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Variax pickup swap


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I recently swapped bridge and neck pickups on my Variax standard. 

In the neck i choose a DiMarzio area 61 and for the bridge a tone zone.

Position 1, 3 and 5 are all ok but I noticed that on position 2 (neck+middle) i have a thin sound like when you have phase issues...anyone know if the middle pickup on the Variax standard is RWRP?

Position 4 sounds better but i know that the tone zone is not splitted in that position, maybe that's the reason why it sound accettable

Anyone has some advice?

Thank you

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  • 1 month later...
On 2/22/2019 at 1:43 AM, psarkissian said:

make sure you use this,....



Yes, i followed the right connections as in the diagram you posted, but it seems that you have to reverse the bridge or the neck pickup hot/ground to achieve the right sounds in all positions. 

I preferred to reverse the neck pickup but i think it doesn't matter which one you choose, just reverse one of them.

Now i have Area 61 in the neck, Area 61 in the middle and a tone zone in the bridge...i still had to do the reverse thing 

I think the circuit of the Variax is set up to accomodate the original pickups where the middle i think is RWRP because in a normal scenario you don't have to do this.

It would be awesome if some user that have this configuration in a normal guitar could confirm this

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4 minutes ago, psarkissian said:

For the Variax Standard.


First of all thank you for your help and sorry for my bad english ....



On my Variax standard the original pickups hot signal wires are not all white but white(neck), yellow(middle)  and blue (bridge)...

Anyway, I cutted the original pickup wires as suggested in this video, just to not mess with the PCB and soldered the new pickups on those wires and not directly to the PCB.


so i  considered the black wires as the ground and the colored wires as hot signals, but in position 2 it sounded really bad, it was thin and dull so i had to reverse the neck pickup wires to achieve the typical strat sound in position 2.

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  • 1 year later...

I’ve done a pickup swap on my variax standard . What I want to know is can I do a 7 way pickups select mod to get the neck and bridge pickup together without it interfering with modeling . I know how to do this . I’m just wondering if the switching  for the magnetic pups are on a separate circuit than modeling is? Thanks for any input you can give:)


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No, it's not designed to accommodate that. If it hardwired point-to-point and no fixed circuit board,

then that would be different, but not here. All signals route thru the Main PCBA, so it can switch from

Modeling to magnetics properly.



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If it was  point-to-point wiring, you could get a CRL switch from Stew-Mac and do that. Haven't done one of those 

since a mod I did back in the late 1970's when I crewed for the band Iron Butterfly. You're taken back to a flash-back.

That mod configuration was sort of popular then.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The EMG H4 came in today and took me all of 15 minutes to swap out and it sounds AWESOME! 100% warmer than the stock Line 6 pickup. And all I got from Line 6 is "Luck." thanks. Anyways for peeps wanting to know this sounds amazing, now the guitar is complete! This was the second Shuriken I got because the first one went back with a dead piezo! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am wondering if it would be possible to replace the Variax Standard 3 single coils with a set of Burns mini tri-sonics.

Not just a direct replacement but also a change in selection using the 5-way switch.

What I would like to achieve is somehow a Brian May way of using the standard besides all the modelling stuff.

The 5 Burns settings I would like to be able to dial in would be:

1. Bridge and middle in series

2. Bridge and neck in series

3. Bridge and neck in series out of fase

4. Middle and neck in series

5. Middle and neck in series out of fase


Alternatively setting (more close to the standard default):

1. Bridge

2. Bridge and middle in series

3. Middle

4. Middle and neck in series

5. Neck


Is it possible and what wiring diagrams would I need?

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" ... what wiring diagrams would I need? " --- See my previous wiring diagram post above for the Standard.

It must be followed. These are not passive circuits that can be altered. Do not mess with with wiring to the

5-Way switch circuit.


The spec on that pick-up shows a 7 k-Ohm impedance. Impedance is a function of frequency and therefore is

the incorrect terminology to use. If that 7 k-Ohm spec is the DC bulk resistance (DCR) of the coil/magnet at the

wire leads, that would be the correct terminology to use, and that would be the within the 6-8 k-Ohm range spec

for this guitar.


Do not mess with series/parallel or change the phase aspects of the circuit. That will alter the 6-8 k-Ohm range

spec in the circuit downstream. Don't do that.



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I found this specification info on the strat-talk forum:


Burns London Mini Tri-Sonic Bridge
- DC Resistance: 9.56K ohms
- Measured L: 0.93H
- Calculated C: 315pF (325 - 10)
- Gauss: 1250G

Burns London Mini Tri-Sonic Middle
- DC Resistance: 8.63K ohms
- Measured L: 0.74H
- Calculated C: 350pF (360 - 10)
- Gauss: 1250G

Burns London Mini Tri-Sonic Neck
- DC Resistance: 8.59K ohms
- Measured L: 0.73H
- Calculated C: 310pF (320 - 10)
- Gauss: 1250G


That means that they are unsuitable for the Variax Standard. Correct?

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11 minutes ago, psarkissian said:

the 8.59k  and the 8.63k are on the edge, so they're usable. As you go higher it will start to sound darker in EQ tone.

So they are useable in the Variax Standard as a one on one replacement?

The drawback would be on the 'darker sound' in EQ tone for the bridge pickup.

The positions 2 and 4 of the 5-way switch puts the B-M and M-N pickups in parallel.


Would be nice if there would be modeled tri-sonics available in the workbench.

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The DiMarzio Pro Track seems to be one of the only single-sized humbuckers that has the appropriate DC resistance, right?

Can I just replace the bridge pickup in a Standard and leave the middle and neck as-is?


Note: I only use the bridge magnetic pickup, otherwise I generally use the modeled sounds. Just want a humbucker in the bridge. 

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DiMarzio Pro Track,... yes, that works. seen a couple of Variax guitars with DiMarzios of the

Hum Canceling types retro fitted in them, come across my bench. Including Richie Castellano's

a couple of his JTV-69S guitars. They sound pretty good and are in the DCR range spec. They work good.



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  • 1 month later...

I got a Di marzio pro track and watched the above youtube video and have the wiring diagram for the Standard. 

I'm only doing the bridge pickup.


So white is signal, and black in ground on the Standard. Ok, which wires do I connect to those on the Pro Track? 

And what do I do with the other wires on the Pro Track? Leave them unconnected? 

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In case it helps anyone later on:

For the pro track to be wired in humbucker series for the Variax standard, you solder the white and black wire together then tape them and leave unconnected. Then connect the green and uncoated wires together, and solder those to the black Variax wire.

Connect the red pro track wire to the blue Variax wire.

Tape everything up and reassemble.


I did it that way rather than connect directly to the PCB since I didn't want to take a chance there.


The sound is pretty decent and IMHO helps the palm muting somewhat. Although now I have to tweak a bunch of presets and it has a much different tone than the single coil.

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  • 2 months later...

1) So long as you stick to the 6k to 8k Ohm DCR spec pick-ups.


2) the pick-ups can accommodate a two wire configuration, as the the 5-Way switch is configured for two wire pick-ups.

Can't think of any pick-ups off-hand that can accommodate that. Don't try to switch to JTV-69 5-Way switch to get around

that, though the switch would accommodate five wire humbuckers, the connections in the UI harness downstream won't.


3) A lot of the above solutions seem like a lot of time and effort, so it would be more controllable to use Workbench HD,

create it yourself, then save it as a custom patch to your computer.


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I'm very happy with my pickup swap 

Using Helix I can have a preset use a model for one snapshot, then the new humbucker, then back to a model. It's really nice. 


The modification was fairly straightforward once I figured out which wires to solder, and which pickup to use. 


In retrospect perhaps a JTV 69 would have been the right call for me instead of a Standard and replacing the pickup. That said, I'm happy with the way it turned out. The palm muting/heavier sounds are so much clearer and tighter than the model.


I do wish that L6 would release a HSS super-strat variax standard, but in the meantime this works very well. 

20 hours ago, sighuf said:

Would it be possible to create a custom pickguard and drop in two humbuckers in pace of the three single-coils, or should I maybe set my sights on an HSH configuration?


If you want HH, then going with a JTV59 is a  better option IMO than modd'ing a Standard. 

Doing a HSH (with the single-sized humbucker) would be easy enough, though. 


I would just be wary of modifying things involving the switch, combined tones, etc. Unless you REALLY know what you're doing. otherwise, stick to drop-in replacements. 

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