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The mad ax lab: Variax Workbench lets you concoct any flavor of guitar from scratch.
Line 6 has made a name for itself creating simulations of a wide range of guitar amplifiers and stompbox effects. When used with an amazing Variax guitar, the Variax Workbench software and dedicated USB interface lets you play Dr. Frankenax, mixing and matching the pickups from a Fender Stratocaster with the body of a Gibson Firebird, in dropped D tuning with a capo. It's beyond good - divine is much more appropriate.
The fun starts with any of the instruments that are part of the Variax line. We picked up a red Variax 300 for an amazing $299 with shipping, which has got to be the best guitar deal in the universe. Variax makes sweet guitars that cover any genre, from the best vintage Strats and Les Pauls to Martin acoustics and even an electric sitar. We won't bog you down with the dizzying details of the various Variax guitar models, but we will point out a couple of important things you need to know. First, all Variax guitars share the same electronics. Second, a Variax lacks magnetic pickups, so there's never any hum or noise of any sort. It's a perfectly quiet electric guitar, which in itself is a bit of a miracle. It's quite possibly the perfect studio instrument.
While the built-in guitar models are exquisite, the Workbench software is an ultimate customization utility, with a very clear visual interface and fine-tuning controls for mixing and matching any and all aspects of the modeled guitars. Want to hear what a Les Paul body sounds like with a Rickenbacker bridge pickup and a Danelectro-style lipstick single-coil pickup? No problem. When you have the Variax guitar hooked into your computer with the supplied USB interface, you can instantly zap your custom guitar configuration over to the instrument and try it out—the guitar has to be plugged into an amp, though, because your Mac does not generate any sound with Workbench. The degree of customization is fairly extreme, from the impedance of the volume and tone controls to the rotation of the pickups (something not easily done on actual physical instruments) and even custom tunings, delivering an almost endless variety of cool and unique string-slinging goodness. The only real drawback? There are only 10 slots on the Variax guitar for custom settings.
The bottom line. The combination of the Variax guitar and Workbench software delivers the most powerful electric guitar in the world for a bargain price. For live performance or studio recording, nothing can touch this marvelous desert-island ax.
COMPANY: Line 6
REQUIREMENTS: 400MHz G4 or faster, Mac OS 10.2 or later, USB, Variax guitar, amplifier
Huge selection of guitar models. Excellent tone. Extensive customization options.
Only 10 custom slots in Variax guitar.