A good idea at the time…

31. Line 6 Variax 30

AN odd one, you might think, to find lumped in after three acoustic guitars, but believe it or not, I bought this bright red digital guitar, primarily to use as an acoustic guitar.
It’s a modelling guitar and doesn’t have any conventional pickups. Instead, rather a transducer under the bridge picks up the string vibrations and sends them to a really clever bit of advanced electronics which converts them into the sound of almost any guitar you care to name – from a vintage Martin acoustic to a National, a Strat or a Les Paul, and all sorts of weird and wonderful things in between. Yes, really!
Not only that, it allows you to programme in almost any tuning you like, electronically – a bit like my Hipshot Trilogy bridge, but all done by a couple of chips under the pickguard.

The back of the Variax – it ran on a shitload of AA batteries, of a special stereo lead linked to a power supply.

It’s a great idea, but there just had to be a catch, didn’t there? Otherwise, surely every other famous guitarist in the world would be using them by now, wouldn’t they?
The truth is it worked, after a fashion, but never quite responded convincingly enough to the way you hit the strings. The (more expensive) dedicated acoustic model works better – my mate Dave Werewolf swears by his! But for me, it really was a case of a nice idea which came tantalisingly close to working, but never quite cut it.
I was certainly very taken with the idea for a while, mind. I even bought a spare body on eBay, intending to strip off the paint, lacquer the bare wood and fit a tortoiseshell pickguard to lend it a vaguely more “acoustic” vibe. That never happened, of course. I still have that spare body in a box somewhere in my garage if anyone would like to make me an offer. I think it would probably take a fairly standard Strat-type neck…

In action with Los Tres…
That spare body…. make me an offer

Published by 43guitarsandcounting

I'm a musician, studio owner, writer and former specialist broadcaster of far too many years experience. I started writing and posting this daily blog on Facebook at the beginning of the Lockdown for something to do and it took me something like 19 days to run out of guitars to talk about!

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