I Bought a Variax 700 Tremolo!

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Lee
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I Bought a Variax 700 Tremolo!

Post by Lee » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:17 pm

I just bought an all but new Variax 700 guitar with tremolo. It's the black finish. I would have much preferred the natural or honey wood tone but the price was right.

The one thing eBay taught me is that it pays (literally) to take care of your stuff. I'm planning on selling my Martin and even my Ibanez IF I can keep the Variax in tune with locking tuning machines.

To echo that other thread, I'm trying to create a highly portable rig that I can use to record and play out, but have the flexibility of having several guitars and amps.

PS
I have an old (60-something silver face with master knob) Fender Twin that I'll be selling early next year as well.

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Post by Lee » Sun Jan 20, 2008 2:23 am

Soooo... here's my belated review of the top of the line Line 6 Variax 700 electric tremolo model. Okay, it sounds very close to a Strat, a Tele, a Les Paul, a hollow body (jazz like and the such), a dobro, and a banjo among many other things. I say "close" because it's not really exact, but it's very close at times and that's more than enough for most folks... myself included. However, I wasn't terribly surprised by it sounding like so many different guitars and stringed instruments. Heck, I expected it and that's why I bought it! But for the record, it does perform as advertised in that regard.

What did surprise me? Positive: how convincing the virtual pickup placements sounded as well as the acoustic sounds when coupled with the X3 live acoustic settings. Negative: how out of tune it would get when I would play the way I do. Out of the box, it's not intended for serious whammy manipulations -- period. I was quite disappointed by that part, but I should have known having been spoiled by Floyd Rose decades ago.

So I ordered a set of Grover locking tuners several weeks ago but only got them yesterday (I'll never order anything from that cr@ppy eBayer again). I've yet to pop them on (maybe after this post).

All in all, I'm not totally convinced that changing the sound at the source/guitar is really any different than massaging it at the effects unit or amplifier. In other words, I'm not sure yet if I'll be holding onto this instrument given my own musical needs. On the other hand, it's ability to so quickly and conveniently alter tone locally (from the guitar) and without the need to change effect or amp settings is quite impressive. It's a dream guitar for a cover-band guitarist (which I'm not at the present time). Furthermore, its support of alternate tunings on demand is simply astonishing, wow! It's a bummer that I don't do much more than a low D tuning though and this guitar isn't worth owning for that alone.

I'll pop the tuners on and see if it can stand anywhere near my Ibanez with its ZR (Zero Resistance) locking tremolo system that uses bearings to stay perfectly in tune even with the greatest forms of tremolo abuse possible (in which I participate). If not, I doubt I'll be keeping it. If it even stays mostly in tune… I plan to sell both my electric and one of my Martins because this thing can simplify one's musical life.

(I'll repost once the locking tuners are on.)
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Post by Lee » Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:57 pm

Okay, got the locking tuners on and I have to say that the news is both good and bad. The good? It does stay in tune much better now but a string does have the potential to snag at the bone nut here and there and the tremolo springs don't always return exactly right so I give it a little help by way of bringing the arm back to neutral (a common practice for non-locking tremolos, btw).

The bad news? ...and this is BIG for me... the guitar totally cuts out when diving past a specific pitch. The little electronic saddle sensor thingies don't support the pitches I would need to make tremolo noise to the point where the strings are floppy loose and making cool sounds. That's something I tend to do on every fews songs and I can't accept the fact that it won't let me do that. For example, I couldn't do any of those breaks before the "batman" hits on 'My Case' without it nor the intro to the break in '1970 Something'. The list goes on and on. I'm a big believer in guitar noise and Line 6 failed horribly in my book by not supporting the raw noise of rock in this manner -- shame.

It's looking more and more like the fate of this guitar is in question. I mean c'mon, how hard would it be for Line 6 to provide a firmware upgrade to expand the range of tonal support for the Variax line? The cutting out thing is unacceptable.

Also, I've found that I prefer the standard analog chord vs. the pure digital RJ45 connector when playing it. I'm not quite sure why, but to my ears it just sounds a little hotter with the analog. Oh, and when I plug my Ibanez in... it even sounds hotter. :roll: Then again, I can't make my Ibanez sound like a banjo or a hollow-body without extreme tweaks and even then it's hard or impossible. Sooo.......

Will I keep the Variax for the sake of having that "banjo", "dobro", country tele or fat jazz hollow body on hand? I'm really not sure. What I do know is that it DOESN'T sound like an Ibanez! :lol:

PS
Just thought that the next time I plug it in I'll determine at exactly what note/tone it cuts out at and I'll post that. ARGH! :evil:
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Post by sambo » Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:27 am

Interesting review man,

It would seem to me from what you say that the Variax would only be preferable if you really NEED a lot of tonal variation. If it's just because you want to add a few cool/different sounds to songs every now and then, it seems a bit of a waste.

If it really is just a "every now and then" thing in terms of using it's full capabilities, I would probably either put up with a standard guitar and utilise virtual instruments or something for when I want some different sounds.


But I guess you've probably considered all that already. I spose it depends on,

A.) Whether you will really make USE of the extra sounds of the Variax

B.) Whether you are willing to have the joys of a 'real' guitar but compromise on ease-of-use with something like Virtual Instruments for your other sounds.


hmmmm!

Oh and with regards to tuning; you could look into a locking nut...?

If not, (and you may already be familiar with this), try putting some graphite pencil shavings in the nut.
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Post by Lee » Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:44 pm

sambo wrote:...I spose it depends on,

A.) Whether you will really make USE of the extra sounds of the Variax

B.) Whether you are willing to have the joys of a 'real' guitar but compromise on ease-of-use with something like Virtual Instruments for your other sounds.


hmmmm!

Oh and with regards to tuning; you could look into a locking nut...?

If not, (and you may already be familiar with this), try putting some graphite pencil shavings in the nut.
Sam, it has all but one of the joys of a "real" guitar from what I can tell (the cutting out on a tremolo descent below a certain pitch). The extra sounds would be perfect for a cover band guitarist or even someone who has recorded between an acousic, electric, or a certain flavor of electric on one song.

As for the tuning, yeah. I use to put graphite nuts on my guitars (when I was like 12) before I went to the Floyd Rose. The problem with a locking nut on this is that you really need fine tuners (at the bridge) to compensate for essentially isolating the machines via the locking nut. Know what I mean?

Oh, and I'm too much a prude to squirt anything called nut sause on any guitar of mine. :lol:
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Post by sambo » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:11 pm

The trem issue does seem a bit odd... hmm

I know exactly what you mean about the fine tuners situation. I simply cannot live with floyd-eqipped/locking nut guitars; that being one of the reasons.


:lol: I've always found nut sauce hilarious... but over at the guitar/tone snob forum I used to frequent, products like nut sauce are not to be laughed at; they are serious, guitar-embellishing items, and you'd better remember it!


Anyway...

Where was I...


Yeah just keep the Ibanez man. :lol:

Wait.... do you have an Ibanez? :?
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Post by Armin » Wed Mar 05, 2008 11:45 am

I bought one of the first Variax available (paid 1040 Euro) - and liked the acoustic and LesPauls sounds very much.

I always hated the Strat sounds - maybe because I have owned a nice Strat at that time - the Variax Strat sounds like a Strat as much as a keyboard piano sounds like a real one :wink:

Today do I own 3 Strats and the Variax sounded not even close to any of them - one is a vintage Strat and should be close - but is not.

Then came the updates - IMHO did the sound of the Variax get worse after each update (at leaset for some sounds) - the ability to use the Workbench is fine - but unfortunately does the Variax track very bad so all kind of open tunings or twelve string sounds are almost not useable.

There is no Ibanez model in the Variax - and IMHO the Variax does not need it - since the trem does not work fine on the 600/700 (my old Variax was without a trem) and the palm muting stuff sounds very fake - so it's defiantly NOT a metal guitar.

After I got my first real LesPauls did I found that I do not like the Variax LesPauls neither.

So the only useable tones were some Jazz guitar tones and some acoustics ...

...

I have sold my Variax in the meantime.

It's a fine thing if you like the sound of the POD XT and connect the Variax digitally with the POD (or the Vetta) - then it's possible to switch the guitar and amp setting very fast.

But if you like to have 'all guitars in one' - sorry - for me did it not work - maybe I have to play louder for some time to like this guitar more :lol:

To compare the Variax with real guitars is it very important to use a fine real (tube) amp - when we tested it via some modellers e.g. POD XTLive - then did the Variax sound not so bad - maybe because the modeller tends to equal the sound more (in some modellers sound all guitars the same :lol: )
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Post by Sungodv » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:22 pm

This thread title should be renamed to "I sold"......:hilarious:
.... :shock:
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