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Variax 300 arrived today


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B stock from an ebay retailer, great price. No visible flaws that I can detect.

 

I havn't plugged it in yet. But one observation: the power supply looks to be the same as the one for the POD xt live. That makes sense because you can power the git from the POD with a variax cable. It will be good as a spare PS.

 

I went by GC on the way home from work, looking for a variax cable -- they said it was a special order item. Figures.

 

I was hoping to try it out on a gig Saturday, but I really wanted to use the cable. I don't like the idea of powering it from that goofy thing it comes with. I downloaded the workbench, but I need the cable to use it. I wanted to set up a couple of altered tunings.

 

I ordered the cable and a few other things from MF.

 

More after I play it.

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Good idea. I wouldn't want to use one for a gig, but just for use with workbench, it might be fine.

 

Initial impressions after playing. I had fairly low expectations about the neck. I knew I wouldn't like it, but it's not nearly as bad as I assumed it would be. Setup/intonation is good right out of the box.

 

The sounds are great. I had played one about 9 months ago at GC and was dissapointed, but this one seems much better than that one. Maybe the absense of smoke on the water in the background has something to do with it. Maybe the salesman rotating the selector knob while I was trying to play and evaluate what I was hearing also didn't help. First impression is it's a keeper.

 

The guitar has great balance, much like my MIA strat and much better than my epis.

 

It's B stock, but the only flaw I can find is a small spot of wood stain on the side of the neck about 6th fret. Not noticable at all. Everything else perfect and pristine.

 

More impressions tomorrow as I get it ready for a gig. I will only use if for one or two numbers this weekend.

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I had the chance to try out the acoustic Variax at a GC around here. I basically also had low expectations but that thing was pretty damn cool. Seems like there's a lot of novelty with it but I know it could be a lot of fun to own. It sounded great through the Fender acoustic amp they had set up

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Originally posted by blima

don't use an ethernet cable. It will damage your guitar and/or your XTL. Trust me, I've seen it happening too many times.

I've read that elsewhere too. It's not worth it. I'll just wait for the cable to arrive. It should be here next week.

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I have a B stock 300 as well and love it. No flaws whatsoever, I bought it from MF for $349 and it came fully sealed and packaged like any brand new Variax. Who knows, maybe it was. I've been playing out at open mics now for the past couple of months, 2-3 times a month with the Variax. I can walk in and do a really wide mix of musical styles with just one guitar...awesome!

 

I have the Pod XT Live too and use that with the Variax, just plugging the whole thing into the house P.A.

 

I'll double check my Variax power supply tonight, I thought they were different.

 

Regarding the cable, for the purposes of running Workbench at home a Cat5e cable is fine. I would never gig with one because the connector could get pulled off too easily. But for just sitting at your computer putting guitar models together until the real cable shows up, the Cat5e will work - I did it myself for a couple of weeks.

 

I originally ordered the VDI cable from MF but was informed it was on back order. So I ordered one from Best-tronics as well. It showed up within a week, was a couple of bucks cheaper, and is a much better cable. My Line 6 cable from MF showed up about 8 weeks later and I don't even use it - it's my backup. The Best-tronics cable blows it away. Plus, there was a defect with some of the Line 6 cables where the little plastic tab (which you don't need with the Variax) inside the bell would catch and not allow the user to unplug the cable. Check your Line 6 cable when you get it to make sure the tabs have been removed. If you want to order a cable from Best-tronics, the link is:

 

Best-tronics (guitar-cable.com)

 

I ordered a 15 foot "Ethercon 1" cable from them.

 

~Blackbelt

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I don't have a Variax or anything, but I'd have to question the validity of the "Ethernet cable will ruin your variax" rumor.

 

Assuming the fancy cable and the Cat5 both use a standard RJ45, 8 wire and the pin-outs are the same, it shouldn't be a problem.

 

It might be a problem if the pinouts are different, and you're suppying power to something in the ax you shouldn't be. But anybody with the fancy cable could validate the pin-out.

 

It sounds like the main difference is the plastic connector varies, such that you may or may not have trouble getting it out, or keeping it in. But electrically, it should be fine. But don't take my word for it.

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Originally posted by Janx

I don't have a Variax or anything, but I'd have to question the validity of the "Ethernet cable will ruin your variax" rumor.


Assuming the fancy cable and the Cat5 both use a standard RJ45, 8 wire and the pin-outs are the same, it shouldn't be a problem.

 

Janx,

 

You're correct and Line 6 has all but admitted this. It's more an issue of components meeting their standards; they're not willing to sign off on any cables that don't meet their specs because cheap parts or sloppy workmanship (incorrect pin-outs, etc.) could damage the gear. Fair enough, but in reality a properly connected Cat5e cable works just fine. It's just that it tangles up awkwardly and the connectors are weak...if one gets yanked apart you might have problems. I still keep the Cat5e handy in case my 2 VDI cables go south.

 

~Blackbelt

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The vdi cable (line 6 variax digital interface) has an XLR type shield that locks in place like an XLR connector. For gigging this would be much preferred over a cat 5 cable.

 

One of the reasons cables wear out is that during a gig, they get stepped on a lot. Cat 5 won't last long under those conditions.

 

MF says my order was shipped, so it shouldn't be long. I'll probably do a song Saturday using a standard setting, no pitch change.

 

Most of the models sound surprisingly good when paired with the XTL patch designed for it. This could become my main ax pretty quickly.

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Originally posted by Janx

I don't have a Variax or anything, but I'd have to question the validity of the "Ethernet cable will ruin your variax" rumor.

 

It's not a rumor. I used to work for Line 6.

 

Here's the problem:

 

Ethernet cables are made to be plugged in the back of your computer and be left alone. They're not made to be moved around. Therefore, they can have small variations in plug sizes. The Variax cable cannot have these tolerances because as you play, the cable will wiggle inside the jack and damage the jack pins. Line 6 conducted test with regular ethernet cables and virtually 100% of the guitars tested ended up damaged at some point. The question is not IF it will damage your guitar but WHEN it will damage your guitar, but sooner or later it will.

 

I don't see a problem in using an ethernet cable to update or reset the firmware, as long as you lay your guitar on a flat surface and don't touch it while you're doing the update but if you plan to play your guitar using a RJ-45 cable, PLEASE get the official Variax cable.

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Lots of guitarists record with the variax. I'm more interested in the variax for gigging at this point. So, after just 1 gig . . .

 

Post gig variax impressions.

 

I did a block party gig. Played several songs with the variax. I play mostly clean and I am very impressed how it sounds live. I didn't have time to do careful tweaking like I usually like to for the POD xt live.

 

My setup: Variax 300 to XPS box for power to POD xt live into the FX return of a Fender pro185 SS amp.

 

Neck impressions: although I don't really like chunky necks, this one feels good. The frets are smooth on the tops, a bit of roughness on the edges, but I will smooth these out in the coming week or so. The finger -- err -- fretboard (habit from being a violinist I guess) is fairly flat. Overall I give the neck a 7.5.

 

Variax Body. No one would buy this guitar based on looks. No figured wood top, no translucent finish here. The body is heavy. Not Les Paul heavy, but heavier than it looks. The finish is black and flawless. It's not as curvy as a strat, but it's pretty comfortable. It is hardtail only. You will not be able to fit your favorite trem on to this guitar. It has a flat top and a small belly cut. The guitar is well balanced. Score 8.

 

Sounds. Hey this is why anyone buys a variax isn't it? The musicians I played with last night were quite impressed. I played the jazzbox and semi-hollow settings. These model the Gibson ES-175, Gibson Super 400 with P-90s, Gibson ES-335 and the Epiphone Casino. They all sounded great. It's like the comfort of playing a strat and getting the sound of a big hollow jazzbox. The tones sounded right to me and everyone around me. Also to get the sounds right doesn't take a lot of tweaking at the guitar end. In fact there isn't much tweaking you can do. Tone and volume, like on any other guitar, that's it. Since I can't find flaw with the sounds I've used so far, I give the sounds a 10.

 

Overall value. For what I invested ($379 + $35 shipping) I don't see how you can beat it. For the price of an Epi Dot, you get all these sounds and a good playing guitar. IMO, If you like cheap guitars (cheap being a relative term) this one should be a part of your arsenal. Value is a 10.

 

Overall score. Entertainment is a multi-sensory experience for the audience. For those musicians in front or under a spotlight, this guitar might not be for you. An audience may not except what they hear if they see what is producing the sound. If you have a personal stylist with your crew, chances are you won't find the guitar appealing. Dragging expensive and maybe rare guitars from venue to venue my still be your way of life. If however you are a sideman, or your gigs don't put you in the spotlight, this may just be the guitar for you.

 

I find myself often playing in cramped quarters. No matter how careful I try to be, occasionally I bump a guitar or someone bumps one sitting on a guitar stand. Years ago I stopped an incoming bear bottle with an MIA 57 RI custom shop strat. I don't recommend doing that with any guitar, but having a cheap guitar that sounds killer can be a very good thing. :thu: Overall, I have to give it a 9.

 

I should also mention if you play custom guitars, there are options for the variax. Line 6 does not have a custom shop, but warmoth makes necks and strat bodies made for variax. You could buy a variax 300 and build a custom guitar with figured woods, custom inlays, killer finishes etc. Some assembly required of course, but you could get a luthier to assemble it for you if you're not a DIY-er.

 

Of course, this is a one gig impression. I will add to this after gigging with this guitar for a while.

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Thanks for the review, bendafender.

 

I am 9 & 9/10th's sure this will be my next guitar. Although I'm still tossed between a 300 or a 600.

 

I have always liked the looks of maple fretboards, but if they are reasonably the same otherwise, I don't know if I like maple enough to pay that amount of difference.

 

Brad

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I have the 300 and love it but...given the opportunity to have a 600 instead, I'd go with the 600 hands down. In addition to the maple fretboard, the 600 has a trem - and that's the only reason I have to put my 300 down sometimes. A blue 600 is currently firmly entrenched on my GAS list.

 

~Blackbelt

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I'd love a 600 if:

 

1) I could afford it and

 

2) I could get a hardtail version.

 

I have wanted to like trems, but I never have. I'm sure it's my technique, but I need the security of a hardtail. That said, I do like a maple fretboard a lot.

 

I think that what the 300 lacks in the appearance department, the 600 wins it hands down.

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Originally posted by bendafender

I have wanted to like trems, but I never have. I'm sure it's my

technique, but I need the security of a hardtail.

 

Forgive me, I'm kind of a new guitarist. How does a hardtail offer more security?

 

Brad

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Originally posted by 777Brad



Forgive me, I'm kind of a new guitarist. How does a hardtail offer more security?


Brad

 

Like Jbird said, tuning stability. If a note doesn't sustain like I think it should, or I hear a strange harmonic, I tend to blame a spring-loaded trem. With a rock solid hard tail, I can only blame myself. Also, I can bend without fear that tuning might be out after the bend. I can also do double stop bends without fear.

 

I'm sure it's more my personal insecurities about trems, that's why I use the word security.:D

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I've had a POD XTLive and Variax 300 for somewhere around 16 months now, been using a 30' CAT5 cable that I bought for $4 from Frye's and have not had one problem.

 

Also, while I love the versatality and different options the Variax offers, it could never be my main guitar. The Les paul sounds are decent...until I A/B'd them with my real Les Paul! Not even close, especially if playing any type of Metal or Hard Rock.

 

I love a few of the acoustic sounds, I found the Sitar setting to be a complete waste, and I've been dicking around with the banjo setting a lot lately...kinda cool.

 

I bought it mainly for home recording, but I really only use it for the acoustic sounds, while using my Les Paul for most electric sounds. I've never owned a real Tele or Strat so I can't comment on how it compares, but those sounds are useable.

 

Perhaps the workbench software would allow one to tweak the sounds closer to the real thing...I may check that out.

 

Overall, it's an outstanding tool for anyone who wants to record multiple guitar sounds on a budget!

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Originally posted by FINNS

Perhaps the workbench software would allow one to tweak the sounds closer to the real thing...I may check that out.

 

You should...considering that for you it's a free download. The alternate tunings feature alone is killer.

 

 

~Blackbelt

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Originally posted by Blackbelt1



You should...considering that for you it's a free download. The alternate tunings feature alone is killer.



~Blackbelt

 

:eek: :eek: :eek:

 

Wha-wha-WHAT?!?!? I didn't even know it was FREE!:rolleyes:

 

Thanks for telling me that, serioulsy. I'll check it out and report back!:cool::)

 

Not that anyone cares what my opinion is, but...ya know...:wave:

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Variax cable came today. Installed workbench and played.

 

First a dissapointment. It doesn't appear you can change the pitch (open string tuning) on the 12 string models. I was trying to create a sort-of mandolin sound using the 12 string models as a base. Not an option.

 

However, what a tool! You could setup a model in open-e tuning for some slide guitar, then step on a switch and go back to regular tuning or whatever you fancy.

 

The only other limit I've found is you can't have 3 pickups active at the same time. The only guitar I have with 3 pups is my strat and it doesn't allow you to do that anyhow.

 

Warning: you can waste lots of time playing with this thing. You won't get any practicing done. :D

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Originally posted by FINNS

Wha-wha-WHAT?!?!? I didn't even know it was FREE!


Thanks for telling me that, serioulsy. I'll check it out and report back!
:cool::)

Not that anyone cares what my opinion is, but...ya know...
:wave:

 

Pod XT Live owners can download Workbench for free, so yeah, check it out!

 

:wave:

 

 

~Blackbelt

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