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My Line 6 Variax review!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tim Cole, Mar 20, 2005.


  1. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Just thought I would post and let everyone know I finally concluded and posted my review on the Variax bass. I tried to be as extensive as possible, but if you have any questions that aren't answered in the review, feel free to post them here and I will respond.

    Variax Review
     
  2. xcental34x

    xcental34x

    Feb 28, 2003
    Memphrica, TN
    after reading this and listening to the clips, I'm fairly interested in one.

    Very good review.
     
  3. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
  4. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Nice review! I hadn't seen that before now, but it does appear we agree on a lot of the same fronts. Possibly some of what you referred to as harshness could be the same thing as the "clank" I described hearing.

    One thing to keep in mind here, these come with some rather bright strings. Changing over to your normal brand could make this sound a lot more like "home" to you. I toyed around with the idea of putting my flea neck on it to see how it responded to graphite, but decided not to go to all the trouble.

    I am surprised there are people disappointed in this bass. The quality of mine is great, it is comfortable, and sounds great too. I'd be scared of basing my opinion of the bass on an abused GC demo with dead strings and altered/screwed with presets......it wouldn't take long to get it dialed so far out, you wouldn't know where to start.

    Honestly, it took me several hours getting into this fully to form my opinion on it, and overall I think it is great, and a nice tool to add to anyone's arsenal.
     
  5. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    The Variax used some sort of piezo pickup coupled with a processor. In that sense, I really don't think changing strings would have any discernable difference in tone, right?
     
  6. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    True, it does use a piezo system to process the signal, but string changes affect tone the same way it would any other bass.

    If this were a truely digital system, you couldn't hear all my string noise, and other technique issues :D
     
  7. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    True. Gotta love the synthesized 8 and 12-string string noise though.

    Good bass though. I'd try it with flats to remedy that, but I'd rather keep the sustain. I liked the strings that were on it, and was surprised how steel? rounds recreated the upright bass.

    Also surprising when you realize that bass is probably more powerful than a 10 year old computer?
     
  8. fatbassjazzer

    fatbassjazzer

    Feb 27, 2004
    ATL
    I read the review and I really want to try that bass out. It looks like it would be a lot of fun to toy around with a experiment with.
     
  9. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Very interesting, that standard Fender neck. Meaning any ol' Moses, Warmoth, or equivalent replacement neck would fit?
     
  10. jzucker

    jzucker

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    I haven't tried the bass but the guitar version is awful.

    The biggest flaw is the inability to decipher different types of attacks. For example, playing octaves on guitar using a Wes Montgomery style of muting the inner string and sweeping the thumb across the octaves produces a very velvety tone on a regular guitar. On the variax, it sounds as if you're plucking the two outer strings with individual fingers.

    Additionally, they sampled the jazz guitars with way too much bass response and the samples are not normalized (i.e. there is too much volume differential between a strat and a les paul). There should be a switch or way to normalize all the levels for on-stage useage...
     
  11. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz

    Mar 27, 2002
    Ohio
    I played the bass Tim has, and I concur with his conclusions pretty much to the "t". The only thing I didnt care for on the bass was the neck. Im a hardcore jazz bass guy, and the neck on the variax felt kind of clunky to me. If it were mine, I'd probably look for a jazz sized replacement. All in all, its a very nice bass though. Some of the presets were closer than others, but all were good.
    The "pan" feature was really neat....it especially gave versatility to basses that only have one pickup. For example, on the Pbass setting, using this feature was the same as sliding the pickup towards the bridge or neck. Very cool.
     
  12. I'd really like to check this out. I just worry about its durabillity through heavy gigging. I tend to bang my bass up pretty good in live shows. Also the fact that it cost $1100 and no hard case is included bothers me. Anything over $700 should come with a hard case.
     
  13. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    From my limited modeling experience, most things like the bass POD, etc. are cool for recording, but not really that great in a live situation (effects excluded.) In a live situation, would you really be able to get a J or P bass sound at the turn of a knob, enough to where another bass player would notice?
     
  14. jzucker

    jzucker

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Again, the guitar version did not respond to mechanical differences in attack. For example muting the strings, playing with finger vs. the pick, etc. I would guess that you could slap and pop on it and if you had it set to a fretless jazz bass sound it wouldn't pick up the percussive effects. That would be a huge drawback on bass where small things such as plucking with rest-strokes or not is easily discernable but not necessarily inherent in a pitch-to-voltage conversion...
     
  15. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    I've had the same impression on the amp modeling as well, however the bass seems to do exactly that.....you can definitely notice.
     
  16. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Well, I can tell you I had zero issues like you explain. This is just as responsive as any other bass, and responds the same on attack, muting, or any other difference you make.
     
  17. jzucker

    jzucker

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Hmm - That surprises me because I would assume they're using the same technology. Do you play guitar at all? If so, try the octave thing on it ala Wes Montgomery. Very disconcerting. It responds in a similar way to the Roland guitar synth in that it's picking up picking information and velocity but not percussive effects. In fact, based on the pickup technology, how can it be picking up percussive effects? I believe it's using a pitch to voltage conversion pickup which wouldn't respond to percussive attacks...
     
  18. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    I have the bass sitting right beside me, and have hours of time into playing it. Again, I have seen no issues like you describe. Yes, I do play a little guitar, but haven't had any experience with their guitars. Their guitar was released 3-4 years ago.......that's not what I am reviewing anyway.

    I suggest you go check the bass out if you get the chance.
     
  19. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz

    Mar 27, 2002
    Ohio
    You are aware that there are at least 3 versions of the guitar, right? I'm sure the older or cheaper ones perform differently from the current models.
     
  20. jzucker

    jzucker

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Actually according to line 6 they are the same except for the physical differences in the guitar and minor firmware revisions.