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RD1967

Variax and HELIX sounds absolutely terrible

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Please understand I'm not trying to be negative and I'm not a hater.  I absolutely love my Helix.  However, I've had my Helix for about a month now and finally had some time to fiddle around with my Variax and I was astounded at how bad the Variax sounds.  I love the Helix and have created some really amazing sounds with all my other guitars and even the Variax sounds great if you use the magnetic pickups.  Has anybody else found this to be true?

 

Also, I have discovered I can't do all the tweaking I could when I used my HD500X and WorkbenchHD.  WorkbenchHD doesn't work with the Helix.  You can't change pickups within the Helix.....you can't use the modeled pickups and blend them with the magnetic pickups, you can't "design" a guitar.  Maybe I'm doing something wrong.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

-Ron

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Have you downloaded the latest version of WorkBench? It was updated 3/30/17.

 

-Support for Variax connection through Helix (Helix firmware 2.20 or later required)

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I haven't done that.  I read in another thread that WorkBench wasn't yet compatible with the Helix.  Based on what you're saying it sounds like that has been corrected.  Thank you for responding.  I appreciate it.  

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What type of Variax do you have? Make sure you are running the latest firmware for that type of Variax.

 

What are the Variax settings that you are using in the Helix preset(s)? Are there any specific Variax models that sound best/worst?

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I feel ya.

My JTV89F is a good guitar. As long as I just use the mag pickups. The models are weak, thin, and I have to turn them up in Workbench to +6db to even get them to output enough to come CLOSE to the mag pickups. And even then...they just lack the character, tonality, and warmth of the mag pickups.
I've pretty much given up on ever being able to use guitar modeling with Variax. And I've had mine for a little over 3 years now.

The only choice I would have would be to make different presets for every guitar model in the JTV89F that I want to use...and then put some kind of boost in front of the chain. 
But again...it still doesn't have the round tone of the mag pickups. :(

I'm hoping that they are re-thinking the modeling technology and that they are perhaps coming up with a new version that can work on the hardware in our current Variax guitars.
Right now it's just not on the same level as the mag pickups in the JTV89f and not even close to the tone of my Jeff Beck Strat Custom Shop, or my Redmond Series Floyd Rose Model K, or my Ibanez Prestige, or my Les Paul, or any of the other guitars I own. 

And knowing that...makes using the models useless for me.

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Just like a lot of people have different patches for single coil vs humbuckers, tailored to a specific guitars output. I built my presets using a jtv59 and it sounds fantastic to me

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Uber Guru - I have the 69S Variax.  How do I download the latest firmware?   Is it done through WorkBenchHD?

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I have been using a JTV-69S as my main gigging guitar for almost a year. I did make some changes in the models - mostly string balancing and some different body models. The models don't sound as good as the real thing. But I have no problem getting them close enough for club gigging. I doubt anyone can tell the difference or would care.

 

Your Variax may be stuffing from clang tone issues. If that's the case, you can try some of the documented, but unverified remedies.

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The models don't sound as good as the real thing. But I have no problem getting them close enough for club gigging. I doubt anyone can tell the difference or would care.

That's my problem...KNOWING that I can simply plug in a "real" guitar or switch to the mag pickups on my JTV and BOOM...it will sound so much better than the models.

 

I don't like that it's that way. I probably spent a year in denial when I first got my JTV trying everything I could to get it to sound better and be able to use the models.

 

But when you can simply switch to the mag pickups and hear the guitar literally come to life...it was just too much nagging in the back of my mind. I don't want to sound pretty good...I want to sound the very best that I can.

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Sad to say compared to my real 93 strat with Kinmans, my JTV69 sounds terrible too. I use it mainly now for alternate tunings and a little slide. That's it.

The only patches in there worth mentioning to me is an acoustic or two, and the LesPauls.

 

As always, YMMV.

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Sad to say compared to my real 93 strat with Kinmans...

Kinmans f'in rock...a bit pricey, but awesome.

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Uber Guru - I have the 69S Variax.  How do I download the latest firmware?   Is it done through WorkBenchHD?

It's done using Line 6 Monkey and an appropriate Variax interface device.

http://line6.com/support/page/kb/_/guitars/variax-guitars-bass-workbench/variax-reflash-and-software-update-instructions-r309

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I didn't have the exact issue with my HD500X.  I felt the tones were much better through the POD than they are through the Helix but were still not great but definitely usable.  The only tones I find usable through the Helix are the Les Pauls.  

I updated my Variax last night to the most recent firmware and there was no difference.....still just sounds bad.  My son's Stat Mini that I paid $125.00 for sounds better than all of the models in the Variax through the Helix.  Again, I'm not trying to be a hater but I am terribly unhappy with the Variax now and will probably sell it unless Line6 creates a major upgrade to this for the Helix.  The magnetic pickups sound freakin awesome but I have a ton of other guitars that are equally awesome and won't need the Variax any longer.

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I'm sorry, but I feel there's some user error that needs to be assigned to the above posts. I'm not saying my Variax is my best sounding guitar or that it couldn't be improved, but it's certainly very capable of sounding as good as most guitars out there. I use it as my #1 guitar. I play it through my Helix with my band and I also take it with me to jam nights where I plug into what ever is provided as a back line amp. I almost always use the modeled guitars. I think the mag pickups sound great, but I have no problem getting a good sound from the models and I like the ability to switch from a Strat to an LP for different songs.

Here's a coupe of video's of me using the Variax. I'm not saying it's the greatest example of tone, but it's certainly usable.

The first video is my Variax, with a Strat model, through my Helix with my band at a gig. I'm on the right and the other guitar player is using his LP through a Two Rock rig.

The second video is at a jam night, not my band. I'm using my Variax with an LP model through a Roland Blues Cube Artist. The solo is on the bridge pickup. A little thin but so was my LP when I used to take it. Again, I'm on the right.

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just got a variax standard (2weeks) imo the models are not bad at all especially the acoustics are excellent , the only thing is the way palm muting sounds and feels, but that's a matter of getting used to I think.

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I didn't have the exact issue with my HD500X.  I felt the tones were much better through the POD than they are through the Helix but were still not great but definitely usable.  The only tones I find usable through the Helix are the Les Pauls.  

I updated my Variax last night to the most recent firmware and there was no difference.....still just sounds bad.  My son's Stat Mini that I paid $125.00 for sounds better than all of the models in the Variax through the Helix.  Again, I'm not trying to be a hater but I am terribly unhappy with the Variax now and will probably sell it unless Line6 creates a major upgrade to this for the Helix.  The magnetic pickups sound freakin awesome but I have a ton of other guitars that are equally awesome and won't need the Variax any longer.

I had to update each and every firmware - but now

Variax and HELIX sound absolutely fine.

The JTV here sounds much better through Helix (even if the communication with DT amps is not provided (as with PODs...) ). I guess you have to adjust your modeled guitar sounds (string volumes) and improve your Helix patches (tones)...

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Variax requires a slightly different approach to a 'real' guitar but it can sound totally awesome with little effort with the Helix. (I have a 59P)

 

It's a magic combo in my probably easily pooh-pooh-able opinion but I do A>B comparisons against 'real' guitars into whatever valve amp or sound I am trying to get and it never falls short.

 

It is worth while remembering that not every strat sounds the same, not every....OK you get the point here.

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Same struggles as above, but a little time and effort into the setup went a long way to solving most issues.  

 

First and foremost have the guitar properly set up. From nut to bridge and everything in between .No fret buzz!!

 

Pickup height--the closer the magnetic pickups are to the strings the worse the models sound and the less sustain they have.  Back them off, maybe a standard single coil set up typical of Fender and back them off a little more.  I'm not going to list the numbers, easily available through google.

 

Strings make a difference, I was not happy until I switched to GHS Gilmours 50-10.5.  That doesn't mean you will be happy with Gilmours, it means try something different.

 

If you do one of the above you might get lucky, but no guarantee on happy.

 

If you do all of the above you should have great success and be fairly happy.

 

My 69S is my main instrument, phenomenal sounding guitar,  Great for recording, writing, everything but it took some real thought, some recording, looping to get it just the way I wanted it.  And for the record I have had to put the same effort into every guitar I have.

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Sometimes I'm not very bright.....how can the pickup height affect the sound of the modeled guitars?

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The mag pull in the string can change the tone. By experience, it need to be super close to the string with a really strong magnet to change your sound, but it can. It induce a strange vibe on your strings, it sound almost like a chorus FX , event unplug. I don't have any experience with your variax guitar, but I know piezo system are super sensible to any sound alteration on the string, like mag pull, frets buzz and event dead strings.

 

Also, compare to my old an hated pod, Helix is really sensitive to pickup change, like the real deal aka tube amp. Every thing sound bad in a pod, but bad in the same way, cheap or Uber expensive guitars. It's really not the case with Helix. Maybe variax just doesn't sound great at all, but again I can't say cause I never try a variax.

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I was trying to reproduce Matt Schofield's tone with my Helix and JTV-69S. I got close with the magnetic pickups, but could never quite get there. I switched to the Spank model and bingo - much closer. I'm guessing the modeled Strat just happened to be closer to the Strat he uses. So I ordered a set of Amalfitano SVL Daytonas to put on my JTV-69S. 

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I rarely use the Tele model on my JTV69. It just never sounds quite right. The other night I was working on a Helix patch for the intro to Kryptonite and none of the Variax models were working until I tried the Tele, bingo perfect sound. I'm actually excited to get to rehearsal next week so I can show off how close I got with that intro tone. 

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I updated my Variax last night to the most recent firmware and there was no difference.....still just sounds bad. 

 

Same here- didn't notice a tonal greatness increase by updating either.

 

I'll "again" try some new strings and see if that helps.

 

Anyone using anything but 10-46's on their 69?

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I am not a fan of Variax at all. I hear people make them sound fine (like the guy in the Doobie Brothers) but I have tried two and both sounded horrible. I was told it was that I sometimes rest my palm on the bridge. Whatever it was they are not for me. 

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The JTV-89F is equivalent to a guitar meant for metal.  It's got humbucker mag pickups.  I believe they are also on the hot side.  Of course the only comparable guitar model to the mags will be Lester model, which, also has humbuckers (or P90's in the 2 and 4 positions).  Most of the other guitar models are single coil models, which will sound much weaker.  Not to mention they are modeled after guitars built in the 50's and 60's, which, again, are going to be lower output pickups, especially if you are used to active pickups.

 

On my 69S, the models sound comparable on an equivalency basis to my unpotted Amalfitano humbucker (pretty hot side, too) imbibed Les Paul Tokai.  I can switch between the two  guitars and get the tones I'm expecting.  Yeah, the mags on the 69S are a little hotter than the models, but it was designed that way.  If I'm going for a spank single coil sound, it's gonna sound a LOT thinner than my humbucker, but that's the way it's supposed to be.  That's what Timmy is for :)

 

For those who don't like the sound, it may be worthwhile to have your piezo's checked.  I'm not sure how, but there should be a standard test to check the voltage for a calibrated input.  They can go bad. 

 

And before you resort to that, try changing your strings.  If you are using 9's that could be part of the problem.  The guitar was designed for 10's (-42's), and the output would need to be adjusted for the change in string diameter.  Which can be done in Workbench.  But, really, you're better off using the strings it was designed to be used with.

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I have used a JTV69 and 59 for several years, and a Variax 600 before that, with great results.  You just have to dial in the tones in workbench, don't go by the stock sounds.  

 

Here's an example of my setup using Helix/Variax:

 

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Posted Yesterday, 11:04 PM

I have used a JTV69 and 59 for several years, and a Variax 600 before that, with great results.  You just have to dial in the tones in workbench, don't go by the stock sounds.

 

 

Hey, Chad, I would love for you to share some of the things you tweak when you dial in tones in workbench.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

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I have used a JTV69 and 59 for several years, and a Variax 600 before that, with great results.  You just have to dial in the tones in workbench, don't go by the stock sounds.  

 

Here's an example of my setup using Helix/Variax:

 

 

I couldn't help but notice you used a 1/4" cable and not the VDI to plug into the Helix. it there any reason for that?

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I couldn't help but notice you used a 1/4" cable and not the VDI to plug into the Helix. it there any reason for that?

Good catch :) If memory serves that was recorded when I was waiting on my replacement circuit board for my JTV69.  

 

I installed strap locks and the screw that came with the strap locks were slightly too long and hit the circuit board.  It still functioned on 1/4" and battery, but the VDI cable wouldn't power it.  Once I got that repaired I went back to the VDI and that's all I use.  

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Hey, Chad, I would love for you to share some of the things you tweak when you dial in tones in workbench.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

 

I'm more than happy to!

 

Here is a link to download the custom bank I use for my Variax.  It's Strat Neck, Strat Middle/Bridge, Les Paul Neck, Les Paul Bridge, Strat Bridge P90.  It's setup to give me my favorite 3 Strat settings and sandwich in a Les Paul for good measure.  

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/o1ldonb67exi0tl/Chad%20Bank%208_20.bnk?dl=0

 

Here's basically the patch I was using in that video on the Helix.  I'm always tweaking little things on it, but the core of the patch is the Litigator amp model:

 

 
Here are a some of videos I did on tweaking Variax.  You can skim through to see what is useful to you:
 
 
 

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Dude.....thank you.  You will forever be called "The Chad"  or "the Chadster" in my eyes.  Thank you for taking the time.  I'll gladly watch the videos and take what I can from them.  Thanks for sharing.....you didn't have to and I appreciate it.  

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Dude.....thank you.  You will forever be called "The Chad"  or "the Chadster" in my eyes.  Thank you for taking the time.  I'll gladly watch the videos and take what I can from them.  Thanks for sharing.....you didn't have to and I appreciate it.  

I'm more than happy to help!  I've been using Line 6 gear since the AxSys 212 in the late 90's.  Their gear has revolutionized how I'm able to gig and made my life exponentially easier :)  

 

I know what the gear is capable of and I'm always happy to help others get to where they want to be with it.  Any way I can be of assistance I'll be glad to.  Good luck with your setup!

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I'm more than happy to!

 

Here is a link to download the custom bank I use for my Variax.  It's Strat Neck, Strat Middle/Bridge, Les Paul Neck, Les Paul Bridge, Strat Bridge P90.  It's setup to give me my favorite 3 Strat settings and sandwich in a Les Paul for good measure.  

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/o1ldonb67exi0tl/Chad%20Bank%208_20.bnk?dl=0

 

Here's basically the patch I was using in that video on the Helix.  I'm always tweaking little things on it, but the core of the patch is the Litigator amp model:

 

 
Here are a some of videos I did on tweaking Variax.  You can skim through to see what is useful to you:
 
 
 

 

 

Yeah, I got the 69S because I've always used humbucker guitars and wanted to try a single coil and a guitar with a vibrato.  And felt the Variax would give me what I needed for a strat style guitar, and if the models worked, it would be even better.  I'm happy with the models and use them.

 

But I was wondering what a Strat with Humbucker in the bridge would sound like, so I modded the Custom1 1 and two positions so the guitar was Strat with Humbucker bridge.  And I think it sounds great.  The tonal capabilities with Workbench are awesome.  And I still have a lot to learn (e.g. what effect does pot impedance have, etc., etc.)

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Yeah, I got the 69S because I've always used humbucker guitars and wanted to try a single coil and a guitar with a vibrato.  And felt the Variax would give me what I needed for a strat style guitar, and if the models worked, it would be even better.  I'm happy with the models and use them.

 

But I was wondering what a Strat with Humbucker in the bridge would sound like, so I modded the Custom1 1 and two positions so the guitar was Strat with Humbucker bridge.  And I think it sounds great.  The tonal capabilities with Workbench are awesome.  And I still have a lot to learn (e.g. what effect does pot impedance have, etc., etc.)

I agree, workbench gives so many tonal possibilities.  Really allows you to build your dream guitar.  

 

The only pot changes I usually make are the tone pot.  General rule of thumb, the lower the value the less high end you get.  

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HI All,

I know this thread is a little dated, but I think one important aspect of getting good sound out of the Variax got overlooked.

 

I recently purchased a JTV-89F (upgraded to latest firmware 2.22), I plugged it into a Blackstar practice amp, as well as a Mesa Mini Rectifier / Mesa V30 1x12 cab.

I got the exact same poor results as the OP, the JTF-89F using mag pickups sounded great and the models sounded like crap, I also compared to a Strat and LesPaul, and both those sounded way better on both amps than the JTV models.

 

Then,

1) I got a Helix (still did not sound great out of the box), I was using headphones as output initially

2) I upgraded the Helix firmware to latest (Nov 2017) and stock presets - big improvement in sound 

3) Then I got some of the really good custom presets from CustomTone - massive improvement in sound

4) Then I got a Line6 StageSource L3T FRFR speaker, and the result is now my JTV-89F models (Spank/Lester) sound way better than my Strat, LesPaul or the JTV in Mag mode.  I still use JTV in Mag mode for some metal songs, but generally use the models most of the time.  I was always after the Hendrix/Marshall/Strat sound, and the above setup with the RHCP Frusciante patch from Custom Tone sounds awesome to me

 

At one point I considered getting a Marshall DSL5C for home just to dial in that tone when I needed, but after getting the Line6 setup right, I don't think I need to do that any more.  I am also not playing my strat any more at all, just going to the JTV-89F.

 

The big takeaways are

1) Update Firmware

2) Get good custom patches for Helix

3) Get a really good FRFR output from the Helix (StageSource, Atomic CLR, etc...)  there are other forums on that.  

 

There are many other forums pointing to the issue of using a modelled guitar through a regular guitar amp, and poor results.  I think once  you go modelled, you gotta go with a good FRFR.

 

And there are lots of other forums on this, but Atomic gets you an FRFR that has the character of a guitar cab, whereas the Line6 speaker is just a really true and powerful FRFR.  The interesting thing is it has a 2x12 guitar cab model mode, and that also sounds like crap, and what sounds good is putting in in Reference Monitor or PA mode.

 

 

Hope that helps.

 

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That's my problem...KNOWING that I can simply plug in a "real" guitar or switch to the mag pickups on my JTV and BOOM...it will sound so much better than the models.

 

I don't like that it's that way. I probably spent a year in denial when I first got my JTV trying everything I could to get it to sound better and be able to use the models.

 

But when you can simply switch to the mag pickups and hear the guitar literally come to life...it was just too much nagging in the back of my mind. I don't want to sound pretty good...I want to sound the very best that I can.

I came to exactly the same conclusion!

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