#1
I'm hunting for a Variax 705 bass...

Anyone got any negatives to report on these?
Last edited by dspellman at Mar 16, 2014,
#2
They were an interesting idea that did not catch on. They looked a bit odd without any visible pickup, but the build quality was said to be rather good. Line 6 has resurrected the Variax guitars and made them look more like "regular" electric guitars, but I do not think they have brought out any new Variax basses.

"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#4
I have a Variax electric guitar. I love it. Love. It.

For people who say there is no pickups at all:
it has pickups

It has piezo pickups in the bridge/saddles so it can contact the string.
For the lack of magnetic pickups, if anyone has any issues with it or don't feel at home with them missing, you could do what I did. I made decals of pickups and put them on my guitar. If anyone has the balls to mod a Variax, they can also put real pickups in it as well.

It uses piezos because piezos are a lot better for trying to capture the pure sound of your strings vibrating without cutting off the highs and all that stuff, it's why they're using for getting an acoustic sound on a guitar. The piezo is fed into a DSP (processor) and algorithms of the guitars it's modeling are applied to the signal. The Variax is not MIDI. The only synthetic sound it makes is probably the synth models on the Bass Variax.


Quote by FatalGear41
They were an interesting idea that did not catch on. They looked a bit odd without any visible pickup, but the build quality was said to be rather good. Line 6 has resurrected the Variax guitars and made them look more like "regular" electric guitars, but I do not think they have brought out any new Variax basses.


The Variaxes never "didn't catch on" as bad as you think it did. It also never "died" to be resurrected. It was merely replaced with a new generation line of Variaxes (James Tyler Variax).


As for problems: There are some problems you CAN have, like broken electronics in the guitar as well as piezos that no longer work.

You can only buy Variax basses on ebay now, unless you somehow find a used one in a guitar store. They will cost you a bit because they are more rare than the Electric guitars.


Good luck, if you do get one, I hope you like it, I fully am for Variaxes, best modeling guitars hand down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgq9hlJysj8
Last edited by Clay-man at Mar 21, 2014,
#5
Quote by Clay-man
I have a Variax electric guitar. I love it. Love. It.

For people who say there is no pickups at all:
it has pickups

It has piezo pickups in the bridge/saddles so it can contact the string.


EH


"Show me war; show me pestilence; show me the blood-red hands of retribution..."
#6
Quote by eddiehimself


LE MEME XDDDD



You do know that there's always people that make an argument that the Variax has no pickups right?
#7
Quote by Clay-man

You do know that there's always people that make an argument that the Variax has no pickups right?




Also, I do hate reddit so much.
EH


"Show me war; show me pestilence; show me the blood-red hands of retribution..."
#8
Quote by Clay-man
The Variaxes never "didn't catch on" as bad as you think it did. It also never "died" to be resurrected. It was merely replaced with a new generation line of Variaxes (James Tyler Variax).


I never said that the original Variax instruments fell flat on their faces. Rather; I said that they did not catch on, which is true - especially regarding the bass. The Variax bass was introduced by Line 6 in about 2002 and was discontinued in 2007. The Variax guitars were discontinued in 2009 and replaced by the revamped versions in 2010, sans the electric bass version.

According to a friend of mine who worked at Line 6 during this time, the Variax series was a very tough sell. The "vintage" craze was in full swing, and the Variax instruments were anything but. The original Variax not only had no visible pickup; it looked neither "vintage" nor "shredder," and these were the guitars that people were buying. To boost sales, Line 6 upgraded the Variax guitar to the Model 700 (the original had no model designation until the Model 700 was released, after which time the original guitar became the Model 500), but it sold - after the big-box music store discount - for US$1,500.00. You could get a Les Paul, Strat, or Telecaster for that price, and this practically ensured its commercial failure. Line 6 cut the price of the original guitar (Model 500) with the big-box discount to US$800.00, but this was still considered too high; particularly since Line 6 was developing a reputation as a manufacturer of more affordable amplifiers. Despite some solid reviews, the Variax instruments were just not selling well.

The combination of these factors led to the decision to redesign the guitars with James Tyler, and to feature James Tyler's name prominently in the advertising. His custom guitars have proven quite popular here in L.A., and it was hoped that the name recognition - along with the more conventional appearance - would make a big difference. According to a number of reviews in the trades, the new Variax is a major improvement over the old ones in terms of playability, construction and looks. I do not know if the first two are true, but the new ones certainly look more like a traditional electric guitar than did the old ones. Only time will tell if they have the staying power to succeed in today's market. Given the fact that the majority of guitarists these days are staunch traditionalists, I would not bet on it.

I still wonder why they chose not to reintroduce a Variax bass, but I suspect that when Line 6 crunched the numbers, they decided that there was not enough of a market for it at this time. I would not be surprised to see a James Tyler Variax bass in the near future, though. Line 6 has a pretty big investment in these things, so they may decide to go for broke. Time will tell.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#10
Quote by FatalGear41
I never said that the original Variax instruments fell flat on their faces. Rather; I said that they did not catch on, which is true - especially regarding the bass. The Variax bass was introduced by Line 6 in about 2002 and was discontinued in 2007. The Variax guitars were discontinued in 2009 and replaced by the revamped versions in 2010, sans the electric bass version.

According to a friend of mine who worked at Line 6 during this time, the Variax series was a very tough sell. The "vintage" craze was in full swing, and the Variax instruments were anything but. The original Variax not only had no visible pickup; it looked neither "vintage" nor "shredder," and these were the guitars that people were buying. To boost sales, Line 6 upgraded the Variax guitar to the Model 700 (the original had no model designation until the Model 700 was released, after which time the original guitar became the Model 500), but it sold - after the big-box music store discount - for US$1,500.00. You could get a Les Paul, Strat, or Telecaster for that price, and this practically ensured its commercial failure. Line 6 cut the price of the original guitar (Model 500) with the big-box discount to US$800.00, but this was still considered too high; particularly since Line 6 was developing a reputation as a manufacturer of more affordable amplifiers. Despite some solid reviews, the Variax instruments were just not selling well.

The combination of these factors led to the decision to redesign the guitars with James Tyler, and to feature James Tyler's name prominently in the advertising. His custom guitars have proven quite popular here in L.A., and it was hoped that the name recognition - along with the more conventional appearance - would make a big difference. According to a number of reviews in the trades, the new Variax is a major improvement over the old ones in terms of playability, construction and looks. I do not know if the first two are true, but the new ones certainly look more like a traditional electric guitar than did the old ones. Only time will tell if they have the staying power to succeed in today's market. Given the fact that the majority of guitarists these days are staunch traditionalists, I would not bet on it.

I still wonder why they chose not to reintroduce a Variax bass, but I suspect that when Line 6 crunched the numbers, they decided that there was not enough of a market for it at this time. I would not be surprised to see a James Tyler Variax bass in the near future, though. Line 6 has a pretty big investment in these things, so they may decide to go for broke. Time will tell.



Ok. I can agree with that.

The Variax is catching on a lot more this decade though, even the old ones. The old ones aren't manufactured anymore, but they're definitely more circulated in Ebay these days.

Perhaps because the JTV is decently successful and some people want a more affordable alternative (Which is what I did).
The JTVs are definitely doing well though. I'm pretty sure they're the most successful "modeling" guitar out there (Firebird X, Autotune Guitar).

The JTVs are honestly a response to the wishlist/criticism of the old Variaxes. They can work as completely normal guitars which adds a lot of value to the consideration of having the guitar. The James Tyler deal helps with the playability design in the guitar and the guitar has more professional hardware on it too compared to the older Variaxes.


As for the Bass, I honestly don't know if they'll make a JTV Bass. It would be nice, but there's no sign yet for stuff like a new Bass, Acoustic, Lefty, or any of that stuff. It depends if it's worth bringing back for them. If it's going to send the company crashing and burning than obviously it isn't worth it.

Either way, I'm happy with my 600. Looks great even without pickups (even more than the JTV 69 imo, god that headstock is ugly). But would I upgrade to a JTV? Definitely, especially for the alt tune knob and their HD modeling 2.0 firmware.

Quote by Deliriumbassist
I really do think that Line 6 should offer the Variax electronics and bridge/ electronics on it's own as an aftermarket upgrade. They might sell more.


There is a company that takes out the guts of a Variax and makes it into a 13-pin cable-acceptable box.

I also know a lot of people like to transplant Variax guts into their own guitars. It's very popular to do for people who like Variaxes.
Last edited by Clay-man at Mar 23, 2014,
#11
Quote by Clay-man



There is a company that takes out the guts of a Variax and makes it into a 13-pin cable-acceptable box.

I also know a lot of people like to transplant Variax guts into their own guitars. It's very popular to do for people who like Variaxes.


I know plenty of people do it- I even listed an example in this thread! Problem is, it involves purchasing a whole Variax instrument, which is obviously additional cost, and generally makes the whole process cost prohibitive for many people. Line 6 seem to be missing a trick on this.
#12
Quote by Deliriumbassist
I know plenty of people do it- I even listed an example in this thread! Problem is, it involves purchasing a whole Variax instrument, which is obviously additional cost, and generally makes the whole process cost prohibitive for many people. Line 6 seem to be missing a trick on this.


If you do this, it will cost pretty intensely regardless of this. You could get a 300 for like 100-300 dollars on ebay and use that.

Transplanting a JTV is definitely risky though. I've seen a video of someone with a JTV transplant, but it's definitely not as done as with old Variaxes.

Anyways, if you do this, you'll obviously have to route the guitar to make room for the guts, and it's definitely not just small pockets in the guitar, it takes up a big space.

I believe Warmoth sold Variax-ready guitar bodies but I'm not sure if that's still a thing.
#13
I nearly forgot about this thread...

Just to clear up a few things...

I have three Variaxes at the moment -- one of the original Variaxes (now called the 500), an Acoustic 700 (both first generation) and a new JTV-89F (Floyd version).

My original intent with the 500 was to use it as a donor and drop it into a better guitar. There were a lot of wags who called the 500 "$1200 worth of electronics in a $200 guitar." Pretty much everyone agreed that they'd love to have the electronics in a better guitar. Thus, Warmoth put out replacement necks (AND bodies), a number of techs advertised they could perform the surgery to place the sparky bits into an existing guitar, and RackVax (http://www.rackvax.com/products/rackmount/rackvax-electric/ ) excised the guts and put them into a rack, so that you could plug any guitar with a 13-pin pickup into the thing and have guitar modeling to your heart's content.

The whole line of electric guitars have the same models in them, up to 2009. The Acoustic 700 has a whole different set of guitar models (and controls), and the basses (I'm only familiar with the 700 and 705, with four and five strings, respectively) have their own as well.

There are currently six models of JTV Variax out there, and I originally assumed I'd be going with the LP-ish version (which is probably the most popular). I knew that Rich Renken (then the product manager) was going to put a Graphtech Floyd on ONE of the guitars, but I didn't know when and I didn't know which. Rich left the company before the second round of three guitars was introduced, and I was disappointed that it was the JTV-89 that got the Floyd. Of the original three, it seemed to be the most single-minded and the least popular. It was obviously designed for the metal crowd, with only a black and a "blood red" version, an upside-down headstock, several more downtunings replacing the nice factory blues G, etc., on the alternate tunings knob, and a set of hotter pickups. Unfortunately, the metal boys really didn't get it either. When the "F" model arrived last year,I decided (reluctantly) to take a second look. I really wanted that Floyd. As it turned out, the specs were right up my alley: 16" radius, jumbo frets, thinner neck (compared to the LP version), mahogany body, satin finish back-of-neck, outstanding Floyd, a great control arrangement (compared to the other models), 25.5" scale and 24 frets. And they righted the tuners. I ordered up and GC in Pasadena delivered a guitar that's set up beautifully right out of the box. I was stunned. Six months later, it's one of the top two. The new "HD" models are a "re-do" that take advantage of more DSP capacity and speed, and all but a couple (the strat is one, the tele another) are identical to the old models, but with better accuracy. I have the old Variax to compare, and I'm onboard with the differences. It was a blind choice when I made it, but it turned out amazingly well.
#14
I'm looking for the 705 in part because I tried a 700 and really liked it.

FatalGear41 suggested that they really didn't catch on, but that's not quite accurate. Given the miniscule sales of basses compared to six-string guitars, they probably have a respectable market share, but perhaps not as many as a volume producer like Line 6 would care to see.

The 7XX guitars are, by all accounts I've seen so far, excellent players, and the models cover most of the really serious heavyweights of the bass world, including Ricks, old P and J basses and much more. All of the Variax guitars allow you to play single-coil guitar and bass sounds, but without the hum and noise. Thus, these are highly sought-after for recording and similar use.

Until and unless Line 6 decides to drop a new bass on us, I want the 705 -- but I did want to know if anyone had experienced any glitches of the, "Well, you want to be sure to check the ______ on these; they sometimes give out..." variety.
#15
I say give it a try. Shop smart on ebay, and make sure if you get it that it's in good shape.
I love the Variaxes, loved it when I first heard about it, and this was when I hated line 6 at the moment.
#16
Quote by FatalGear41
I still wonder why they chose not to reintroduce a Variax bass, but I suspect that when Line 6 crunched the numbers, they decided that there was not enough of a market for it at this time. I would not be surprised to see a James Tyler Variax bass in the near future, though. Line 6 has a pretty big investment in these things, so they may decide to go for broke. Time will tell.


I had two 5 string Variax basses both of them were faulty, they played well but they were unreliable so they were returned, if Line 6 brought out a reliable 5 string bass I'd have one tomorrow, our guitarist has the guitar, floor board and amp.
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn
#17
Quote by John Swift
I had two 5 string Variax basses both of them were faulty, they played well but they were unreliable so they were returned, if Line 6 brought out a reliable 5 string bass I'd have one tomorrow, our guitarist has the guitar, floor board and amp.


Most players I know that have them swear by them, and reliability isn't a concern. By now, the bugs on the ones that are left should be gone <G>. I'd love to see a new one; the JTV-89F I have is leagues better (just as a guitar) than the old 500.
#18
Quote by dspellman
Most players I know that have them swear by them, and reliability isn't a concern. By now, the bugs on the ones that are left should be gone <G>. I'd love to see a new one; the JTV-89F I have is leagues better (just as a guitar) than the old 500.

Well I can only say as I find, also getting Line 6 gear repaired in the past could be a lengthy process
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn
#19
Quote by John Swift
Well I can only say as I find, also getting Line 6 gear repaired in the past could be a lengthy process


I live within driving distance of Line 6 in Calabasas, and I've been out there a few times. Repair's not really an issue.

Interesting story about how they got the name -- dunno if you've heard it before.
The principals came from an electronic keyboard company. When they were developing the first modeling amp, they were keeping things highly secretive. But they still had visitors (investors, etc.) coming through the building now and then. In order to signal everyone that they should cover whatever they were working on, the receptionist would announce on the intercom, "Mr _________, Line 6" (they only had three or four active lines on the phone system at the time). It stuck.