Originally Posted by KentuckyThrash
This mirrors my experiences with my jtv89 as well and I use it with an HD500. It is passable for live gigs, but this would never be my main rock/metal guitar. The palm muting definitely isn't that great. With that said, I use mine for a couple different applications.
1. For my "acoustic" duo gigs, because I like getting acoustic sounds with the playability of an electric. I am the only one playing guitar and doing looping, so the variax/hd500 allows me to simplify a complex situation as much as possible. And obviously, playing solos in the higher registers in much easier on an electric. The signal gets pumped into the FOH and a Bose system with great results.
2. For my Alice in Chains tribute, obviously there are songs with acoustics. As the Cantrell of the group, I have enough on my plate with playing guitar and singing TONS of harmonies. I am constantly at the mic and the last thing I want is switching back and forth between my electric and an acoustic on a stand. The variax/hd500 lets me stay where I need to be, concentrate on performing, stay true to the studio tracks and switching to electric sounds when I need it. Again, simplifying a complex situation. It does blend well with my other guitarist that runs a traditional rig.
3. For my Soundgarden tribute, SG uses a TON of alternate tunings. I have have my regular guitars for standard and drop (D and B) tunings. For this band, I use this guitar for the weirder open tunings they use a lot, plus the occasional acoustic and resonator sounds.
The HD500 lets me move seamlessly between my modeled guitar and amps, my regular guitars all while letting me use my 5150iii tones for the bulk of the show.
Overall, the variax/hd500 is a great, utilitarian setup for when you need a lot of sounds in a portable setup. Plus, it integrates well with your standard guitar and amp rig. I doubt I will ever use the variax as my main guitar because the palm muting isn't the greatest, but it is what it is....and it's not terrible. Just not as good as a real guitar. But for acoustic sounds, it is great.
So, I would say use a regular guitar for rock/metal and bring out the variax for those times where you really need what a regular guitar can't provide. But....if you have 20 guitars, a roadie and a truck, use a bunch of regular guitars.
But for guys like us, the variax has its place.