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I've only had two Variax guitars to work with, but so far I've run into the same situation with both, and wondered if anyone else had encountered it.

The nut is too close to the 1st fret, and the bridge is too close to the 12th fret.  Now, I'm setting these up with light gauge strings (starting with a .008), and I'm setting the action at about 3/32 for the low string, and 2/32 for the high end (at the 12th fret).  The height of the string over the first fret is okay (though that was kinda sporadic), and I can get strings 1 to 4 to intonate, but the saddles string 5 and 6 both bottom out, and that's with the set screws for the bridge posts at full extension.

So about the nut...even on properly intuned strings, the pitch of the fretted first fret is sharp (and I'm being very careful to only just lightly fret them when checking, so as to not stretch the string over the fret).  What I've done to rectify the issue is that I've carefully filed the nut on the neck side with a combination of flat filing, and filing with a slight angle, so as to bring the contact back as much as 1/16" or abouts (I also filed the top down quite a bit, as the strings were set pretty deeply into the nut, and there was a lot of extra nut above them)...and for the bridge, rather than pulling the posts, and plugging and resetting them, I have temporarily used some longer set screws and pushed the posts out to just short of losing their widest contact.

It works, and it sounds much better now.

So has anyone else encountered this?  Maybe Line 6 needs to check their jigs?

Ken

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Well if it works, it works...but you're a better man than I. If mine had arrived with that many glaring issues, it would have gone straight back where it came from. You should not have to jury-rig any instrument to that degree, just to upgrade it to "passable".

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Hi cruisinon2,

Yeah...maybe, but as you might surmise, by now I've been through a few guitars and it's really tough to find one that has everything just right.  If there had been another source for the same electronics, I might have returned my guitar, but the other guitar wasn't mine, and he also really wanted to use the Variax electronics.  Given that I do guitar repairs, anyway, it wasn't really jerry rigging...it was troubleshooting.  I've recently gotten hold of the electronics from a destroyed Variax, and I'll insert them into a guitar which I will build...because that's the only way to truly know I've got everything set up the way I want.  I may even use a modified nut along the lines of a Buzz Feiten system.  The worst I've ever encountered while still being reparable, was a Gibson from the 70's, where the bridge was a full 1/4" off from where it should have been.  I'm really just curious if this is a common issue with the Variax guitars, or if I was just "lucky" enough to encounter two unusual instances.

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Oh, and I did note one other thing...the nut slot for the 1st string seemed a bit close to the edge...it seemed like the width of the nut was actually just a tad wider than the neck...like it was a standard width, but the Variax neck wasn't.  As a rule, when I'm cutting a new nut, I center the two outer strings right at 1/8" in from the edge (My bandmate prefers them about 3/32" in).  These were closer to the edge than that, and easily slid off the fret side.

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Hi cruisinon2,

Yeah...maybe, but as you might surmise, by now I've been through a few guitars and it's really tough to find one that has everything just right.  If there had been another source for the same electronics, I might have returned my guitar, but the other guitar wasn't mine, and he also really wanted to use the Variax electronics.  Given that I do guitar repairs, anyway, it wasn't really jerry rigging...it was troubleshooting.  I've recently gotten hold of the electronics from a destroyed Variax, and I'll insert them into a guitar which I will build...because that's the only way to truly know I've got everything set up the way I want.  I may even use a modified nut along the lines of a Buzz Feiten system.  The worst I've ever encountered while still being reparable, was a Gibson from the 70's, where the bridge was a full 1/4" off from where it should have been.  I'm really just curious if this is a common issue with the Variax guitars, or if I was just "lucky" enough to encounter two unusual instances.

 

Gibson QC was wretched in the early 70s.  I have no idea why folks are getting such stupid prices for them nowadays.   

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Gibson QC was wretched in the early 70s. I have no idea why folks are getting such stupid prices for them nowadays.

Because all sorts of industries have figured out how to successfully market the words "vintage", "tradition", and "classic". If it's old and still exists, it must be good...you can get people to buy a bucket of horse $#*!, if you give them a certificate of authenticity stating that it came from Secretariat.

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