Rewriting with rules R modulo axioms E is a widely used technique in both rule-based programming languages and in automated deduction. Termination methods for rewriting systems modulo specific axioms E (e.g., associativity- commutativity) are known. However, much less seems to be known about termination methods that can be modular in the set E of axioms. In fact, current termination tools and proof methods cannot be applied to commonly occurring combinations of axioms that fall outside their scope. This work proposes a modular termination proof method based on semantics- and termination-preserving transformations that can reduce the proof of termination of rules R modulo E to an equivalent proof of termination of the transformed rules modulo a typically much simpler set B of axioms. Our method is based on the notion of variants of a term recently proposed by Comon and Delaune. We illustrate its practical usefulness by considering the very common case in which E is an arbitrary combination of associativity, commutativity, left- and right-identity axioms for various function symbols.