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Variax 300 Mucho Low End-is


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#1 davec69

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 11:35 PM

Picked up a used Variax 300 last weekend in a trade and I used it at rehearsal last night for the first time.  I'm using the Mini XPS to run it through the front of my Kemper profiler.  Basically, I just unplugged my normal guitar and plugged in the Variax 300.  First thing that i noticed is a large increase in the low end over my Vox Virage.  Not really a nice clear low end, sort of a muddy low end.  Is this normal?

 

One change that I made after getting the Variax home was to put on a set of Elixir 10's.  To be honest, I'm not a big coated string guy, but after reading a few posts here, Elixirs seemed to be the string of choice for many people.  Do the elixirs give a big boost to the low end?

 

On a side note, when i got the Variax home, the piezo on the A string was shorting out.  Miraculously, a local store had one in their parts drawer.   Probably been there for years.......  So I replaced the piezo, and now everything is working fine, except for the extended low end.

 

Any suggestions?


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#2 hurghanico

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 03:40 PM

maybe the previous owner changed the original LR Baggs piezo saddles with GraphTech which have a much a hotter output..
if you have also the workbench interface you can change (if you want) the Variax output volume via software..


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#3 davec69

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 03:15 PM

Thanks for the response.  

 

The saddles appear to be stock.  I have swapped out one of the piezo elements with a OEM part.  Do the Graphtech saddles use the same OEM piezo part?

 

Yes, I have a Pod XT Live which was included with the variax.  I have done some tweaking on the models, but nothing with the volume.  I'll take a look.  

 

Anyway to eq just the E.A. and D strings from the guitar from Workbench?  the wound strings are giving me the trouble, which is why I thought it might have something to do with the Elixir coated strings.

 

 

maybe the previous owner changed the original LR Baggs piezo saddles with GraphTech which have a much a hotter output..
if you have also the workbench interface you can change (if you want) the Variax output volume via software..


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#4 hurghanico

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 03:40 PM

..Anyway to eq just the E.A. and D strings from the guitar from Workbench?..

 

 

http://line6.com/sup...ease-notes-r307

 

taken from the document linked above here:

 

Q: Can I adjust individual string volumes?
A: Yes. When you open the Editor screen in the Workbench Software, under the "Editor" menu, you'll see a choice for "String Volume Setup" at the bottom of the menu.

ccs-229972-0-33371500-1374592292_thumb.j

This brings up a group of 6 sliders to set the balance between strings. Remember that these are global settings (not per patch), so that changing the balance will affect all of your different models. Select "OK" once you have changed the strings to the desired levels.

ccs-229972-0-25569800-1374592297_thumb.j

 

 

..Do the Graphtech saddles use the same OEM piezo part?..

 

I think they don't


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#5 davec69

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 11:19 PM

The problem that I have is not so much the volume, but the tone of the wound strings.  The high strings sound fine.  The wound strings seem a little muffled and bassy.

 

Do the strings that you use on the Variax 300 drastically affect the actual tone produced?  

 

On a my regular guitars, I'm really picky about strings.  I go through many brands to find the right set of strings for a particular guitar.  Is this worth doing on the variax, or will they all sound pretty much the same?


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#6 hurghanico

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:26 AM

The problem that I have is not so much the volume, but the tone of the wound strings.  The high strings sound fine.  The wound strings seem a little muffled and bassy.

 

Do the strings that you use on the Variax 300 drastically affect the actual tone produced?  

 

On a my regular guitars, I'm really picky about strings.  I go through many brands to find the right set of strings for a particular guitar.  Is this worth doing on the variax, or will they all sound pretty much the same?

 

I think every brand and gauge will sound somewhat different..

 

on my 700 I have D'Addario 10's, I like them and also I believe that correspond to those which are mounted on all new Variaxes..

therefore if you still have the original piezos, and you mount D'Addario 10's strings you'll know how it's supposed that should sound your 300..


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#7 davec69

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 12:05 PM

Thanks,

 

I have a box of D' Addario 10's somewhere, I'll have to give them a try.

 

 

I think every brand and gauge will sound somewhat different..

 

on my 700 I have D'Addario 10's, I like them and also I believe that correspond to those which are mounted on all new Variaxes..

therefore if you still have the original piezos, and you mount D'Addario 10's strings you'll know how it's supposed that should sound your 300..


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#8 arislaf

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 01:16 PM

No, not at all... I have the graphtech on my 700 and the original on my 300. The gtech give you hotter output but also brighter. One thing passed through my mind, is also that you used Elixir. They have two types, the nanoweb and the pollyweb. The nano web gives you a bright and modern tone, while the polyweb gives you a darker, more jazz-muddy-70's tone. 

.  

 

.  Do the Graphtech saddles use the same OEM piezo part?

 

 


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#9 arislaf

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 01:19 PM

Last but not least, you can adjust via the workbench the pick ups angle to equalize the strings you want. Imagine the telecasters bridge pickup, on the opposite angle, inverted, will have more treble on the E,A,D strings, as you want :)


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#10 davec69

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 03:10 PM

Thanks for the suggestions,

 

I'm pretty sure that the Elixirs that I'm using are the Nanowebs.

 

I will mess around with the pickup angle in Workbench, though.  That might help.  Maybe I just need to move the low string side of the pickup back a little.   I'll try it tonight.

 

Another question more out of curiosity.  

 

My Variax 300 came with all the pots set to linear in Workbench, but pretty much every guitar that I've owned has had audio tapered pots installed.  Why the linear pot setting by default??  


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#11 arislaf

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 01:57 PM

Honestly, no idea, but as long as I remember for my 700, i am sure that the les paul was set on taper...


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#12 davec69

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 02:40 PM

Well I changed the strings to a set of Curt Mangan 10's that I had lying around.  I really like them on a couple of my guitars, but they did nothing to improve the sound of the Variax.  Actually, I much preferred the sound of the Elixir Nanoweb, they sounded much more focused.  I'll try a few more sets.

 

With that said, I managed to somehow break one of the thin wires going to the piezo, for the G string.   That was just bad design on the Variax 300.   I noticed that a couple other piezo wires are also stretched to their limit, and any movement of the saddle will probably break them as well.

 

I just want to play my Variax 300......now I'm on the hunt for another piezo replacement saddle.  the first was shorting out when I got the guitar.  Luckily I found one at Haight Ashbury Music in San Francisco.  I doubt they will have another one on hand.  Probably have to go online.

 

Maybe I can find the Graphtec Ghost saddles locally, and be done with this madness.  Can anyone tell me which set works on the Variax 300?  

 

 

 

Honestly, no idea, but as long as I remember for my 700, i am sure that the les paul was set on taper...


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#13 Charlie_Watt

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 03:03 PM

The ones made for a standard Strat should work.  I put them on my 500 a year ago and they are a big improvement.  Not a trivial installation though. 


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#14 arislaf

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 10:17 PM

You will need the PN 8000-00 and you will get away from this lollipop piezo sound.


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#15 amx05462

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 09:21 AM

i put the  graphtech pickups  on my  300 way back and i can tell you that  there  was a world  of difference   on the positive  side.  it is a bit  of work to do this  but well worth the effort.  since  you seem to be indicating  a low  output    from your  guitar by  what im reading   i would  suggest you check  your   bridge  grounds.   bad solder  joints  seemed  to be  a  problem  back when...  the  other  problem   with  the   stock pickups  in alot  of cases  was pickup ground.   mainly  this . the pickup  grounds   from the  chrome  body  of it  to the saddle  to  the  bridge  plate   by contact  and pressure  of the string on it.  that being  said   lots   of people   ahd  problems  here  due  to an accumulation  of crud  off there  hands  to  put it  bluntly. the graphtech  pickup  totally eliminates  this  problem.  pickup is  enclosed  in the saddle  and  has  a  hard  wire  ground  to  the  board  under the  bridge  plate. 


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#16 davec69

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 01:16 PM

Thanks for the info.   I bit the bullet and ordered a set of the Graph Tech saddles for my Variax 300.  I've heard talk of some Install instructions floating around the forum.  Would anyone happen to have a copy or a link?

 

 

i put the  graphtech pickups  on my  300 way back and i can tell you that  there  was a world  of difference   on the positive  side.  it is a bit  of work to do this  but well worth the effort.  since  you seem to be indicating  a low  output    from your  guitar by  what im reading   i would  suggest you check  your   bridge  grounds.   bad solder  joints  seemed  to be  a  problem  back when...  the  other  problem   with  the   stock pickups  in alot  of cases  was pickup ground.   mainly  this . the pickup  grounds   from the  chrome  body  of it  to the saddle  to  the  bridge  plate   by contact  and pressure  of the string on it.  that being  said   lots   of people   ahd  problems  here  due  to an accumulation  of crud  off there  hands  to  put it  bluntly. the graphtech  pickup  totally eliminates  this  problem.  pickup is  enclosed  in the saddle  and  has  a  hard  wire  ground  to  the  board  under the  bridge  plate. 


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#17 Charlie_Watt

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 02:05 PM

When I did my 500 a year ago I did not find any install instructions.  I removed the bridge, removed the old saddles, installed the new ones one at a time and soldered the wires to the flex under the bridge.  Don't know if the 300 flex looks the same or not.  Tricky part was prepping each wire - they are small and not that easy to work with.  You also have to connect the 6 ground wires to the flex ground - and there were no such connections with the old saddles.  I scraped away the covering over the ground run on the flex and soldered them there.  Maybe somebody who has done a 300 can pipe up and say if they did anything differently than that.  It took me a couple hours of very careful work because one slip and you are going to be ordering another saddle.


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#18 amx05462

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 03:15 PM

300  and 500  are  slightly different  i believe the 500  is similar to the 700  in that it  has a ribbon  cable  to the  main  board   and  the  300  has  hard  wires  in a plug  end.  that to my  knowledge  is the only difference.    if you do  what i did  seperating the  wires  as i said  above  and  stripping them   with a torch youll have  plenty  of  wire to work  with    if you mess  one  up .    i learned  that the hard  way  ofcourse.    i looked  for  my  instructions   that i had  posted  in a section called  variax  transplants   that  doesnt seem to exist anymore  since  they  revamped  the  forum.  i also transplanted   it twice  once  inot  a danelectro dc2  and then into an epiphone  dot  with a bunch of  other  stuff.   worked  well  both times. main thing  is take the time it takes  and youll be  fine. just make  sure all solder  joints  are  nice  and  shiny  when your  done   and you wont have any  problems . as i said before   its well worth  the effort. this  will solve all grounding  problems  and the respnse   and volume  issues  as well.  you will be  pleased.


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#19 Charlie_Watt

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 03:43 PM

Yes - my 500 has a flex circuit below the bridge that plugs into a flex connector in the main board.  I have not seen the board on the 300 but if it's a board it may be easier to deal with than my flex circuit was.  I had to enlarge the hole in the flex for each Piezo wire since the two wires had to go through it.  There was very little room to work with on the 500 Flex.


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#20 davec69

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 09:35 PM

Ok, So I received my Graph Tech saddles for my Variax 300 today.   I've installed the saddles, threaded the wires through the bridge, then stopped short of cutting and stripping the wires.  Tomorrow I'm going to start soldering.   Can anyone tell me where you soldered the ground wires for the saddles?  I don't want to clip the wires too short.


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#21 arislaf

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 12:13 AM

You will solder all the grounding wires together, and solder them at the metal plate.


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#22 Charlie_Watt

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 06:00 AM

If there is room, keep the wires as long as possible in case you screw up.  You can solder the ground wires wherever there is a good ground point.  Sounds like you are almost done!  You will like the results.  My 500 still sounds great but I have moved on to the JTV which I like better.


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#23 davec69

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 04:41 PM

So  I got my Graph Tech Saddles installed over the weekend.  The process is fairly simple.  

 

The hardest part is splitting the two wires on the graph tech saddles.  I found that if you use an older x-acto blade, it actually works better.  You have to be real careful using a new blade, or you can cut the wire off fairly quickly.  With an old blade, just make a few very light passes right between the two wires and it you're done.  

 

I soldered the silver wires to the pcb, like the original saddles, and all of the blue ground wires to the pcb, where the screw passes through in the rear.  Then used the screw and nut to tighten it down when finished.

 

The Graph Tech Sadles work very well.  Not a huge jump in sound quality, but I feel more confident that they won't fart out on me like the stock saddles did.

 

Actually took the Variax 300 to a gig last weekend, and was looking forward to pulling it out for the sitar solo on Steely Dan's Do It Again, but the song came and went, and I completely forgot I had the Variax with me.  Oh well, maybe next time.  Just replaced the batteries and everything.

 

This brings another question to mind.   Is there any difference in the sound quality of the Variax 300,  when using the Mini XPS power supply or fresh batteries?


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#24 Charlie_Watt

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 05:52 PM

No difference in sound with batteries vs the power supply as long as you don't have a ground loop.  I prefer batteries because there is no chance of a ground loop.  You may want to try turning  the string volumes down to about 50% with the Graphtech saddles.  My 500 sounded much better after I did that.  The output levels were too high before I did that.


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#25 davec69

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 10:51 AM

I did turn them down quite a bit.  Down to 30 on each string.  I'm guessing that's the place to do it right?

 

I did see another post from someone about lowering the overall volume.  Where is this done?  In each model?

 

 

No difference in sound with batteries vs the power supply as long as you don't have a ground loop.  I prefer batteries because there is no chance of a ground loop.  You may want to try turning  the string volumes down to about 50% with the Graphtech saddles.  My 500 sounded much better after I did that.  The output levels were too high before I did that.


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#26 Charlie_Watt

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 10:57 AM

I did what you did.  Lowered each string volume.  Not sure there is any "overall volume" on the old variax.


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#27 clay-man

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 01:35 PM

I believe global string volumes are pre-modeling stage, pickup and patch level volumes are post-modeling.


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#28 amx05462

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 02:07 PM

i put all my grounds  together  and put them  into a loop connector  and put that on the post that  the main board   goes  over  then  two nuts  to keep everything  tight.  never  had a problem  but   as i recall the   pickup hots    are  in the middle 6  connectors  and theres  a ground on either  end  and  you should be able to  put them in there.    i striped  the wires  with a torch. did a nice  neat job and   they were  clean.   1/8  for the  hot wires  and 1/2  for the  grounds  for my  method.  if you solder them into the board  1/4  inch should be  enough   


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#29 clay-man

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 02:47 PM

i put all my grounds  together  and put them  into a loop connector  and put that on the post that  the main board   goes  over  then  two nuts  to keep everything  tight.  never  had a problem  but   as i recall the   pickup hots    are  in the middle 6  connectors  and theres  a ground on either  end  and  you should be able to  put them in there.    i striped  the wires  with a torch. did a nice  neat job and   they were  clean.   1/8  for the  hot wires  and 1/2  for the  grounds  for my  method.  if you solder them into the board  1/4  inch should be  enough   

 

+1 for using a torch. I used a lighter to strip my new piezo wire cause the thing is insanely thin to snip without cutting off the wire.


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#30 wgdanson

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 01:54 AM

I've just put Ghost Graphtechs on my 300...it's like a new guitar. I use Elixir Nanoweb 10s. Hank Marvin would be proud of the Strat sound. Bit of a fiddley job to do, but I put all the earths to a piece of copper wire which goes under the bridge. No problems at all.


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#31 clay-man

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 12:03 PM

I've just put Ghost Graphtechs on my 300...it's like a new guitar. I use Elixir Nanoweb 10s. Hank Marvin would be proud of the Strat sound. Bit of a fiddley job to do, but I put all the earths to a piece of copper wire which goes under the bridge. No problems at all.

 

That sounds like heaven. Elixirs on a graphtech Variax. Man, I wish I had money and equipment to switch out the saddles on my Variax.


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#32 wgdanson

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 05:37 PM

$95 for the Ghosts from Stewart MacDonald in Ohio. It's worth every dime (Penny in UK). And I get Elixirs for about $9 a set.


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