Cory Churko Rocks Stronger with James Tyler Variax
While playing with some of today’s biggest acts—from Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger world tour to Shania Twain’s new Las Vegas show—in-demand guitarist Cory Churko relies on his James Tyler® Variax®. Collections of electric guitar and acoustic instrument tones, boutique craftsmanship and unique integration with his POD® HD multi-effects keep Cory’s JTV-59 at the front of his guitar collection.
What made you decide to try Variax?
Well, I was an original Variax user on previous Shania tours. Initially, I was attracted to the ability to play acoustic and electric guitar parts without having to lean over an acoustic guitar on a stand. But I was skeptical that it would sound any good. It turned out that not only could I play both sounds on one guitar, but the sound of the Variax Acoustic was way better than a typical DI’ed acoustic guitar!
Both of the other guitar players in the band got one, as well. When we were still in rehearsals, we A/B’ed the Tele® sound in the Variax with a real Tele, and producer Mutt Lange preferred the Variax sound for that song instead of the actual guitar.
What did you think when you heard that the latest generation of Variax guitars were designed by James Tyler?
James Tyler has a worldwide reputation for quality guitars. I immediately thought that this was an amazing pairing of cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned craftsmanship. To own a James Tyler instrument is reason enough to brag, but to have one that also does what the JTV does is insane.
How would you describe the feel of the instrument and the experience of playing it?
The JTV-59 is like playing your favorite Les Paul. There really is no compromise in feel when choosing this as your main instrument.
Even without all the Line 6 love, this guitar is something that you’ll be very happy with. Just plug it in and you’re ready. There are no awkward transitions or compromises to worry about. You won’t have to say, “It’ll take some getting use to.” It’s a great guitar. So when you pair it with the Line 6 technology, there’s virtually no sound you can’t tackle.
What are your favorite models? Which do you use most often?
With Kelly, the Lester model gets the most use. For the Shania stuff, the Spank and the T-model get the nod. But those are just the sounds that are required for what I’m doing in those gigs. The other models are just as great.
If I was doing rockabilly or jazz then I’m sure I’d use the other models more. I particularly like the new acoustic models that I got in the v1.8 firmware update.
Tell us about your favorite alternate tunings—have you created your own custom ones?
I keep it pretty simple with just your standard Drop D, half-step down, low-C tuning and a couple of Virtual Capo positions.
The detuning is amazing. Sometimes when you tune down too low the intonation goes wacky on most instruments, even with heavy strings. I can enjoy perfect intonation while having a real heavy low-C tuning on the JTV.
What place does JTV have in a large guitar collection?
I’ve worked my way to a point in my career where I can enjoy a lot of different guitars in one night of playing, and I do. But could I replace my other guitars and just use the JTV? Absolutely.
If I was back playing clubs on a limited budget, the JTV would be the absolute no-brainer for the gig. More tones than you could possibly need, no dead air while you put a capo on and retune—and one set of strings, baby!
Tell us what it’s like when you use JTV with the POD HD500 multi-effects.
I’m a big POD HD500 and POD HD Pro user. I love the automation and interaction you get when you connect the JTV to the POD with the VDI cable. Your whole sound—amps, effects, guitar model, pickup selection and tuning—all change with the touch of one switch. That’s mind-blowing. And the fact that you can also get the POD to automatically go between the JTV’s magnetic pickups and the models is stellar. And it all gets backed up on your computer to the POD bundle file. Pretty cool.
To take it even further, if you were to send MIDI program changes to the POD from a keyboard or sequencer, you don’t even have to step on anything. Just concentrate on playing and say good-bye to the pedal board tap dance. Freakin’ liberating! Unfortunately, it can’t fix all your mistakes, so practice hard.
What kind of response do you get when people see you using JTV and POD?
During the auditions to find the new Shania band members, I brought just the JTV and the POD HD500. When I played the new acoustic guitar patches, people were looking around like they didn’t know where the sound was coming from. They called it the voodoo guitar!
Keep an eye out for Cory as “Shania: Still the One” kicks off in Vegas at the Caesars Palace Colosseum on December 1, 2012, and on tour with Kelly Clarkson.
*All product names are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Line 6. These trademarks of other manufacturers are used solely to identify the products of those manufacturers whose tones and sounds were studied during Line 6’s sound model development. Tele is a registered trademark of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.