Bass of the Week: Line 6 Variax Bass 700

This week we take a look at the Line 6 Variax Bass 700, an interesting bass that was produced during the 2000’s. It included special modeling software to reproduce tons of classic bass sounds, ranging from a ’61 Jazz Bass to a ’03 Thumb to bass synths. The Variax used piezo bridge saddles to capture each string’s vibrations, then signals were shaped by Line 6’s software algorithms to recreate the physical and electrical properties of the modeled basses.

Line 6 Variax Bass 700 - sunburst

Its special electronics required a batteries, but also came with a special footswitch power supply, which also acted as a DI with a level switch to toggle between instrument or line level. Controls on the bass included Volume, Blend, Tone, and Model Select knobs. After selecting a model, you could switch between variations of each model by pressing down on the Volume knob. This would give you different years of models to choose from, or just different models from a certain era.

Check out this demo to get a feel for how it works:

Other features of the Variax Bass 700 included a contoured alder body, a maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and Black or Sunburst finishes. It was discontinued in 2007.

Line 6 Variax 700 Bass Features:

  • Contoured alder body
  • Maple neck with rosewood fingerboard
  • 21 medium profile frets
  • 1.5? nut width
  • 34? scale length
  • 10? fingerboard radius
  • Standard 1/4? guitar cable output jack
  • Digital I/O RJ45 jack for future updates and additional sounds
  • Included XPS-DI direct box and power supply features:
    – 1/4? standard guitar cable output for connection to any bass rig
    – XLR balanced output for sending signal to a recording console or house PA
    – Powers the Variax Bass using included TRS cable
  • Powered by XPS-DI or on-board batteries (six AA or one 9-volt)
  • Custom-fitted heavy-duty gig bag
  • Available in Black or Sunburst

Variax Bass 700 Models based on:

  • 1961 Fender Jazz Bass
  • 1960 Fender Jazz Bass with flatwound strings
  • 2004 Fender Deluxe Jazz Bass
  • Fretless 1961 Fender Jazz Bass
  • 1963 Fender Precision Bass
  • 1958 Fender Precision Bass with flatwound strings
  • 1977 Music Man Sting Ray
  • 2003 Modulus Flea Bass
  • 1971 Rickenbacker 4001
  • 1963 Rickenbacker 4001 with flatwound strings
  • 1966 Danelectro Longhorn Bass
  • 1963 Höfner Model 500/1 with flatwound strings
  • 1963 Gibson Thunderbird 4
  • 1966 Gibson EB-2D with flatwound strings
  • 2002 MTD 535 35-inch scale
  • 2003 Warwick Thumb
  • 1978 Alembic Long Scale
  • 1984 Steinberger XL2
  • 1968 Hagström H8
  • 1994 Hamer B12A
  • 2003 Tacoma Thunderchief
  • 1949 Kay M-1
  • Inspired by classic Moog MiniMoog bass sounds
  • Inspired by modern bass synth sounds

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Share your thoughts

  1. That sounds AMAZING.

  2. awesome bass… I wonder why they were discontinued….

  3. it was seriously overpriced (even versus the guitar version), so it was not really “economic”… perhaps only for some studio professionals, to be versatile and/or to be loved by the sound engineers/mixing guys for consistency :)

  4. I have one…if you are in a cover band it is really handy for getting the right sound. It is also the heaviest bass I own…it is a beast and is tough to wear through a 3 set gig. The sounds do rock though. The 12 string is huuuuuuge sounding and the upright model works great for faking your way through standards. It is a real chameleon. I’m only sorry I didn’t buy the 5 string model too.

    • I’ve been thinking about getting a used one from Ebay and putting the guts in some other (better) bass. While the electronics are amazing the instrument itself is just so so but dump those electrics in a Fender Jazz and then you’d have something.

  5. I purchased a 700B after buying 2 models of the JTV guitars (59P & 69). The 700 produces great tones but the battery pack is a pain compare to newer JTVs. The 700 series does plug into a POD live with the variax cable via a variax input and bypasses the need for batteries other than for backup. My understanding is that Line6 is not planning a new model. The balance and feel are really nice and these basses can be picked up used for about $500, more in line with the value today.

  6. Loved mine but eventually moved on to a btb I banes…….got a micropognist to emulate the awesome 8 string bass sound on the variax…….why font they put the modelling in a pedal so you can use any bas

  7. Kelly Holdstock

    I was discussing this bass today, it was a bit out of my price range in high school but I always thought they were really cool. Real shame they killed it. I remember it being the heaviest bass I had picked up but was blown away by how you could cycle through all these sounds. Real great bass, I hope they bring it back at some point, I think there is a market for them

  8. Dick Dodd

    I bought my Variax bass in July 2005 particularly for using in theatres when playing for musicals, it allows me to substitute the upright bass in the older musicals like Anything Goes, Sound of Music etc, Some scores require swapping between upright and electric and with this bass I can just turn the selector switch. Several sound engineers have seriously thought I was using a double bass when they were sound-checking – fooled ’em! Despite some of the comments below I don’t find the instrument to be any heavier than my Fenders, and it’s a damn site lighter than my Burns Black Bison!