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Hey everyone,

 

I'm new to the forums and - after much lurking - finally ready to build my dream guitar.

 

Over the years, Line 6 has received quite a bit of my money. ;)  So far, I have/had in my house the following products:

 

- Variax 300 Acoustic

- Variax 4-string bass

- POD 2 with all the X3 updates

- Pocket POD (will purchase on Friday)

- POD UX 2 (will purchase this weekend)

- Varix 300 Electric

 

... and if I had any more money, I'd probably spend it on some of the newer Line 6 products. :D

 

Instead, like so many of you, I am looking forward to creating my own dream guitar with the electronics that I have in the Variax 300 (Electric).

 

In the last 20+ years, I have used Ibanez guitars exclusively. Because my JS1000 is too thin for a transplant, I have decided to use a painted RG-type "semi"-blank (no Floyd, only humbucker and jack cavities so far) and an old GIO 25 1/2", 22-fret neck (square pocket) to build the guitar that I really want.

 

Since wizard-luthiers Jeff Miller and Roosevelt Walker (midirose) have all but disappeared from the internet (and I don't have facebook :(), I only have you guys/gals to whom I can address my questions.

 

I would appreciate it if some of my final questions could be answered; and that this list - given how comprehensive it - can help other future builders find their answers, too.

 

 

---

 

Ok, here goes:

 

Preparing the Body:
 
1.) Can I switch between magnetic pickups and the Variax 300 piezos by drilling an additional hole for a killswitch (thus not using them at the same time, of course)?
 
2.) If I can keep both the magnetic pickups and the Variax piezos, is this body thick enough to route the Variax 300 electronics from the back of the guitar?
 
3.) As you all know, the electronics of the Variax 300 come in a HUGE triangular shaped box (like a tin coffin). Can I pull the electronics from the coffin, so they fit better into the back cavity?
 
4.) Can I cut through the knob plate in order to facilitate the positioning of the knobs and the routing?
 
5.) I have seen a few back cavities in transplants that look like the letter "L" sideways. Any ideas where I can buy that type of template online?
 
6.) What's the best way to cover that type of "L" cavity? A ply of wood, or simply the material luthiers use for customized pickguards? I think the latter is less work... :P
 
7.) Do I have to drill 6 holes to hold the string ends, as it is the case for the Variax 300, or can I use a hardtail bridge with piezos (e.g. Graphtech Ghost)?
 
8.) If I can't figure out how to transplant the piezos from the saddle into a hardtail, how do I measure the Variax 300 "neck pocket - saddle - string hole" distance on a RG body? Does the distance matter?
 
 
Electronics:
 
9.) If I cut the electronics into more sizeable pieces, do I need to isolate the cavities/parts with copper/conducive foil, to minimize noise and distortion?
 
10.) Can I connect my magnetic pickups directly to the Variax tone and volume knobs? (total: 1 tone + 1 volume + 1 model selector), or do I need separate knobs (total: 2 tone + 2 volume + 1 model selector)?

11.) Apart from a killswitch, is there another way to switch between the pickups on stage?
 
12.) One of my family members is a retired technician. He knows a lot about building TVs, radios and telephones. Will he be able to route the wires correctly?
 
13.) Are there any wiring templates for the "Variax 300 + two humbuckers" online?
 
14.) If everything above gets a green light, I'd then need to route/drill
 
Back:
 
- one "L" shaped cavity to hold the Variax 300 electronics
- one rectangular cavity for the battery pack
 
Side:
 
- one bigger cavity for the dual Variax 300 jack
 
 
Front:
 
- two holes to hold the saddle with the piezos
- six holes to hold the string ends
 
- three holes for the Volume, Tone and Selector knobs, respectively
 
- one hole for the humbucker selector switch (neck, n/b,bridge)
- one hole for the piezo/humbucker killswitch
 
- one small hole for the piezo ribbon that leads to the mainboard unit
- two small holes for all the humbucker wires
 
Is my math correct?
 
---

 

Thanks again for all the help you are providing and for keeping their legacy products alive... one way, or the other.  :)

 

I'm looking forward to your answers.

 

VX

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Hey everyone,

 

I'm new to the forums and - after much lurking - finally ready to build my dream guitar.

 

Over the years, Line 6 has received quite a bit of my money. ;)  So far, I have/had in my house the following products:

 

- Variax 300 Acoustic

- Variax 4-string bass

- POD 2 with all the X3 updates

- Pocket POD (will purchase on Friday)

- POD UX 2 (will purchase this weekend)

- Varix 300 Electric

 

... and if I had any more money, I'd probably spend it on some of the newer Line 6 products. :D

 

Instead, like so many of you, I am looking forward to creating my own dream guitar with the electronics that I have in the Variax 300 (Electric).

 

In the last 20+ years, I have used Ibanez guitars exclusively. Because my JS1000 is too thin for a transplant, I have decided to use a painted RG-type "semi"-blank (no Floyd, only humbucker and jack cavities so far) and an old GIO 25 1/2", 22-fret neck (square pocket) to build the guitar that I really want.

 

Since wizard-luthiers Jeff Miller and Roosevelt Walker (midirose) have all but disappeared from the internet (and I don't have facebook :(), I only have you guys/gals to whom I can address my questions.

 

I would appreciate it if some of my final questions could be answered; and that this list - given how comprehensive it - can help other future builders find their answers, too.

 

 

---

 

Ok, here goes:

 

Preparing the Body:

 

1.) Can I switch between magnetic pickups and the Variax 300 piezos by drilling an additional hole for a killswitch (thus not using them at the same time, of course)?

 

2.) If I can keep both the magnetic pickups and the Variax piezos, is this body thick enough to route the Variax 300 electronics from the back of the guitar?
 
3.) As you all know, the electronics of the Variax 300 come in a HUGE triangular shaped box (like a tin coffin). Can I pull the electronics from the coffin, so they fit better into the back cavity?
 
4.) Can I cut through the knob plate in order to facilitate the positioning of the knobs and the routing?

 

5.) I have seen a few back cavities in transplants that look like the letter "L" sideways. Any ideas where I can buy that type of template online?
 
6.) What's the best way to cover that type of "L" cavity? A ply of wood, or simply the material luthiers use for customized pickguards? I think the latter is less work... :P
 
7.) Do I have to drill 6 holes to hold the string ends, as it is the case for the Variax 300, or can I use a hardtail bridge with piezos (e.g. Graphtech Ghost)?
 
8.) If I can't figure out how to transplant the piezos from the saddle into a hardtail, how do I measure the Variax 300 "neck pocket - saddle - string hole" distance on a RG body? Does the distance matter?
 
 
Electronics:

 

9.) If I cut the electronics into more sizeable pieces, do I need to isolate the cavities/parts with copper/conducive foil, to minimize noise and distortion?

 

10.) Can I connect my magnetic pickups directly to the Variax tone and volume knobs? (total: 1 tone + 1 volume + 1 model selector), or do I need separate knobs (total: 2 tone + 2 volume + 1 model selector)?

 

11.) Apart from a killswitch, is there another way to switch between the pickups on stage?

 

12.) One of my family members is a retired technician. He knows a lot about building TVs, radios and telephones. Will he be able to route the wires correctly?

 

13.) Are there any wiring templates for the "Variax 300 + two humbuckers" online?
 
14.) If everything above gets a green light, I'd then need to route/drill
 
Back:
 
- one "L" shaped cavity to hold the Variax 300 electronics
- one rectangular cavity for the battery pack
 
Side:
 
- one bigger cavity for the dual Variax 300 jack
 
 
Front:
 
- two holes to hold the saddle with the piezos
- six holes to hold the string ends
 
- three holes for the Volume, Tone and Selector knobs, respectively
 
- one hole for the humbucker selector switch (neck, n/b,bridge)
- one hole for the piezo/humbucker killswitch
 
- one small hole for the piezo ribbon that leads to the mainboard unit
- two small holes for all the humbucker wires
 
Is my math correct?
 
---

 

Thanks again for all the help you are providing and for keeping their legacy products alive... one way, or the other.  :)

 

I'm looking forward to your answers.

 

VX

Have you searched at all for variax transplant info in these forums? There has been a load of info shared by guys that have done xplants, though what you're wanting to do is not so easy. I have done a 300 and a 600, both into Strat clones. I can confirm (from experience), the pcbs, etc,  can be removed from the "coffin". This will obviously save on space required when routing to house it, but you need to be careful as pcbs are not exactly solid as rocks. You'll need to line the cavity with something for shielding, I used aluminium foil, but you could use suitable paint instead I guess.

For a more advanced build, including connecting mag pickups, it's a lot more convoluted, as the original variax circuitry didn't allow for mag pickup connection, and a completely separate wiring to that of the variax, (meaning a separate jack output also), has been touted as the only way to ensure no interference between mags and piezos.

My suggestion is to simply go the more recent JTV 89 route (you know, the pointy metal Ibanez kinda one), where everything has been done for you, with the flexibility of having both mags, and modelling within the one circuitry.

Probably not the answer you wanted, but I believe the job you want to do, though I'm sure is not impossible, would be loaded with unanswered questions, and you may well be the first to pull it off.

Good luck with it!

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Thanks for the swift reply Iknowathingortwo. Fitting username, too. ;)

 

This is what I've found out since:

 

Iknowathingortwo is right: most people would opt directly for the available JTV solution. :mellow:

 

I was able to browse some of the very old, archived entries on this website (2007-) and the ones who have commented there were mostly trailblazers with a superior understanding of electronics.

 

For anyone following this, here is what I found so far with certainty:

 

1.) Yes -> see Roosevelt Walker's beautiful VAX creations. Tiny switches by the volume knobs.

 

2.) Yes -> I read in the old forums that a user was able to route an old Ibanez S body with the Variax 300 guts. RGs are much thicker. WOW.

 

3.) Yes -> Shout out to Iknowathingortwo

 

4.) Not sure -> There are three circuit boards to the Variax 300: one for the three knobs, one for the actual microchip, and one for the piezos. Because of on-board interconnections, I don't think cutting through the knob unit is a good idea, at all. Maybe detaching and rewiring each knob without the face plate?

 

5.) Not sure ->  Still looking for back routing template, aka. The Sideways "L" shape template.

 

6.) Yes -> People opt for both. I have seen users base their entire front side routing around a beautiful pickup guard (easiest solution, it seems).

 

7.) Yes -> The issue with the Variax 300 piezos are the saddles. You can pull and re-install them on any type of modified bridge. Modified bridge means: the bridge plate will need additional holes. :wacko:  And the Variax 300 piezos need grounding. :blink: There's a user on this forum who did a Graphtech Ghost transplant on the 500s and the 300s with a DIY strip of copper grounding on the actual piezo board.  :o I can't find the link right now for some reason. Easiest tip: leave the Variax 300 bridge in.  :P

 

8.) Not sure -> Does the neck-saddle distance matter?

 

9.) Yes -> Shout out to iknowathingortwo. Also: conductive copper foil alongside the cavities does the trick. There are a few users online who cut the "coffin" into two parts (not the boards!) to make it fit into a Tele... and into a dulcimer!

 

10.) Not sure -> Shout out to iknowathingortwo. The magnetic humbucker wiring is straight forward. The Variax 300 wiring is straight forward. How they interact with one another is the question. I'll have my uncle look at it and update with a diagram.

 

11.) No -> Except for pulling the batteries mid-solo. ;)

 

12.) Yes -> To a degree.

 

13.) Not sure ->  Still looking. Found all sorts of diagrams for the JTVs, but not the Variax 300s. Especially for the killswitch connection, to switch between magnetic pickups and piezos.

 

14.) Not sure -> The big mystery is the "Magentic Pickup/Variax Piezo" interaction using the same board.

 

If they play nice, this would result in:

 

- 3 knob holes (total: 1 tone + 1 volume + 1 model selector).

 

If they don't play nice, this would result in:

 

- 5 knob holes (total: 2 tone + 2 volume + 1 model selector.) Everything else is ok.

 

One more thing:

 

"For a more advanced build, including connecting mag pickups, it's a lot more convoluted, as the original variax circuitry didn't allow for mag pickup connection, and a completely separate wiring to that of the variax, (meaning a separate jack output also), has been touted as the only way to ensure no interference between mags and piezos."

 

I agree completely. That's why I think the best route (haha) to go is: magnetic pickup wiring through the front and Variax 300 electronics through a back cavity.

 

Need... sideways ... "L" ... templates... now... ! :D

 

 

So there, that's my update for all y'all. :)  For those users following this thread, I'd appreciate it if we can turn all the RED answers into GREEN answers, as well.

 

 

Thanks again and rock on,

 

VX

 

 

PS:

 

@Iknowathingortwo:

 

What electronics were used for your Warmoth VX? It's a looker, for sure! It seems like you've separated the knobs? Where's the cavity for the all the electronics? Any pics/templates? ;)

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UPDATE:

 

So here a few more pointers for those having the sames question:

 

4.) Yes -> But don't cut through the knob plate! The knobs can all be soldered off and moved deliberately. Make sure to have a circuit diagram of the knob plate copied down before you heat up the iron. You need to understand and record the function of each knob, their position and their interconnections.

 

5.) Yes -> That "L" shaped cavity that you'll find on the the back of some transplants is the actual backplate of the Variax 500/700. Once you detach the three main boards from the Variax 300 tin coffin (as well as the knobs off its board), they will fit into that cavity.

 

8.) Yes -> Has to do with 25 1/2 " scale calculation (2 x the distance between nut to 12th fret, or something). Just measure the neckpocket-saddle distance right off the original Variax! Geez. :P

 

10.) Yes -> The volume knob can be rewired to run both MagPUs and Piezos. The tone knob of the Variax 300 is not conventional, and I advise to install a second tone knob for the MagPUs, instead. If you want the 5-switch controller to run both pickup sets, you will need to get a Schaller Megaswitch.

 

WARNING: the wiring of your MagPUs and the Piezos to the same selector switch is complete insanity.

 

 

Before detaching the Variax 300 Selector Switch, you will need to find out the function of each of its positions. Then you need to translate them to the Megaswitch. This also goes for your new MagPUs' installation diagram, which you will also then need to translate onto that of the Megaswitch's.

 

It's probably easier to leave the Variax 300 selector as it is, add another hole to the back of your guitar, route the new MagPUs through a separate selector switch and call it a day. :)  Don't tell me I didn't warn you!

 

13.) No -> If, at this stage of the agony, you still need a circuit diagram of your Mag PUs and the Piezos, you should not be touching your guitar anyway!

 

 

You should be able to understand and re-create the Variax circuitry before touching your screwdriver!

 

 

Please step away from the project slowly, buy a JTV, or a Standard and just swap the neck and the MagPUs. ;)

 

14.) Yes -> See above.

 

---

 

As you can see, the following steps require the help of a professional electrician:

 

- understanding, copying, detaching and re-creating the knob circuitry

- understanding, copying and re-creating the interaction of the knob board with the main board.

- knowing which new knobs to choose (different OHMage, etc.)

- understanding why the Variax 300 tone knob will not work for the Mag PUs, and choosing one that does

- understanding how to add a new tone knob into the modified circuitry

- understanding and copying the original 5-way selector switch circuitry

- understanding the wiring of both PU sets

- understanding the diagram of the Megaswitch and being able to re-create it with both the Piezos and the MagPUs attached to it

- understanding how to add a killswitch to this mess, since simultaneous PU signals will cause major interference

- understanding how to send both signal to the jack output

 

,,, did I miss anything?

 

;)

 

The "easy" route would be to separate the two pickup systems completely and prep the body of the guitar accordingly.

 

The "easier" route would be to not add Mag PUs at all, create a front cavity in the shape of the tin coffin, add a pickguard and not touch anything else.

 

The "easiest" route would be to ditch the project, get a JTV/Standard and mix'n'match neck and pickups to your heart's content.

 

However...

 

*I WILL STILL GO AHEAD WITH IT*

 

B)

 

Wish me luck,

 

VX

 

 

PS: I'd appreciate a scan of a Variax 500/700 backplate. Please PM me one for my pains. :)

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*Summary of a Variax 300 transplant with Piezos and MagPUs attached to the original knobs*

 

 

 

Preliminary Warning:

 

 

The "easy" route would be to separate the two pickup systems completely and prep the body of the guitar accordingly.

 

The "easier" route would be to not add Mag PUs at all, create a front cavity in the shape of the Variax 300 / 600 tin coffin, lower the tin coffin into this cavity, connect it with the Piezo cable, cover it with a pretty pickguard and not touch anything else.

 

The "easiest" route would be to ditch the project, get a JTV / Standard and mix'n'match neck and pickups to your heart's content.

 

 

OK, if that didn't scare you off, this is what you will need to plan prior to your transplant.

 

 

[...] the following steps require the help of a professional electrician:

 

- understanding, copying, detaching and re-creating the knob circuitry

- understanding, copying and re-creating the interaction of the knob board with the main board.

- understanding why the Variax 300 tone knob will not work for the Mag PUs, and choosing one that does

- knowing which new knob to choose (different OHMage, etc.)

- understanding how to add a potential new tone knob into the modified circuitry

- understanding and copying the original 5-way selector switch circuitry

- understanding the wiring of both PU sets

- understanding the diagram of the Megaswitch and being able to re-create it with both the Piezos and the Mag PUs attached to it

- understanding how to add a killswitch to this mess, since simultaneous PU signals will cause major interference

- understanding how to send both signals to the jack output

 

 

You will also need to prep the new body and neck. Here are a few pointers:

 

 

- you can open the tin coffin and take out the three main boards (knob / main processor / selector switch). Taking out the three main boards allows you route the back of your guitar for the Variax 300 electronics, whilst leaving enough room for your Mag PUs in the front

 

- you can even un-solder the knobs off the most cumbersome board, i.e. the knob board. Please know exactly what you're doing, though. The connections are very tricky.

 

- instead of one big tin coffin -> more smaller parts = more freedom to place them anywhere on the guitar = more freedom routing the body.

 

- route a cavity into the back of the guitar large enough to fit the the size of your three separate boards (the Variax 500 backplate is a good template). Learn how to route a "lip" for the new backplate.

 

- increase the size of the jack cavity to fit the original Variax 300 jack

 

- you will need to cover all cavities with copper foil prior to re-wiring

 

- your neck needs to be square at the bottom to fit into a Variax 300 pocket. The scale is 25 1/2". I'm using a 22 fret neck. You might need to re-drill some holes.

 

- you will need to drill an additional hole for a killswitch

 

 

Final Considerations:

 

 

- create a circuit diagram of the Variax' original inner workings first.

 

- to this diagram, add a diagram of your new Mag PUs, the killswitch, the new jack, and other potential gadgets.

 

- you need to re-create the entire knob circuitry on paper first before detaching the knobs

 

- based on this comprehensive circuit diagram, create a routing diagram on paper (see: Variax 500 backplate). See if actual parts fit inside the paper diagram.

 

- don't forget to create a diagram for the front cavities, too (i.e. Mag PUs, new bridge, neck pocket, etc.)

 

- carefully transfer the routing diagrams onto the guitar body. Create acrylic/wooden plunge router templates if you have to (you do!)

 

- ONLY THEN start routing, sawing, scratching, biting, spitting and hammering. There are too many unfinished bodies on Ebay due to lack of planning!

 

- these are the Variax 300 re-wiring possibilities:

 

a.) original VOLUME (can accomodate both Mag PUs & Piezos)

b.) original TONE (better to add a separate pot for the Mag PUs)

c.) original MODEL SELECTOR KNOB (only needed for Variax functions. Leave it alone.)

d.) original 5-WAY-SELECTOR SWITCH (needs to be replaced with a Schaller Megaswitch if it is to control both Mag PUs & Piezos. The combo wiring for it will be mucho fun. Otherwise install a second toggle-switch for the Mag PUs)

 

- the more isolated your cavities, the less noise. Check the forums for proper isolation.

 

- don't run your Piezo cable over the main processing unit when re-wiring.

 

- you won't be able to run both signals simultaneously. Either one, or the other -> hence the killswitch.

 

 

It goes without saying that this will definitely void any warranty left on your gueetar... :D

 

 

GOOD LUCK, EVERYONE~!  B)

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