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I'm hoping the next model is a completely different beast

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I know people took issue with the odd look of the first gen Variax models (what with the missing pickups and all that), but hear me out: I think the next generation of Variax guitars should go back to that look again. I feel like putting the technology into a normally-functioning guitar that can operate independently of said modeling technology turns it into an afterthought and risks making it seem like a gimmick. The Variax should embrace it's strangeness and just be what it is, a guitar that accurately models other guitars digitally while being something completely new to the music world.

 

Furthermore, I believe that the Variax models themselves shouldn't physically be modeled after famous guitars, such as the James Tyler take on the Les Paul and the Standard's take on the Strat: doing so can cause a bit of a cognitive dissonance with the player, because you're looking down and playing something that looks like a Strat but sounds like a Les Paul and it almost feels wrong at times. The 700 model, with it's PRS-like vibe, was the most logical design of all of the models we've ever seen because it wasn't a ubiquitous design associated with a specific sound, and the Variax guitar absolutely deserves to be a guitar of it's own.

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There's some really good reasons for having magnetic pickups on a Variax. First, they just sound good, and will probably sound better than the models for a long time to come. Second, they can be blended with the models in custom patches in order to taylor the tone. But most important, they work even if the battery is dead or the Variax electronics fails so you're not going to loose the guitar.

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But that's just it: it isn't true modeling if you're using real pickups in conjunction with it. The first gen models sounded just fine and the HD upgrade was an improvement, cramming the Variax technology into a fully-functioning guitar is just going to increase the price unnecessarily and not let the instrument be it's own thing. And really, if you're picking up a modeling guitar why would you want to use it for anything but modeling anyway?

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And really, if you're picking up a modeling guitar why would you want to use it for anything but modeling anyway?

Which is all well and good until something craps out. Lots of fancy electronics means that something will eventually fail...at that point, without mag pickups, it's a doorstop. As quickly as this tech changes, if you own it long enough, replacement parts will eventually become hard to find. Once a unit is declared EOL, you're SOL.

 

I'll keep my mag pickups, thanks...worst case scenario, I've got a nice Strat clone with a humbucker.

 

Congratulations are in order though...you're the first guy to come in here and gripe about a device actually having too many options. ;)

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Remember when electronics didn't fail just because of lollipop quality control and how stuff from the 80's still work to this day if you didn't treat them poorly?

 

I know that that technology has come a long way and that it's more complex and thus more prone to failure, but honestly, just existing shouldn't be a concern of the health of the electronics if the guitar was treated properly.

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Remember when electronics didn't fail just because of lollipop quality control and how stuff from the 80's still work to this day if you didn't treat them poorly?

 

I know that that technology has come a long way and that it's more complex and thus more prone to failure, but honestly, just existing shouldn't be a concern of the health of the electronics if the guitar was treated properly.

I gave up on that pipe dream a long time ago...

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I gave up on that pipe dream a long time ago...

 

Unless you're lugging your gear around like Jaco Pastorius your gear should be fine, I mean they still sell first gen Variaxes in fairly good condition: it's possible  :P

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Well, I too really like the Variax 500 with no magnetic pickups. I think also that when using a Variax why would you want magnetic pickups but to each his own. I think the look and the fact you don't have to dodge or pick in between pickups is very comfortable for me and I like to play all over the string surface to get different sounds and the fact that when playing a les Paul or Telecaster model and looking down and it's a Variax never bothered me at all. To me you either buy the concept of the Variax or you don't. I bought mine new in 2004 and NEVER had any trouble with it to this day and I do many shows a year.I also play a Dipinto Galaxie and Brian Setzer Gretsch and haven't used the Variax in a couple of years due to thinking the Variax was a little to tinny sounding and harsh compared to my new guitars but I recently installed Elixir poly web strings on my Variax 500 and WOW this is like a new upgraded instrument. Gone is the shrillness when you dig in while playing and the sound and models are so much more realistic and warm sounding. If you haven't tried this you really should try it! In closing my experience with my line 6 Variax has been nothing but positive and critics have said a few years down the line a Variax won't be worth anything but to me a performing musician it has appreciated in value to me do to the string change and the fact I can use workbench to get mods of existing guitars and make my own new models. I have always thought my Variax 500 looked and played great! 12 years later still happy Variax customer.

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I liked the added sustain of not having any pickups, but that's about it. I love my JTV69 a lot more than my 600, honestly. I did fix my 600's problem though and have messed with it a few times in the past few months, but I still prefer the JTV69.

 

Honestly, I get that the 600 sounds a lot more vast tone-wise, but I feel like the HD firmware sounds better to my ears.

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I liked the added sustain of not having any pickups, but that's about it. I love my JTV69 a lot more than my 600, honestly. I did fix my 600's problem though and have messed with it a few times in the past few months, but I still prefer the JTV69.

 

Honestly, I get that the 600 sounds a lot more vast tone-wise, but I feel like the HD firmware sounds better to my ears.

 

I just wish they have accommodated the HD upgrade for the older models, even though I know the newer modeling technology in the James Tyler and Standard models made the upgrade possible; not being able to edit the older models on the newer version of Workbench blows too, gonna have to keep an older Mac around to edit because I can't run the older version of Workbench on my laptop :/

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I'm still liking a lot of the models in my old Variax 300. And with some work and changes, its a pretty playable instrument. I was thinking of selling it now that I have a Variax Standard. But the Standard has just be sent back for repairs (less than a week old), and doesn't play as well or have some of those 300 guitar models I've come to really like. I'm sure the Standard will get repaired, and I'll do the same setup and mods on that once it comes back so I'm pretty sure I can make it play really well. But I'm thinking of keeping that Variax 300, just in case...

 

I know our tendency in the modern digital world is to think anything a year old is obsolete. But maybe not in all cases. I also have a Variax 700 Acoustic that is my main gigging guitar for acoustic shows. I've tried many times to replace it, including putting acoustic guitar body images in my Helix and using my Martin 00C15AE or Gibson J50 into that. Yes, they sound better than the Variax 700, but not when the feedback during a solo, or when I stand in just the right spot. I can rely on that Variax 700 to do what it does every time anywhere. That's hard to accomplish with amplified acoustic instruments. And its also a nice playing guitar. 

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The 700 Acoustic was a great Variax.  I have one of those.  Too bad they did not continue with that line.  I don't like the standard.  I do like my JTV69S.  If the Standard is the direction they are headed, I am done with Variax.  There have been little or no improvements in 10 years.

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Yah - I'm a gigging pro, and knowing that the mags are there in the event of a modeling failure (go dig up my posts on "heat-vs-battery life") is a big item for me. 

 

BTW other than chasing down a warble-during-decay issue (I'm working the problem..) I kinda dig the Standard.  Definitely like the neck better than the 69 (I ended up putting an actual Strat neck on mine), it's a little lighter and "snappier" than the JTV.

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I would like to see the next Variax concept to be geared for gigging, called the GigAxe. In my mind it would be a wireless guitar that would have both amp and guitar modeling loaded into the guitar. It's wireless concept would be a stereo design. It would have a fixed bridge, but would have a Virtual Trem (trem done electronically). It would feel and work just like a trem bar, and would be able to do everything you can do on a Floyd Rose, but it would be done electronically instead of mechanically. All the amp and guitar modeling brains would be inside the guitar, and the setlist presets for the GigAxe would be created and loaded into your guitar with your computer. The pedal board that comes with the guitar and communicates wireless to the guitar via Bluetooth, and it has the capability to scroll up and back from one preset to the next. It would have a volume/ wah, and a few more buttons to activate/ deactivate effects in the presets. It also comes with a stereo wireless receiver. An alternative would be to make the guitar with two quarter inch outputs, LEFT (MONO) and RIGHT. This would give you the capability to either plug the guitar straight into the board or a flat response speaker, or use one wireless device to perform wireless mono, or two devices to perform wireless in stereo.

 

The Koreans make great guitars. I used to own a Minarik Goddess and it had probably the best action I ever experienced on any guitar I have ever owned, regardless of price. The guitar would be a great playing, great looking instrument, 22 and 24 fret models. Maybe one of them Tele style. It'd be easy to program, sound awesome, and would finally get the guitarist that needs the versatility that the Variax offers off of a leash in a live setting, i.e. no more cable from guitar to the pedalboard. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

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That's a GREAT idea! I definitely think that Line 6 should embrace the modeling nature of this instrument and do that with the next model, anything that'd streamline gigging would be a Godsend for the performing musician.

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I like the idea of having the guitar modeling separate from the amp modeling so each can evolve independently. They could still be connected wirelessly though Wifi. Might be some latency issues.

 

I also like a combination of magnetic pickups and modeled instruments. Its not just that (at least currently) the magnetic pickups sound better, its also a no-power option for when batteries run out.

 

Virtual tremolo would be great, but it would need to track really well. I like to use the tremolo very slightly and slowly, kind of simulating a Leslie speaker on slow speed. Its pretty subtle. 

 

MIDI would be nice too. I have a Fishman TriplePlay on my Variax Standard. I don't use it much, but its nice to play with sometimes.

 

Extensibility would be a good new feature - the ability to load instrument IRs into the guitar to extend its models. There's lots of IR development going on now, and its moving beyond just speaker IRs. This is partly because we can essentially use sampling techniques to create difference IRs between the samples and the instrument's piezo pickups. This might open up a lot of possibilities for modeling instruments.

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