Setting the World on Fire with Line 6

Sarah McLachlan has sold over 22 million records, worldwide, since her debut album, Touch, was released in 1988. Probably best known for the success of her Lilith Fair tours or her 1997 mega-hit, Surfacing, she has also collected three Grammys and the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary Award. So when Sarah went on tour in support of her latest album, Afterglow, she hit the road with a collection of Line 6 gear.

Sarah is using Flextone III Plus as her main amp, while bassist Brian Minato is playing through Bass PODxt in the studio, and keyboardist/musical director, Vince Jones, is using Echo Pro and Filter Pro. Guitarist, Luke Doucet, is arming himself with a truly versatile rig--Variax 500, Variax Acoustic 700, PODxt, DL4, and MM4!

For more info on Sarah, visit

Where did you first hear about Line 6?
Like most people, I became aware of line 6 because of the POD. I’ve used it in many recording some cases at the stubborn insistence of producers.

What Line 6 gear are you using and how are you using it?
Two variaxes. One to enable me to switch between an acoustic sound & an electric one. I'm going from a D28 sound to a Les Paul junior type sound (p90 at the bridge position). The second is the acoustic Variax, which I'm using as a square neck national resonator, tuned to an open A for slide.

I also use a delay modeler for preset delays, including a backwards echo setting which is very cool; and a modulation modeler for tremolos & rotary speaker simulation.

How have our products changed the way you work?
The guitars simply allow me to do things I could not otherwise do. At the Grammy’s I actually changed guitars in mid song to accomplish what the Variax 500 is now allowing me to do with one. As for the acoustic, I tend to be a traditionalist & I have a psychological issue using modeling technology on a guitar but there is simply no other way to get a true resonator guitar sound to work on a large stage in an arena setting. Let's face it, acoustic pickup technology is still in the developing stages--most acoustic pickups are unrecordable. The line 6 sounds are disturbingly true. Not sure how, but they work.

What would you like to see Line 6 make in the future to help meet your needs?
I would like to see Line 6 make guitars that look older & hipper. The use the 500 (?) because it could pass for a "real" guitar. As I mentioned, I'm a traditionalist when it comes to guitars & esthetics are a part of guitar culture for me. I tend to ask myself before playing an instrument: would Keith Richards play this? Both fender & Gibson make "relics"/"heritage series" guitars to look & feel older & played. I would like to see the acoustic Variax look like an old dreadnought, or a triple o. I realize that the lions share of the market may not share my interests in this area, but it is a concern for me.T the thin body with a cutaway screams "faux!!!". While I'm happy to employ the technology, nothing will replace the look of a classic instrument.

I'd also like to see the parameters of the modelers refined a bit. the tremolo settings could be faster for the exaggerated stutter effect found on radiohead records (for example). as it is they seem just a hair too slow. Also, the delay modeler seems to reject some faster tempos. I have a preset for a slapback echo (50 milliseconds? That often switches to a longer echo, mid song, without my resetting it. This is obviously frustrating because the difference between a slapback sound (country or rockabilly) & a longer echo (pink floyd) is significant. I wonder if the unit defaults to a preset when it is asked to do something "extreme"? A slapback is a classic echo sound & a MUST for a guitar player. Am I missing something here?

Any final comments?
While it took some arm twisting, I've come around to respecting & in fact, relying on the Line 6 technology; prompting me to leave some of my vintage instruments at home when I tour & instead employing the Variaxes to replicate their sounds. Also, my pedal board is about 7 pedals smaller than it would be were I not using the modelers.