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Variax thoughts?


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Anybody here use these still? I'm considering it for a travel guitar for corporate shows instead of bringing my strat and les paul. I'd be going for the JTV-59. Waste of time?


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I bought a Standard last July. It takes quite some time to understand how to perform the setup of the instrument. Apart the usual stuff (action, neck, pickup height, etc.) there's the electronic part where you can/have to balance the volume of the different piezo pickups.

After doing that, the acoustic models sound amazing, but with a small latency. I am still not convinced on the electric side: there is always a piezo-like character, especially when you dig in.
A lot of people is not bothered by that so I probably have something to fix, or my guitar has something wrong somewhere.

The drop tuning has a distinctive "Variax" sound, you can both feel it when you play the guitar and hear it in all the recordings out there. No matter if it's a live on YouTube or a commercial record.

Can it work for corporate show kind of gigs? Sure. Will it be a problem for you as a player? It's up to you.
I would take it for a coverband gig, no problem.


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IMHO, not a waste of time. One of the guitar players at my church uses one, and it plays well and sounds good to me. Is it like a Suhr, PRS, or Anderson? No way. But that said, if you are just using it for travel and corporate shows, then to-die-for tone really does not matter. Most people at corporate shows are busy posturing (definition of posturing = kissing the Senior management's posterior), not really focused on the event band. I would aim for a passable tone and call it at that. The Variax will certainly give you passable tone, and decent playability. Just my $0.02.


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I wouldn't bother- but- I don't think anyone will hear you playing the wrong style guitar on a cover song...
Just use humbuckers- and no one will complain about the lack of strat sounds


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I have a JTV-69, and it's ok. My favorite models are actually the resonators (dobro, sitar, banjo, etc). They're not all that authentic sounding, but not having any of them, it's nice to have more options... those are the biggest reason I've kept it, I don't use it w/ my bands unless I just feel like bringing it for a practice night. It plays decently; the neck is a bit chunky for my taste but workable, and it intonates and stays in tune. The acoustic models are ok; they don't sound that good to me by themselves but in a mix they're not bad. Certainly would work for cover band situations, especially if you needed an alternate tuning or two.

The mag pups aren't too bad either... the singles are pretty wiry, not exactly my style but ok for that sound... the bridge HB is pretty chewy, I actually kind of like it. All the guitar models are kinda hit-or-miss... again, they'd be fine for a cover gig or in a pinch for recording, but not that great. Of course, I haven't played many of the guitars that are modeled, so I can't really make an informed comparison. I also wonder why they didn't model any shredder type guitars like a JEM or whatever - especially considering they were making the '89 model. I suppose you could hotrod the pickups in the workstation.

The whole thing could use a ... (dare I say it?)... Quantum leap forward in the tech.


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I used to gig with a Variax standard for 2 years as my main guitar. It worked well for most part, i really liked the middle tele sound. But then i started to hear some piezo frequency that was in all models and it started to bother me. It was a weird banjo-like resonance I could not dial it out.I kinda hated to play solos with it too- It has much less dynamics and detail in the tone. I got back to my Suhrs and im happy now.
It works ok in the band mix and no one will notice the difference, but the feel is different.


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I've got a JTV-59 (not US one) ...... I actually really like the big clubby neck. The pickups are actually surprisingly fine. Tuners .... didn't like so I replaced those with some locking Schallers (which aren't much better tbh)

I wouldn't see myself ever using the LP/Strat/Tele models as they sound just wrong to me... but the 6 and 12 string acoustics (and 12 string electric) would probably work pretty good.

The 3 way selector switch is a bit iffy/dirty on mine - but a tiny squirt of switch cleaner and a few toggles and it will be fine for hours. I opened it up with the intention of changing the 3 way switch but once I clocked the million wires connecting to it I found the switch cleaner method to be just fine.

It does need tweaked in it's software editor a bit to bring up the volumes of some of the models to better match the HBs' output .... I've an old Line 6 XT Pro which I can use as the interface for tweaking.

I'd play it in normal mode at a gig quite happily if I had to.


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I’ve got a 69. It’s really pretty nice. But in the end, I’ve got a bunch of better guitars so I never reach for it. I will probably sell it.


I've got an older swamp ash Variax 600. Bought it used at Music-Go-Round for $300, as I recall. When I started gigging after a 20+ year hiatus, I used it exclusively. It did (and still does) play and feel like a quality guitar to me. (Subjective, I know.) Then I bought my first Strat, a beat-up used $200 MIM that played great and sounded great. I realized that the Variax Strat was close, but not as "real-sounding" as I'd thought. Not long after, I stated having intermittent issues with the piezo bridge, despite changing the problem saddles a time or two. I ended up mounting a Roland GK-3 pickup on it and using it exclusively as a platform for my GR-55 synth. I don't even have batteries in it anymore. I still use it at every gig for a half dozen or so songs, with a variety of electric and acoustic sounds, as well as strings and various keys.

To answer your question, I think one of the modern-day Variaxes would would fine for corporate gigs.


I would say YES, if you need what these offer.

I have a JTV89 with the floyd. I basically use it for the occasional fill-in gig with a band that uses multiple tunings, sometimes in the same set. Makes things WAY easier...no way I want to bring 4-5 guitars. I’ll be doing a show this weekend with these guys and I’ll definitely bring it.
The JTV89 playability is fine, pick-ups are decent. Overall a pretty good guitar for the $$, IMO

Only consistent gripe is an “overtone” or whatever you might call it when chugging the low E with the electronics engaged. I’ve read MANY comments on the Line 6 web site regarding this issue...it’s well known.

Regardless, it’s a very usable and versatile piece of gear, especially for cover band use or when there’s a need for any alternative tunings. I think the acoustic sounds are passable, yet not exceptional. Again, great for alternate tunings DADGAD or drop tunings and a quick flip of the switch can change the WHOLE guitar sound. That’s just COOL, and very useful IMO. I have one of the “custom” choices set with 6 string acoustic, 12 string, sitar, and then 2 Les Pauls(with different pickups) all switchable with the 5-way. That’s a wide range. The pick ups are selectable/adjustable as is the individual string volume, I you care to manage that, all through the software editor available from Line 6.

For recording, I always use other guitars, mainly because of the “overtone” issue. Yet for multiple tuning switches and a variety of guitar/sound options, I think these are worth a look...YMMV


I have a JTV-59. I used it for a year with other Line6 stuff (Pod and DT25) and it was fine. When I first got my Axe I thought it would be a great combo, all those guitar and amp models. But it never sounded quite right to me with the Axe. It’s as though the Ade reveals its limitations. It would probably work well for a corporate gig.

I still like the coral sitar and 12-string electrics for recording. I am tempted to sell it, though because I am not using it for anything else.


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Appreciate all the input. Maybe if I can find one local to give a try first. The gist I get is Acoustic, Banjo, Sitar and alternate tunings can be useful but the guitar models aren't very good.


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Appreciate all the input. Maybe if I can find one local to give a try first. The gist I get is Acoustic, Banjo, Sitar and alternate tunings can be useful but the guitar models aren't very good.
That's not true IMO. I think they're quite good. But my real Tele sounds better. My real Strat sounds better. My real banjo sounds better. Etc. But my Tele can't sound like a Strat or a banjo.

If you're wanting some number of those various sounds and don't want to buy/bring all those instruments, the Variax is hard to beat. If you don't mind putting a GK pickup on your guitar, the Roland VG and GP-10 units do guitar modeling as well as some true guitar synthesis (and I don't mean MIDI guitar) - this is my preference because it goes places a guitar doesn't go on it's own.


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But then i started to hear some piezo frequency that was in all models and it started to bother me. It was a weird banjo-like resonance I could not dial it out.I kinda hated to play solos with it too- It has much less dynamics and detail in the tone.
Balancing the strings volume fixed the detail and dynamics when soloing but that honky/banjo-like character all over the board is something I cannot get rid of.

Edit: another thing, if you switch pickups often when soloing, that can be an issue, there is a short gap of silence when switching the pickup selector. You can hide it by adapting your phrasing, but that's not optimal. People will notice that? Probably not.
I used the Variax 700 electric, battery was a pain until I used it with the HD500 cable meant no batteries needed. Acoustic was great, never did any songs from Deliverance so never used the banjo! Electric not too convinced. The alternate tunings took getting used to. Mine is gathering dust but thinking about ressurecting it someday.
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