Variax players

scott58

Member
Messages
6,051
I'd been thinking about an American telecaster for years, actually had money in hand, went to get it, ended up playing a Led Paul I didn't have the money for that I liked better so I didn't get anything. Well tonight I'm playing my 700 and thinking you know this is a great guitar why not just upgrade. So, been looking at the James Tyler 69 (haven't researched the 89 yet). My question is about build quality. Are these comparable to my 700. They never stock Variax and I have to order site unseen. Same price as the tele so I'm pretty much good to go. Thx
 

Flyin' Brian

Member
Messages
30,560
John McFee of the Doobie Brother has one of the new Variax Standards made by Yamaha. He plays it through a Helix direct to FOH.

I had a chance to fool with it for a while. It plays wonderfully, sounds great, seems to be put together very well and is less than a grand.
 

scott58

Member
Messages
6,051
Thanks for the reply. It was the lower cost that had me wondering. Easily $500 less then my V700.
 

Whittlez

Member
Messages
3,326
I have the Variax JTV 69 SSS. It's quite well made and I'd compare it to a Fender Strat. It has a baseball bat neck. If you don't like thick necks, you won't like it.
 

MKB

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,470
Never played a 700, but have a JTV69, and the JTV is one of the best Strat types I've owned in many years of playing. It is definitely its own animal however; big neck and frets for one thing, but since I'm primarily a Gibson player, I adore the neck and frets and overall feel. I'd buy the guitar even if it didn't have the Line 6 electronics. This one has made me want to sell my Fender Strat.

The trem is excellent as well, it seems to be able to be more subtle than a stock Strat trem. It has locking tuning machines and stays in tune very well, plus RWRP magnetic pickups.

The only real quality issue I can see is a piece of debris caught in the neck finish, other that that it's flawless.

One tip; I've tried the JTV and its emulation through a bunch of amps and modelers, and IMHO it clearly sounds its best (more natural and realistic tone, less harshness) into Line 6 modelers using the digital link, as compared to its on board 1/4" output. This has been confirmed using a HD500, X3 Live, Kemper, and other amps. I didn't really believe it at first, but the difference is there.
 
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arislaf

Member
Messages
872
I have a 300, a 700 and a 69s. The 700 is way better, wood is resonant, fretboard is awesome, design is better (imo). The 69 sounds better, fretboard is really bad, I transplanted my 300 fretboard to the 69.
 

aruark1

Member
Messages
704
Never played the earlier ones, but I snagged my jtv69 off reverb for $550, best decision I ever made. Neck is fairly thick, but I love it.
 

cabojoe

Member
Messages
136
The 69 sounds better, fretboard is really bad, I transplanted my 300 fretboard to the 69.
Fretwork on my 69 was terrible. Could not get action low. Out of the box the bridge was so high that it popped out on a little dive. Got it plek'd and the screenies from the plek machine prove it was not leveled. Now it's a mean machine and very enjoyable. Learned a lot at the Plek place, so it was all good.
 

dshow

Member
Messages
273
I have the JTV-69 Variax LPB. It's a very good guitar. I like the feel of the neck and fretwork on mine is excellent. Overall a very good sounding and resonant guitar. I'm not a big fan of the current Variax modelling but use it as normal guitar most of the time.

There must be a wide range of quality variation if I believe on the comments above.
 

jawgee

Member
Messages
120
How much work is it to transplant the guts of a Variax into another guitar?

Also with the Helix providing features like dropped tuning and acoustic modeling, is it still worth having a Variax (if you're a Helix owner)?
 

3dognate

Member
Messages
6,096
I have the Variax JTV 69 SSS. It's quite well made and I'd compare it to a Fender Strat. It has a baseball bat neck. If you don't like thick necks, you won't like it.
The JTV-59 has a big 'ol 50's style neck on it too. not for the faint of heart... I'd like to see it a little closer to my LTD EC-1000 necks are like. It's a pretty big difference swapping between the two guitars.
 

LordByron

The Dude abides!
Messages
9,727
I recently picked up a Variax standard. It is a quite a decent guitar for the price. (Yamaha is turning out some sold axes these days.) The fit and finish was very good (but not spectacular). The Neck, size wise, it fairly close to a modern Am Stand Strat. I'm not 100% in love with the matte-ish finish on the neck, but it is not bad and plays fine. The frets were well finished. It required a bit of set-up out of the box (as most guitars do) but nothing out of the ordinary. My only real gripe is the action on the tremolo bridge is VERY stiff. It is a six-screw fender type, rather than the two point style I prefer in an S-type body, and you really have to manhandle it a bit (making subtle use of the trem challenging). That having been said, I'm really a Bigsby kind of guy, so most S-type bridges (6 or 2 point) are not my favorite. If I can't have a Bigsby, I prefer Jag-style trem. With that one niggle aside, though, the Standard is a sold, very competent mid-range guitar that plays well and sounds good. I'm definitely satisfied with mine.
 

3dognate

Member
Messages
6,096
Fretwork on my 69 was terrible. Could not get action low. Out of the box the bridge was so high that it popped out on a little dive. Got it plek'd and the screenies from the plek machine prove it was not leveled. Now it's a mean machine and very enjoyable. Learned a lot at the Plek place, so it was all good.

the 69 I owned had horrible fretwork from the factory... we set it up on my buddie's stew mac neck jig and it was really squirrelly. The nut was cut with the spacing too wide too and the strings would slip off the fingerboard edge... had to install a new nut too. The 59s and 89fs that I've had were impressive.... my 69 was not. The 59 I have currently is a first class guitar.
 
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GtarLover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
427
The 89f's I have needed a set-up of course. But then again, MOST guitars need a set-up. New or used.
Seriously, the electronics are worth the price of admission.
I don't use the Variax all the time...I find there is a "thing" that happens when the electronics are engaged. It is a sound that occurs when riding a string, usually low E or A...it is ANNOYING as hell, although not horribly noticeable to the untrained. It's really the ONLY bad thing I have to say about the JTV 89f's I have.
Once tweaked these guitars play great, sound great, and give an amazing amount of options.
For my use, perfect for a variety of covers during gigs, even in different tunings.
 

Gtrman100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,182
I have both a 69 and 59. Both are quality guitars- about the level of an American Fender. The neck profile is thicker than a Fenders, but I wouldn't describe it as a "baseball bat". Try a '59 Les Paul- THAT'S a baseball bat. I use them with a Helix, almost never as a standalone guitar. They have performed flawlessly, never a failure. My 59 fell off my guitar stand at a festival gig(high winds), and other than dented frets, it never quit.

The guitars stand on their own without the modeling. With the modeling, they are definitely the most versatile guitars out there. I like most of the models, not crazy about the 335 emulation, and the acoustics are a bit hard to tweak into a PA, But the versatility with my cover band makes them indispensable.
 

Gitarman

Member
Messages
1,958
I use my 69 (through anHD500x via a VDI cable) at nearly every gig. I managed to adjust to the fatter neck profile after a few shows, but always found myself fighting to keep the E strings from slipping off of the edges, so I swapped out the neck for a Mighty Mite one with a compound radius.

Lately, I've noticed that it wantsn to cut out from time to time, but I'm pretty sure that it's just a loose connection or something with my VDI cable (haven't had a chance to suss it out yet).
 

vtgearhead

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,542
The less said about the OEM neck on JTV-69s, the better. I swapped mine for a Mighty-Mite compound radius strat neck, then sent the guitar to be Plek'd. Played like a dream and provided a versatile set of sounds. Unfortunately, Mighty-Mite's fret wire is on the soft side and I wore it flat in about two years of gigging. It's not worth paying to have a cheap neck refretted so I'm now looking into a Warmoth "Clapton" profile neck.
 

Elantric

Member
Messages
12,412
I own several fine examples of Variax's (500/600/JTV-59-69) the DSP allows you to get in the ballpark tone of the guitars the Variax attempts to emulate , but it remains 2 dimensional ,enable the DSP tuning and I'm never fooled this is anything more than a Variax. For me it never replaces a closet of the genuine guitars it attempts to cover.

It's ok if you have multiple tunings and cramped stage space , but I would not use one on a critical recording- if I want a Gretsch sound I prefer playing my genuine Gretsch 6120

And on the Tyler's , the Strat and Acoustic emulations suffer compared to Antares internal kit or ATG-1 or a Boss GP-10 has superior models for those
 
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3dognate

Member
Messages
6,096
I own several fine examples of Variax's (500/600/JTV-59-69) the DSP allows you to get in the ballpark tone of the guitars the Variax attempts to emulate , but it remains 2 dimensional ,enable the DSP tuning and I'm never fooled this is anything more than a Variax. For me it never replaces a closet of the genuine guitars it attempts to cover.

It's ok if you have multiple tunings and cramped stage space , but I would not use one on a critical recording- if I want a Gretsch sound I prefer playing my genuine Gretsch 6120

And on the Tyler's , the Strat and Acoustic emulations suffer compared to Antares internal kit or ATG-1 or a Boss GP-10 has superior models for those

I've never used the GP-10, but did use a GR55 for a good while and the acoustic models on that were outstanding.
 




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