I got my JTV59 Black on 28 June - it was unexpected as I originally had ordered a CSB but my retailer received a BLK one that they had not allocated and offered it to me as I had been waiting since Sep2010 and they still had no news on when my CSB would arrive.
My first impressions playing it at home was that it sounded very dark - more so then any other guitar I have owned - even the models were dark. I upgraded to v1.7 firmware and that did deliver more top end for the models but the mags were obviously unaffected. I already owned a Variax 700 so could not avoid comparing the two. The JTV delivered a richer tone - more bottom end and more top. It sounded different but at home rehearsal levels I was not sure it was better tonewise than the 700 but I realised that was probably more to do with being very familiar with the 700 sound as I have had it for about 6 years.
I did encounter a few issues in connection to the JTV and X3l which I will document in other posts on the support forum,
I quickly hit the problem with the alt-tuning where the actual strings can be heard along with the altered notes producing dischordant sounds - however switching to headphones cured this and I could then really appreciate just how good the alt tuning function was - particularly using open D on an acoustic model - and I discovered that having the VOLUME turned down to 70% or lower when playing the acoustic models made them sound even more realistic in headphones, plus of course playing the strings with a light weight plectrum and playing lightly. The same goes for playing via an amp or PA - turn the vol down for the acoustic models - they do sound more realistic.
I finally had a chance to gig the JTV59 this Saturday. I used my usual setup with my usual X3L patches - the only thing I had to do was re-program the guitar selection setting on the X3L as with the JTV it defaulted to DONT FORCE MODEL - this was easy to do as I just used the X3L to dial in the required JTV patch and saved the patch.(Note: The X3L will remember the guitar patch setting for both the V700 and the JTV and will display the relevant one depending on which guitar is conencted via the VDI.)
I did not have time to go through all the X3L patches to tweak them for the JTV - but I did in some cases use different TONE values for each guitar patch - I had to use lower settings as some were too bright. Overall the JTV was producing way more bottom end and more top end. I decided to play the gig and see how the guitar sounded sitting in with the band and then would adjust patches if necessary.
Well - the gig went very well. The guitar sounded great. It was richer and had more depth and cut through really well. The combination of the JTV with the X3L made both the guitar and amp models sound more authentic - and the subtle differences between the models seemed to come through. It was much more like playing a guitar through an amp mic'd through the PA than before. I think the best way to describe it, is like going from a standard TV to a big screen HD TV. Everything is bigger, richer, more defined. I didn't need to use the ALT tuning - so I don't know how they sound in a live band environment.
The rest of the band thought the JTV sounded great too! Over time I will probably tweak my X3L patches to cater for the enriched tonality of the JTV - its just a matter of adjusting the EQ on effects, amps, etc. - so no big deal. But overall, I am very impressed with it and when used in a live band situation the improvements over the original Variax are magnified - it really comes into its won.
In my opinion, it really is a great guitar!