well I wanted a Tele and ended up buying a variax.
Its pretty good as things go too. Any long time members of this forum will know I am not a big line6 fan but lately I have bought a UX2 which I am beginning to like more by the day and now I have bought the 500 Left Handed sunburst Variax.
Its a classic Korean guitar and it looks like it bruises easily. The neck is a lot thicker than my 2 RG470's. The neck is of Maple construction and the fingerboard is rosewood. Fret wire is a little on the thin side and looks like it will wear easily. It is noticably more difficult to play than my cheapo strat and the RG's but it still feels like it needs wearing in, so I won't hold that against it
The headstock is set up with the classic gibson 3 tuners per side. The tuners themselves were better than the ones I tried on a tex mex strat and tele the same day I bought this.
The body is basswood and has a sunburst finish. The odd thing about this guitar is obviously that it has no visible pickups. so the Tortoiseshell scratchplate looks a little odd on its own. The fixed bridge has 6 piezo pickups built into it, one for each string saddle. The strings go through the body and the guitar sounds very nice and loud unplugged.
it has a battery compartment for 6 AA 1.5v batteries or a 9v PP3. but it also comes with a little pedal which supplies power and also gives a XLR cable output to go straight to mixer/desk. Also included was a balanced lead (for use with the pedal - as it supples a 9 volt feed to the guitar) and a very rugged gig bag. I paid £249 for the guitar and that is exactly 1/2 the current retail price on these, although some shops are doing comparable offers.
My first impression is the guitar looks a little bit bland - a bit like a Danelectro but not quite as cool. but the thing that really sold me was the versitile nature of the guitar and the digital modeling capabilities. I am no stranger to this kind of modeling - I own the Roland VG-88 which employs a hexaphonic pickup and achieves decent modeling of acoustic and a wide variety of electric guitars. If I want to play a strat through a mesa boogie - I dial it up and it sounds just like a strat through a mesa boogie with the VG-88. So how does the Variax compare?
Well the Variax is only a guitar modeler - it models 25 guitars and variants such as a 12 string choral sitar and a banjo. But also the standard fare of guitars such as strats, teles, les pauls, Gibson hollow bodies, resonators, acoustics etc. The VG-88 also does this and right from the off I believe the VG-88 does it better. But the Variax is pretty good at holding its own and does certain things better than the VG-88.
What you get with the variax is a useable rickenbacker 12 string, a very convincing strat, a decent combination of teles, a useable Les Paul and pauls specials. the rest is more than competant. The disappointing sounds came by way of the hollow bodies. This is where the VG-88 really wins hands down.
The acoustics are difficult to critique because I felt they sounded, and reacted in an artificial manner but, when recorded they sound very nice. Obviously you have to play them in the same way as you would an acoustic. of all the acoustic models the Gibson J200 was the most fun and sounded pretty full.
The banjo was definately better than the one on the VG-88 but it still isn't really that great.
So why did I buy it if I think the VG-88 is better? Simply put - there are no weaknesses in the sound chain. on the 88 the 13 pin lead is noisy and the pickup control doesn't help matters. the Variax doesn't have these weaknesses and also sounds pretty good through the Toneport. I wanted a good rhythm guitar for recording and I think I have got one and it has the added advantage of being a modeller. And that is the real selling point for me. The sounds on the variax were balanced and sounded almost like they had been eq'ed for recording. whilst they might not sound 100% authentic in a live scenario - they are perfect for recording. Also the bright nature of the guitars natural unplugged sound lends itself perfectly to the acoustic models.
I think I am going to really enjoy this guitar.