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Variax 600 not recognised by USB interface/workbench

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Hi all


Longtime lurker, first time poster. I've had a Variax 600 for years and have finally got around to getting a USB interface for it (one of the newer ones) and cable in order to use Workbench. Now I've read many posts about this (big thank you for that!) so made sure I downloaded the standard Workbench designed for an older Windows (I run Windows 10), get the 32bit Java, Line 6 Monkey etc but it doesn't recognise the guitar when plugged in with the CAT cable. I've got 2 green lights on the interface, it seems like all the drivers are up to date but I go into Workbench and I just get the message 'no device detected' even though it can detect the USB interface?


Any ideas? anything I'm doing wrong?



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Hmmmmm... Does this mean you are also connected to an XPS footswitch, via a 1/4” TRS cable? That’s one of the options.

The other option for powering the Variax with a 1/4” cable requires using batteries and a standard TS (2 conductor) guitar cable

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10 hours ago, cbrillow said:

Hmmmmm... Does this mean you are also connected to an XPS footswitch, via a 1/4” TRS cable? That’s one of the options.

The other option for powering the Variax with a 1/4” cable requires using batteries and a standard TS (2 conductor) guitar cable

Yes, connected to the footswitch. Not using batteries. Would that make a difference in terms of the computer recognising the guitar is plugged into the USB interface? 

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To be honest, I don’t know. I have 3 Variax guitars - a first generation 500, a 600 and JTV59, but have virtually zero experience using with the XPS. I have almost always run with batteries or connected to a Pod XT Live via the VDI cable. My gut says it should work just fine doing it your way, but this is Line 6 we’re talking about. I’ve seen some odd recommendations about connecting things in these pages...


If you have some batteries that you could slip into the battery holder, you might want to try it, just to exhaust all the possibilities. (Making sure to use a mono/TS cable, rather than the stereo/TRS cable with this combination...)


Hope you get it going!

Edited by cbrillow
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42 minutes ago, psarkissian said:

tip = signal

ring = +Vdc

sleeve = ground return


Has to be that way, TS can cause issues down the road.


No disrespect intended, but this simplistic response doesn't really address the central issue, nor is it responsive to the OP's last question. There are multiple scenarios mentioned in the thread, and this doesn't offer a hint into which scenario is affected, and the vague 'issues down the road' comment could use some explanation beyond 'Trust me, I'm the service guy - I know.' 


The Pilot's Guide is quite clear about the Variax power options that are available. 


For example: 


"The simplest way to use the Variax is to connect it
directly to your amplifier (or stompboxes) with a
standard mono guitar cable. (i.e. TS)
The battery will only be used when a mono cable
is connected – the standard cable you'd use for a
guitar. For longest battery life, always unplug your
Variax when not in use."
"Powering your Variax with the XPS Footswitch is
easy. Use the included TRS cable (meaning "tip-
ring-sleeve" or also simply known as a "stereo" cable)
to connect the Variax to the INPUT jack of the
XPS Footswitch. Connect the PX-2 power supply
to the XPS Footswitch POWER jack, and use a
standard mono guitar cable to connect the XPS
Footswitch's 1/4" OUTPUT to your amp or effects."
So how is a comment  --"Has to be that way, TS can cause issues down the road"  -- helpful? If you want to help the OP, give him some specific information that's responsive to his issue.  
You might say something like: 'If you're connecting to the Workbench USB interface, make sure that your Variax is connected to an XPS foot switch using a stereo/TRS cable.'  
As written, your comment is vague and, on it's own, suggests more questions than it answers. Are you suggesting that it's not possible or advisable to connect to the Workbench interface while powering the Variax  with the 9-volt battery pack of 6AA cells? Then SAY SO!
Maybe you meant to say 'Don't use a TS/mono cable to plug the Variax into an XPS footswitch!' But we don't know. All we know is 'TS can cause issues down the road'.
I think I can speak for many members in that we're grateful for your occasional appearances in the forum. Your position makes your voice very powerful and authoritative, but sometimes the responses leave a lot to be desired.
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1 hour ago, nickwright84 said:

Cheers I’ll give it a try. And dare I ask why the TS cable with the batteries as opposed to the TRS cable?

I only suggested that as an alternate means of supplying power to the Variax. Who knows why, but sometimes things work when you don't expect them to -- why not exhaust all the possibilities?


If you frequent the Amplfi pages, you'll see that Line 6 advises all kinds of voodoo for updating the firmware. Like 'If the update fails, try a different USB port, or a different computer.' They had me try 4 different computers, with USB ports on the front panel, the back panel, etc. Maybe I wasn't holding my mouth right... Nothing worked. I had to pay over $100 to send it to them to fix for 'free'.



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User Manual Page 4-6, from guitar to XPS,... use a TRS. TS shorts the +V to the return.


Don't trust me cause I'm the service guy, do so cause I've been dealing with and cooking up active guitar circuits since about 1976-77 'ish.

Used to crew for band Iron Butterfly, the bass player and I were coming up with all sorts of gadgets. That TRS pin-outs for active guitar circuits

has been a defacto standard since those days. Might even be an AES/EBU standard by now.


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You're making my case by again commenting on something in an inappropriate context that doesn't help ANYBODY.


I'm guessing that the 'User Manual', page 4-6, that you're loosely referencing is the same Variax Pilot's Guide that I directly quoted from.


You continue to try to make this all about using a TS/mono plug with the XPS footswitch, which was not suggested or implied in my original interchange with the OP. I wholeheartedly agree that connecting a TS plug into the XPS will short out the V+ that's there to provide operating power to the Variax, that it won't work, and could/probably would cause damage. And I'd never recommend doing so. We are talking about two methods of connection, the details of which are not intended to be mix-and-matched. Don't be so obsessed with the XPS/TRS issue.


Here is what I would unhesitatingly recommend to someone as options for powering a Variax 500 or 600, and these are fully supported by your user manual and my Pilot's Guide.


  • Use the battery pack with 6AA alkaline batteries. Use a 2-conductor/mono/TS cable to the input of the amplifier.
  • Use the XPS footswitch with a 3-conductor/stereo/TRS cable to connect the two. 

The essential issue that brought the OP here was that his computer wasn't recognizing by the Variax USB workbench interface. Another user and I were curious as to how he was powering the Variax, as that's not a function of the interface. Hence the question about whether he was using onboard battery power or XPS offshore power.


If you want to be helpful, give him some kind of an indication, such as:


  • It will work if you're powering your Variax with the 9Vdc battery pack. (and TS cable) 
  • It will work if you're powering your Variax via XPS footswitch (and TRS cable)
  • It will work for either of the above configurations





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Just to add I tried it with batteries and a TS cable and no difference I’m afraid. Green lights on the USB interface but neither the Line 6 Monkey or Variax workbench recognises a guitar plugged in.


Very frustrating and sounds like a fairly common problem they have. Shame they’re so unreliable as I do like the guitar.

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Sorry to hear that. Afraid I can't make any more suggestions, as I've never tried connecting with the USB interface. I also have a 500, and used to use Workbench by connecting through a Pod XT Live. I'm willing to experiment, though.


I was reading up on these things earlier, and first learned that there are apparently two versions of this thing. You say that you have the 'newer' version, if I understand correctly. That's the smallish black box with USB-A and Cat 5 cables sticking out of it? I have the older one, which was shipped with my JTV-59. It's translucent plastic, and requires separate cables to connect the box to the guitar (via Cat 5). and the box to the computer (via USB). From what I saw, though, it sounds that you're getting the correct information from the interface, indicating that both connections are functioning properly. 


It also sounds like you've done an appropriate amount of homework on drivers, JAVA and Line 6 Monkey. If you can stick around for a while, I'll see what happens if I try to connect my 600 through my (older) interface and see if I can make it work. It won't be today or tomorrow, but sometime before long...


One more question -- maybe two: Laptop or desktop? If desktop, are you using a rear-mounted USB port?

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Yes that's right, couldn't find an older version of the USB interface for love nor money. But it seems like that's working with the two green lights but no recognition of the guitar being plugged in.


Don't worry, not going anywhere! :) Using a laptop too, have tried it on multiple laptops of different ages and operating systems as well, in case that made a difference but no luck. Think I might be the guitar as I've had it over 10 years and never tried it but who knows! Plus the chances of finding a tech guy to physically look at it were remote before lockdown, let alone now. 

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  • 8 months later...


I saw this thread a couple of days ago when doing research whether the new USB interface (the black one) would work with my Variax 500, which is older than the 600. I just wanted to be a good internet citizen and tell you that it does!

I was a bit worried after reading this thread but one review at Thomann said it worked with his 500 so I took a chance. So it must either be your Variax that is faulty or something else.

You said you had tried several laptops with different operating systems. I got it working with Windows 10 64-bit, however it runs in a Virtual Machine using VMWare because I don't want to install Java on the host operating system (also Windows 10). Like you I downloaded the 32-bit version of WB and Java Runtime Environment (you can use a later JRE than the v.6 that WB tells you to install, I used 8) and it worked immediately.

You don't mention if you have tried a different ethernet cable but I don't think that's the problem, but maybe try anyway. Supposedly any cat5 that isn't crosslinked should work but I'm not 100% certain and I don't dare to try myself.


The main reason I got WB is to do drop D digitally to maintain tension and better intonation, but wow it is so weird to play. You hear D from the signal in the speakers but "feel" the vibration from E in your body, even with headphones.

It sounds good though and the intonation is so much better when tuning in E. Intonating the low E tuned down to D was almost impossible. Getting the 12th fret and open string in tune was fine but all the lower frets was awfully out of tune.


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