Line 6 Variax Acoustic 700
Line 6 Variax Acoustic 700

Variax Acoustic 700, Acoustic-electric Folk/Western guitar from Line 6 in the Variax Acoustic series.

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MGR/Derek Mok 07/31/2004

Line 6 Variax Acoustic 700 : MGR/Derek Mok's user review

« Line 6 Variax Acoustic 700 Modeling Guitar »

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I played this guitar for about 45 minutes at Guitar Center on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Not much, unfortunately (more on that). It does offer 12-string sounds on a six-string guitar, and alternative sounds like sitar and banjo...

...the problem is, none of the sounds is what I'd consider usable even in a live setting, not to mention for recording. When I'd first heard of this product, I was elated and waited months before I finally found it in a store where I could test-run it. The results were far worse than I'd anticipated. All of the acoustic models I tried -- round neck, square neck, jumbo, dreadnought, nylon, 12-string folk, 12-string blues -- sounded horrible, with a pinched, ultra-synthetic sound that's much worse than any piezo-equipped acoustic I've ever played, and I was testing on a $500 Roland acoustic amp, so it can't be all the amp's fault. Three controls exist on this guitar -- "mike placement" (I find this slider useless), volume and compression, but none of them was able to get rid of the very dead, very nasal synthetic sound. Twiddling amp EQ didn't help a great deal, and it's important to mention that the guitar doesn't have onboard EQ, a dreadful oversight in design. A tuner would've been good as well.

The much ballyhooed "alternate tunings" settings were not useful at all, since they created a discrepancy between the vibrations of the strings and the sounds coming out of the amps. Even without the change in tunings, there was a sense when I was playing that the sounds coming out of the amp was not connected to my fingers or my guitars. And the sounds were almost uniformly horrible, with the banjo, square neck and 12-string blues sounds being particularly annoying.

In terms of playing feel, this guitar is about the same as the electric Variax models. The neck feels bulky and unwelcoming, and the gloss finish is uncomfortable. They also screwed up on the shape of this guitar; I sat down to play this guitar and after about five minutes I was tired, because this guitar doesn't have enough body for you to lean into. I had to hunch a great deal. The semi-solid construction is not the culprit, since I've played Godins and Gibson/Epiphone Chet Atkins models before and none of them have ever felt this un-ergonomic.

I really can't find anything to recommend this guitar for.

Okay, but see the comfort issues above.

The concept of an acoustic modelling guitar that can offer up the sounds of multiple acoustic instruments is a brilliant, revolutionary idea. But Line 6 has clearly not produced a product that can even come close to realizing this dream. The sounds I heard coming out of this guitar were even worse than the ones I got using a Boss AC-2 Acoustic Simulator and a Gibson SG Classic! I went to play some Ovation and Takamine acoustic-electric guitars through the same amp just to be sure, and sure enough, the Ovations and Takamines sounded infinitely better. So I'd say the Variax Acoustic is, for the moment, a complete bust. I'd sooner carry four acoustic guitars into a show and switch around rather than try to play this guitar. I do hope Line 6 continues researching this technology, though, as it could prove to be revolutionary. The guitar itself warrants only a 1 on a 5 scale.

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