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Internals of Variax 500

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Hi all. Newbie here.

I've just got hold of a Line 6 Variax 500 guitar from eBay.

I like to clean and set up my guitars before using them and have started doing that today. Unfortunately that means taking off the strings and as I'm waiting for a TRS cable to come I went for it without testing the guitar first! Patience never was my virtue! :)

 

Worryingly, inside the electronics chamber (removed to check the sounds selector pot) I find that 2 green wires have been cut, and the ends stripped but not connected to anywhere. I don't think they were joined together because they are a different sort of insulation (one has some writing on, one doesn't)

 

One of the green wires appears to come from the bridge and the other is connected to the TONE pot PCB.

 

I've been searching for ages to try to find a connection diagram or even a very clear photo of the cavity to give me a clue as to what's going on.

In the photo the wire that appears to come from the bridge is on the right of the long white connector and the other wire is on the RHS of the TONE PCB just next to the connector with the 3 red wires in it.

 

Any hints or suggestions would be most welcome. Many thanks in advance.

 

ps. It was declared as having a loud pop when switching between sounds, but the seller said he just turned the volume down when switching.

 

post-2411651-0-64827200-1467914742_thumb.jpg

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That green wire must have been added.  It is not on my 500.  I just pulled the cover and looked.  I would tape the ends and leave it disconnected.  All of the 500's tended to pop when going to the Acoustic models for the first time but only on those models.

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Thanks for taking the trouble Charlie! Intriguing eh?

I would have thought that the bridge was earthed though?

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I think it is through the flex cable.  By the way I put Ghost saddles in mine a few years back.  Each Piezo has two wires - one a ground.  The standard piezo only has one wire and it relies on contact through the bridge for the ground.  I run my 500 on rechargeable batteries - 2500 mAH AA NiMh (6 of them)  I never use a TRS cable - just a standard guitar cable.

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"I would have thought that the bridge was earthed though"---

Only needed with guitars that have pick-ups. Piezos are usually grounded

thru the saddles. So bridge plate on a 500 shouldn't need bridge grounding.

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The bridge plate on my 500 certainly is grounded.  There is a flex cable that goes between the bridge and the board and there is a ground in that.

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Thanks for the replies so far. :)

 

Today I'll check continuity between the bridge and that green wire (that disappears into the same hole in the body as the piezo ribbon cable). That particular wire is exactly the same ghoulish green as all the other green wires, so I would imagine that it's factory fitted and not an aftermarket thing as it's such an unusual green.  I'll let you know the result. I'll also check if the other little stub of wire from the Tone pot PCB is earthed or not.

Going to work on the neck today. Oil up the fretboard after polishing the frets and rounding the edges a bit. There is a tiny bit of wear on them so I might have to do a quick level but hopefully not.

My TRS lead should be here today too so I can test the guitar. :)

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OK. I measure continuity between the bridge and the green wire! I revise my above statement in that it isn't exactly the same colour green now I see it in the daylight.

I think I'm just going to take Charlie's advice and tape up the ends, then carry on getting it back together.

 

I'm sure I'll be posting more questions once I start playing the guitar. It should be interesting because I have some of the modelled guitars at my disposal so I can do like-for-like comparisons.
 

One immediate question I have is can I program altered tunings on the guitar alone, without have the Workbench software?

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Again, neither of those green wires are there on my 500 so I suspect that somebody added them trying to improve grounding.  Since they are not hooked up, they did not do anything useful.  Use it the way it is.  I have had mine apart and the bridge plate is grounded through the flex circuit that goes to the board from the bridge.

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Thanks again Charlie. Much appreciated! It's back together again now with the wires taped as you suggested and all working fine.

No pops etc when changing sounds either.

Still getting to grips with the 5 way switch and the options it provides from the models set with the rotary pot, but really liking the 12 string sounds.

I'm playing through a Plexi clone and think I may have to tame it a bit to get the best out of the subtler sounds.

The intonation was a pain to set correctly but it's all done now and laying next to me in the lounge. :)

I bought it for a bit of fun and as a go-to guitar as all my others are tucked up in their cases.

 

I hate to ask but did you see the query I have about programming altered tunings?

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"The bridge plate on my 500 certainly is grounded"---

 

Wouldn't surprise me. Carlos Rios' Frankenstein SG copy has a 500 bridge

going to some JTV electronics, that had to be grounded lead at the bridge

plate.

 

While Stevic McKay's custom guitar with JTV electronics had to pull the bridge

post ground lead because it created a passive loop.

 

Depends on the overall circuitry. All the grounds have to be grouped and tied off

in the correct way. Very good Charlie.

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Firstly, I hope it's OK to tack this query on to the end of the thread.

My selector switch is "out of sync"

I get the right sounds in the wrong places!

I have tried using the calibrate function but do not get any tones after turning the TONE pot  to MIN then MAX as the instructions suggest.

The Pickup Selector is set to Pos 2 (Neck and Middle) and the sound selector switch is in Custom1 position and pulled up. I insert the ¼ inch jack from the XPS, turn the Tone down then up but get no sound through the amp.

I did try running through the whole procedure without any sound feedback but nothing much changes.

I don't have Workbench...is there anything I can try please?

I have tried the reset procedure a few times now.

Thank you.

Stuart

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If they are just shifted you can loosen the nut and move the detent slightly.  I don't think the calibration works with the latest FW anyway.  It used to work when the 500 first came out.  The model selector is just a pot.  There is an A/D on the board that reads the pot voltage and selects the models based on that.  That is much cheaper and simpler than a selector switch for that many different positions.  That is how all of the Variax's work.  If you shift the pot slightly relative to the detents, you can get the models aligned with the knob.

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Great Charlie. Many thanks for your fast reply! I'll try fiddling with the position. I did take the knob and the pot nut off to see if I could see any poor joints so perhaps I've put it back wrong.

I'll do some re-jigging.

Thanks again for your response. It really is very much appreciated. Thank you :)

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There have been 2 different re-calibration methods posted. If you look at my query on it, you should find both. One worked for me, the other didn't.

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Thanks Markus, but I only see one method listed and that is the one I tried?

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I don't think the calibration works with any of the newer FW.  Have you had any success moving the model pot relative to the detent?

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Not yet Charlie! I hope to get to that later today or tomorrow. I'd like to think that moving the detent will solve my problem with the sounds, and it is likely that I messed it up when looking for bad joints on the pot. I'll keep you informed.

Thank you

The serial number on my guitar is 03057640 if that helps anyone date the instrument. 2003?

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A BIG shout out to Charlie, who nailed the model pot problem I had.

After a little jiggery-pokerey playing with the position of the pot with regards to the detent I managed to get all the tones back in their proper places!

Now they all make sense! Thanks Charlie. Your help has been invaluable! :)

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