The James Tyler Variax Story

Talk to any working studio guitarist and they'll tell you it’s typical to travel with a guitar trunk the size of a small car. When the red light is on, and you're expected to come up with the right part, the last thing you want is an uninspiring sound. Even when you have the right guitar in your road case, it's still going to take a few minutes to change, retune and get back into the vibe of the track. But imagine if you could audition a collection of different instruments at the turn of a knob…

James Tyler Variax guitars make that dream a reality. Get inspired by a collection of amazing instruments—a wide array of instrument models plus the sound of a beautifully crafted electric guitar from a master luthier. Layer a variety of guitar tones to create fuller-sounding tracks. Instantly switch tunings without physically re-tuning or re-intonating the guitar. And create acoustic tracks without setting up and auditioning microphones. With James Tyler Variax, you can stay in the moment and tap into unlimited creativity.

The benefits of James Tyler Variax guitars extend far beyond recording guitar sounds. They provide an incredible arsenal of tones for live performance—no need to cart around a ton of instruments (and risk damaging them), or worry about keeping them tuned and intonated. Need an acoustic guitar for a song or just a part? James Tyler Variax also delivers a pristinely miked acoustic sound at the turn of a knob. This opens up tons of new possibilities—you can switch instruments and tunings in the middle of a song or gig, replicate favorite guitar recordings with incredible faithfulness, and so much more.

For everyone else who simply has limited time to be creative, Variax will become indispensible. Choose from a collection of amazing instruments that would cost a fortune to own—then practice with your dream guitar, write inspiring new music, or even record an acoustic without worrying about mics or the bleed from the TV in the next room. With unlimited tone at your fingertips, you’ll experience a new level of freedom to create.

Creating Variax

Line 6 products have been at the cutting edge of digital audio development since the company pioneered the digital modeling guitar amplifier in 1996. A few years later, Line 6 turned its attention from guitar recording and performance gear to the guitar itself. It was a daunting task to capture a complete range of tones in a single guitar—but so was squeezing a whole collection of amps and effects into a kidney bean-shaped metal box. So Line 6 decided to give it a go.

Since the guitar sounds would have to be amazingly accurate to meet the demands of discriminating musicians, the development team began intensively researching guitar physics. They systematically examined every factor that contributes to a guitar's tone, and developed ways to measure the complex interactions of vibrating strings, resonant bodies and magnetic pickups. More importantly, they developed ways to capture these interactions mathematically so they could get the same sounds from the Variax guitar.

When it was time to create the soul, the team auditioned an amazing array of vintage instruments to find the ones with the most distinctive voices and personalities. They applied their painstaking measuring techniques to these specimens, and refined the models while constantly referring back to the originals for accuracy. When each model sounded like the original, and was just as much fun to play, it was done.

The Perfect Partnership

To do justice to these amazing instrument models, Line 6 enlisted the help of master luthier James Tyler to take the second generation of Variax guitars to a new level of playability.

Captivated by guitars at an early age, James Tyler opened his first repair shop in Reseda, California in 1980, and quickly gained high-profile fans including Michael Landau, Neil Stubenhaus, Buzz Feiten and many more. The following decades brought a collection of stunningly creative guitars and basses, outrageous finishes, lauded pickups and a growing roster of loyal artists. Every project reflected his lifelong quest to create the perfect guitar and electronics package to deliver amazing tone—which made him the ideal partner for Variax.

Read James Tyler’s full biography

Tyler’s vast experience creating go-to instruments for the world’s leading session players and performers informs all aspects of the James Tyler Variax guitars. The quality shows up in every detail—from the skillfully contoured frets and metal parts, to the top-quality bridge, pickups and tuners made to Tyler’s precise specifications. The end result is an amazing instrument that you’ll want to play in the studio, on stage and anywhere else life takes you.

The Dream Rig

For even greater control and unlimited sonic possibilities, combine the acoustic and electric guitar models in your James Tyler Variax with the ultimate collection of amps, cabs and effects found in the POD® HD multi-effect pedals and DT-series (DT50™ and DT25™) guitar amplifiers. The press of a single footswitch can completely change sounds, routing, instruments, effects and tuning—instantly transforming your setup into virtually any rig.

Start a song with an open-tuned 12-string acoustic, move to a standard-tuned ‘50s hollowbody through a chiming English combo, then switch to a spanky ‘60s solidbody and culminate with the thick, rich tone of a ‘50s Goldtop through simultaneous expressive effects, a vintage wah and the cascading distortion of a modern, high-gain half-stack. The convenience is unparalleled—and the possibilities are endless.