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Does helix work well with older variax?


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Bummer. Does it still control the models if not the tunings? ......

I tested it with an old Variax 300. It partially worked. Helix was able to control model selection on the Variax and store/recall the models properly in the Helix presets. However, all editing actions had to be done on the Helix. Any changes made on the guitar were not properly communicated back to Helix.


Since this is an unsupported behaviour there is no guarantee that this will work on other older Variax guitars.

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I've tested the Helix with two different Variax 300s. With one of them, the Helix did not control the Variax model - but with the other, it does. Not sure why, and unfortunately I don't have the first Vax 300 anymore so can't test further.

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Should it work fine with the helix?

 H twystedriffs,


I too have an older/ancient (11years) Variax 600 model and it works fine hooked up on the VDI cable. Thing is, when I say "works fine" it does in as much as it is old technology connected to state of the art technology. 


What I mean is it works as a guitar with all the onboard digital models fully functioning, i.e.: the Spank is still a Spank, the Resonator is a Resonator in as much as they ever approximately did. If you have altered tunings assigned to the 2 Custom Banks, DADGAD, Open G, Hawaiian, Cross Note, Vestapol or whatever they will all work. I also have used my Variax Volume to control parameters within some effect blocks (delay feedback and such) no problem, just like an expression pedal. Plus I have it set so some patches load up with the correct Variax model selected already.


There are a couple of caveats to this though. First up Selecting the model - that is determined by the Helix Patch NOT the actual Variax. I'm not sure that it should even do that, but it does. Plus I'm surprised that any of this works at all with this obsolete steam driven stuff. For me, I can live with the restrictions of using old gear, even if I have to repatch Workbench to do a few custom tunings.


Ultimately, I have to concur with the observations made in the posing by "silverhead", above, "Since this is an unsupported behaviour there is no guarantee that this will work on other older Variax guitars".


If you need all singing, all dancing - then sorry, you're gonna have to upgrade your Variax.

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  • 1 year later...

Both my Variax 500s work just fine with the Helix. Model changes in Helix presets work great, the VDI cable works just fine, etc.. The one thing that doesn't work, and it doesn't seem like it would have been so terribly hard for Line 6 to have supported it, is using the Helix as an interface between an older Variax and the original Workbench software running on your computer. 

So, if you need to use the older Workbench software, you can use a POD HD500 (or 500X) or Firehawk etc., or the original interface that came with Workbench. Save your changes/tunings to the custom preset slots and then move back to your Helix. 

So your older Variax should work fine with the Helix, but not for editing in Workbench. If you are like me, this isn't a big deal. 

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  • 1 year later...
On 8/14/2016 at 9:31 PM, silverhead said:

Helix supports the JTV and Standard Variax models. It does not support older models - the Variax 300/500/600/700.


These older models do not support alternate tunings without Workbench.

Just found that out LOL even with firmware update.

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  • 2 years later...
4 hours ago, blewzman said:

I am thinking of trading for a 600, zero experience with a Variax. Connection via the VDI(?) cable is all that is needed? Should I download workbench? 

Thanks in advance


VDI cable is required for any interaction between the guitar and the Helix.... and for the Helix to provide power to the Variax.
However, there is more to consider. 



How to:

NOTE: You cannot connect a 1st gen Variax to Workbench through a Helix... you need a Variax Interface or supported hardware like an HD500, X3 Live, X3 Pro or XT Live. 


Also.... there are limits to the 1st GEN VARIAX guitars with a Helix....  (the below info is copied and pasted from my post in a 4 year old thread. It is still valid for 1st Gen Variax guitars...)

  • Custom Tunings cannot be set VIA Helix on a 1st Gen Variax. You must store the custom tuned setting in a custom location, and call it from there. 
  • PRESETS and SNAPSHOTS are both capable of changing variax presets. Therefore.... from within a single preset you can use snapshots to call up a new patch on the Variax... even ones with different tunings, different tone positions, etc... etc... 
  • GOTCHA #1
    If you have snapshots set to "recall" and physically change the model on your Variax you are screwed until you re-load that preset. For that reason, I set my snapshots to "discard" so they will always reload the model you want it to. 
  • GOTCHA #2 
    I don't know about the new models, but older generation Variax guitars have two layers of guitars in all presets other than CUSTOM 1 and CUSTOM 2. The guitar always calls the forefront layer... but the Helix can only access the "factory settings" layer. This is why "Gotcha #1 exists". If you change your guitar selection on the guitar it will work, but the HELIX can't remember that access and defaults to one of the CUSTOM patches. (I think custom 2 / 5)
  • GOTCHA #3 (Similar to #2.... but it has to do with customizing guitar models)
    Any changes you make to a Variax in Workbench and save to the ORIGINAL location (eg: You open TELE 1, change the body and save it back to TELE 1) cannot be saved or reached from the Helix. They can ONLY ACCESS the "factory settings" layer on the guitar... so recalling TELE 1 from the Helix would call up the factory patch, not your custom patch. 
    For this reason - always save your custom guitars into the CUSTOM 1 and CUSTOM 2 locations.  



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