After long last, now that my rig (for now) is complete, I shall relate my experience. The gear has been a long time coming, but it's all here now.
Variax 500 lefty in sunburst (GBP 234)
Line 6 POD XT Live (Singapore $ 628)
Laney AH50 full range amp (Rs. 8500)
The Variax has been around for around 4 months or so now..the sounds are fantastic for the most part. The Les Pauls, Strats and ES-335 are fantastic. I haven't fallen in love with the jazzboxes yet..too boomy and they lack the reverby ting! that real archtops have.
The acoustics, banjos etc are good fun....more than adequate for live use but obviously they lack the vibrations against your body that you would hear with real acoustics. Live its as good (or bad) as using an Ovation. Alternate tunings work great for slide etc.
The biggest problem with them is the pick attack (its a clicking sound, slightly different from using a guitar with magnetic pickups) and the poor quality of palm muting (because of the pickups being INSIDE the bridge). Also, haven't found a good model for really high gain stuff yet. Maybe when I start figuring out the Workbench software.
POD XT Live: Just played it properly for a week or so, so these are only first impressions. The clean amps are fantastic, be it Fender, Hiwatt or Roland JC120. Have got some great bluesy, rock and jazz patches out of it. The interface is very intuitive and easy to figure out (unlike the GT-8...hells bells!) The high-gain was what I was a little disappointing...haven't managed to get a good REctifier tone yet, and the ones that sounded OK have a lot of fizz. The screaming high-gain patches are very dynamic and good. There is a also a Dumble amp which has been recently added...quite simpley the BEST tone I have ever heard from a modeler. Its also reasonably dynamic...patches cleaned up when I rolled volume down and most distorted patches sounded clean when you picked lighter.. a very good job by L6.
There are lots of effects here..the reverbs and delays are good, better than most stompboxes but obviusly not in the same league as TC or Eventide. You can assign these pre or post which is very useful.
Another great thing (which is not there in either the GNX 3000 or the GT-8) is that you can line up 4 patches per bank as well as tweak parameters like the stomps or delays on a patch while playing in it...in the others the same buttons are assigned for patch change as well as parameters.
I was a little disappointed with the sound coming out of the headphones with the POD..it was a little plasticky sounding and not the best. BTW the Variax acoustics sounded great through the POD..the full range must also have helped.
For this budget, I don't think you can get a rig better than this. Way cool.