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Old 01-09-2013, 05:17 AM   #21
MrFlibble
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I tried one out for myself, once. Maybe I didn't spend enough time with it, but to my ears, most of the tones sounded more or less the same, e.g. Strat bridge pickup and Tele bridge pickup, Thinline Tele and regular Tele, Casino and ES-335, etc. That's aside from it feeling like a very cheap, poorly made guitar in the first place.

The new ones are such a vast improvement that I don't think you can actually compare the old and new Variax guitars at all. It's like putting a 15w Spider combo against a Vetta II head. The old guitars, at least going by my experience with them, were not worth bothering with even for pub giggers and bedroom heroes. The new JTV ones should be in every serious player's rack.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:31 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by MrFlibble
I tried one out for myself, once. Maybe I didn't spend enough time with it, but to my ears, most of the tones sounded more or less the same, e.g. Strat bridge pickup and Tele bridge pickup, Thinline Tele and regular Tele, Casino and ES-335, etc. That's aside from it feeling like a very cheap, poorly made guitar in the first place.

The new ones are such a vast improvement that I don't think you can actually compare the old and new Variax guitars at all. It's like putting a 15w Spider combo against a Vetta II head. The old guitars, at least going by my experience with them, were not worth bothering with even for pub giggers and bedroom heroes. The new JTV ones should be in every serious player's rack.


Well my 600 just came in today. I was skeptical about the old models too, but they're honestly not that bad.
I've heard that dialing in the tone knob to 8 instead of 10 gets a better tone, and I agree.

I've messed with workbench and being able to build any combination of pickups with any guitar body really helped distinguished sounds, especially since most of the telecaster models are mixed bridge and neck pickups in the other Telecaster models.

I agree that the JTV seems a lot more professional, and basically gives the guitar players a reason not to just pass it by, especially when you can use it as a COMPLETE normal guitar in the first place, so why not get one with good quality modeling?

Either way, I can vouch that the old models are nice guitars, not perfect, but they're really neat imo.
I was pissed at line 6 for a good time, but they definitely have some serious innovative guitars, and I can say they know what they're doing with them.

PS: To the people that keep referencing them as MIDI guitars, they're not.
MIDI = digital data to trigger synthetic sound
Variax = Modeling, as in the piezo signal is processed to sound like the guitar models, ergo it's the actual sound from the strings, just altered.

Last edited by Clay-man : 01-10-2013 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:52 AM   #23
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HNGD. i don't think i have ever played one, but again HNGD.

if you ever need a neck, let me know, i have had a brand new factory variax neck for a while and have no use for it. however as far as i can speak for quality (of my neck), it certainly does not have bad fretwork.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:09 AM   #24
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If you can get it to sound good, fair enough. As I said, I will happily admit I only used the previous Variax once and that I didn't get to really mess with it in any depth, just flicked through the stock sounds. I do know from my experience dialing in tones on my Line 6 amp that hooking them up to a computer and using the in-depth editing software opens up a whole world of much better tones that they, for whatever reason, don't bother to include by default. That's usually my only complaint with Line 6 stuff, the potential is there but the presets are always terrible and that's all anybody ever hears.
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:52 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by MrFlibble
If you can get it to sound good, fair enough. As I said, I will happily admit I only used the previous Variax once and that I didn't get to really mess with it in any depth, just flicked through the stock sounds. I do know from my experience dialing in tones on my Line 6 amp that hooking them up to a computer and using the in-depth editing software opens up a whole world of much better tones that they, for whatever reason, don't bother to include by default. That's usually my only complaint with Line 6 stuff, the potential is there but the presets are always terrible and that's all anybody ever hears.


Yeah, I just went in and tweaked the tele models and they sound even more appropriate now. They're a lot more twangier. I also made the strats just a tad bit mellower. They sound more varying, and appropriate to their models now.
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:57 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by trashedlostfdup
HNGD. i don't think i have ever played one, but again HNGD.

if you ever need a neck, let me know, i have had a brand new factory variax neck for a while and have no use for it. however as far as i can speak for quality (of my neck), it certainly does not have bad fretwork.


Thanks a bunch, but I don't think I'll need one, or rather can afford one. I am used to rosewood, but I gotta say that the maple neck on my 600 is actually refreshing and really nice, and I kinda love it.

Though it would be nice to have another neck to switch out if I wanted, I don't have any cash for it now, so I'll have to pass, but thanks for the info and kind words!
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:24 PM   #27
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Hi guys. Apparently the JTVs are getting a complete redo in all their guitar models.
MrFlibble, you might be interested in this.

It's dubbed JTV HD/Workbench HD, which will completely replace all models as well as add complete new ones with "HD" quality versions.

http://line6.com/news/general/1387

So I guess if any of you are still iffy about the current JTVs, you can check this out. Let's see how close these will get.
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Old 02-07-2013, 02:52 PM   #28
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Yeah, Line 6 do this every 18 months or so. They've always provided free updates to all their software for all their products.

Problem is, there's usually no way to roll back the update or choose which parts to update, and sometimes the new versions don't actually sound better than older tones. Case in point would be the Spinal Puppet sound on the old HD147 and POD rack units; one of the best tones Line 6 has ever made and used by many bands both for touring and recording, then Line 6 ''updated'' it to have more gain and it became a fizzy mess that nobody liked, and since these companies can't admit to making mistakes like that, they silently dropped the tone and it's never been seen since.

So, good news if the new sounds are good, but wait for demos and other people to do the update before you go ahead yourself.
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:12 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by MrFlibble
Yeah, Line 6 do this every 18 months or so. They've always provided free updates to all their software for all their products.

Problem is, there's usually no way to roll back the update or choose which parts to update, and sometimes the new versions don't actually sound better than older tones. Case in point would be the Spinal Puppet sound on the old HD147 and POD rack units; one of the best tones Line 6 has ever made and used by many bands both for touring and recording, then Line 6 ''updated'' it to have more gain and it became a fizzy mess that nobody liked, and since these companies can't admit to making mistakes like that, they silently dropped the tone and it's never been seen since.

So, good news if the new sounds are good, but wait for demos and other people to do the update before you go ahead yourself.


My old Variax can't update to JTV firmware. I'm pretty sure that the V1 Variaxes can't handle JTV firmware because the JTV firmware was designed for the JTV's more powerful hardware, not to mention that they'd lose money if they did that.

I heard people say they like the older acoustic models than the new ones that come with 1.8. I can kind of see what they mean. While the 1.8 firmware acoustics sounded more like a mic'd acoustic, with a more realistic tone, I think it sounds too muddy, and the highend is rolled off too hard. Maybe that's fixable with EQing, but I think it should sound a lot brighter than that.

Either way, I'll definitely look at demos. Though I did want a JTV, I'll stick to my Variax 600 for the meantime, but that doesn't mean I won't check stuff out.
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:27 AM   #30
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i have an original variax 500, from before they made the 500 an exclusively lefty model - it was one of my first guitars, i thought it would satisfy my need to experiment with tones. approximately 30 new guitars later and i realised i may have been wrong

Aside from mine being terribly set up (and i didn't know how set up a guitar at the time), the only issue i ever had with it is that worn strings tend to kill the tone a lot more than they would on a normal guitar. But that's what elixir nanowebs are for, i guess. Other than that it's a pretty useful guitar, even if it doesn't really sound or feel very organic to play. It's the only thing i have that can create an electric sitar sound, for a start
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:03 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Blompcube
i have an original variax 500, from before they made the 500 an exclusively lefty model - it was one of my first guitars, i thought it would satisfy my need to experiment with tones. approximately 30 new guitars later and i realised i may have been wrong

Aside from mine being terribly set up (and i didn't know how set up a guitar at the time), the only issue i ever had with it is that worn strings tend to kill the tone a lot more than they would on a normal guitar. But that's what elixir nanowebs are for, i guess. Other than that it's a pretty useful guitar, even if it doesn't really sound or feel very organic to play. It's the only thing i have that can create an electric sitar sound, for a start


I think the workbench software is really great to use with the Variax. If you're having trouble with certain models, you can tweak them up in Workbench.
If string response is off you can edit string volume and even volume for the pickups and models.

It's very easy to get what you want with it.
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:53 PM   #32
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MrFlibble, I've apparently heard that the JTV actually has NO update in modeling technology, not until they put in the new Acoustic models.

I'd say if you just want the modeling, an old model is just fine. It probably is a little less enthusiastic than a JTV since those can function as a completely normal guitar.
I try to think of it as a "magic" piezo guitar. A lot of professional guitars have piezos.

Other than that, the JTV is the same modeling-wise, until the HD update comes.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:41 PM   #33
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New HD JTV Variax firmware has been released a week ago.

This firmware release is a COMPLETE OVERHAUL of the modeling of guitars in the JTV.

What do you guys think of it?



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Old 08-25-2013, 07:47 AM   #34
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My bandmate recently got a JTV and my thoughts were mixed because the modelling didn't seem any different to my original variax. Nice guitar though. but i thought i may as well just transplant the variax 500 hardware into a nice warmoth guitar or something.

Hopefully he might let me try the guitar with the upgraded modelling - then i might seriously consider getting a JTV if i think the improvement is worthwhile. it's hard to tell from videos - i always thought it was the way the models respond to playing dynamics that wasn't quite right. a common complaint seems to be the response to palm muting, i'm tempted to blame the fact that the modelling system uses a piezo pickup which is just never going to respond the same as a magnetic pickup. To me, playing a variax has always felt a bit like playing an amplified electro-acoustic.
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:31 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Blompcube
My bandmate recently got a JTV and my thoughts were mixed because the modelling didn't seem any different to my original variax. Nice guitar though. but i thought i may as well just transplant the variax 500 hardware into a nice warmoth guitar or something.

Hopefully he might let me try the guitar with the upgraded modelling - then i might seriously consider getting a JTV if i think the improvement is worthwhile. it's hard to tell from videos - i always thought it was the way the models respond to playing dynamics that wasn't quite right. a common complaint seems to be the response to palm muting, i'm tempted to blame the fact that the modelling system uses a piezo pickup which is just never going to respond the same as a magnetic pickup. To me, playing a variax has always felt a bit like playing an amplified electro-acoustic.



I can definitely hear differences between a gen 1 Variax and a JTV, and a JTV with the new HD stuff.

I believe the JTV ORIGINALLY had the exact same modeling programming as the Gen 1 Variaxes, BUT, the JTV had higher quality piezos which gave a better sound overall compared to the Gen 1 Variaxes.

I've heard you can make a Gen 1 Variax sound better by replacing the LR Baggs with Graphtech Ghost piezos.


About the palm muting thing, L6 addressed and fixed the problem with 1.9 firmware update (only for the JTV though). It sounds a lot better, but I think the palm muting problem isn't too bad if you palm mute a bit higher up the strings.

The reason the Variax uses piezos is because piezos have a broad, flat frequency response compared to magnetic pickups, which only had a midrange frequency response.

Since a magnetic pickup deleted the tonality in the low and high end of your strings, it's a horrible option to use to model guitar pickups.
The best approach would be to capture practically the exact sound of your strings without any coloring, something piezos do pretty well, then let the processor emulate the pickup and body sounds.
Get it?

Either way, I enjoy my Variax 600 (first generation), but I am interested in the JTV series, as it does seem definitely improved.

I suggest listening to videos and possibly trying one out for yourself to decide.
Also remember that you can always tweak your tone through Workbench software.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:54 PM   #36
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Since a magnetic pickup deleted the tonality in the low and high end of your strings, it's a horrible option to use to model guitar pickups.
The best approach would be to capture practically the exact sound of your strings without any coloring, something piezos do pretty well, then let the processor emulate the pickup and body sounds.
Get it?

Yes, of course i understand that. I'm not saying that they should use magnetic pickups - my point is that the technology still has a long way to go, because even though piezo pickups might currently be the best approach, it's not perfect, so i think further developments to the hardware are needed to advance the technology much further than what line 6 initially accomplished with the original variax.

I just wish i could validate what i've said by coming up with a better way of doing it
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:47 PM   #37
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Yes, of course i understand that. I'm not saying that they should use magnetic pickups - my point is that the technology still has a long way to go, because even though piezo pickups might currently be the best approach, it's not perfect, so i think further developments to the hardware are needed to advance the technology much further than what line 6 initially accomplished with the original variax.

I just wish i could validate what i've said by coming up with a better way of doing it


True. Piezos definitely have some different characteristics and nuances than magnetics.

I think the only thing they can do is program as best as they can to act like magnetics, and they've been doing pretty well at that with the past few firmware upgrades.
Like I said, palm muting was improved on 1.9 firmware (current firmware is the HD 2.0)
The reason why palm muting sounds so funny is probably because the pickups sit BEHIND your palm when you palm muting, while a magnetic sits in FRONT of your hand usually.

The ups of piezo pickups however is having a virtually noiseless guitar. NO single coil hum at all, no buzzing or anything, unless the hum and buzz is coming from your amp or effects.

This guitar is definitely not for everyone, but I love it so I'd like to discuss it.

You have to make your own decisions when it comes to purchasing a Variax though. You have a few options, like whether to purchase an old Gen 1 Variax if you think those sound good (I think they do). Or if you prefer the sound from the new JTV series, but you'll have to shell out more.

By the way, if you wanna hear how palm muting sounds on the old Variaxes, check out this demo I made:
Model: Les Paul Custom bridge PU on Alt tune mode to C Standard -> Guitar rig: Tubescreamer into 5150

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u...almmutetest.mp3

Last edited by Clay-man : 08-25-2013 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:54 PM   #38
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I've got two Variax guitars, both part of the original brigade: one is the Acoustic 700 (which has no analog in the current JTV lineup) and the other is the Variax 500.

I have an order in for the JTV 89F (due around the 10th of September), which has the Graphtech saddled Floyd Rose trem. The 89 has been the least popular of the three basic JTV guitars (the other two are based on the LP and the Strat), but in my eyes, it may actually be the best. It's got a wider fretboard, , 25.5" scale, a 16" radius, 24 jumbo frets and a slightly thinner neck. It's got two fairly hot humbuckers and a sort of superstrat body shape. Also different is the fact that a few of the standard alternate tunings have been changed, substituting a few more downtunings for DADGAD, Blues G and an A something or other. The new Workbench editing software can put pretty much anything into those positions on the alternate tuning dial, and you can also set up your own on the guitar at any time. They obviously intended it to be the "shredder" or metal model, so it's available in black and "blood red." I've got too many black guitars now, so I ordered up in the red version.

One very clever thing that Line 6 did this go-round was to model the 89F's magnetic pickups. Besides showing how accurate the modeling is, it also allows you to run the 89F native guitar sound in any alternate tuning (which, on a Floyd Rose equipped guitar, makes all kinds of sense).

Since I've spent a LOT more time with the old models than most here, I can tell you that they're a LOT better than they sound when you're simply poking at the dial in a guitar store. The teles have always been stellar, and actually *better* than some real-life teles. The strat models have been good, the LP models have been pretty good and the 335 stuff has been outstanding. The JTV series guitars with the more powerful DSPs and better piezos helped fix the 12-string acoustic models' occasional artifacting, reduced a bit of the occasional "ping" of the old piezos, etc. The "HD" upgrade apparently (I haven't seen it in person yet) made the LP models even better, subbed a different tele series (still outstanding), changed the jazzbox a bit and changed the strat sounds some. Some folks groused a bit about the HD strat models, but it turns out there was a slight glitch in the first run of the HD software (the Workbench part) that affected things.

I don't have the same issue that Blompcube has with "feel" when it comes to the piezos, but I've probably been using piezos quite a bit longer than most, across a wide range of guitars. One of the real positives to piezos and modeled guitars is that the single coil pickup guitars (strats, teles, P90 guitars, etc.) modeled by the Variax benefit from the complete lack of noise that you get from those same pickups on a standard non-modeled guitar. If you're a P90 guitar player walking into a hellhole bar of neon bar signs and ice machine recycling voltage changes, you can really appreciate the difference. Folks in cover bands and orchestra pit bands and recording studios have long been fans of the Variax. People who learn a complicated song in one key and then have a singer walk in and announce that he can't hit the high notes and will need to have everything a couple of steps down will appreciate the instant alternate tuning capabilities. Your string tension never changes, your tuning never varies and you simply play the song exactly as you learned it; the guitar does the transposing for you. A song like the Doobie Brothers' Dangerous, that starts out with an acoustic slide intro, moves into some gainy PRS-with-Marshall stuff, back into acoustic slide and finishes with more PRS/Marshall is perfect for the Variax, especially if running into an HD 500. First, you can make those changes with a single stomp (the HD 500 will save Variax guitar models AND amp/cab/fx settings in a single user bank), and second, you can run the whole thing with a Variax cable (a glorified, ruggedized ethernet cable), which eliminates tone-altering capacitance concerns, etc.
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:28 PM   #39
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The 89 got a lot more popular when they installed the floyd rose version. I'm sure the sales on the 89 have risen because of that, in fact I think they're discontinuing the hardtail 89's.

I personally want the 69s (single coil bridge) maple fret/neck. The only thing I don't like is the headstock looks ugly, and I prefer my 600's obvious Fender copy. :P

The reason I got a Variax is because I originally wanted a telecaster and possible a strat. I saw Dustin Kensrue of Thrice used a Variax and was instantly intrigued.

The more I learned about it the more I loved it. I use many tunings and wanted different tones, and it fix perfectly for what I needed.

By the way, the glitch with the strats is that it seems the pickups in position 2 and 4 don't seem to work right. (Quack positions)
A lot of people were annoying, but I think they're working on fixing it.
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:43 PM   #40
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The 89 got a lot more popular when they installed the floyd rose version. I'm sure the sales on the 89 have risen because of that, in fact I think they're discontinuing the hardtail 89's.


I was in Rich Renken's office at Line 6 just before they officially announced the JTVs and quite a bit before they announced the DT series. At the time, he had all three Variax models in samples, and we were looking them over. I was, at the time, more interested in the 59 (the LP-alike) and told him I wanted to see one with a Floyd on it. He glanced up, did one of those "Cough" numbers that covered the words "Third shelf" and waggled his eyebrows. Behind me was a bookcase cluttered with his car models and other toys, and sure enough, on the third shelf was a Graphtech LB163. I've been waiting ever since. And of course they didn't put it on the LP model <G>.

They may just be changing the hardtail version a bit; the upside down headstock wasn't particularly popular, particularly since Tyler has a canoe paddle of a headstock on the poor things. The 59's headstock is nicer looking, but I guess that wouldn't do for a "metal/shredder" guitar, eh?
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