Line 6 Variax 600 Review
Item: Line 6 Variax 600
Inspiration: Ever since Line 6 introduced its Variax guitars about 10 years ago I’ve been intrigued – and even played a couple of Line 6 Variax 600 models in music shops over the years. Problem was that a quick noodle in a shop was never enough for me to justify what seemed like a hefty price. It was a bit like a multi-effects unit that has 1000 presets but very few that I could ever see myself using beyond mucking around at home. But eventually I found a bargain and took it home – and it was then that I realised how useful this guitar can be as a tool to generate some really interesting sounds that are perfect for home recording.
Image: This is a nicely built guitar – and I really like the neck in particular. Problem is, I just don’t like the body shape. I guess I’m a bit of a traditionalist and wished it looked more like a strat or tele. Eventually I hope to retrofit the guts of it into a different body (either a tele or Rickenbacker 330 shape).
Investment: I still don’t think either the original models or the latest versions (which include traditional pickups) are things that I would buy at retail prices, but I do think they are a brilliant second hand buy if you stay patient and find one at a decent price. I paid $250 for mine – which was, I admit, a ridiculous bargain.
Intrinsic Qualities: This is never going to be a guitar that will replace having a full quiver of classic models. The thing is that you have to think of it as a guitar with 25 different sounds, rather than one which models 25 different guitars. Once you get that in mind you stop being critical of that fact that the ’57 Les Paul doesn’t sound quite right – you just accept that it’s a different sound. And that’s the beauty of it: this is a guitar to use in a studio/recording setting where you want to experiment with different sounds.
Intangibles: This is a guitar I’ll often pull out when I’m struggling with inspiration. Somehow just trying out a few different models can kick your brain into gear.
I should also add that getting hold of the Variax power supply is pretty important. This guitar will chew through batteries, so I always plug it into the power suplly and leave the battery box empty – easy to do when using it exclusively at home.
If not this then: There really aren’t too many alternatives – other than buying a whole heap of different guitars! Which, funds allowing, would be exactly what I’d do!!
I’d also suggest reading a few of the reviews floating around the web – inparticular this one from Axeman Jim – to get more of an understanding of the limitations, and opportunities, that this guitar presents.
The new format for doing a brief reviews of the various bits of great that I use is called the “I” Test: 7 categories that are a bit different from the standard review that reads like it’s lifted from a guitar magazine. My “I Test” takes into account not just the performance characteristics (as normal reviews do) but also addresses the real reason we buy stuff: the 7 “I”s – what’s the Item, Inspiration (why did I get it), Image (what’s it look like), Investment (bargain or just lust), Intrinsic qualities (what does it do), Intangibles (sometimes the reason you got it doesn’t fall into any other category!), and If not this then… (did I look at alternatives).