Variax Verdict

you’ve mentioned playing a [Line6] variax on here before, and i was thinking about picking one up online (no music stores around here), but how’s it play? how well does it track notes? . . . any other gotchas?

I would never buy a guitar that you can’t get under your fingers in person, but I can tell you it’s a quality axe.

As far as playability, I’d opt for the higher-end 700 model. Better wood, and it’s an archtop, which I’ve come to prefer over the years. Just the angle it creates where my wrist meets the bridge helps my picking accuracy a little compared to flattops. The Variax action isn’t the smoothness of say a PRS, but it’s pretty good, and feels very solid. I do wrestle it a little more, similar to fingering a Strat. It tends to need retuning every couple of songs, too, if you’re playing lead.

Tracking is excellent, nothing like a guitar synth or anything like that. All the articulation is there, from pinch harmonics to string noise, as it’s a piezo system. A tiny, tiny amount of delay that I’m not sure whether is the instrument or the POD I use with it. Switching tones is very fast also. It does not have a ton of sustain.

My biggest complaint, which is minor, is that it’s not great for heavy music. The guitar models tend to be more conservative/classic ones (the fattest sound is a Les Paul), and it excels at clean to overdriven sounds, but not metallic ones. You can still play it that way, of course, it just doesn’t quite have the crunch/bite of an Ibanez. My favorite tones are the Telecaster and Gretschs.

Other gotchas? You can’t just plug it into anything; it has to go through either its powered footswitch or, preferrably, digitally into a POD. I gigged with mine weekly in an 80s band requiring 20 custom patches. I kept a real humbucking guitar plugged into the other instrument jack on the POD, and simply rolled off the unused guitar’s volume.

About Gordon

Gordon Highland is the author of the novels Flashover and Major Inversions, with short stories in such publications as Word Riot, Black Heart, Noir at the Bar Vol. 2, and Warmed and Bound, among others. He lives in the Kansas City area, where he makes videos by day and music by night.
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1 Response to Variax Verdict

  1. dunkr says:

    i was nearly sold already. thanx for the info. maybe i’ll check ebay first since the 700 is out of my price range.

    how’s the acoustics sounds?

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