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Hi All, I came here looking for some opinions of anyone who has picked up one of these but I think so far only one person has mentioned receiving it. I've been bashing around on mine for a couple of days and have given it a proper set up now so in terms of playability it is probably as good as it can get. In terms of build/build quality. It seems reasonable - my only issue is the trem arm which doesn't really sit snug in the bridge even when screwed fully in. Otherwise tuners are good but I will swap for locking ones. Nut and string trees are graphtech so good quality and the bridge seems ok. Having set up the trem it stays in tune pretty well although I don't really do dive bombing etc. The body is alder - doesn't seem to have as much sustain as other guitars I have but still ok. The neck took me a bit by surprise - you could land a plane on it - that's how flat it is. I believe the radius of the Pacifica (this appears to be the same neck) is 13 3/4" which is flatter than anything I have played before but actually quite playable because I do a lot of bending (Pink Floyd/Gilmour tribute band). The edges of the fingerboard aren't rolled which I can do myself but neater when done at factory. Finally on the build - I saw a comment that this was not a Pacifica but a Line 6 designed guitar. I find that hard to accept as everything about the body shape, neck radius and even the truss rod cover is the same as on the Pacifica. It might be based on a high end Pacifica - couldn't say. In terms of sound - the stock pickups (once I had got the optimum heights to match the set up) are actually pretty usable. My main guitar is a Fender Strat with a set of D Allen Echoes pickups which are fantastic and I have another Strat with EMGs but these pickups are not bad. I've had Alnico pups in a strat before and didn't like them at all (too bright) but these can achieve that nice bluesy neck pickup sound very well. The bridge might be a bit bright but I will play around with settings to make it work. For the modelled sounds - I have been going via VDI direct into a POD HD500x. The jury is out a bit really on these. I was extremely underwhelmed by the Spank/Strat tone - toggling between that and the magnetic pickups is just night and day. The modelled pickups sound hollow on the bass strings - on the treble strings there is less difference. Having done some reading around online I followed some tips and reduced the string volumes very aggressively (up to -6db on the bass strings) in Workbench. This helped balance out the volume contrast between the magnetic pickup and Spank sounds and tamed the other models a bit as well but it seems a bit drastic to have to do that. I play a lot of very clean tones so I think I will be using the mag pickups for those - for dirty tones though I think the modelled strat sounds ok - the advantage being that it is noiseless so while not playing anything that is great. I have run through the other electric models but I don't have a direct comparison for them so I am probably a bit more forgiving - for one of the Floyd songs "Run Like Hell" I use a Tele in drop D and it sounds perfectly fine. The acoustic models - hmmmm. Not really sure what to make over these other than there is probably a bit too much body and too much fizz (or zing - choose your onomatopoeia) to them. I've seen articles dedicated to this topic and it seems to be something that Line 6 added in one of the firmware updates. Personally I find myself having to try and heavily EQ these as they sound almost unnaturally natural (which I realise makes no sense) otherwise. I am still tweaking away - really if I am not going to be happy with the acoustic tones then it is almost pointless me having the Variax as 95% of the music I play is done on my strat and I only got this to avoid having to carry an acoustic and electric to gigs and change around mid song. If I can nail the acoustic tone then it is likely I will play on the mags for all cleanish sounds, Spank for really dirty stuff and use the acoustics when necessary. It sounds by all accounts as if most people who had the old firmware for the JTVs thought the acoustics sounded much better on older software so maybe Line 6 will take note and get back to the programming board. On another note the other guitarist in the band has gone down the Roland route with a GK midi pickup and the VG99. It is a bit less plug and play then the Variax/POD setup but I noted that they have a much bigger range of modelled guitar and pickup combinations - would be nice if Line 6 would broaden the choice in a future firmware upgrade (while sorting the acoustics out). Would be interested to know the thoughts of other early users - especially on the acoustic and strat sounds. Also interested to know if anyone who has a JTV thinks the modelled sounds are the same as I toyed with a JTV before getting this. Demo of Mags v Spank tone https://soundcloud.com/lwyn/variax-magspankcompare
matizadomrb posted a topic in Variax Guitars / Bass / WorkbenchHi guys! I'm planning on doing a Variax Acoustic 700 transplant into a Epiphone Wildkat hollow body guitar and will like to hear some feedback on the project, specially regarding the correct compromise of strings and bridge to make the acoustic models work in an electric body while at the same time maintaining the functionality of the analog electric pickups. By the way before someone tells me that it's not worth buying and defiling a Variax 700 Acoustic just for a transplant project, let me clarify that I won't be doing that... I actually think the Variax 700 Acoustic body makes a terrific guitar as is. Me and my wife (who's my bandmate) have one in our rig and believe me when I say we won't parting with it anytime soon (I can't believe Line6 discontinued such a great product)... That being said, the reason I'm doing this project is because I find myself with an extra set of 700 Acoustic guts and electronics that are just siting around doing nothing, so I thought I might just experiment with them a bit before deciding to try and sell them on eBay. So here's the story... A couple of years ago I had an accident with my wife's Variax Acoustic 700... I was loading our gear into the car after a gig and I was about to put the guitar inside (last item) when someone called to me to check on something, so I leaned the guitar against the car and went inside the venue for a moment... As you can probably figure by now, I totally forgot about it so I jumped into the car, started backing up and rolled over the guitar!... The neck was completely destroyed but the body was intact. I sought Line6's help to see if the neck could be replaced as my wife had some custom paint job done to the body and she wanted to save it, but it was too much of a hassle and more expensive that buying a new guitar and painting it again (we had to send the guitar to Line6 because they would not sell a replacement neck to us for a local luthier to make the installation and since we were in Costa Rica at the time it just made no sense economically). So we ended up simply buying a new Variax Acoustic 700 off of eBay (haven't got around to reproducing the custom paint job yet, but I plan on do it soon). Ok so now I have an extra Variax Acoustic 700 body and electronics that work perfectly well. Piezos and guts are intact so I've been toying around with the idea of using them on this transplant project. I have en Epiphone Wildkat ( http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Archtop/Wildkat.aspx ) which I think will be an ideal candidate for this project. This is a very nice sounding guitar and a great player actually, but it is also very cheap and easy to replace in case I mess it up which makes me feel confortable about experimenting with it. The guitar is pretty much a hollow body (does have a small block in the middle to support the bridge but it is definitely not a semihollow: http://www.gretsch-talk.com/media/epi-wildkat-bodyslab.6811/full ) so my luthier agrees it won't take much routing to install the guts inside (and the carving required to place the slider controls on the side of the upper bout is minimal). We also figured that since both guitars are mahogany but the Wildkat has a maple top and neck (versus a basswood neck and cedar top on the Variax) it might actually result in an improvement of the acoustic characteristics of the guitar (don't know if such tonal characteristics might have an effect on the models though... I'm guessing not). Finally even though the Wildkat is hollow and the Variax is solid, the unplugged volume of the two guitars is actually pretty similar (the Variax is amazingly loud for a solid body), so using the alt tunings on the Wildkat won't be more distracting than it is already on the Variax. Ok so far so good then... Now comes the dilema questions: (1) how do I adapt to an archt. body the Variax bridge that is obviously made for a flat top acoustic body, (2) what type of strings should I use to find a good balance between what the acoustic models need versus and what the electric pickups require. On regards to the first one (bridge) I feel like I don't wanna mess around much with the piezo saddles so I don't feel comfortable with trying to transplant them into a tune-o-matic bridge like I've seen other people more capable modders do to try and maintain the original look of the guitar on Variax transplants into Les Paul guitars. I'd rather just use the Variax's bridge as is. I don't mind altering the look of the bridge on the Wildkat but I do care about functionality and the dilema here is that it doesn't seems like the Variax Acoustic bridge can be raised to the height of a tune-o-matic as it is (which seems neccesary to get to the right angle for the bigsby to work well). The wood base piece will have to be modded or shimmed somehow so I was thinking that maybe going for a Gretsch type arch base would work to sit the Variax bridge and saddles on top of it (Variax bridge will obviously need to be trimmed anyway for the strings to be able to reach the bigsby)... Any thoughts? On regards to the strings, I don't think the Variax phosphor bronze electro acoustic strings will work for the electric analog pickups, so I'll need to use some type of electric guitar strings that are as close as possible to those so that the acoustic models don't suffer. Fortunately gauge and action is not gonna be a problem because I actually use the Wildkat for a lot of heavy chording, slide playing and even some jazz, so it is already set with a somewhat medium to high action and the same gauge as the Variax Acoustic: 0.12 - 0.54 with a wound G string (I'm using Ernie Ball Medium Light Nickel Wound strings: https://www.ernieball.com/guitar-strings/electric-guitar-strings/nickel-wound-custom-gauge-electric-guitar-strings#P02206)... My first impulse is to think that those strings should actually work fine for the Variax acoustic models because playability feels pretty similar between the Variax and the Wildkat as is (obviously the phosphor bronze strings feel more "acoustic" but we're talking modelling here so I'm guessing that as long as the gauge is the same piezos should function in a similar manner so it shouldn't affect the models significantly)... Still maybe there's a better option you can recommend?... Only thing I might add is that on a personal preference note, I like roundwounds strings and I feel like on this project where we're talking about using the Wildkat as an acoustic alternative it might bring it closer to home... But if someone can think of a reason why flatwounds or halfwounds will work better, then by all means I'll appreciate the recommendation. So there you go guys, I'll appreciate your thoughts... Sorry for the long post but it is a fun project so I wanted to be as detailed as possible on the line of though I'm following... This is probably the only scenario I can imagine where doing a Variax 700 Acoustic transplant will make any sense because as I said at the beginning, those are terrific guitars in my opinion so gutting a perfectly good one to transplant it into an electric (where there's obviously going to be some compromise) would be a real waste... And putting them into a real acoustic, well that'll be just ludicrous (ok maybe it might work on one of those old Fender Stratacoustic bodies, but then again the Variax Acoustic body is always a way better guitar than that one). Cheers!