Variax review by Line 6

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.1 (59 votes)
Line 6: Variax

Price paid: $ 999

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 10
The Variax is NOT every guitar that it models, so let's put that to rest. It is, however, remarkably quiet (no AC buzz - any Strat players out there?) and has some very nice tones. Since I've had many of the guitars it models over the 25yrs I've played pro, it's nice to cart around one axe that can fool most. The acoustis stuff is much better than any of the other solid bodies w/transducers or piezos. It would be nice if you could program the volume differences, even though they are somewhat true to the modeled guitar levels. I use many amps (Marshall, Fender, A/DA, etc) and effects (Vintage and modern) and the Variax fits as well as any other guitar I use. Sound-wise, I'll also give it a high mark, since 1/4 of the sounds are 4x more than most guitars offer to begin with.

Overall Impression — 10
I'm a working pro and play mostly rock/jazz/fusion etc. I have owned a shet-load of gear over the years and am quick to judge anything. My first bet was that this guitar would be another synth guitar (like several I've had ages ago -remember the Arp Avatar & Rolcna GR-500?) with crappy tracking, aliasing, etc. NO WAY. It's remarkably real. At this point, I'd buy a replacement for certain if mine were to vanish. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before upgrades or competitors will Drive the Variax to improvement, but it's not in need of anything drastic. I'd like to see Line 6 put additional software models on their website for download into the Variax, which would certainly take the blow out of the $1G price tag. Great piece of gear overall and hats off to Line 6...CR

Reliability & Durability — 8
So far (only about 60hrs of gigtime), the Variax has held up well. Since it's taboo to ever gig without a backup guitar, I wouldn't have that concern. However, if it's your only guitar on the gig, I would be wary. The Variax is heavily dependent upon batteries/powered footswitch AND internal electronics. If either go, you have zero sound, period. We'll see how well it holds up over time. Perhaps Line6 shoud have stuck a pickup in this thing anyway for that reassurance...

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
It comes from the factory (according to the manual) strung and adjusted. Yeh, right. Fotunately with the help of my friends at J. Gravity in STL, $30 worth of adjustments to the nut, truss rod and bridge took care of the play-a-bility issue (Hey Line 6 - howse about sending me a $30 rebate?). The finish is nice, and the gears are good. It feels like a decent instrument for the most part.

Features — 10
The Variaxe is quite a guitar, unlike anything else. I need not tell you much about the details on specs, since it's relatively new and can be viewed on Line 6's web site. The features are what I expected, although they could improve a bit. First, the model select knob should have both custom settings next to each other,rather than at opposite ends. I also don't care much for the (6) AA batteries needed if you don't use the footswitch. I would like to have seen Line 6 use a multi-cable (kind of like the old Roland gtr synth) and better integrate the models into the footswitch that allows you to choose a balanced or 1/4" out. For example, when you would select an acoustic gtr, the footswitch would automatically Switch to the balanaced out, etc. I also don't like the AC adapter for the footswitch - 5ft of AC, a transformer, and 5ft of DC. Who wants a transformer laying in between your footswitch and amp? I have to mention the cool use of the tone knob with acoustic guitar models, as it emulates the mic position between bridge and neck! I'd have to give it high marks for it's unique technology, though. (PS - Line6 - you should add a nylon acoustic model...)

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