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I have just bought a factory refurb JT variax with floyd rose.  I like it alot and have started trying the different tunings.  I have it run through a helix floor model and like lots of overdrive and distortion.  The standard and drop d tunings are right on the money and sound great with all the different guitar models.  But as soon as i switch to 1/2 step down, it sounds awful.  I play with plenty of volume so i am not hearing the strings in the true e tuning ringing out as per instruction manual.  Anyone else have issues?  I like the guitar and don't want to send back but this is a deal breaker if it cant be fixed.  I have done a firmware reset using the line 6 monkey.  

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I play with plenty of volume so i am not hearing the strings in the true e tuning ringing out as per instruction manual...

It's very easy to be fooled by this. If you're not playing at or close to stage volume, then you're hearing the strings acoustically. Everyone does, all the time...they're inches from your head. It's easily ignored until the physical tuning and what's coming out of the speakers are no longer the same pitch. I didn't want to believe it either, and was convinced I had a defective guitar. Fortunately, it's easy to prove otherwise... record something direct into a DAW using the alt tuning, and listen to the playback. If the playback sounds normal, then there's nothing wrong with the guitar.

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While recording is the conclusive way to verify that what you are hearing is, indeed, the acoustic sound of the actual standard-tuned string vibrations there iare a couple of quicker tests you can perform.

 

First, try using headphones, preferably closed-back phones, to prevent any outside sound like the acoustic string vibrations from being heard.

 

Secondly, while playing, move your head/ears closer to the strings and farther from the speaker. Does the dissonant sound increase? Now move your head as far away from the strings as you can and as close to the speaker as you can. Does the dissonant sound decrease? Turn up the speaker volume dramatically. Does the dissonant sound eventually disappear?

 

All of those indicators will provide evidence. If you are still certain that you are hearing the dissonance from the speaker, not just from the strings, then it's time to test conclusively with a recording.

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Also worth mentioning, be sure you're guitar's intonation is properly set. If your guitar isn't properly intonated then the Variax tunings won't be either. It sounds like if the other tunings worked fine it is probably not the issue, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

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I use Eb tuning quite a bit and for me Variax has always been a champion in that regard going back to the older 1st gen versions.  

 

As suggested try some simple direct recordings and see if it really is as bad as it seems during performance?  

 

Make sure you’re not picking up ANY string vibration.  I’ve had IEM (in ear monitor) cable pull tightly enough to physically conduct some guitar vibration to my ears?  Kinda weird sound when that happens.  

 

Oh, and watch out for magnetic pickup height?  Often strange sounds when they get too close to the strings.  

 

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First, try using headphones, preferably closed-back phones, to prevent any outside sound like the acoustic string vibrations from being heard.

 

 

Even with closed cans, I hear the dissonance if the headphone cord comes in contact with the body of my JTV!! 

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What silverhead and Triryche said,... it's commonly referred to as "dual tone effect".

 

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Almost everybody who buys a new Variax is fooled by this. Trust us.... you are hearing the strings acoustically clashing with the amplified signal. As stated above, try some closed headphones to clarify this for yourself.

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Almost everybody who buys a new Variax is fooled by this. Trust us.... you are hearing the strings acoustically clashing with the amplified signal. As stated above, try some closed headphones to clarify this for yourself.

 

Even better, just record yourself direct and listen back. That will tell you for sure whether your hearing the strings or not.

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