Now some of you may be surprised that we’re telling you about this as it’s not strictly a Sonic thang, but hey, we’re in Nashville! –And the demo was really very impressive. The Variax is a modelling guitar, a that is, a real guitar with a special Line 6 giant robot brain (as they put it) that can make it sound like any number of electric or acoustic stringed instruments. All the electronics live inside the body of the guitar. Power is drawn from a floor pedal the size of a splitter box. In fact, it is a splitter box with a jack out for your amp and XLR to send to the PA for acoustic type sounds – a nice touch. Power is sent via a standard stereo jack lead. Should you forget the box, you can power the Variax from standard AA or PP3 batteries.
The guitar itself- we are assured is of the finest quality with an alder body and maple neck– I held it, it felt substantial and had six strings and stuff - though I’m not an expert on these matters. The guitar will be manufactured in Korea – as many are these days – gone are the days of cheapo manufacturing. Line 6 are “taking an unhealthy amount of attention to the details and build quality” so expect it to be tip-top. It comes with a heavy-duty gig bag, lead and aforementioned splitter box.
In operation the Variax is simplicity itself – I quote: “we built it so a monkey could operate it”. There’s the standard volume, tone and five-way rocker switch normally used for pickup selection, plus a bank switching knob. It’s really a matter of selecting a bank, then selecting the patch with the five-way rocker – even I can do that. The rocker switch is standard and can presumably easily be replaced after years of wear.
The program groups cover a wide range of instruments from Strats to semi-accoustic Gibsons to 12 string Rickenbackers to Martin accoustic guitars, steel resonators and even a banjo.
The guys on the stand were quick to point out that you don’t even need one of their splendid amplifier products to get the most out of the Variax although they’d be happy to provide you with one should you wish.
Avialable in Candy Apple Red, Sunburst and Black
The Variax is expected to ship October and list at $1495