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greg42

Are they usually this bad?

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Hi

 

I recently bought an Amethyst Standard Ltd from GAK. Generally it is OK but the fretboard was filthy, the frets really rough and the volume knob just went round and round on the pot. I don't know how bad the strings were as they went straight in the bin so that I could clean the fretboard and polish the frets. I have received a replacement volume knob via Yamaha and it's all working well (though the pitch shifting is terrible but I knew that). The action was a bit high but I don't mind that, neck seems perfectly functional and the relief is correct, finish generally good and the electronics all work. Just disappointed with the fret condition and the dirt.

 

I was wondering: I've never seen a new Pacifica this bad and couldn't find any similar coments after a quick search here. Are the limited editions usually this bad? There were no signs of use so I don't think it is ex-demo but have these limited editions been out a long time (guessing it might have been bad storage)?

 

 

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4 hours ago, greg42 said:

... the pitch shifting is terrible but I knew that...

 

The alt tunings shouldn't be "terrible". What exactly is it doing, or not doing?

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Sorry to hear it came out of the box in such condition. I've always found the alternate tunings to work quite well. Going on what you said about the guitar's condition, it sounds like it needs a proper setup. If your guitar is not physically in tune or properly intonated this will directly translate to the alternate tunings. It's also important to make sure the sound of the amplified guitar is louder than the guitar. If not you'll hear the guitar tuned in standard and the alternate tuning coming out of your amplification source, which could clash in a nasty way. 

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By "terrible" pitch shifting I mean it's real-time pitch shifting: it sounds like a multieffects pedal pitch shift rather than an offline DAW shift like Élastique or Melodyne. It's adequate for live use, perhaps, but you wouldn't record an exposed track with it. It has that modulation you get as little sections of signal are stretched and put back together.

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Sounds like warbling from the pick-up height being a bit off, the set-up may need to be checked.

Or dual tone as ADBrown suggests, hearing the standard tuned string off the guitar while, while hearing

the Alt Tune through the amp.

 

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Actually having had a bit more of a play with the various tunings, especially through an amp, I admit "terrible" is the wrong word. It's as good as my Boss GT-001's harmonic pitch shifter AND it is a separate shifter per string so it's very good for a live pitch shift. I still wouldn't record with it, though.

 

Anyway back to the original question: have these limited edition Variaxes, the Amethyst and the Onyx, a reputation for arriving with problems like rough frets or dirty fretboards?

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5 hours ago, greg42 said:

Actually having had a bit more of a play with the various tunings, especially through an amp, I admit "terrible" is the wrong word. It's as good as my Boss GT-001's harmonic pitch shifter AND it is a separate shifter per string so it's very good for a live pitch shift. I still wouldn't record with it, though.

 

Anyway back to the original question: have these limited edition Variaxes, the Amethyst and the Onyx, a reputation for arriving with problems like rough frets or dirty fretboards?

 

Buying guitars online, sight unseen, is a crap shoot. I've had good luck, and I've received necks that had more twists in it than a corkscrew. You've no idea where/ how it's been stored, how long its languished in some stock room under less than ideal conditions, etc. Your experience is regrettable, but I can't say I'm surprised. 

 

I've been buying guitars for 30 years...couldn't even give you a count at this point. The one constant I've seen, no matter where you're buying from, is that fretwork on factory produced, assembly line instruments tends to suck, more often than not. Rough edges, high frets, etc...poorly slotted nuts are also a common problem. Sometimes these issues can be addressed with some minor filing, polishing, or a few love taps with a hammer to seat a high fret... but I've also seen some that were so bad a complete g&p would have been required to get them to play properly. But out of the box, almost nothing is gonna be "just right"... even on pricier stuff than this. 

 

I replaced the neck on my JTV within a couple of months... not because there was anything "wrong" with it per se, I just didn't like it. Way too narrow at the nut, and too fat around back for my taste.... but the fretwork was no better or worse than average, imho. OK, but certainly not spectacular. 

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I have a Pacifica, which I bought online which was pretty much perfect (apart from the intonation - so few people seem to bother!) and I've known at least other people who have bought Pacificas at one time or another and they were good too. I've never known anyone with a Variax but I thought they would be good too so I was a little disappointed.

 

I rubbed the frets down with stropping compound and they polished up fine. Neck is perfect, fret ends are perfect, all other hardware clean and shiny. The nut and bridge seemed fine but the action was set quite high which was a worry in case it had been done to cover up uneven frets. No need to worry, the fretboard is fine. There was no warping of the neck, string relief about right so no need to adjust the truss rod. The electronics were perfect apart from the volume knob - again a bit of a diaspointment. Also, while I'm being critical, the plastic film on the scratchplate is a pain to remove - had to loosen the pots to get it all out.

 

Of the other guitars I have at the moment: PRS SE - perfect in every way; Washburn Mercury - slight gap at the edge of the scratchplate in places, otherwise perfect; Steinberger Spirit - fine, basic but built like a cricketbat; Yamaha Pacifica 112 - perfect if a bit basic too.

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I ordered my Onyx directly from the Line 6 WEB site. It arrived with rough frets. I first noticed it when I bent strings and could feel the roughness, and when I looked closely I could see slight scratches in the frets. I'm in the process now of learning how to do fret work to see whether I can fix it. When I first got the guitar I replaced the strings with a lighter gauge and adjusted the neck relief without any problems. Other than the rough frets, everything else seems fine.   

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On 6/13/2018 at 6:08 AM, greg42 said:

Actually having had a bit more of a play with the various tunings, especially through an amp, I admit "terrible" is the wrong word. It's as good as my Boss GT-001's harmonic pitch shifter AND it is a separate shifter per string so it's very good for a live pitch shift. I still wouldn't record with it, though.

 

Anyway back to the original question: have these limited edition Variaxes, the Amethyst and the Onyx, a reputation for arriving with problems like rough frets or dirty fretboards?

I have had two standards. One was like yours. My most recent I got from Sweetwater so I can't say because they do a full check and would fix the problems. One thing I have found is that the tuners on the Standard suck. Even with adjusting. And I know how to over and under so you get a good wrap.  Do yourself a favor and put Hipshots or graphtech ratios on. My favorite are the graphtech but at half of the price Hipshots do the trick well. I put the open Hipshot locking tuners on my current Variax. I am trying to ride it out and learn this time. I have had three others and sold within a week. I am reading now that it can take longer than that for the Piezos to settle into place. Never heard of such a thing but I admit some of the buzzing I was getting is going away. 

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Thanks for the comment, BigRalphN. I'll have a look for the Hipshots, though I haven't had any big problems with tuning

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If you like the tuners then you might be OK. Hipshots would still be an upgrade (higher ratio and locking of that's what you choose). I love Ratios but at $109 to $119 they are pricey. Best out there in my opinion though. This one has decent nut but it does appear to be plastic. I might put a Graphtech on it. I doubt it would do anything for modeled stuff. I am also considering Kiesel Berylium Single coils for in it if I keep this one. I figure if I make it sound great with the magnetic setup I at least have that if I still end up not liking the rest. I am not sure about this whole piezo settling in thin people say you have to go through. As a former sound guy and electronics guy I don't see that actually occurring. But who knows. 

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One other thing I did Greg was use some 0000 Steel Wool on the neck. First I taped the entire fingerboard and did the whole neck. With about three minutes of buffing it felt perfect. Both standard necks I have had were ok but felt a little uneven in texture. For some reason this bothered me. And this one felt rough with bends so I taped between bends and used the 0000 wool to shine them up. I think it must have been oxide as they are fine now. Sweetwater did a good job on the fret edges unless it was done well by Yamaha. The first one I had took me an hour of fret touch up. Luckily I have a lot of fret tools. 

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I bought my V-standard about a year and half ago. Came through a music store chain in a cardboard box (disappointed not even a gig bag supplied in the box). Having said that, the guitar itself was perfectly set up from the factory and as just the Yamaha Pacifica sounded remarkably Strat like. Everything worked great and still does. One criticism would be the cheap wobbly tremelo arm set-up., usable but sloppy. Other than that, my Telecaster and LP Studio are sleeping in a closet because I love the way it plays and feels.

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