I had two 700's and liked them. That said, the JTV is a much better sounding guitar, and I like the way it plays better too. The increase in processing power, and the bridge improvements give much better response to your pick attack. I always felt the 700 felt "removed" a bit , like there was a delay or softening of the notes. I don't feel that at all with the JTV.
Also, because you have a choice of body style, you can choose a guitar that fits with your playing style better. I have a 69 because I like Fender scales and body shapes.
If you're a Variax lover, I think the JTV is a no brainer.
As the previous post states in his opinion it's a no brainer, but I dothink it should be thought about. I have two Vax 700 electric models, plus I have two JTV models...an 89 & a 59 because I'm not a Fender style guitar person and both of these guitars are very different in feel and each has it's own purpose for my live performances.
A Major point, has been left out if you choose to get a JTV guitar of any model, you will lose the communication you have now between the Vax 700/300 & your X3 Live unit. None of the older units are capable of changing the guitar models when changing the amp patches. If you want to move up to a JTV guitar and gain the physical features you may or may not like better than the guitars you have now, you must consider the functionality trade off. Is this something you are willing to give up or would you then buy a POD HD500 pedalboard or POD HD PRO & optional FBV MkII Shortboard which are the only POD HD Models that have the VDI connection of all the POD HD units. These units do not function anything like the X3 Live unit does, so your learning curve will be a bit higher. These are not simple plug & play units. All these things I believe should be thought of very seriously. I would be nice if Line 6 had this info in any of the promotional material, but it's against corporate thinking to ever mention what could be construed as a negative in promoting new gear.
I personally was very upset that the new JTV guitars would not work in the same manner as my 700s do with my Vetta. The whole point to me is having an amp/guitar combination that Line 6 developed to change together if desired with just one footswitch on the amp or pedalboard you are using. They thought they were supposed to be backwards compatible, but that never happened. Now I have both my older gear which I still use and the full "Dream Rig" as Line 6 named it of POD HD500, JTV, & DT50 amps.
Only the new POD HD units can change the guitar patches on the JTV guitars simultaneously. I'm always surprised that this very important feature is hardly ever mentioned or thought about when people ask about the JTV guitars. Especially when dealing with Line 6 retailers who are completely clueless on how any of this gear really works.
I hope this helps you make your decision better having the whole story.
I had the Variax 700 and X3L combo and was very happy. I then bought a JTV59 and was even happier with my X3L. The analogy I use to describe the difference is like going from monochrome TV to colour TV. Not only did the guitar models sound more authentic but the amp models on the X3L sounded better too. I would point out that this is very subjective as everyone has different ears and different personal tastes but for me it was an improvement - as well as having pickups on the JTV so it could be used as a conventional guitar if necessary - and not forgetting the dynamic ALTERNATE TUNING which is just brilliant but is a moot point if you never use alternate tunings but if you do then it is a wonderful tool. I still like the feel of my Variax 700 to play but the modelling is not as good, in my opinion.
I also bought the HD500 a few months after getting the JTV, however, I have still not managed to program it sufficiently well enough for it to replace my X3L at any gigs but that is mainly because it took me ages to find the X3L sounds I liked that work with the band and I am now comfortable with them - and it is just very tricky to get a match on the HD500. I do really like the HD500 and the modelling is more detailed than on the X3L - it's just that I have not yet managed to get sounds that work for me through my stage gear with a live band - it's a work in progress.
My JTV59 (at flash 1.71) works perfectly well with my X3L. When I change patches on my X3L, it also changes the guitar model patch on the JTV59. It will also support the dual mags and model mode. However, as the X3L was discontinued, the software is no longer being modified beyond that - so the very latest functional enhancements with JTV flash 1.82 are not available on the X3L but are available on the latest flash level for the HD500 - things such as using knobs on the JTV as controllers for the patches on the POD, and dynamically setting the alternate tuning from the POD and saving that with each patch. So, if you want all the functionality of the JTV/POD HD combo software then you will also need to upgrade your X3L to and HD500. However, if you just want the improved models on the JTV then you can just get the JTV and it will work just like the Variax 700 did with your X3L, that is, you can program in a patch to also change the JTV guitar model when selected.
Having said that, as the X3L is discontinued, there is no guarantee that the JTV will continue to work faultlessly with the X3L - a future firmware upgrade may break something - and from what MerlinfFL has said above maybe it already has broken with the latest 1.81 and 1.82 upgrades for the JTV. I have not yet moved to the latest JTV firmware so cannot comment on whether it effects the functionality with the X3L.
Hope that helps you with your decision making.
I have the JTV-59 with the 1.82 firmware installed, and my X3L works fine with it, switching with patches. You have to set up the switching manually on the X3L unit itself, does not work to use Gearbox to set up the 58's models with the patches like it does with my Vax 300, so it's more of a hassle, because you have maunually re-do the model/patch everytime you modify the patch in Gearbox. I just got the HD500 a couple of weeks ago, and am in the middle of exploring & programming it -- it's going to take a while, just like you, It took me a while to work out patches on the X3L -- tweaking, etc. So far, so good, but going slow to learn the foibles of the unit.
I'm totally fine with using my X3L until I'm ready to roll out the HD500. Last time I had to change in a hurry from an XTL to the X3L, I could at least import the XTL patches into the X3L -- My XTL failed on a Wed night gig and I got the X3L up & going by the weekend gig. Not gonna happen this time around, because there is not compatibility between the properties or patches from the earlier units. Total redesign of the HD from the ground up, so same with the patches. Do miss some of the FX I used on the X3L that aren't on or have vastly changed on the HD500, but that's a story for a different topic thread...
Anyway -- I do love my 59 -- way better than my 300 (duh), never played the 700, so can't comment on that. Had some bumps along the way (3-way switch issue, piezo issue) that got sorted out with much help from Line 6 & Rich in particular. It is much more of a quality instument than the 300 is (head & shoulders above). Once I'm totally confident in it, I will probably toy with maybe a transplant of my 300....
I also own a Vax 700 and Vac 700 and have had my JTV59 about 6 months now. A definite boost in guitar quality and sound. Some differences in the way the guitar switches (the Les Paul style switch has three postions but the "2" and "4" postions can be accessed via the Alt tune knob) but easy to get used to. The new acoustic models are very nice with some added sound control. The Alt Tune knob is a very nice addition and will affect the acoustic 12 string models also.
I am very happy with the quality and build of the JTV59 as it was perfect right out of the box. The 69 seems to have a lot of traffic on th website but its tough to judge what the level of issues are since this is a support forum and would obviously have most posts about problems with the gtr. I am intrigued by the JTV89 but would like to get one in my hands before commenting.
I pretty much concur with everyone else. I still have the 700 electric with Trem and whilst that was and still is a darn fine guitar, my JTV69 is much better sounding but be aware of the issues. I replaced the neck on mine the day after I got it over a year ago which turned it into a beautifully playable instrument. I mainly use the Strat and Les Paul models which are superb in comparison. This equally applies to the X3 as it does with the HD500.
Justifying the price, yes, I think so.