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Clay-man
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#1
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?
Last edited by Clay-man at Jul 24, 2014,
Zaphod_Beeblebr
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#2
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.
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Showiddlydiddly
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#3
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
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#4
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.
Last edited by Dick Foster at Nov 15, 2012,
MrFlibble
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#5
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.
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Clay-man
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#6
Quote 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 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?
Last edited by Clay-man at Nov 15, 2012,
Clay-man
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#7
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.
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#8
Quote 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!!

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


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Geldin
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#9
Quote by Arby911
Now THAT'S funny!!

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



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.
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#10
Quote by Arby911
Now THAT'S funny!!

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



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 . 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
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#11
Quote by Arby911
Now THAT'S funny!!

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




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.
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Arby911
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#12
Quote 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.




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


Quote 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'...
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
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Last edited by Arby911 at Jan 4, 2013,
Zaphod_Beeblebr
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#13
Quote 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.


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.
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#14
^ I see nothing wrong with this statement... is there really a point to all this bickering, guys?
Arby911
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#15
Quote 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...

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

Pax?
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Clay-man
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#16
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.
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#17
Quote by Arby911
Now THAT'S funny!!

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



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.

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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jan 5, 2013,
MrFlibble
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#18
I was mistaken, the other day. This is the worst thread.
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Clay-man
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#19
Quote 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
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#20
Quote 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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#21
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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Clay-man
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#22
Quote 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 at Jan 10, 2013,
trashedlostfdup
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#23
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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nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


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MrFlibble
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#24
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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#25
Quote 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.
Clay-man
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#26
Quote 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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#27
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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MrFlibble
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#28
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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#29
Quote 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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#30
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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1979 Yamaha SG1000
Fender Jazzmaster
1964 Vox AC30TB
A/B/Tuner box
A -> DIY fuzz, tremolo and boost -> normal channel
B -> compressor, chorus and delay -> brilliant channel
Boss TU-3/Talkbox
Clay-man
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Join date: Apr 2009
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#31
Quote 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.
Guitars:
Davison SG
Line 6 Variax 600
Line 6 JTV 69s
Squier Classic Bibe Telecaster Thinline
Clay-man
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#32
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.
Blompcube
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Join date: Aug 2006
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#34
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.
Rig: (under construction)
1979 Yamaha SG1000
Fender Jazzmaster
1964 Vox AC30TB
A/B/Tuner box
A -> DIY fuzz, tremolo and boost -> normal channel
B -> compressor, chorus and delay -> brilliant channel
Boss TU-3/Talkbox
Clay-man
Say no to saying no
Join date: Apr 2009
4,082 IQ
#35
Quote 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.
Blompcube
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#36
Quote by Clay-man
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
Rig: (under construction)
1979 Yamaha SG1000
Fender Jazzmaster
1964 Vox AC30TB
A/B/Tuner box
A -> DIY fuzz, tremolo and boost -> normal channel
B -> compressor, chorus and delay -> brilliant channel
Boss TU-3/Talkbox
Clay-man
Say no to saying no
Join date: Apr 2009
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#37
Quote by Blompcube
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/21663288/Music/variaxpalmmutetest.mp3
Last edited by Clay-man at Aug 25, 2013,
dspellman
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Join date: Jan 2012
1,110 IQ
#38
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.
Clay-man
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#39
Quote by dspellman
snip


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.
dspellman
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#40
Quote by Clay-man
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?