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New 69 Owner - Some Basic Questions

strings 69 intonation luthier

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#1 LDBecker

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 04:36 PM

Hi! First post here - I'm a pastor, been playing acoustic guitar for over 40 years (Martin HD-35, lately into a Yamaha acoustic stomp pedal board, into our PA - Presonus board, Nexo amps and speakers), and decided to trade in an old Yamaha 12 string on a Variax. I ended up with a scratch and dent 69 (humbucker, two single coils, upgraded to HD 2.0 firmware) from Sweetwater - also a POD 500X and L3T.

 

My preferences and experience is with acoustic, so I'm looking first for great acoustic sound - and I find the Variax a little "thin" - not quite there. I read on Sean's blog where he insisted that stringing it with 11's is the way to go for acoustic sounds - mine came with D'Addario 10's. I also haven't been able to get into the POD 500X much yet.

 

So - a basic question - are people happy with 10's on the 69, and are able to make it sound great with the 500X? Or should I go to 11's? I downloaded Sean's patch and will try that. I plan to get into it in a big way this weekend and over the next couple of weeks.

 

Following on that - what adjustments need to be made to the guitar to accommodate the 11's, and how do you do it?

 

I've never actually changed gauges of strings on a guitar - I had mine set up by Martin when I ordered it, and have stuck with basically the same strings. I did have some trouble with intonation on it and had a luthier set it up with the Buzz Feiten system - MUCH better. Is it advisable to take the Variax to a luthier to be intoned and set up?

 

 

Thanks so much,

 

Larry

 

 

 


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#2 guitarno

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 06:57 PM

   Welcome aboard pastor! Congratulations on your new '69. I have a '59 that I bought recently & I really like playing it. Hope you have a positive experience with yours. As far as the strings, I did put 11's on my 59. I play mostly electric, but some acoustic as well. I was very interested in the acoustic emulations of the Variax JTV's and also the altered tunings, and although I like bending strings on electric for lead lines, I think the larger diameter strings you can handle, the better tone you will have. That being said, I put the 11's on my '59 mostly to get closer to the feel of a real acoustic, and hopefully to give more body to the acoustic emulations.

 

   You can just go ahead and re-string the guitar with any gauge you want, but if it was adjusted for really light gauge strings, and you put really heavy ones on, the neck may need a slight adjustment, and the intonation (bridge saddles) might also need adjusting. Going from 10's to 11's is not a great change - you might not need either. You would have to try it and if it seems to intonate well, you don't have to do anything. If it seems like it doesn't play in tune as well, you may need to have it adjusted by a local luthier if you aren't comfortable doing it yourself.

 

   As far as the acoustic sounds, I am still learning how to get the best sounds, but in general, I thing I am getting pretty good results. A lot depends on the patch you're using, and what you're using to amplify it.  For instance, The acoustic sounds from my JTV initially did not sound great, but I was struggling with how to properly set up acoustic patches on the HD500X, and I was running it into a regular guitar amp for amplification. Not the greatest for JTV acoustic sounds IMHO. I did get better results running the output into an audio interface (TC Electronic Impact Twin) and then into a pair of powered studio monitors I have (Presonus Eris 8's). The acoustic sounds were pretty good, but some mid gain or higher electric sounds not as good.

 

   I broke down and bought a Line 6 L2T powered speaker, and I think I'm getting very good sound for both acoustic & electric tones now. So a lot depends on your equipment, how it's set up, and if you're using the HD500, you're patches. It just takes a little time to learn to adjust everything to get the sounds you're after. I think you can and will get really good acoustic sound, maybe not as good as your Martin acoustic, but very usable & more versatile, in time.

 

 

   By the way, I used to have a guitar that I installed an "Earvana" nut on - very similar to the Buzz Feiten system. I really thought that was a great modification. It really helped resolve some of the tuning system anomolies on the guitar. I may have to look into doing something like that on my '59 some day.


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#3 Rewolf48

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 05:26 AM

When you change string gauge on a 69 or any other guitar with a floating trem you need to balance the trem - the plate (on which the saddles sit) should be roughly parallel with the body which is achieved by balancing the tension from the strings with the tension from the tremolo springs (behind the big plastic plate on the back).  If you put lighter strings on you need to slacken the screws the hold the springs to the body to reduce the tension to match the lighter strings, if you put heavier strings on you need to tighten the screws so the springs pull harder.  This is in addition to checking intonation.

 

What I find amazing is that in 40 years you've never changed strings! Somebody is definitely on your side as I would have expected at least one to break in that time if they hadn't rusted to nothing.  Strings on electrics will loose their brightness after time, and even with Elixir (coated) strings you probably need to change them every 3 to 6 months.

 

The JTV 69 is a bit different for string changing as they not only have locking tuners but also an unusual method of attaching at the tremolo end - both of which are very easy to use and are better than the traditional mechanisms.  Search this forum for threads that cover this and perhaps YouTube if you want to see it.  The only thing to watch out for is that if you remove all the strings at the same time the trem can jump off the posts, but the easy way around that is to place a bit of card underneath the Trem plate before you remove the strings.


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#4 Charlie_Watt

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 06:11 AM

I do not think he said he did not change strings - just did not change string guage.  If you play mostly acoustic models and are used to playing an acoustic guitar I would think that going to 11's would be a good idea.  You may have to re-intonate and balance the Trem due to the extra string tension.  These are easy to do on a JTV69.  You may want to wait until you have had a chance to play more with the 500x.  You can alter your tone a lot with that and you may get what you are looking for.  I am not a great guitar player but in my experience you have to play the JTV much more like an electric.  It responds best to fairly light playing.


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#5 LDBecker

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 10:45 AM

Ha! Thanks for the chuckle, Rewolf - no, I change strings about once a month - but on this particular Martin HD-35, I had it set up by the factory for light gauge Martin Marquis strings - as well as having them install a pickup. That was 22 years ago, and the D-35 I had before that I had for 17 years, and the Fender Newporter (eww... I know, but it had a great neck and played well - bought it used...) - so, at about once a month, I've changed A LOT OF STRINGS!!!!!

 

But, as Charlie said, I've not changed the gauge of string - and not done anything significant on an electric guitar at all. I have, in the past year or two, gone to Martin's Lifespan coated strings and they seem to keep their tone better - but still, about once a month, I need to change them. I tried the Elixir strings, and they seemed to buzz a lot - maybe heavier with the coating?

 

Charlie - My local Guitar center had only coated 11s in Elixirs, so I bought a set of them to change tonight, but you raise an issue that I'm concerned about. I probably should play a bit with the 500x, 69 and 3LT to see what I can really get out of it before I start messing with the guitar. I don't want to mess it up. Sean, in his Line 6 blog post WAS pretty insistent, though, about going to 11s.

 

I spoke to my luthier yesterday (Westwood Music in Westwood, CA). They've done a lot of work on my Martin (authorized repair center), and I think would do a good job on the 69. Maybe I'll just have them change out the strings and do a setup and fret dressing.

 

Guitarno - I was all set to buy a DT25 with the 69, but went instead with the Stagesource L3T. I had thought that maybe I could get by with just using my Fishman SoloAmp (aka, "The FishStick"), but decided to go for more power and maybe start replacing my portable soundsystem (Mackie 450v2's/1801 sub/Presonus 16.2.4) with the Line 6 speakers/mixer. Anyway, the L3T is more portable and powerful, and seems to sound MUCH better than the Mackies do. My Martin HD-35 plugged directly in to the L3T, with just a little juice on the Variax control on the speaker, sounds really great.

 

Even my feedback monster, my nylon string Taylor NS-32CE, was pretty easily tamed. To use the Taylor on my SoloAmp, I had to get a Fishman Aura pedal and tweak the dickens out of it to get nice tone and no feedback. I hit the anti-feedback button, dialed back the bass and mids a bit, then opened up the sound with the Variax knob, and added a little "mod and verb," and in 3 minutes I had it sounding better than ever.

 

I had never heard of the Earvana intonation system - it does sound similar to the Buzz Feiten job I had done on my Martin - the Earvana LOOKS a lot nicer than what they did on mine something about wanting it to be reversible when they did mine. Not sure, but it certainly plays a whole lot better.

 

Thanks, all, for the welcome and advice!

 

Larry


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#6 Charlie_Watt

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 10:59 AM

I have installed Earvana nuts on several of my guitars and I like them.  They are easily reversible and I think they really improve the notes fretted close to the nut.  One difference with Earvana is that you do not have to change the tuning - where you do with the Feiten system.


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#7 Rewolf48

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 04:10 AM

"I do not think he said he did not change strings - just did not change string guage"

 

My mistake  :blink:


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#8 LDBecker

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 10:32 AM

No worries - it would have been pretty much miraculous to go 40 plus years without changing strings.  I have faith - but not in guitar strings' ability to last that long!

 

Think I'm going to spend some time with the 10's on my 69 before I have the gauge changed to 11s. I want to give the guitar a fair chance before I start messing around with it too much.

 

Larry


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#9 LDBecker

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 11:57 AM

So... I got ambitious and changed the strings to Elixr 11s, then had to adjust the action and intonation - I think it went ok - but I'll still probably send it to a luthier. Not sure if the action is as good as it could be. Got it as low as possible without buzzzzzzzzzing.... I didn't mess with the truss rod - it seemed ok, but a luthier would probably disagree. I should be good for another 40 years or so (jk).

 

Running the 69 through a POD500x and into a L3T - it generally sounds pretty good! After the adjustments, I spent the evening playing with the presets on the POD.

 

I  don't know how to get the best acoustic sounds yet - going to try Sean's patch that he mentions in his blog to see what that does. He did it for the POD500, and mine's the POD500x, and I see how to make it compatible. Where do you put the files for the software to load?

 

Any other suggestions on acoustic sounds? :D

 

Thanks for all the encouragement!

 

Larry


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#10 aggravation

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 12:54 PM

I believe you can just drag and drop the file onto a "New Tone" slot in the set lists of HD Edit and it will convert.


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#11 LDBecker

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 12:42 AM

Yes, thanks- that worked perfectly...

Larry
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