New Horizons In Music Technology

Music Technology
By John Bigelow.

Remember when recording music involved little more than a standard tape deck featuring a built-in condenser microphone? If you were really serious, you might have been lucky enough to own an old four- or eight-track recorder and a proper microphone? Of course, the 1980s saw the introduction on synthesisers and samplers, followed by the first digital home recording software in the early to mid 1990s. I remember owning a Macintosh LC475 running Q-Base lite and a Korg X5 which, at the time, was amazing!

These days, students have access to everything from Garage Band all the way up to Logic or Pro Tools depending on a school’s budget. As for their chosen methods of interfacing with the software, things are no longer bound to simple MIDI controlled keyboards. There are a multitude of companies creating analogue to digital interfaces that enable one to record just about any instrument you might like. However, with regard to traditional instruments like the guitar, not a lot had changed, until recently.

Line 6, one of the more innovative music technology companies around at the moment, recently teamed up with renowned guitar builder (master luthier) James Tyler to create the Line 6 Variax.

Line 6 James Tyler Variax

Line 6 James Tyler Variax


The Variax is a unique culmination of 40 years of guitar building experience and decades of technological innovation to create an innovative new blend of tradition and modern music technology.

At first glance, one might think that the JT (James Tyler) Variax is simply a high-end guitar. However, in the hands of an eager music student or professional recording artist, the JT Variax opens up a whole new world of unlimited possibilities.

The secret rests in the fact that the JT Variax incorporates state-of-the-art electronics that enable the guitar to mimic the tone of just about any other guitar on the market, from a Fender Strat to a Telecaster to a Gibson Les Paul or even a Sitar or acoustic guitar.

However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The JT Variax works in conjunction with the Variax Workbench™ HD software, your own personal guitar custom shop – with a twist. The software takes you far beyond what is possible in the physical realm so you can build virtually any guitar imaginable. Using the powerful and easy-to-use interface, you can mix and match a wide variety of instrument body and pickup models to create unique guitar tones or celebrated classics. You can also set up your guitars with Open G, DADGAD, Drop D or any other custom tuning.

With instant access to the world’s greatest acoustic and exotic instruments, JTV-59 ensures you will always get a great acoustic guitar sound. Each HD model delivers the tone of a professionally miked instrument in breathtaking depth and detail, capturing the subtle nuances of string vibration through the soundboard and the tonewoods of the original guitar body. It has never been easier to record pristine acoustic takes without setting up mics, preamps and EQ, or worrying about a barking dog or nearby lawnmower.

With all-new Variax HD technologyJT Variax provides instant access to a huge collection of HD guitars with unprecedented depth, character and detail – making it the ultimate recording guitar.

The all-new Workbench HD software makes it possible for students to build one-of-a-kind custom guitars by combining the HD body styles, HD pickups and components in unique ways. Featuring an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, Workbench HD provides full control over scores of important instrument characteristics such as string pitch, string volume, pickup position and much more. Workbench HD also lets students select any Variax pickup model and use it with the natural tone and response of your physical James Tyler Variax guitar – or blend the Variax HD signal with the magnetic pickup sound to create hybrid instruments.

The Ultimate Recording Guitar

Imagine being able to set up your recording studio at school with only one guitar rather than having to have a multitude of instruments to create different sounds. Recording guitarists have always had to contend with the challenges of selecting the right guitar for the right tones, tuning/retuning issues, pickup noise in the studio, mics and mic preamps for acoustic guitars, and more. JT Variax eliminates these problems – so students can concentrate on nailing their performance. Other great features include:

  • Free Variax HD upgrade features an extensive collection of HD guitars, so students can record with a palette of the world’s greatest instrument sounds.
  • With a world-class collection of HD acoustic guitars and exotic instruments, students can record acoustic tracks with pristine sound quality – without ever having to set up a microphone or a mic preamp.
  • With virtually limitless alternate tunings, you can easily switch between tunings while tracking.
  • The HD guitar tones in James Tyler Variax are completely free of pickup noise, so you can capture pristine takes without hum.
  • With James Tyler Variax, there is no need to interrupt the creative flow by finding, tuning and acclimating to the feel of a new instrument. You can easily switch between HD guitars and tunings just by turning the model knob – enabling students to stay in the moment.

The JT Variax is unlike anything we have seen before, and we get to play with some pretty cool toys. I can definitely say, if you are looking at building a recording studio in your school on a budget, this is a ‘must have’ as it actually saves money in the long run by enabling your school to invest in one instrument from which you can derive all manner of different guitar sounds as opposed to needing to have a multitude of different instruments on hand.

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Education Technology Solutions
Education Technology Solutions has been created to inspire and encourage the use of technology in education. Through its content, Education Technology Solutions seeks to showcase cutting edge products and practices with a view to expanding the boundaries and raising the standards of education curricula. It introduces teachers and IT staff to the latest products, services and developments in education technology with a view to providing practical how-to guidance designed to facilitate the integration of those products and services into the school environment in the most productive and beneficial manner possible.

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