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Variax Usage and Tuning FAQs

variax guitars workbench how-to articles noise tuning alternate

Q: I am getting strange noises when I use my Variax. What can I do?

- Piezo pickups can be susceptible to Radio Frequencies and Electro-Magnetic Frequencies. Keep cell phones, radios, and computer gear as far away as possible.

- Use the highest quality cables you can afford. Be sure to use a high-quality shielded TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) cable if you are using the Line 6 XPS.

- Make sure the jack on the instrument is tight and the ribbon cable is seated at the coffin assembly and the jack correctly.

- Experiment with lowering the gain on the presets you are using, or using the noise gate when available.

- Turn your volume knob off when you are not playing (even during stops in a song when possible).

- Experiment with distance and position between your guitar and sound source (amplifier and/or computer speakers).

- Avoid florescent lighting when possible.

- Make sure that your rig is plugged into the same power source as the rest of your gear/band/PA system (to avoid ground loops).

Q: Can I use altered tuning with the 12-string models?
A: The processor on the Variax cannot provide 12-string emulation in addition to altered tunings. Although a 12-string modeled guitar can be "altered", once the model is altered the 12 string modeling will revert to 6 string modeling. Line 6 does not reccomend using 12-string models for altered tunings.

Attached is a Word document containing advice and tips on alternate tunings with your Variax for downloading purposes. They are also included in the body of this FAQ. You can also visit our website and read some helpful How-to Articles about alternate tuning tips.

*Four Variax Alternate Tuning Tips*

With the development of Variax Workbench software, you can now tune your Variax electric to any alternate tuning you like. The Variax Acoustic 700 has this feature built into the guitar itself. With the physical Variax tuned to standard pitch, however, the Variax DSP must create the alternate tunings in real time, note by note as you play. This is no easy task, and as with any developing technology, there are limitations. To get the best musical experience from your alt-tuned Variax, please check out the following four Alternate Tuning Tips. They address the most frequently asked questions of Variax owners.

1. Guitar Volume Balance: If you hear the standard tuning of your physical Variax along with the alt-tuning, your ears may be fooled into thinking the alt-tuning is out of tune. This is especially true for Acoustic 700 owners, but the solution is easy. In a studio situation, turn up your headphones; in a live situation, turn up the volume of your alt-tuned guitar amp or stage monitor so that it drowns out the physical guitar sound. When you adjust your guitar volume balance so that all you hear is the alt-tuned guitar, your alt-tuning will sound the way you expect it to.

2. Odd-Sounding Notes: If you use pull-offs, especially on an open G string that's tuned down a full step or more, or if you use Capo mode and tune several frets up or down and play harmonics or hammer-ons, you may sometimes hear odd-sounding notes. The general cure for this is to adjust your playing technique so that you play very cleanly when doing pull-offs, play with a lighter touch on extremely alt-tuned notes and harmonics, fret your notes accurately, and avoid any problem zones that may produce odd sounds. It’s not difficult to get clean-sounding alt-tuning tracks. It just takes a little time to adapt to the particular alt-tuning you're using, then avoid any obvious problem spots you may encounter by adjusting your playing technique and choice of notes.

3. Ringing Overtones: When you play certain notes and you don’t mute your other strings, occasionally a note you're playing may cause a harmonic to resonate from a non-muted string. This can be a good thing, but sometimes it may result in an odd sound as in #2 above. The solution is to mute the strings you aren't using, especially when playing single notes. This way the DSP won't be 'confused' by unwanted notes resonating against the intended note.

4. Amp Sounds: For Variax Acoustic Models, use an Amp Bypass setting or go direct whenever possible. Acoustics, Resos, Sitar, etc. don't like preamp gain, so cleaner is better in order to bring out the full range of these Models. If you use a Vetta II or PODxt Live, it’s a good idea to set up an Amp Preset for each of your favorite alt-tuned Variax Models, and save the Variax Model with your Amp Preset.


If you are experiencing an output latency when in an Alternate Tuning this is a known issue. This is a result of the time it takes for the DSP in the Variax to detect the pitch, change it to a different pitch, and then output the note. This may require you to change your playing style slightly in order to compensate for the latency.


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