Line 6 Variax Standard Review in 2020 – Before You Buy

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3.5/5
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Variax is totally different and unique guitar that can do pretty crazy stuff. Because of different technology, it’s not everyone’s piece of cake, but it’s still a good option for some players. Let’s look closer at this axe!

Line 6 Variax Standard specs:

Body type: Solidbody

Body wood: Alder

Neck wood: Maple

Neck shape: Speed Neck (similar to C-shape in my opinion)

Scale length: 25.5”

Truss rod: Yes

Fretboard material: Ebony

Fretboard radius: 13.75”

Number of frets: 22 Medium Jumbo

Nut width: 1.625 inches (42mm)

Pickups: 3 Vintage Alnico V Single-coil

Pickup switch: 5-way

Bridge: Adjustable Tremolo

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Line 6 Variax Standard Review

Sound

The guitar comes with 3 Alnico Single-Coils. These itself sound good. Not the best for this price, but still good. 

The sound is bright and clear. You can also get nice crunchy tones out of this axe. Sometimes the sound is a little bit weak, especially when you want to just let some notes play for a long time. This is not huge, but you can notice it.

You can have fun with these magnetic pickups too, but for the price, I would like to see a better quality single-coils in this guitar.

I would give a magnetic pickup tones 3/5 stars. Not bad, not great, but OK.

With a press of a button, magnetic pickups will be turned down, and piezo pickup at the bridge will turn ON.

Each string has individual piezo pickups and electronics convert signals from pickups to digital signal. And this ables you to have access to unlimited tones.

So there is no arguing, tonally, this is a super-versatile guitar. Hands down. 

And these different tones sound pretty good. I was actually surprised by this. I was expecting really plastic and digitally sounding guitar with a huge delay, but the tones are really detailed and well balanced.

Still, some presets have a little bit digitally tone in it, but nothing huge to complain about. I especially like the 12-string and acoustic tones. Really resonate and open. Sounds really close to real 12-strings and acoustic guitars.

But, for example, if you compared Start tones modeled by Variax to original Starts, it’s not exactly the same, but it gets close.

So the Variax sounds great, but how well this technology works?

First Variax guitars years back were pretty bad. The idea was great but the delay between playing and sound was huge. This really distracts you when playing.

Line6 has done a pretty good job of decreasing the delay. In 2020 there is almost none left. Especially with standard tones and tuning.

But there is still a quite high chance that you will face some delay problems with Variax.

And when you switch to different tunings with modeling, you can face some issues.

The biggest one is this: your guitars acoustic sound can really distract you unless your amp is really loud. Because of your guitar is still physically in standard tuning, and the only sound coming from amp models different tuning. So when playing with modeled tunings, turn amp loud or use headphones.

Also, make sure that your guitar is in tune because if it’s not, the modeled sounds and tunings will be out of tune too.

Overall, I would give modeled tones and sounds 3,5/5 stars.

Hear how Variax sounds:

 

Playability

The neck shape is similar to the standard C neck with 1,625-inch(41,3mm) nut width and 13,75 fretboard radius. The neck is pretty narrow, especially near the nut. But it’s not really thin but not thick either. These specs make this guitar comfortable and easy to play.

The fretboard has just a slight curve in it, so moving your fingers from fret to fret is pretty smooth.

The neck is comfortable and smooth, and you would expect that for this price. I prefer a modern C shape over standard, mainly because of my tiny hands. But this is not too bad either.

Neck has a Satin finish and everyone is not to used to that, but I’m definitely OK with Satin finish. It feels different for sure, but not in a bad way. I still prefer Polyurethane-finish over this, but the cap between these is not huge.

Usually, action needs some adjustments, but it’s easy to do. 

The body is comfortable to hold in your lap. Exactly the same shape than in popular Yamaha Pacifica models, and it feels the same too.

Overall feel and playability are solid. Maybe not the best feeling guitar for this price range, but still very good.

Quality

The quality of Yamaha guitars(Yamaha owns Line6) is usually high. And this is no exception. Everything works well quality-wise and this stays in tune well. 

Some users say that it has a little bit cheap feel in it, but not in my opinion. I think this comes down to our own opinions and experiences.

The overall finish is great and the guitar stays in tune well.

Looks

Yamaha Pacifica-shaped guitars have a different twist than regular Strats. And some colors just don’t fit very well. For example, white and sunburst colors just don’t look good on this. On the other hand, I would happily own black colored Variax. Of course, these are my personal opinions.

Summary

Pros:

  • Endless tone options(literally)
  • Most of the modeled tones are great
  • Sounds OK with magnetic pickups too
  • Good-quality
  • With some adjustments(action), easy and comfortable to play

Cons:

  • Still a little bit digital tone when modeling
  • You can still notice a little delay sometimes
  • When using tuning modelings, you need to turn your amp loud
  • Yamaha Pacifica looks are not for everyone

First, Variax is a useable tool for guitar players. No question about it. And it might be a great option for some folks looking the best all-arounder because it’s super versatile. It does everything well, but it’s not perfect in any aspect.

I would describe it like this: OK guitar. Not great, not bad, but OK and definitely different. Although this guitar is not great, I would still love to own Variax in the future because it offers so many unique features. I had more money, I would add this axe into my guitar collection ASAP.

If you are looking for a versatile guitar that enables you to experiment with different tones, Line6 Variax might be a good fit and worth the money for you.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

What is a Variax guitar?

Variax is the guitar product line manufactured and marketed by Line6. Variax guitar use electronics to convert the vibration of the string into a digital signal that can be modeled to sound like different guitars and instruments.  Modeling for example allows you to get Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul tones out of this guitar. Modeling also allows you to make Variax sound like Banjo or Sitar. Tone options with Variax are almost unlimited.

Alternatives

Versatile Runner-Up – Godin XTSA

Godin XTSA is a super-versatile and comfortable guitar that offers lots of features and tones.  You get versatile HSH pickup configuration, modeled acoustic tones and you can access the features of guitar synthesizer with this axe too.

You can read my full review of this guitar here: Godin XTSA Review in 2020 – Before You Buy.

If your budget is looser or/and you really need the features of this guitar, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for you. It is worth the money and there is a high chance that you are not going to be disappointed. 

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Versatile Traditional Electric Guitar – PRS SE Custom 22

This PSR offers you offers a ton of versatility too. Clean tones are really clear and stable. Distorted tones come out dirty and full of spark. The tones have that crunch and crispiness needed it in rock and metal.

The neck has a great feel for crunchy riffs, and fast solos feel comfortable to play with this axe. The value for money is high.  You don’t have access to any modeled tones with axe, but the traditional versatility is top-notch. These are the main reasons why I think that you should maybe check this guitar out too.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

If You Want to Play Metal – ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000

I tried this for the first time in a music store nearby, and it has been one of my favorite guitars since. This guitar is just gorgeous. It handles everything, but it’s made for heavy riffing. A pleasure to play and listen. It offers great value for money with high quality and stunning tones. 

This EC-1000 doesn’t offer you modeling, and it isn’t as versatile as PRS SE Custom 22 or some Tele and Stratocaster, but when heavily distorted tones are needed, it is my go-to choice.

You can read my full review of this guitar here: ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000 Review 2020 – Before You Buy.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Conclusion

If Variax weren’t so different, I would probably not recommend it for you or anybody. But with these unique features that it offers, Variax Standard is still a good choice for some folks. It’s probably not going to be your favorite go-to guitar, but it is a great tool for music makers and there is a high chance that you are going to enjoy experimenting with it.

I hope that this review helped you out! If you have any questions, leave a comment down below. Feel free to share this post too.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

Teemu Suomala

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