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timboL6

New (to me) Variax 600, with a couple of problems

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Hi all.

 

I picked up a Variax 600 from ebay a few days ago, and have just had a chance to sit down and see what it can do. I like what I've heard so far, but I have also noticed a few problems that I hope you good people can help with.

 

Firstly, the D string is at a much lower volume than the others. It appears to be a constant low volume, not an intermittent drop out, and almost sounds muted/thin compared to the other strings. String volumes in Workbench all show as set to max. Any ideas? I've done a bit of searching the forums, and am thinking I should try taking the string off and cleaning under the saddle, would a q-tip and isopropyl alcohol be suitable for this?

 

Secondly, the model selector knob appears to be extremely wobbly. If I move it laterally from side to side there's a good 2-3mm play measured each side of the top of the knob. I'm not sure if it's related, but when I try using it to select models, there are some banks that don't get selected (the selection either stays where it is, or skips a model to the next one). I've checked this while connected to Workbench, and I'm unable to use the model select knob to select Lester, R-billy, and Semi. I am able to select acoustic about half of the time, by carefully and slowly coming at it from one side or another, and can select the remaining models all of the time. I'd appreciate any advice on this!

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Tim

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Sounds like your guitar needs some work!  Bad Piezo on D String.  Bad Model Selector Pot - probably has been damaged if it wobbles.

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Sounds like your guitar needs some work!  Bad Piezo on D String.  Bad Model Selector Pot - probably has been damaged if it wobbles.

 

Yep, that's what I'm thinking Charlie. I'll try having a look at the piezo tonight and see if giving it a clean helps (might also try rotating it 180 degress, that seems to have worked for some people). Not sure what to do about the pot though. I've contacted the seller and he says it was fine when it left him, so it looks like it received a whack in transit.

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Either it was whacked or he's lying. 

My D string was my culprit too. The sound volume dropped about in half and there was a lot of static. It sounds like yours has a grounding problem that can't go back to normal at all so it's stuck in half volume all the time.

 

When you do try to clean it and all, be careful as the wire is delicate and thin.

 

If that doesn't work, you can order a piezo element replacement from Line 6 or you could order an x-bridge insert from LR Baggs directly like I did.

 

It only costs 12 dollars per piezo pickup.

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Standard Variax piezos are gounded through the bridge / strings and only have one wire on them.  Cleaning may restore the function.  It's not hard to replace one and they are available and not too expensive.  The model pot is a much bigger deal.  You need exactlyl the right one for it to work right and it really should be calibrated.  You can tweak it to get the model switch points to match the detents but it's tricky. You may be able to get a replacement from Line6 or one of the service centers.  They can be damaged so I am sure that it's a common repair that is done.

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Thanks guys. Clay, yes, I heard some static as well, particularly on the acoustic model (when I could get the acoustic model!). I've tried cleaning it, but it's still not back to full level. I might try unsoldering/resoldering the element and see if it helps, otherwise maybe a new one is necessary. I'm in the UK, but I'm sure I can get hold of a new one.

 

As Charlie says, I'm more concerned about the model selector, don't think I could fix that one myself. I've put in a support ticket to see what L6 can do to help.

 

It's a pity, from what I've heard so far it's definitely a guitar that I'll be able to use both live and in recordings. Just need to get it working properly!

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I really hope you didn't pay too much for that guitar. Mine was a bit sketchy too when I got it but the guy said it was fine and you have 2 kind of big problems, one of which completely ruins the functionality of the guitar and makes it almost useless imo.

 

Like I said, piezo elements are 12 dollars a piece, I strongly suggest replacing it if it isn't working right. It was worth it for my broken piezo, zero grounding issues since and I can actually use the whammy bar without worrying about the grounding messing up.

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Hmm, I've had a brief note from Line6 (presumably USA) saying to clean the piezo and see if that works, and that they are "assigning this to Line6 UK" (this for the switch problem). No sign of a reply since.

 

Anyone have a number for Line6 UK so I can call them and tell them how unimpressed I am about their response time?

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Thanks for the links amx05462. The pot on the left does look the same as the one in my 600.

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Just a quick update to those interested. I decided to send back the guitar to the seller (who has been very helpful during all of this) for a refund. It's a pity, as the guitar sounds and feels great, but while I got the piezo working (with a few passes of emery paper on the base, simply cleaning it did nothing), the switch (and any related circuit board damage) was a bit of an unknown quantity. I spoke with Line6 on the phone, and Dietmar was very helpful, but I'll mark this one down to experience and look for another.

 

Thanks to everyone for their help and advice.

 

Tim

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Just a quick update to those interested. I decided to send back the guitar to the seller (who has been very helpful during all of this) for a refund. It's a pity, as the guitar sounds and feels great, but while I got the piezo working (with a few passes of emery paper on the base, simply cleaning it did nothing), the switch (and any related circuit board damage) was a bit of an unknown quantity. I spoke with Line6 on the phone, and Dietmar was very helpful, but I'll mark this one down to experience and look for another.

 

Thanks to everyone for their help and advice.

 

Tim

 

Good choice. Don't keep a dud. If you JUST bought it, even off ebay, there's no excuse to have problems the next day. It should be good. The only thing you have to consider is maintenance of the piezos if they die out, which is common with the old Variax, but having this problem right when you get the guitar is inexcusable. I regretted this myself a bit, but hey, it taught me how to solder.

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 Tim! -- If you have still not found another 600 then PM me ... I bought a Tyler 59 last year and my 600 is (in its bag  -Black) gathering dust on top of the wardrobe.... 

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