Tim Pierce on Variax Modeling Guitars

Tim Pierce

During the development of the James Tyler Variax® we met with many pro cats and power users of the first-generation Variax modeling guitar. Our goal was to hear about their experiences and find out what they thought of the new James Tyler Variax.

One of those guys was Tim Pierce, a well-respected A-list session guitarist with an incredibly long and varied resume. During the conversation, Tim celebrated the innovation of the guitar and lamented what he considered to be a shortcoming.

“Here is the deal,” he began. “Guys hire me because I have the actual guitars, and that makes them happy. With the original Variax, no matter how good it sounded, a lot of people couldn’t get past the lack of pickups.”

At that point I gave Tim a JTV-69US and started taking him through the models. His eyes lit up with each turn of the model knob. We went from the banjo model, to the Dobro®, to the acoustic models, then to the semi-hollows. About when we got to the Chime model, Tim stopped, looked at me, and said, “This changes everything!”

The combination of Variax technology in a great-feeling, American-made guitar with pickups (not just any pickups – James Tyler-designed pickups) turns the story completely around.

“So let’s say I‘m tracking on the magnetic pickups with a Strat®-style sound,” Tim continued, “and the producer asks for a B.B. King kinda bluesy part. I just switch to the 335 sound and I’m tracking. Otherwise I have to burn studio time finding my 335, tuning it up, getting used to the feel, and then tracking. This keeps the producer happy, and saves us both a lot of time. Very cool.”

Thanks, Tim. Very cool, indeed.


Line 6 Luthier/Customer Advocate Rich Renken is a 23-year veteran of the musical instrument industry. He is a gigging bassist and audio engineer who has mixed live and studio sound for many high-profile artists.

One Response to “ Tim Pierce on Variax Modeling Guitars ”

  1. Joeberg Says:

    Line6 keeps the WOWs coming, no question, This last batch is even over the over-the-top usual.
    Which emboldens me to write you about something I think Line6 can do, and a Mr. Arkadin, a guy who posted a response to a tech question of mine, says you cannot.

    I wrote when I found that my POD xt Live, a self-proclaimed MIDI device, des not pass the note parameters through MIDI. Mr Arkadin says that because the signals are digital the POD doesn’t even know them… which seems crazy to me, if the amp can be given a signal that it sees as a chorc, surely some algorithm can capture that chord and redefine it as MIDI numbers.

    No Can do, says Mr. Arkadin. “You don’t understand”; you still don’t get it”.

    What I get is this; Line6 does amazing things with guitars and effects. Surely, no SURELY they can take the info my Variax is sending to my Pod, and pass it along as MIDI.

    I have music notation software which will accept MIDI signals and generate sheet music in real time. It works with my keyboard, but I don’t play keyboard. I’d like to use it with my guitar.

    Is this a possibility for a future POD upgrade, or is Mr Arkadin right?

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