Variax 600 review by Line 6

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

Price paid: $ 799

Purchased from: Music Loft

Sound — 10
OK, this is where it gets controversial. I, personally, love the sounds that this guitar makes. Is it right on perfect? Probably not. Is it so close that people cant tell the difference? Yes. Because I play in a band where we transition really quick from one song to the next I didnt have time to Switch guitars. One song rocks, the next is entirely mellow. The Variax allows me to play a artin D-28, flip a Switch and a Strat. I run one distortion Switch and that is it. This guitar is the most awesome guitar for the stage that I have ever seen. For me it was a bargan at 799. 00. I have a Martin guitar that is four times that cost and never gets any gigs any more. The Variax is just too versatile. And, it uses standard 9 electric strings. So, fretting is just that much faster than on the acoustics with 12s. I might mention that the Variax also has banjo, resonators, scitar, and what seems like an excess of choices in electric rock and jass guitars. If you try the 600 or 700 on stage you will be hooked.

Overall Impression — 10
I have been playing Christian rock, worship, music for 5 years every Tuesday and Sunday. The ranges of the music we make go from head bang to mellow. This guitar is the best fit I have ever seen. I currently own a Martin DC17-E, a Les Paul, a Washburn custom acoustic, a Seagull 12 string, a Yamaha classical, a banjo and a mandolin. Except for the mandolin, this guitar fills all of those rolls at the flip of a Switch. I searched and searched for a guitar that would allow me to Switch gears on the fly and with little fuss. I never dreamed that I would find one this good, with this quality, with this range of guitars, at this price. I dont hate anything about this guitar. I simply cannot find a downside. If there must be a downside, it's that it must be plugged in to enjoy unlike the Martin which is dreamy to play anywhere.

Reliability & Durability — 10
So far my Variax has been rock solid. I will admit that I am a tad wary of the heavy dependance on electronics in this guitar. But, that's all psychological. This guitar has never even hinted that it will have an issue soon. I play it live twice a week and I never bring a backup guitar, if that tells you anything. I will say that as far as the little things, like strap buttons, they are a non issue. This guitar is built to a high standard and those things wont even need to be considered.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The 600 is set up perfect from the factory. The 300 is mostly an excercise in frustration. I paid twice the price of the 300 because I simply couldnt deal with the low quality of the guitar. The difference is huge. My 600 is as good as an American Strat or a Gibson SG. In fact, I think it feels better than the SG. As you know there are no pick ups on the Variax. So, it comes with nothing to adjust. Tune, plug and play.

Features — 10
My Variax is a brand spankin new 600 sunburst. It feels kinda like a Strat and the action is perfect. I tried a 300 before I bought this one and found it to be pretty bad craftsmanship. The 600 is really good, perfect, in fact. The hardware seems like lifetime kinda stuff. It came with all the stuff (foot petal, gig bag, cables).

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    it can't be better than a gibson. I think this whole modeling guitar thing is stupid 'cos u don't just get a guitar because of it's sound, you want one that plays well and looks nice aswell (and this thing doesn't)
    Understand the term "try it first"... Assuming you havent.. I havent tried it...yet.. i think the concept of a guitar having the ability to "replicate" the sound of 25 or so guitars, including Gibsons, strats etc. etc. sounds very promising to me.. though, I probably wont be using it at a gig, coz honestly, it pretty darn ugly.. Id probably use it when recording and stuff..
    eddiehimself wrote: it can't be better than a gibson. I think this whole modeling guitar thing is stupid 'cos u don't just get a guitar because of it's sound, you want one that plays well and looks nice aswell (and this thing doesn't)
    Wrong, musics about music, not equipment.
    Wow so many people have no clue about this guitar. Here is the scoop (I am a Line6 Owner) about the entire series 300, 600,and the 700 series. The most important thing to remember is that this series shares the exact same firmware and programming. The difference in the guitars has to deal with the materials that were used in construction. The 600 is the series with the tremolo (whammy bar) out of all the Line6 guitars this model has the most issues and it's mainly with the saddles. Many here have made comments about pickups, or lack of them. The pick-up are built into the saddles similar to the Fishman Pickups in the Parker Fly guitar. When a string is hit the vibrations are sensed by the saddle / mic and then the signal go to the on board computer. This is the brain of the guitar. This is what allows you to go through all the different guitar sounds and something not really touched upon, different tunings. For those of who use different tuning this is the guitar to have. Just by a flick of a switch or turn of a knob (depends on how you have the guitar set up) you can go through different guitars, tuning, or both. I play Rock and one of our songs is by Ozzy (Don't wanna stop) which the guitar is tuned in "C" (C-G-C-F-A-D), before I had to take a guitar and either tune it just for this song, try to transpose etc. With the Variax all you have to do is set up the tuning within the Variax Workshop (Computer Interface Program). To be able to do this you must either have purchased an adapter or the PodXt Live to have this ability. I own a PodXt Live so I am able to experience the entire ability of both the PodXt Live and the Variax. This allows me to have total control of my sound. So a example of my set up would be like this, for those of you who are familiar with the song Dueling Banjo's it has a Banjo and a Acoustic guitar in it. So I do the guitar parts with the acoustic sounds (patch) and the banjo with the banjo patch on the PodXt Live. The real advantage of the Variax is how it connects to the PodXt, being as it communicates more information and has the ability of two way communication Line6 has adapted the Variax line with a RJ45 (Standard Computer Network Cable) to communicate with the PodXt Live, the Vega 2 amp and the Interface adapter. Using this cable interface also solves the power issue with the guitar. You can use a standard 1/4 guitar cable but this is not advised as it will get real expensive to power the guitar. Line6 also has a power adapter the powers the unit through a standard wall wart but the interface uses a 1/4 Stereo cable to transfer power to the guitar and signal to the amp. So with a standard network cable while your tied to the PodXt Live it solves many more issues and allows for quick changing of Variax sounds that allows for a entire night / Gig without any stress at all. No more searching for that sound during the gig. Within the past two years Line6 has teamed up with Warmouth Guitars who have been given the permission to mfg replacement parts for the Variax series. So now you can have almost any body style for the Variax. I know this is a really long comment but in conclusion if your looking for a really nice set up some places actually sell the PodXt Live and a Variax 300 bundle set, its around $600.00 but well worth it. I have owned the PodXt Live over 2 years and the Variax over a year. Since the purchase of my Variax my other real guitars have slowly been retired and no longer used at gigs. I run my PodXt Live through twin Tech 21 Trademark 60 Combo Amps and have heard nothing but very positive comments about my setup / sound. To hear my set up and see pics you can go to For those purest out there who have to be 100% dead on with your sounds, does this sound exactly like a Gold top that it is modeled after, its close. Does it sound like the Strat its modeled after, its close. Does it sound like a Acoustic guitar, it's as close to that sound as the Parker Fly. Just because it does not have a visible pick up does not mean it does not work, this is one hell of a guitar and it has started a new line of guitars. Just like Line6 did to modeling this guitar line will do the same to guitars. Fender has already tried to copy this guitar, which I have played but that guitar does not come close to the Line6 abilities. Jocko
    so does anyone have a clue how the guitar works? yes it's got no pickups... so how does it pickup? i mean, my experience with digital stuff usually doesn't involve steel strings and fretboards, you know.
    St.Jimmy13 wrote: o yeah and and dave344, no noe wants to hear u brag about being a big guitar collector and hear u say all the nice guitars u say u have
    Haha obviously you didn't read his full post. If you're interested in buying a Variax, hearing stuff like that coming from someone who has that experience with vintage instruments is exactly what you want. He wasn't bragging about his gear, he was emphasizing the fact that the Variax is a respectable and well-made guitar, by comparing it to vintage instruments that most of us have absolutely no experience with.
    I love the idea of the sitar sound based on a coral sitar (as used by van halen "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love") and when you think those things go for about a 1000 then I'd be happy with someone offering me a stand alone emulation for the variax price and the variax gives you another 31 emulations. Oh yeh by the way i like it - no it wont be the les paul that had spinal tap style sustain but if you want one of those you can get one of those aswell. Oh yeh one thing i've heard is obviously ebow wont work with it obviously cos of the lack of pickups, but haven't tried this out... but you can always strap a magnet to the guitar!? lovin' it.
    These are really good guitars, my friend has one and I've played it a lot. But in reality it doesn't compare to a Gibson etc.
    o yeah and and dave344, no noe wants to hear u brag about being a big guitar collector and hear u say all the nice guitars u say u have
    i have a variax 300 and i think its fine, who cares if its not the best looking guitar there is, it has a nice feel and the whole modeling knob thing is awesome, it makes the sounds of gibsons, fenders, gretschs, rickenbackers, martin&co's and other awesome guitars. dont waste your money on buying a real expensive les paul or anything, just buy a variax, it makes the exact sound as a bunch of les pauls,
    Merry Chrismas everyone and no i never got one of these from santa. Although its cutting edge in terms of sound. I'm put off by the reto specs. With no pickups theres no reason to only have 22 frets, 24 would be better but you could fit many more right down the body. also a seven string option would be nice. but I think the big thing is I JUST WANT MY FUTURISTIC GUITARS TO LOOK FUTURISTIC (at least headless). I'm sure the reto strat styling was commercialy driven but for me it doesnt fit with what this guitar is. Still i'll probably get one some day (when santa stops being so cheap)
    I'm a big guitar collector and own a fender nocaster '51 relic, a '57 stratocaster, a 1964 gibson firebird V, a les paul '57 goldtop, and a wad of other vintage and newer models. I pretty much placed my retirement fund in these instruments. I picked up a variax 600 and 700 one day at my favorite music store and I was bluffed. The modeled fender and rickenbacker sounds are great. The gibson lp sound is a little clanky but I play on a goldtop that has a real gutteral sound. The gibson hollow body sound is incredible. A real deap and clear jazzy sound. The variax 600 has a fender-ish finish and an almost fender copy neck whereas the 700 has a PRS type feel and finish. I prefered the 600 that looks like a cross between a telecaster thinline and a jaguar. I have hardly picked up my vintages since I bought the variax 600 and I love the possibility of plugging it into my computer (via workbench) and customizing the sounds to my taste. Anyone who wants a great sounding and easy access guitar should at least try a variax. Sure it's not a vintage and it looks a bit strange without pick-ups but it's really quite an exceptionnal guitar. And hey a good guitar doesn't have to be a vintage one. As long as you've got the great sound, nothing else counts...
    E V H 5150
    I don't understand what the hell a modeling guitar is! I wouldn't pay $800 if I can't even see the pickups. If I had $800, and really wanted a great guitar, I'd save up money, and just buy myself an EVH Wolfgang. Nothing can beat that. Not even a Variax, if it could sound exactly like one.
    Warmoth offers the option to change the body and neck in case u dont like the original ones. Some people just use their imagination, check JeffMiller's guitars out in his website. If we can even alter human's face with surgery, I dont see why variax is too big an issue.
    it aint pretty but i bet this stuff is better than a gibson, it has effects you just have to turn the knob to changhe the effects, real stuff!!!!!