Jump to content
crwilsn

Retrofit Variax to existing Guitar (Telecaster)

Recommended Posts

Has anyone used piezo bridge saddles to convert their regular guitar to use variax models.  I have a telecaster that I would like to add a piezo bridge saddles (or line 6 saddles and electronics) but can find nothing on the process.  I know power is needed and a dial to control the model but there must be a way.  At the end of the day the variax guitars are an electric guitar with special electronics so it should be possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to find more about this... the Google search phrase is "Variax Transplant"... there is plenty of information and images. 

 

You need a lot more than just the saddles... you will need the entire Variax electronics. Since the electronics are not sold separately you would have to sacrifice an actual Variax guitar. Then you need to do a major routing job on the telecaster to support the electronics - essentially sacrificing (in value) another guitar. 

 

IMO: Most Variax retrofits were done when the Variax didn't have magnetic pickups. Now that the JTV and Standards are available there is little need to transplant. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It will sound different in a different body. The programming is optimized for the guitars they were designed for.

These are unsupported modifications, if this gets messed up, I won't be able to fix it. Therefore you do this at your own risk. 

 

I've done my share of mods, customizations and transplants. Not recommended for the inexperienced.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Totally doable, with all due care and attention to the intricacies of the variax innards. I have one Tele clone, which I bought as is, and two Strat clones, which I transplanted myself.

 

As codamedia suggests, with JTV and Standard models available (more expensive to buy second hand than 300/500/600), if you want magnetic pickups as well, they'd be what you want to buy, whether to use as is, or to transplant into a Tele clone, if that's what you really really want. The early variaxes however, didn't have mag p/ups, and evidently it IS very complicated to have both mag p/ups and variax 300/500/600  electronics together on the one instrument, except if you're happy to have separate controls for each output (magnetic, and variax), as well as separate output jacks, and you'd have to work out how to blend those signals downstream.

 

If you don't need magnetic p/ups, then transplanting 300/500/600 guts into a Tele is not that hard, as long as you are handy with a router, and maybe a chisel. I woudn't buy a real Tele for the transplant, but a cheap clone would suffice - my Strat clones are SX brand, bought because they have alder bodies, and totally usable necks (with a bit of fine tuning to suit my tatste), though the frets do wear pretty quickly with regular gigs.

 

psarkissian says they won't sound the same, but realistically, it's not a deal breaker - besides, if you A/B with another variax, you can tweak stuff in workbench, if you're that anal about tones being out by 5% or thereabouts, but I'd say you won't even notice. The Strat models will still sound like Strat models, for example....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just want to add one more option to the table... If you try a Variax and don't like the neck, you might be able to replace it. I don't know about the 500 (original Variax) but the 300 and 600 necks can be swapped with a regular Tele or Strat neck. I believe this can also be done on the JTV, but not on the Standards.

 

About 8 years ago I bought a 300 just to test the waters of a Variax. The sounds in the 300 are the same as the sounds in the 500, 600 and 700 - but the guitar itself is a much lower quality. I found a nice Fender Tele neck from the 80's, bolted it on and that changed everything. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...