch of the imagination whatever the makes may say. Remember they are trying to sell the stuff and make a buck.

BTW the Variax is the Variax and only the Variax while you can add either Roland's own GK3 hexaphonic pickup or someone else's piezo hexaphonic pickup say Ghost for example, to any axe you prefer and plug it into either the VG or the RG. As someone else said you typically need another modeling box to go along with the Variax while Roland does it all (guitar and amp models) in the one box with the pickup and your choice of guitar be it solid, semi-hollow, hollow or whatever of practically any brand.

I'd love to have either the RG the VG or both but then I really like toys and I like to play with techie stuff and sound. Also I am not trying to make a living with my guitar. For those trying to make a living at anything, KISS is probably the best approach. If you're a rich and famous rock star then you can probably afford an engineer to run this stuff for ya.

Edit: I forgot to add that most of the editing programs that the manufactures provide are pure crap (Roland included) and are only intuitive for the factory engineers who made it who are typically artistically challenged. That means you'll have to look to the aftermarket for good editing programs that will allow you to dig into that modeling box to get what you want out of it. So look for a good aftermarket following and support or at least some.

I guess the best way to look at this sort of thing is that it is much like a computer when you buy it. While it may come with all of the basic programs, you'll want to be adding stuff to make it do what you want to do with it. That is unless you want to and are capable of writing you own programs.

MrFlibble 11-15-2012 03:44 PM

The old Variax guitars weren't too great. A lot of the models just sounded the same so there were only really three tones available (humbucker, single coil and hollowbody) and they weren't terribly well made.

The new Variax guitars are utterly superb. The various tone options do all sound noticably different and are ridiculously accurate; the tune shift works almost flawlessly (if you try to get it to tune up or down more than four steps it starts to sound very synthetic, like polyphonic octave generators do, since it basically uses the same tech) and the passive pickups don't sound too bad either, though the ones on the cheaper MIK model are of course not exactly top-quality and you may want to change them. Most importantly, the new Variax are built really, really well, even the cheaper ones. They're MIK and MIA, and are easily on-par with other guitars from those countries. The MIK ones are as good as (if not better than) any LTD Deluxe, PRS SE or older Epiphone and the MIA ones hover in quality between the Standards of Fender and Gibson to slightly better; not quite Custom Shop quality but damn close.

The only issue I take with them is the super-Strat one is damn ugly, the Strat-style one has a really uncomfortable control layout and the LP-style one is slightly more limited in features than the other two.

The way I see it, and going on the ones I've tried, the new Variax guitars are pretty much all anybody should need, unless you're someone like Billy Gibbons or Joe Perry who can afford to have literally hundreds of custom guitars flown around with them. For anybody else, the Variax are built as well as you could ever need and they offer every tone and tuning you'll ever need. Anybody who doesn't believe they can sound and work that well has simply not actually tried one out.

Clay-man 11-15-2012 11:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Showiddlydiddly
As much as I love the Variax, it does many guitars very well, but it's not the same as actually having an example of that guitar. Tonally, I mean. For example, in a side by side comparison, it's noticeably less snappy than an actual Strat, but for general use it does the job to a high standard.

Also, if you do get a Variax, I'd highly recommend a POD HD series amp/effects modelboard and/or a DT series amp.


I figure there's obviously guitars out there that would kill the variax in what the variax is trying to achieve, but as long as it's doing a great job, I don't see why I shouldn't consider it. If it sounds like a decent strat/tele/les paul/whatever, then I don't get the point of not considering it.

That's another question, can I use this guitar without any Line6 multieffects unit? Like can I set the tunings and firmware through just a computer instead of having to buy a Line6 pedal?



Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
The old Variax guitars weren't too great. A lot of the models just sounded the same so there were only really three tones available (humbucker, single coil and hollowbody) and they weren't terribly well made.

The new Variax guitars are utterly superb. The various tone options do all sound noticably different and are ridiculously accurate; the tune shift works almost flawlessly (if you try to get it to tune up or down more than four steps it starts to sound very synthetic, like polyphonic octave generators do, since it basically uses the same tech) and the passive pickups don't sound too bad either, though the ones on the cheaper MIK model are of course not exactly top-quality and you may want to change them. Most importantly, the new Variax are built really, really well, even the cheaper ones. They're MIK and MIA, and are easily on-par with other guitars from those countries. The MIK ones are as good as (if not better than) any LTD Deluxe, PRS SE or older Epiphone and the MIA ones hover in quality between the Standards of Fender and Gibson to slightly better; not quite Custom Shop quality but damn close.

The only issue I take with them is the super-Strat one is damn ugly, the Strat-style one has a really uncomfortable control layout and the LP-style one is slightly more limited in features than the other two.

The way I see it, and going on the ones I've tried, the new Variax guitars are pretty much all anybody should need, unless you're someone like Billy Gibbons or Joe Perry who can afford to have literally hundreds of custom guitars flown around with them. For anybody else, the Variax are built as well as you could ever need and they offer every tone and tuning you'll ever need. Anybody who doesn't believe they can sound and work that well has simply not actually tried one out.


I've learned that pitch shifting technology will never sound as good as actually tuning to something with appropriate strings. There are very good pitch shifters out there though, like the morpheus, or VST-wise; Reapitch and Pitchwheel, but they still have artifacts and latency.


So I should avoid the old 700 500 models and look at these JTV models?

Clay-man 01-04-2013 02:45 AM

I just bought a Variax 600 off of ebay. I got some money from Christmas, and it all came down to getting a Telecaster or a Variax.

I wanted a single coil guitar, but I was wondering if I wanted a Telecaster or Strat the most, and it leaned towards Telecaster, but I thought the Variax would maximize my tone/sound range, which is what I was trying to do in the first place.

It might not be those cool new JTV models, but after watching plenty of videos, and demos I think it'll be a good decision.

Arby911 01-04-2013 11:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
A single good guitar and a single good amp can get you all the sounds you will need, you may need to tweak it a bit but that's generally the case. Unless, of course, you're looking for something very specific.



Now THAT'S funny!! :haha:

Good luck playing modern hi-gain on your US Strat with a Fender Twin...a good guitar and a good amp...


:haha:

Geldin 01-04-2013 02:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arby911
Now THAT'S funny!! :haha:

Good luck playing modern hi-gain on your US Strat with a Fender Twin...a good guitar and a good amp...


:haha:

For the record, he said "a" single guitar/amp, not "any" single guitar/amp. Zaph wasn't recommending that you could do Slayer with a US Strat and a Fender twin, but within reason, a good guitar and amp will be able to pull off a variety of different sounds.

Nico the Great 01-04-2013 02:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arby911
Now THAT'S funny!! :haha:

Good luck playing modern hi-gain on your US Strat with a Fender Twin...a good guitar and a good amp...


:haha:

I think it should probably be modified to say that he means you can get the sounds you want within a range or within reason :shrug: . You won't get any Killswitch Engage tones out of a Fender Twin for sure. Maybe if he had a Suhr Riot or something.

Zaphod_Beeblebr 01-04-2013 03:09 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arby911
Now THAT'S funny!! :haha:

Good luck playing modern hi-gain on your US Strat with a Fender Twin...a good guitar and a good amp...


:haha:


A good amp to me is not one that has only one sound.

Fine though, whatever, obviously to avoid being picked up on by deliberately disingenuous fuckwits I should have used the word "versatile" and not "good".

I could very easily play death metal on a strat with something like, for example, a Mesa Mark IV.

Arby911 01-04-2013 03:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
A good amp to me is not one that has only one sound.

Fine though, whatever, obviously to avoid being picked up on by deliberately disingenuous fuckwits I should have used the word "versatile" and not "good".

I could very easily play death metal on a strat with something like, for example, a Mesa Mark IV.


You can have your own opinions, but not your own definitions...(At least not if you expect anyone to understand you...)

Let's be honest, a fender twin is generally considered a 'good' amp, is it not? Don't get angry with me because I based my response on what you said instead of what you meant to say, my mind-reading skills are sketchy at best.

Signed- deliberately disingenuous fuckwit. :D

:haha:


On the bright side, you had a few fine folks jump to your defense, so that's worth something. ;)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Geldin
For the record, he said "a" single guitar/amp, not "any" single guitar/amp. Zaph wasn't recommending that you could do Slayer with a US Strat and a Fender twin, but within reason, a good guitar and amp will be able to pull off a variety of different sounds.



If we're parsing, he said 'all', not 'a variety'... :D

Zaphod_Beeblebr 01-04-2013 04:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arby911
You can have your own opinions, but not your own definitions...(At least not if you expect anyone to understand you...)

Let's be honest, a fender twin is generally considered a 'good' amp, is it not? Don't get angry with me because I based my response on what you said instead of what you meant to say, my mind-reading skills are sketchy at best.

Signed- deliberately disingenuous fuckwit. :D


Fine, if we're being as nitpicky as possible:

You're being disingenuous in that I know you know what you're talking about and yet you choose to 'believe' that I would actually suggest you can get high gain tones out of a low-gain, vintage styled amp. You and I both know this is impossible and you know full well that has nothing to do with what I meant.

Also, while we're being precise: I said "all the tones you will ever need" not "all the tones ever". Those are very much different and again you know which one I meant because you're clearly not stupid.

So for the sake of absolute clarity: with a versatile guitar (such as an HSH strat, Ibanez RG or something with equal switching options) and a high gain amp of some kind (even a single-channel like a Laney GH50L) you can get enough of a variety of tones to cover any style pretty well. It obviously won't sound exactly like everything but it'll sound good enough that no one will care.

Nico the Great 01-04-2013 04:43 PM

^ I see nothing wrong with this statement... is there really a point to all this bickering, guys?

Arby911 01-04-2013 05:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr

You're being disingenuous in that I know you know what you're talking about and yet you choose to 'believe' that I would actually suggest you can get high gain tones out of a low-gain, vintage styled amp. You and I both know this is impossible and you know full well that has nothing to do with what I meant.


Y'all get riled up too easy... :poke:

My bad for (gently) yanking your chain though, you're a pretty good guy.

Pax? :cheers:

Clay-man 01-05-2013 01:41 AM

I know versatility != quality, which is why I researched the Variax extensively.
While I agree with MrFlibble that the new JTV models have a leap on the old models, I disagree that the old models are bad.
They just don't feel right because it doesn't offer the comfort zone of real mags like the new models.

The modeling is fine, it's not spot on, but expecting one guitar to sound exactly like another is a bad idea. I'm just looking to get more nice tones that my SG can't spit out properly.

MaggaraMarine 01-05-2013 05:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arby911
Now THAT'S funny!! :haha:

Good luck playing modern hi-gain on your US Strat with a Fender Twin...a good guitar and a good amp...


:haha:

A Twin is not a good amp for somebody who wants high gain sounds. "Good" is subjective and it depends on the situation. Yes, Twin is considered as a "good" amp but it's good for only certain styles. So which amp is good depends on the situation. Same thing with the guitar.

For example a Fender Twin might be worse choice than Line 6 Spider for a beginner because he might be just looking for his style and might not be sure if he wants to play the guitar in the future or not. The Spider would have more sounds available and some "cool" effects if you get bored. Also it is much cheaper than the Twin. So in this case a Twin would be worse than Spider (though you could buy some other modeling amp that would do it better than Spider).

Versatile amp is not always good either. If you only need one sound, a versatile amp would be just a waste of time and money. You would only want to have a simple amp that does one sound well. And usually the more versatile the amp, the worse it will do a certain sound. It might do all the styles and sound decent but the real thing could do the a certain style better.

I know you weren't completely serious when you said this but just wanted to point out.

@ TS: Happy New Guitar Day

MrFlibble 01-05-2013 09:02 PM

I was mistaken, the other day. This is the worst thread.

Clay-man 01-06-2013 12:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
I was mistaken, the other day. This is the worst thread.

I know, a lot of bickering. Stay on topic please, guys.

Clay-man 01-08-2013 05:26 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
The old Variax guitars weren't too great. A lot of the models just sounded the same so there were only really three tones available (humbucker, single coil and hollowbody) and they weren't terribly well made


Hi MrFibble. I don't know if you picked up old variaxes or not or just seen videos, but I've seen plenty of videos showing a lot of depth between models than just humbucker and single coils. Example: Telecaster is a hell of a lot twangier than a strat, just like it should be.

Can you tell me where you got your impressions of the first line of Variaxes?
Like I said, I agree that the new Variaxes are well improved, but I don't think the old models are bad either. I've noticed a lot of people not utilize it just right on their videos, while others make it sound excellent.


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