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Variax 300 w/Workbench via USB?
by BlindLemonLarry on 2013-02-09 16:10:34

Has anybody been able to get a Variax 300 guitar working correctly with Variax Workbench, using Windows and a USB interface?  I've searched the forum, and most of the issues people have had seemed related to a lack of  Win 7 drivers, but that has since been addressed.

Everything seems fine when using the Monkey update did a nice job installing drivers for the USB interface, updating my version of Workbench and even flashing the latest 3.1 firmware in the guitar itself.  It has absolutely no problem recognizing the guitar and communicates with it.

However, Variax Workbench is a basket initially recognizes the guitar and downloads all the presets in it, but from that point forwards it's a useless mess.  I can SOMETIMES manage to edit guitar models, but even when it works it's slow and klugey...changes are slow to be reflected in the audio output from the guitar, and various strange pops and computer noises are generated and fed to my amp. Eventually there will be an ugly pop and a window pops up telling me that the Variax has been disconnected. At that point I need to exit the software, power cycle the guitar and start from scratch. In the rare event that I'm actually able to customize a model to my liking, attempting to write to the guitar results in the "disconnected" error, every single time.

I've tried this on three different computers now, two running Windows 7 and the third running XP and get the same erratic results on all three. I've also tried different USB cables and also tried replacing the Line 6 data cable with a short CAT5 cable, which works (or should I say, doesn't work!) exactly the same. All ethernet pins in the guitar and interface are clean and straight. I'm running the guitar from the power supply box (labelled "XPS MINI") that came with the guitar, there are no batteries installed.

The guitar has pretty much sat in my closet for the past few years, only coming out when I need a very distinct tone (such as sitar, banjo, dobro, etc.) that I can't produce with my conventional guitars. But my band is performing several songs requiring an open tuning and/or a good acoustic sound, so I thought it would be grand to load a few presets that met these needs with a flick of a switch, and bought the USB interface with that in mind. I was looking forward to not dragging my acoustic and alt-tuning guitars around to gigs, so it's really disappointing to find that Workbench just doesn't work!

I'd appreciate any suggestions, thanks in advance.

Re: Variax 300 w/Workbench via USB?
by TheRealZap on 2013-02-09 16:42:35

you might try ininstalling both workbench and all versions of java on your computer... re-install workbench which will put the version of java it wants on your computer as well...

... just saying it could be java related...

i know MANY people have used it with a 300 successfully... my older variax is a 600 which is more or less the same thing with a tremolo and i've never had those problems...

you might also closely inspect the ports on your variax and workbench device as a bent pin could do something like this as well...

considering the problem has moved when using other computers this is probably the likely cause...

the other thing that might have moved from one computer to the other is the firmware on it....

i'd suggest downgrading the firmware to an older version... and then re-flashing to the latest... the firmware can act finicky if it's not perfect... and it happens!

anyway... some ideas.

Re: Variax 300 w/Workbench via USB?
by BlindLemonLarry on 2013-02-09 18:00:46

I'm leaning towards the Java thing...nothing else makes any sense. As I said, the interface pins are all perfectly straight and aligned...up until last week, I'd never even pulled the dustcap off the port on the guitar! Since Monkey has absolutely no problem talking to the USB interface and guitar, it's got to be the Workbench/Java combo. To be honest, Line 6 software has always been rather dodgy...I'm feeling the same frustration I had back in 1999, trying to get Soundiver to reliably control my POD over MIDI!

I've been fiddling around with this thing for a week now, I guess my next move is to borrow a Mac laptop from work and try it with that. But I'm fast reaching the point of diminishing returns in terms of time invested fiddling with something that really should work right out of the box!!  If I don't get it going soon, the guitar is going back in the closet...until the next time I need the sound of a Rickenbacker or a Dobro! 

Thanks man, I appreciate your time and thoughts.

Re: Variax 300 w/Workbench via USB?
by Mr_Arkadin on 2013-02-10 05:32:35

My 300 + Workbench works fine - but I'm on XP so can't say what Windows 7 is like.

As a point of history, SoundDiver was made by Emagic, not Line 6.

Re: Variax 300 w/Workbench via USB?
by BlindLemonLarry on 2013-03-09 13:30:26

Ugh...I've done the uninstall/reinstall Java & Workbench shuffle now on all three of my machines, and have gotten absolutely nowhere. Monkey works great, Workbench fails miserably. Line 6 support is great about responding, but they haven't offered any meaningful advice and are now basically repeating the same advice over again. (Try a different USB cable, try another CAT-5 cable, etc.)

I guess the Variax 300 is going  back into the closet (or onto Craigslist) and the USB interface is being returned. What a shame, I hate to see unrealized potential.

Re: Variax 300 w/Workbench via USB?
by clay-man on 2013-03-09 19:33:32

Hello, if you're getting disconnection notices, it might be your VDI cable you're using with the workbench USB interface.

I'm really sorry that you're having that much trouble. Trust me, it's really fun when you can get it to work. It's magical stuff, making any tone and tuning you want, totally amazing.

I suggest you keep trying to see what you can do. Your USB interface might be the problem, so maybe you should return it and look for another.

Good luck.

The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.