Variax 600 review by Line 6

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (70 votes)
Line 6: Variax 600

Price paid: $ 799

Purchased from: Musicians Friends

Sound — 8
I play everything except heavy metal. That's further up the pike. As I mentioned above the open tunings at the flick of a Switch is totally fantastic. If you purchase a solid-body Variax, for an additional $100 you can buy the Variax Workbench. Here the Variax via USB is now part of a computer program. You can choose different guitar bodies, pickups, and many more parameters to create a custom instrument. This is how I created all the Open tunings. I love the variety of sounds. Certain country songs sound great with the Banjo option. Scarborough Fair is fantastic on the 1966 Rickenbacker 260-12 model. I use to own this model back in the 80s and I was always sad that I sold it. On the acoustic models it is necessary to move the mike (tone knob) away from the instrument. That way it doesn't have such a booming quality. But these sound great with the classical guitar pieces that I play. I spent two whole days experimenting with the different sounds and I was always amazed at the results. I like playing Classical Gas on a 1968 Telecaster Thinline model, go figure. Another jazz blues tune called Another Lonely Day sounded great on the 1957 Gibson ES-175 model. All of this justs adds another dimension to my playing pleasure. The modeling sometimes is not perfect, but good enough.

Overall Impression — 8
I play classical, jazz, blues, folk. This guitar is a good match for my style because of its ability to go to any open tuning and also I make use of the full inventory of guitar models. I took my crappy Yamaha 12-string Strat knockoff and did the following: I replaced the electronics with three EMG single coil pickups. I changed the nut and bridge for six-string. I sanded all the rough edges on the top side and I repainted it. This is my standby if anything happens to the Line 6. I also have a Dobro Resonator guitar, a Custom Santa Cruz guitar Company Koa wood dreadnaught, and a Martin 12-string. I'm not a professional and I love playing via my computer to the headset. I play acoustic songs on a solid body because it causes less stress as I get older. I also found out that my fingerpicking was suffering because I was trying to hard to project a big volume. With the solid body I can relax more and play alot better. If I want more volume I turn up the knob instead of building up tension in my arms and hands. Yes, I'm happy with this guitar, but so far I don't have any use for the tremolo bar. That will come with Heavy Metal.

Reliability & Durability — 10
It's hard to answer this question because I've only had it for two weeks. Sure if the electronics go, it's worthless, but keep in mind that the other guitar I own has active electronics and it also would be a piece of crap if anything happened to it.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The one thing that I didn't like was an inability to adjust the tonality of the individual strings. To play in better tune between the open strings and fretted notes, you have to check the compensation of each string. With an accurate tuner I am playing the open string then checking the fretted note at the twelth fret. I then adjust the individual string saddles. The problem is that I was not able to make the adjustment on the bass strings because they were already maxed out and I couldn't lengthen the string any further. Yeah, the guitar still sounds alright, but it irked me that I encountered that roadblock. The guitar is too new and I don't want to mess with the tremolo bridge right now. To their credit I didn't notice any other flaws. The action may be a bit high, but this is standard practice.

Features — 8
I own the Line 6 Variax 600. Besides the electronics I was impressed by the one-piece maple neck/fingerboard. Yes, it has all the different guitar models, but the one major feature people don't point out is the ability to Switch between open tunings. There are 10 Custom sound slots aboard the Variax. So far I have the following tunings accessible by the turn of a Switch: open G, open D, open C, G minor tuning, and a special one that I use for Arkansas Traveler (EBEABE). This ability to jump between tunings is a Godsend. For years I just stayed in standard tuning because it was too much to jump between the different tunings. The only bad thing I noticed was that it sounded totally artificial in open D tuning using the the 9th to the 12th frets on the first string. My resolution was to tune up a whole step and make it open E tuning.

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