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mmjjww

300 on the way... what's going to work with it?

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I have massive magnetic field noise issues at my house ( powerlines on the road come very close to my building's STEEL ROOF, so ambient magnetic field levels in the building are ten times normal)... so its almost impossible to record any electric guitars without 40 dB of HUM being picked up by their magnetic pickups. EVERY guitar I own ( about 20) has humbuckers, and many of those are EMGs - but still my 50 milligauss background noise level is overpowering them. I can completely null out the noise by pointing the instrument exactly perpendicular to the powerlines, but as you can imagine it is not practical to play guitars while standing stock-still and trying to stay frozen within a half-degree of rotation!  

 

Anyway, it's gonna be a while ( and probably much litigation) to get the powerlines moved across the street, and in the meantime I have work to do. I stumbled onto an old "Lightwave Hybrid" bass guitar, and it is indeed 100% immune to magnetic interference. So, (despite the fact I own ten very nice basses already) I was able to solve the bass guitar noise problem for only $750. As basses go, it's not ideal, but I can't afford to buy a new HOUSE at the moment, so I will have to make do!

 

Likewise, budgetary constraints place the Lightwave "guitar" way out of reach, so I have opted for a used low-end Variax 300. It's on the way, and should be here in a week! $500...

 

Of course, being the geek I am ... I'll definitely want to tweak it in "workbench" (if for nothing else, to adjust string balance...).

But it seems onerous to spend $130 for the USB/RJ45 dongle!

 

I'm thinking it would be a more productive use of funds to buy some sort of POD unit to plug the variax network cable into!

 

So... can anyone tell me the "definitive" list of what I can choose from?  

 

I know the Pod XT Live, and the Pod X3 live floorboards have the Variax input...  but do any of the "kidney" pods have them? 

A few of the amps have Variax in, too... but do the amps have USB?

 

I don't really care that the 300 can't fully interface with the newer stuff (tunings, etc) since this is not for gigging.

But I'm not sure I really need a Helix, anyway ( Plus it won't function as "workbench connector", anyway, right?)

 

But a 2-3 hundred bux for a used POD of 'some sort' sounds like a reasonable possibility...  I'm pretty much at the mercy of whatever I can find on the used market (I'm in Canada, so it's small!)

 

Your advice is much appreciated!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here is a list of options for Variax inputs that will still work with the 300 and Workbench...

 

XT Live

X3 Live

X3 Pro

HD 500  (NOT the 300, 400 or 500x)

HD Pro  (Not the HD Pro X)

 

IMO... If it is not going to a stage I'd look at finding a used X3 Pro if I were you. 

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Nice! I have a lead on possible HD500 ( won't know til next week)...

 

But are you sure that the two 'PRO' models will let the 300 connect with the workbench?  (I thought I glossed over a post here somewhere that said they wouldn't)

 

ahh.. scratch that!  The official L6 doc says (X3 Pro at least)  "compatible with workbench"   :D

 

 

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Welp, the 300 arrived, but it's a BEATER. :(

 

The A string is cutting in and out (something loose in the saddle). The whole electronics just FADED after a while and became silent ( had to power it down and reboot to wake it up again)

 

I opened up to check the batteries... NO BATTERIES. Just a battery box completely corroded with BATTERY ACID.

Cleaned it up for HALF AN HOUR with various solvents and scrubbers, but its a goner, I think.

I notice the electronics havent "faded" since I removed it, maybe there was a partial short?

OOPS : spoke too soon. Just had a complete abrupt CUTOUT (dead unit) when changing to one of the 12-string patches. (Fixed by power-down/power-up.)

 

Aaaaaaaaaaand - the G string is like 20 dB quieter than the others ( and wound G, to boot!) 

I'm assuming this can be rebalanced in the workbench??

 

Are these things worth fixing, or should I pack it up and send it back?

The actual fretboard feels OK ( aside from the strings which are 3X heavier than anything I would normally play)  and I rather like the fact this one has no magnetic pickups like the new ones...

 

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Yeah... that battery compartment looks beyond hope. 

If that is in this bad of shape, it makes me wonder about the rest of the guitar... such as jacks, switches, etc.... 

 

Is it worth fixing? Well... that would depend on where you bought it from and was it "as described". It seems you say you paid $500 for it... I'd be returning it at that price. 

 

How are you powering it? XPS Mini? 9 Volt Battery? VDI Cable? Try each method if they are available to you and see if it stays running with any of those. 

 

The ground on each pickup is actually the saddle making the connection to the bridge. That needs to be clean or strings will get fuzzy, distorted, weak, and may even quit altogether. String volume can be adjusted in Workbench (and BTW, a wound G is quieter than plain G) but I'd try to make sure the pickup is making a good ground connection first.

 

Good luck!  

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Thanks for the tips!

 

The five-way was a little bit iffy, but not terrible, and it looks like the vinyl cover has never come off the VDI jack.

The guitar has signs of being gigged a little (very light buckle-rash, and setlists in the gigbag) but it doesnt look like there is any fretwear at all.

Did 300s come with stainless steel frets?

 

I'm negotiating with the seller now... I will keep and try to restore if he gives me a substantial partial refund, otherwise it's going back.

I'm powering it with an XPS-AB pedal ( it came with the pedal, the TRS cable, and the Line6 Power supply, which was part of the appeal of this deal originally).

If I  do not end up sending it back, then first thing I will do is de-string, clean all the piezos and re-seat, and restring with some light guage strings.

If I solve the "loose/intermittent" A string problem, then I will move on to seeing if it runs any better off a 9V (I don't have any Line6 Variax gear yet to try it with!)

 

Does anyone know what the "required" Voltage spec is for powering over a TRS connection?

 

The supplied Line6 power brick is "9VAC, 2 amps"... I dont know if maybe the XPS is converting that to DC, but I could measure the voltage out of that XPS... perhaps its a bit flaky? I'm probably gonna be buying a POD (with variax input) very soon regardless... I really like how HUM FREE this instrument is, in my uber-noisy local environment!

 

Still mulling over X3 Pro vs HD Pro... but for sure I would like a desktop unit, as I am short of floorspace ( space in general, really!) around here...

 

 

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11 hours ago, mmjjww said:

Does anyone know what the "required" Voltage spec is for powering over a TRS connection?

 

The supplied Line6 power brick is "9VAC, 2 amps"... I dont know if maybe the XPS is converting that to DC, but I could measure the voltage out of that XPS... perhaps its a bit flaky? I'm probably gonna be buying a POD (with variax input) very soon regardless... I really like how HUM FREE this instrument is, in my uber-noisy local environment!

 

The XPS MINI converts the 9 Volt AC into just over 8v DC (give or take a little) and regulates it. It's quite stable at maintaining the voltage. I am basing this on how my XPS is reading, I don't know if those are the specs, I just know it works. 

 

Have you cleaned the TRS connection on the Variax? Spray some contact cleaner on the jack and insert it several times.... then repeat. Don't spray directly into the jack. Do the same with the XPS TRS Connection.... and all connections for that matter. 

 

A 9volt battery is certain an easy test as well. That takes it right down to the GUITAR and eliminates the possibility of a problem with the XPS & TRS. When using a battery, just plug the guitar into the amp (or pedal board) with a regular guitar cable. 

 

Yes - put on a fresh set of strings, and make sure that bridge is clean.

 

If you can stabilize the guitar it may be worth keeping, but I'd certainly expect a partial refund for the troubles.

 

Good luck

 

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Hmmm.... just thinking out loud here.

Did the guitar come with an XPS or an XPS mini? The 300 is suppose to come with the mini

 

According to L6, the 300 (for whatever reason) requires more power than the 500, 600 and 700. The MINI puts out just over 8 volts, a standard XPS puts out closer to 7. If the guitar came with the wrong XPS, that "may" be the problem. 

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Thats very interesting, thanks!

 

I haven't really had time to do a lot. Put a new set of strings on today ( ultra light 008-040, my favorite).

 

Seller kindly gave me a very healthy partial refund for my trouble ( $300 back!)

 

This evening I wanted to take the piezos out to clean them.. but for some reason they don't want to come out easily. I mean, they wiggle a little, but I wasnt able to extract them with pliers nor small screwdrivers. Didnt want to damage them, so gonna let them be for now, until I figure out the trick to getting them out.

 

The good news (after the string change)  is that actually the intermittent 'A' saddle is currently no longer intermittent. I wasn't exactly banging on it - I have resigned myself to playing with a lighter touch than usual, since the piezos seem kind of delicate, and this is an old guitar that needs to last me a year or two. But I wasn't able to make it crap out in more than an hour of playing. And interestingly, it didn't "crash" once the whole time, either. Maybe I have cheered the old guitar up a bit, since I gave it a nice brand new custom Jodi Head strap ( red & white to match the guitar -  I special ordered that as soon as I pulled the trigger on this red 300...)

 

Anyway, it's very much 'so far so good', on that front. I did walk through ALL of the presets a couple of times, and no glitches from the switches!

I must say this thing has a LOT of really nice sounds in it. Out of the 50 sounds in there, I definitely enjoy - and will certainly make use of - at least half of them! Maybe more than half...

I do plan to open the guitar up and do a through cleaning / connector re-seating later on. Maybe even shield it some more? ( actually no electrostatic buzz whatsoever out of it at present- it is delightfully noiseless )

 

The bad news is that after restringing, the G string is still quite a lot quieter ( maybe also duller? - not sure) than the others. Ten dB down, maybe?

Possibly I will have to order a new piezo for that saddle? Or maybe after I get it hooked up to workbench, its something I will be able to fix in software??

 

Guess it'll be a couple of weeks until I can find out!

 

BUT... I am VERY PLEASED that yesterday I managed to find a POD X3 PRO in stock at GC Frisco. ( used but reportedly in excellent shape).

X3pro.jpg.e3250d3f1450102863d25d3748368f81.jpg

After searching for DAYS literally, I was just about ready to pull the trigger on a used one from Ishibashi in Japan - which could take more than a month to arrive. About CAD $525 for theirs, and this Guitar Center one was a couple hundred less!

 

But... Had to JUMP THROUGH HOOPS TO BUY IT... GC will not ship it to Canada! (couldn't even get it into my shopping cart, at first.)

Not sure what the issue is - I mean -  A) it's USED, and B) it's LONG OUT OF PRODUCTION. But I understand that normally you can't buy certain product linesfrom them when they are protecting the interests of the Canadian distributor. So maybe it just got flagged by brand for 'no export'.

Anyway, I had to do a workaround... I got myself a US freight forwarding address from MyUS.com, (no membership fees for first parcel, sort of free trial!) and then bought a couple days of VPN USA proxy service from AirVPN.org (cost a whole 1 euro) so that my browser was routed through USA. Then I was able to BUY THE POD!

 

So... will find out how the 300 runs off of the variax input, soon.

The instrument did not come with the original stock '300' power supply ( I believe that is a smaller plastic one?)

It did come with the nice metal one (standard XPS, marked "XPS-AB"). And also a very nice TRS cable (digiflex with real Neutrik ends)

Tomorrow i'm gonna try running the 300 off a fresh 9V. Will also try your suggestion about cleaning the jack contacts and see if I can borrow some de-oxit from my office!

But so far today the guitar totally was behaving itself ( aside from the bad G string volume). Unlike yesterday, when it crashed 3 or 4 times in half an hour. Today, it didn't crash ONCE.

(...buy your guitar a nice new strap, and it will love you forever?)

 

Do you happen to know where I could order a replacement piezo from? And do you know if the battery box can be ordered still as a replacement part?

I may never use it, but it certainly would be nice to have . Otherwise I'll have to make some kind of 'cap" for the 9V connector...

 

 

 

 

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Sounds like things are starting to fall in place. That's a nice partial refund you got... that changes the game... and almost pays for your POD Pro.

 

I didn't realize you were in Canada... which area? I'm a Winnipeg Jets fan if that gives you any indication of where I am :) 

 

Those little piezos are a pain to get out when they get hardened in. I can't remember how I got mine out, but yes, they are delicate so you can't be too rough with them. Line 6 sells them in their online store... BUT they won't ship to Canada. Yorkville (Long and McQuade) is the L6 distributor, they can likely bring them in for you. 

 

The piezos are called "x-inserts" and they are made by LR Baggs. You may be able to order them directly from them as well... but I think that would take a phone call, I don't see anything online. 

 

The other option is to replace the saddles/piezos with Graphtech Ghost Saddles (Model: PN-8000-00)... many people of done this. They are available through many online outlets, and Long and McQuade will also order them in if you want. The difference is that these saddles have separate HOT/Ground wires while the X-Inserts only have a HOT wire while the ground connects through the set screws. This makes the ghost saddles more reliable. 

 

As for the battery box... I'm sure you can find a used one. Don't worry about capping the 9 volt end in the meantime.... I just stuff a small piece of foam in the battery compartment to keep it from moving around... the plastic battery cover can't conduct so it's all safe. If you are really worried, just put a piece of electrical tape over it.

 

As for the XPS... you got the best of the batch... but according to Line 6 it's not right for the 300. I have no idea what could possibly be different in the 300 that it would require more power than the 500, 600,700? I've seen some reports of people saying it will work... I've seen other reports of people saying it won't. 

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More great info, thanks! I currently live close to Okanagan Lake (BC) and pull for the Rangers, Leafs, or Canucks (depending on who is left standing). I do think the Jets have the best logo in the whole league, and I'm always happy to see them crush the Pengoons, Sharks, Ducks, Flames... etc. I think the Jets are gonna have another great year! 

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On 11/1/2018 at 4:59 AM, codamedia said:

...

A 9volt battery is certain an easy test as well. That takes it right down to the GUITAR and eliminates the possibility of a problem with the XPS & TRS. When using a battery, just plug the guitar into the amp (or pedal board) with a regular guitar cable. 

...

 

Wow! I just took your advice and ran it from a fresh new Duracell 9V - what a difference! The guitar is louder and sounds MUCH BETTER. Even the 'quiet' G string is relatively less quiet!

 

A few minutes earlier I was playing it using the XPS power supply, and after a while it spontaneously  'cut out' - only this time not completely dead (I could still hear the signal, about 60 dB down... )

 

I then immediately switched to the 9V battery and it's not only running normally - it's  a noticeably "solider" sounding instrument.

 

I can't wait to get this thing powered directly from the Variax VDI cable.

 

When I can find a little spare time I think I will try to open up the XPS unit and see if its voltage regulator circuit might be adjustable. (In a previous life,  I was an electronics technologist for the federal government, so I know my way around electronics...) And if it's not adjustable, then maybe later on I will rebuild it with a different regulator chip, to put out 8V instead of 7V.  Perhaps the later guitars (500, 700, etc) were just a little more 'modern' in their circuitry design, and that's why they can run fine with less voltage?

 

Anyway, very pleased with the results of the 9-volt battery  experiment - things are looking up!

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Glad to hear about the progress. 

 

It wouldn't be a bad idea to hook that XPS up to a multi-meter and get a good look at what it is doing. You should also make sure the TRS cable isn't the culprit. I always like to make sure my XPS is working in the event the VDI ever goes. A 9 volt battery is a great test and will work in a pinch, but the MaH only provides about 2 hours on a Variax. 6 "AA" batteries gets you about 12 hours. 

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I’d avoid any battery pack in circuit when using XPS-TRS power.  

 

Not certain about potential for damage but it’s simpler to troubleshoot XPS-TRS issues if the guitar isn’t switching back & forth between XPS & battery power.  

 

Sometimes my 500 acts up on XPS-TRS power.  Expose logic board and noticed warm components - press around the area with non-conductive item and things always begin working normally for an extended period of time.  Dunno what's up with that but it's rare I use it on XPS-TRS anymore....

 

No doubt gen 1 and XPS-TRS can be funky powered system while genuine circuit info is very often scarce to non-existent.  

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On 11/4/2018 at 10:34 AM, jerseyboy said:

I’d avoid any battery pack in circuit when using XPS-TRS power.  

 

That's a really good point... one I simply assume. 

I never keep a battery hooked up if I am running XPS or VDI! I only use one power source at a time.

 

I have accidentally left the battery hooked up... no blood no foul. BUT - I try my best to make a habit of removing the battery after I have used one. 

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My "antique" POD X3 PRO arrived today! 1f603.png:D (From San Francisco, via Tampa Bay).

 

Happily, it booted right up, and the Monkey 1.77 found it right away and determined it has all the latest firmware. And all the USB drivers loaded perfectly into Windows 10. AND my ( new to me) ancient Variax 300 connected right away, and I was able to update the old Variax from V2.0 to the latest V3.10 300 firmware. No issues at all connecting and powering the Variax using a generic (cheap!) CAT5 cable that I had laying around.

 

So now I have a VERY rocking little production workstation suitable for my "extremely-magnetic-noise-challenged" (and extremely close quarters!) production environment up in the suite up here (While I wait for funds to accrue, to get the bigger room finished downstairs).

 

I was able to install and  load the Variax workbench (1.75), but I discovered that  the new 300 firmware has seriously improved the piezo tracking 'out of the box' with its full preset resets, 1f642.png:) so I haven't even bothered to tweak it. Between the Variax and my new "optical" ( Lightwave) bass - not to mention the many very nice amps and cabs (and other toys)  in this unit, I'm ready to get PRODUCTIVE here . Lots to learn about in this black and red box, though...

20181116_workstation.jpg

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@mmjjww  Congrats on getting everything up and running. Those X3's are loaded with features... great sounding units. 

 

Now you need an FBV Floorboard for the X3 :) 

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If I had the floorspace up here I would love a floorboard.  But at present there is barely room to walk in my micro suite... If I need wahwah I'll drag out my old Tonelab SE and haul it across town to record at my office. But I think for the next record this X3 Pro unit is really all I'll need! (Along with some sampled drumkits and keyboards...)

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Dude, get yourself the ghost piezos (i think they were the 8000) that will make the instrument sound way better, and will solve your g string problem permanently.

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Ghost PN-8000-00 piezos ordered today ( got a new tusq nut too, since the nut that's on there is slotted poorly...)

This winter I am finally going to put this guitar to work!

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