Line 6 Variax Guitar First Look

At the 2015 NAMM Show, Line 6 introduced the Variax Standard guitar.

While the Variax Standard is designed to look like a regular guitar, it offers instrument modeling that allows it to sound like a variety of instruments. 

The Variax Standard can sound like an entire collection of vintage, modern, and exotic instruments, including coveted electric and acoustic guitars of the past century. Guitarists can also choose from an array of alternate tunings with the turn of a knob.

Details on the new guitar are available at the Line 6 site.

23 thoughts on “Line 6 Variax Guitar First Look

      1. Strats (and slightly tweaked strat copies, like the Variax design) are the most cliched middlebrow vanilla cheese guitar imaginable. They scream middle-aged, dumb white blues and corporate safety rock. First guitar for lessons recommended by every instructor – get your feckless middleschooler a black and white Squire strat.

        An old road-worn Stratocaster is the holy grail for crass rich collector types. It’s what’s bolted to the wall at Applebees. It’s Americana. It’s some country-rock d-bag’s weapon of choice.

        But that’s entirely our modern brand associations. When released, it really was a radical space-age machine. The lines were like nothing else. It played fast with a thin neck and streamlined body and had that clear twangy single coil tone. They are actually nice.

        Line 6 really should have cooked up something cool, like those mid-60’s Japanese solidbodies – Teisco, Kent, Guyatone, etc. But they want to move units. Can’t blame them, really.

        The guitar that has no sound of its own also has no look of its own.

        1. Meh, I’m far from that type of person and I love playing my deluxe strat. You could generalize a lot of musical instruments like that. It just comes off as a bit rude. You could swap out strat and say telecaster or les paul and it would be the same because they’re all popular and great selling guitars. Putting it into a more “hip” shaped body style would have probably resulted in you saying that “they’re going for the hipster market.” Then you would have complained about that.

    1. Think the audio quality was fine on this one. But, it is sorta silly how bad audio is on almost every NAMN floor video ever. You know, considering the subject matter of the expo and all. Two wireless lav mics and a bag full of mini splitters so that the audio from whatever it is can be plugged in directly. Add a ducking compressor so that the lavs cut the instrument as needed.

  1. I gotta say, I really LOVE this as a concept. They appear to have some kind of “workshop” software to allow deeper tweaking of the models– which is a must for an instrument like that.

    I’m also very glad they’ve put it into a decent quality instrument. Yamaha’s guitars have decent build quality and the electronics are probably quite good.

    The three things that anyone who might be considering this should watch out for are:
    Unworkable latency– i.e., processing delays that make it practically difficult to play in a live context.
    Stupid tones– i.e., are there 200 different sounds, and you only like and use 3 of them?
    Outside boxes– will it run as a regular guitar if the batteries are dead? Does it need any external stuff to run?

    None of those are deal breakers, but just good to know. I’d like some kind of instrument modeling on every instrument I own, frankly.

    Line 6 has a funny mixed reputation. Folks used to be VERY critical of their amp models (especially recording engineers).
    And in the early days it was pretty mediocre. This stuff does keep evolving and improving though.

  2. I have the original variax, and to tell you the truth, despite the fact that it was a fairly cheap sounding guitar, the sounds it could make and the alternate tunings with software, etc were quite impressive. and had no latency, it works with a different tech then note to sound conversion (inducing latency, especially the lower the note)…. The build quality on this looks nicer, but the variax wasn’t bad! I don’t think I would use it as my only instrument, and perhaps the “modeling” if you were trying to record a segovia record or something might not live through the scrutiny, but certainly was fun for overdubs…

    1. I love my first generation variax. It’s a bit like the difference between an analogue synth and a good software emulation. In the normal context of being part of a mix, you’ll struggle to tell them apart. And from what I hear, the quality has improved substantially in later models.

  3. The producer says, “Hey, give me a sitar sound!”, and I say , “Hey, I don’t have a sitar.”, but now I do!

    I like the concept. We will see if it delivers.

    1. Again, since 2007, they’ve already shipped the 300, the 500, several different versions of the James Tyler Variax,….we already know how it delivers, which is really well for some things, so, so for others.

  4. Great idea BUT, palm muting for drop tunings and harmonics,especially for acoustic settings, were a real issue for all the models so far. So metal and rock “chuggin” AND ACOUSTIC HARMONICS were non starters. Has the software solved these issues yet for 2015? My solution for now, has been a Gibson 2012 Robot LP , that does 9 different guitars + A PIEZO acoustic in 18 different tunings, with no modeling, in analog time (3-7 secs). BUT no banjo – no sitar. Just Sayin’

  5. Nice to see love for guitars and guitarists in MOST of the comments… Of course it couldn’t be all. I love both synths and guitars. Both make me appreciate the other even both are fun depending on my mood.

  6. Ok, I’m onboard with the idea of tech like this. But a few “twangy ding dwas” in each sound is far from convincing. I want to see that guy play for a minute or two at least using each model to see how useful they actually are. And while this might be really cool for some applications, there is still a lot missing. For example, you don’t get the drone strings on the sitar, which really is most of the point of the instrument.

  7. My friend had one and sold it. From what I gather reading about this – my friend didn’t really use the different models; he made metal, there is an issue with dynamics being translated into the models. I think it has improved a bit from that little variation in strum towards the end of that video. I would buy this, chuck a fender neck on it and feel like a champ!

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