Artist Spotlight: Jake (cloudchair)

Japanese guitarist Jake, known as a core member of experimental rock band Guniw Tools and alt rock band Super Soul Sonics, has been relying on Variax® modeling guitars for several years as his main tools to create the “six-string soundscapes” in his solo project, cloudchair. The tonal variety afforded by his Variax® 500 quickly grew into a reliance on the new James Tyler Variax JTV-69 modeling guitar and POD® HD500 multi-effect pedal.

“I originally added a Variax® 500 to my guitar collection to expand my sonic palette,” recalled Jake, who was immediately amazed by the serious tones the original Variax could create. “One of my favorites is the [model based on* the] Telecaster® Thinline. I then got Variax WorkBench™ and started customizing the tone. I ended up replacing its pickup with [a pickup based on* one from a] Les Paul® Special. This preset became my main sound.”

Tones generated by his Variax lent themselves to great solo live performances, which are featured with praise on his YouTube channel. “With such diverse tonal flexibility, I got an idea to layer tones with a looper to build a three-dimensional soundscape in live performance environments. That was the “Beat of Variax / cloudchair” video on YouTube.”

His excitement for Variax continues to build with the recent addition of the new James Tyler Variax JTV-69 Black to his arsenal. “I immediately realized that the craftsmanship and higher quality of this instrument actually raised the quality of the tone itself,” commented Jake, who also enjoys the refined guitar models of the James Tyler Variax. “The tone is in the same direction as the original but went way further,” he added. “The tone is more clear because of the higher resolution, and definitely has a delicate high-end sparkle to it. Also, it’s worth mentioning that this new guitar has much better balance in the loudness of each string. I used to fire up WorkBench software to fix minor issues like that, but as JTV redefines the quality of the guitar model and the instrument itself, I can just use factory presets. As Line 6 reinvented guitar models, I’m enjoying factory presets again.”

In addition to various enhancements, James Tyler Variax is also the first Variax modeling guitar to have magnetic pickups in addition to piezo pickups for the Variax technology. “The single-coiled pickups on the JTV-69 have a different tonal character than the modeled vintage Strat®. I like the new pickups designed by Jim Tyler, as they’re more natural and neutral-sounding. It’s great to have magnetic pickups as well as modeled pickups.”

Alternate Tuning functionality on the James Tyler Variax has been important for him, too. “I rely on octave-down tuning to get bass guitar or kick drum sounds while layering tones live on the looper. It’s just indispensable.” This feature is also handy for him at sessions with other artists. “They often ask me to change keys or just lower a half step. As a guitarist, I’m more than happy to be able to play in specific keys I prefer regardless of actual keys, especially when playing licks and riffs with open strings.”

He’s also been using a POD HD500 multi-effect pedal in the studio and for live performance. “For me, POD HD500 is basically a guitar amp,” said Jake, who’s been using amp modeling since the 90s with Amp Farm® software plug-in. “POD used to have specific tone characteristics. It sounded great but layering tones tended to emphasize specific characteristics in some frequency ranges. POD HD just sounds like a real amp. At a live performance, now I can send the POD HD500 output directly to the PA system and choose to monitor my sounds only from a wedge monitor. This works great. At rehearsal, I tend to put PA speakers next to the keyboard amps, so that I can always hear my guitar sound mixed with other sounds.”

Jake’s works can be heard around the Web including on his website, which features the new Solo Guitar Live Tracks 2011 collection that was recorded with a Variax and POD HD500 only.

cloudchair official website:

*All product names are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Line 6. These trademarks of other manufacturers are used solely to identify the products of those manufacturers whose tones and sounds were studied during Line 6's sound model development.