Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Cincinnati, OH USA
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Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

I've been considering getting both the Variax Acoustic and Variax Bass for my home studio. I play enough guitar to merit having a few electrics & amps around here for recording, but I don't play enough acoustic or bass to merit having a room full of acoustics, multiple basses, etc.

The Variax Acoustic is probably the more intriguing of the two, with the variety of stringed instruments (dobros, banjo, mandola, sitar) and the virtual tunings/capos. I don't record a great deal of acoustic, but when I do it's generally pretty far back in the mix (behind a mountain of electrics). As such, the models don't have to be 100% dead-on (e.g., I don't care if the Gibson Hummingbird model doesn't sound exactly like a 1965 Gibson Hummingbird), but at least need to sound like a real acoustic. Ideally, the ability to run the Variax direct would allow me to put down acoustic tracks more quickly without having to worry about mics and such. (I imagine if were to do an all-acoustic tune, I'd probably go through the effort to mic up a real acoustic.)

The bass, while not quite as interesting as the acoustic, still has a pretty good range of available models. I'm most interested in the variety factor here, since I've had the same bass for 5 years and it pretty much has one basic tone, and I'm getting tired of EQ'ing the crap out of it in Sonar to make it sound like something else. I'm thinking that the Variax bass through my Bass V-Amp would give me a heck of a lot more tonal options than my current bass. Again, I'm not super picky about the accuracy of the models.

Anyway, long story short... I'm just curious to see if anyone's used the Variax Acoustic & Bass for recording. How convincing is the sound? Any "tracking" issues? How's the reliability/durability? (Actually, if anybody's used 'em for performance, too, that would be good perspective to have, too.)

Thanks,
--B
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 02:39 PM
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

I've heard better acoustic sounds from a keyboard. I absolutely hated the Variax acoustic. I can't figure out how they managed to screw up the sound of a piezo bridge. At the very least they should be able to get a good chet atkins sound out of that guitar and they can't. I found almost no usable sounds. For the price of a Variax, a Tacoma DM9 and some peripherals is a better purchase IMO. The sounds sounded so fake, that even buried behind "the rest of the band" my feelings are that you'd still be able to tell that it sucks. If your acoustic work is indeed going to be buried, then it makes it even less necessary to have the slight variations in models. (besides the wacky ones of course-sitar/mando etc.) You'd have better luck coaxing jumbo/dreadnaught/parlor/jazzbox out of the DM9. I think if you get the Variax for the wacky models, including the 12-string and alternate tunings, you still need a DM9 equivalent for virtually everything else.

I haven't tried the bass. I imagine it's similar in suckitude, but I can't say. I'd rather have a "do-it-all" bass with two splittable Bartolini soapbars, and something like an NTMB. At least something that has variable mids. It's pretty easy to make one bass house all the P, J, and Hi-Fi tones you'd want. Again, you won't have goofy models like fretless or upright. But that would be a better use of cash IMO.

Sorry to be harsh, after this post you might buy both Varis and be 100% happy. I'm ranting my own personal agenda. Since you're claiming home studio use, there's really no room for "pseudo" anything. The tracks won't lie.

Live is a different story. By the time you fill a room with high spl's you can simulate just about anything and most people will be convinced. Lots of famous players say "well I can't bring the 40 guitars and vintage amps and stompboxes I used in the studio on tour, so I'll use the xyz modeler, abc simulater, etc. But they use the real thing when they're tracking.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankfalbo
Sorry to be harsh, after this post you might buy both Varis and be 100% happy. I'm ranting my own personal agenda. Since you're claiming home studio use, there's really no room for "pseudo" anything. The tracks won't lie.
Hey, as long as harsh = your honest impression, I wanna hear it. I guess if I've learned nothing else in my years of home studio work, it's "you can't polish a turd".

The more I think about it, I generally haven't been too impressed with any modeling instruments, rather it be digital amps or Roland VG systems or whatever. I've pretty much tuned out most modeling stuff for the past few years, but when I noticed the Variax gear, my thought was "That's really cool, provided that they get it right." Perhaps they haven't... I will admit, after just listening to the demos on the Variax website, I thought the bass sounded decent, but I was pretty unimpressed with the acoustic tones.

From the acoustic perspective, then, I'm probably better off with what I've got (a couple Guilds and a Takamine 12). I think the charm of the Variax acoustic to me was the "plug & play" potential--maybe if I found a decent acoustic direct/FX box to run through it'd make my setup time easier. (something like the Korg AX10A/Boss AD8/Yamaha AG Stomp)

For the bass, finding something with more versatile electronics than my current bass would help considerably. Something like the Carvin XB75 is pretty intriguing... extended scale 5 string with single coil in the neck, splittalbe humbucker in the bridge, piezo saddles, 3-band EQ, and active/passive options would cover a lot of tonal ground. More I think about it, given the choice, I'd rather have a 5-string anyway, since all the basses I've been raised on have been 5-strings, and it'd be a good match with my new EB MM 7-string.

Of course, if anybody else wants to try to convince me on the merits of the Variax stuff, I'll entertain that as well.

--B

Last edited by bduersch; 07-12-2005 at 03:00 PM.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 06:53 PM
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bduersch
I will admit, after just listening to the demos on the Variax website, I thought the bass sounded decent, but I was pretty unimpressed with the acoustic tones--maybe if I found a decent acoustic direct/FX box to run through it'd make my setup time easier. (something like the Korg AX10A/Boss AD8/Yamaha AG Stomp)

For the bass, finding something with more versatile electronics than my current bass would help considerably. Something like the Carvin XB75 is pretty intriguing...
The G&L L2500 is a great bass to approximate vintage fender, modern EB/MM and boutique bass sounds. I don't know if the Tribute has all USA pickups and electronics, but if it does, then the sound would be similar minus the USA G&L wood and build quality. If the Carvin is within budget I can't see how you'd go wrong with that one.

I don't know what you're recording with, but I have preset processing data saved so if I want to duplicate the EQ I used to make my Tacoma sound like a Dobro it's just a click away. Maybe some kind of a plug in would be more efficient than than a noisier outboard box. Actually T-racks (if you have it)could be a good front end processor before you add time based fx. Then you could just save the whole suite, name it, and have some "models" at your fingertips.

I personally think the VG-8 was better than this. So if you didn't like that, you probably won't like this either. You can't manipulate the attack of a piezo as easily as you can the GK-2A IMO, and these models are won and lost in the attack and decay of the notes. With bass however, everyone wants the attack and clarity of a piezo, so it could be a good place to start. I would try to check out the bass in person if possible.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-12-2005, 07:58 PM
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

Dude, I am with Frank on this one. The Variax acoustic sounds horrible. Buy yourself a cedar acoustic Seagull, a spruce jumbo Seagull, and a Studio Projects B1. ~same price as Variax, and even with the cheapo set up will still sound way, way better.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-14-2005, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankfalbo
The G&L L2500 is a great bass to approximate vintage fender, modern EB/MM and boutique bass sounds. I don't know if the Tribute has all USA pickups and electronics, but if it does, then the sound would be similar minus the USA G&L wood and build quality. If the Carvin is within budget I can't see how you'd go wrong with that one.
Wow... I just read up on the Tribute L2500... it does have the same pickups/preamp as the G&L L2500, and it's less than half the price ($599 new). The reviews of the Tribute seem pretty complimentary, too. For the amount of bass playing I'll likely do, that seems to be a better deal than spending $1200 on the Variax or custom Carvin (while the piezos would be cool, they're not cool enough to merit an additional $600). Found one place in Cinci and a couple places in Dayton that sell G&L's so I might have to call around and see if anybody's got 'em in stock for the weekend.

--B
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-24-2005, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

Today's relevant press release:
http://namm.harmony-central.com/SNAM...-Bass-705.html

The irony:
About an hour after reading that press release, I turned around and bought a new G&L Tribute L2500 for $450. I couldn't find one in person to test out, but based on all the positive reviews, I took a risk & ordered one online. It should be here by the end of the week.

While it may not have all the bells & whistles of the Variax bass, I'm sure given G&L's attention to detail that it will have a much better build quality.

Thanks for pointing me in the G&L Tribute direction, Frank! Had you not mentioned it, I'd probably never have considered it.

--B
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-07-2005, 05:19 PM
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

I agree with the above posters. I have tried the acoustic, and I used to own a Variax 500. Now, I havent tried the bass, but heres what I did.

Variax 500, didnt like the distortion tones, it didnt have the nuances I like hearing in my recordings (proper chug, pinch harmonics werent spot on) and the acoustic tones sound like a Piezo. Aside from a few EQ adjustments, I couldnt tell any difference in the various tones....

sold it, bought a Norman Spruce top Cutaway, a cheap Dean Bass, and a Studio Projects c1 mic. They do a job GREAT for me, and im happy running the bass into the computer thru guitar Rig. It was a cheap solution (200 for mic, 400 for acoustic, 130$ for bass, and they do all I need them to do.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-07-2005, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

Well, it took slightly (er, seemingly much) longer than expected, but my Tribute L-2500 bass arrived today. Now I've never played a genuine G&L model to be able to compare, but I can say that this is one heck of a bass for the money. It has a beautiful sunburst finish over a nice looking swamp ash top, the fit & finish on it is precise, and the variety of available tones out of it are far more versatile than my former Cirrus. It gets extra points for feeling so stable (6 bolts in the neck) and having a smooth unfinished neck. It's without a doubt the best looking & feeling MIK instrument I've ever played, making it a heck of a value. Thanks again, Frank, for pointing me in that direction.

--B
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-08-2005, 01:19 PM
 
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Re: Anyone use the Variax Acoustic / Bass for recording?

Hey no problem, I'm glad it worked out for you. As for the money I saved you over the "VariBad" you can just send me that 2101 you've got in the classifieds and we'll be even. LOL

I do think the Tributes are the best bang for buck out of Korea BY FAR. Their US components and the G&L hardware is just what a Korean guitar needs to take it to the next level.
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alternate tuning , alternate tunings , korean guitar , piezo bridge , pinch harmonics , sunburst finish , swamp ash

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