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amsdenj

Recommend balancing strings using Workbench HD

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I did some work on my Variax Standard today to balance the strings. First I hooked my Helix up to Logic Pro X and used a good meter plugin so I could see the output of each string on each pickup. I first explored my Strat and Les Paul and found the volume levels of each string on each pickup to be pretty close to the same. I then used Workbench HD with the Variax Standard plugged into the same Helix input, same patch and compared the Spank and Lister patches to what I got with my Strat and Les Paul. What I found was that on my Variax, the high E and B strings were weak while the low E and A strings ever very hot. So the guitar wasn't well balanced on any models. I used the string adjustments to set the volume levels of each string to be the same. The result for me was E:45%, A:45%, D:82%, G:68%, B:100%, E:100%. I also raise the patch volume +4dB to match the output of my Strat and Les Paul. This compensated for the weak B and E strings. I then applied these settings to every patch since they reflect an imbalance between the piezo pickups on my guitar.

 

The result was quite significant. The guitar now sounds much more balanced and natural. The low strings were so hot that they were causing distortion while the high stings seemed to disappear. Now the guitar sounds great.

 

I suspect all the Variax Standards need to have their pickups balanced. These guitars may or may not have a matched set of piezo pickups. But even if they did, the strings you use, the tilt of the tailpiece, action, etc. could possibly effect the balance anyway. As you can see, my pickups were't balanced well at all. Maybe yours aren't either. This is an easy fix that really improves the sound of the guitar.

 

I wouldn't consider this a defect in or problem with the guitar. Rather its part of a routine setup adjustment, just like setting pickup height.

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I agree.  My JTV69S was exactly the same - especially with the Spank models.  The Low E, A were way more output than the B, Hi E.  I think they did this on purpose for some reason.  Workbench is a good thing!  It allows us to adjust stuff like that to our liking - not to match some guitar they  happen to have modeled.

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I have a Variax 500 that I have never had an issue with in 12 years. I giged with it heavily and never had any issues with it but about 3 years ago I bought a Gretsch Brian Setzer and a Dipinto Galaxie and stopped using the Variax due to thinking the guitar in comparison sounded tinny, not balanced and sterile. I needed a guitar recently to play a song tuned down a (step 2 frets) so I pulled out the Variax again. I read on a forum somewhere someone suggested Elixir poyweb strings which are nickel and coated and WOW instantly it sounded like a new guitar ,The tinnyness was gone it sounded like my other guitars in quality of sound BUT balance was off and output was to low now with coated strings so just like Amsdenj I adjusted string balance but ear listening to all the models and raised pickup level to + 2 and model output to +5 . This guitar rocks now. I have a Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Fenders , and acoustic to compare the Variax to and I tell you if you just listen the Variax really sound great in comparison in some cases better then the real guitar. So my advice is to try Elixir poyweb strings and adjust balance and pickup and model output. Oh by the way I play clean performing Rockabilly, Surf instrumentals, 50's and Sixties rock so there is no distortion masking the Variax's sound and that really shows the quality of the sound coming out of the Variax

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I don't like the feel of the polyweb strings. They feel like they are going to slide or roll under your fingers when you add vibrato. The nano web strings feel more natural. Don't know how well they would work on piezo pickups. May depend on what Line6 used or assumed during modeling. 

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I don't like the feel of the polyweb strings. They feel like they are going to slide or roll under your fingers when you add vibrato. The nano web strings feel more natural. Don't know how well they would work on piezo pickups. May depend on what Line6 used or assumed during modeling.

I use the nanoweb strings, and I have no issues with the piezos. Longevity can't be beaten. I destroy a regular set of strings in less than a week, but things last me about a month.

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