Line 6 have the honor of pretty much creating the Virtual Guitar product line. Their first Variax came in the form of the Variax 300 in late 2002. Since then, they have continued to develop the modelling technology that makes it possible, while at the same time increasing the quality of the actual guitar that it is built into.
This latest batch of Variax models are made in conjunction with renowned luthier James Tyler to create more attractive axes with the Variax modelling technology built in.
The Variax JTV-69S is based on the classic Strat body with three Vintage-style Alnico Single-coil pickups and the five-way switch. The Variax part adds 29 modelled guitars including two banks of five Custom sounds which can be programmed using the Line 6 Workbench software and uploaded into the Variax via the included USB interface and cable. This makes it possible to store your own models and tunings or reorder the on-board presets for easy access. Using the L6 Link it is also possible to team up with a Pod HD unit and have that control the presets in the Variax when switching patches on the floor unit.
The Variax is powered with a standard video type battery that will give up to 12 hrs playing - enough for some of the most marathon jams. Once the jack or L6 link is inserted into the guitar and the back switch is on, the power is supplied.
Each of the banks of guitar models has five presets, selected by the five-way switch. When the guitar is in native mode - eg - it's just a guitar - the five-way works as you would expect in a Strat type guitar by switching pickups.
The guitar itself is of a decent quality, with a good bridge and nut, locking machine heads, and good quality hardware.
Overall, we were impressed with both the quality of the guitar and the modelling from Line 6 - compared to other modelling guitars, they've done a good job in capturing the essence of the models chosen - obviously they can't physically play like them, but the sound is convincing enough to make you play to the sound of it.
The JTV-69S comes in black, white, tobacco sunburst and gold and also in a twin single coil and one humbucker (bridge pickup) if you prefer that.
Available now $1,399/ £1,049 street.
More From: LINE 6