Dec 4, 2012 12:13 PM
I just received my Korean JTV-69 (Black) yesterday. I had a little bit of time last night to sit down with it, through headphones (JTV-69 > M-Audio interface > Logic 9 with Amp Designer).
I'm usually more of a fixed-bridge kind of guy (my main guitar is an Gibson SG), but I went for the 69 for a few reasons. First, if I love this guitar then it will be replacing a Godin LGX3 (which is a Strat-style with an LR Baggs piezo bridge...no hex output, though). Second, I went for the 69 instead of the 59 because I felt the trem would be useful on some of the models (e.g. the Gretsch).
I currently play in a couple of bands. For the main band's bigger shows I haul out my SG, the Godin (as a backup, tuned with a capo, etc.), a Gretsch baritone, a Fender banjo, and a mandolin. That's a LOT of strings to haul around & keep in tune between sets! In addition, on our recordings I always use a variety of instruments: all of the above mentioned instruments, Telecaster, Rickenbacker, PRS, you get the idea.
For the other band I use a LOT of altered tunings, so I bring out 3 guitars just to handle quick changes between songs.
So, I figured I'd try one of the new Variaxes. I've been interested in the technology for a long time now, but the fact that the earlier Variaxes had no magnetic pickups was a deal breaker for me.
My first impressions: great so far. Out of the box the intonation is great. I didn't go over the finish with a fine-toothed comb or anything yet, but it seems fine to me. The neck feels great, and I have no problems with the frets or nut. To be honest, because I'm a pretty heavily gigging musician all my gear takes a beating. So, if there's a flaw in the paint/finish I don't get too concerned, because I know that it will be inevitable that the guitar will get knocked over, get something spilled on it, etc. at some point in the future.
So, physical quality seems great. Stays in tune, trem seems smooth (I read about people having issues with their trem "catching" or not returning to pitch...I haven't experienced that yet). I didn't have any problems with engaging/disengaging the model selector switch.
I played around a few hours with the different models. I'm loving some of the electric models. The chime mode through an AC30 model...instant vibe. Gretsch through a Bassman model with some spring reverb & slapback, immediately in the rockabilly world. The Tele models & semi models were great, as are the jazzbox models.
I also really liked the dobro models, and I think the banjo will be good enough in the band mix so that I'll be able to leave my banjo at home. If I were playing bluegrass that wouldn't be the case, but mixed in with a loud band I think it will be fine.
Through headphones I wasn't terribly impressed with the acoustic models. But, to be honest, I was still hearing the physical guitar under the acoustic models, so I wasn't getting an accurate representation.
I also found that all of the 12 string models were very artificial sounding. I'm hoping that by adjusting the volume & pitch of the octave strings in Workbench that I can get them sounding more realistic. Has anybody had any luck with that?
I have a rehearsal tonight, so I'm really looking forward to playing this thing through my real setup and hearing how it sounds in a live situation. I already have an A/B set up on my pedalboard (to accomodate the banjo & mandolin), so I'll also be able to check out the acoustic models through the PA tonight.
Overall, I'm really really happy with it so far. The variety of sounds is astounding, and the ability to switch back and forth between altered tunings is almost as good as having a roadie handing me a guitar between each song. If this thing is a keeper, then I'll go from having to bring out 2 guitars, 1 baritone guitar, banjo, mandolin, and one of those big 5-guitar stands to bringing out 2 guitars, a mandolin, and a small double guitar stand. I'll also save myself a lot of time in tuning all those instruments.
In addition, for a long time now I've wanted a big hollowbody, a 12 string, a Tele, and a dobro. I love having a big palette of sounds to choose from, to be able to best suit the song that we're playing. I haven't purchased all of these, though, because to be honest I wouldn't get a lot of use from them (except for the Tele)...I'd use them here and there. Now that problem seems to be solved.
I'll post my thoughts and experience after rehearsal tonight, too. That will be the deciding factor.