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New JTV-69 Day!
by pcep on 2012-12-04 06:52:40

Hi everybody,

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 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.

Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by petef on 2012-12-04 13:55:52


Great deal!  Welcome to the JTV world, sounds like you got a good 69.  

Check a few things:

Make sure the set screw for the tremelo arm is in there (i.e. not loose and going to fall on the floor...lost).

Lube the tremelo pins (guitar grease or Chapstick), just need a bit.

On acoustic models, they need to be played FRFR with a flat model (direct to PA)... though I'm sure you know that.

What signal path are you using... saw the AC30 sim... don't know the path though..

I use an HD500 (so power is not an issue for JTV).

If you are going to get a DVI cable (for an HD500), you may want to consider one from Best-Tronics vs. the Line6 (too stiff).

Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by pcep on 2012-12-05 08:50:48

Petef, thanks so much for the tips & advice!

I had a band rehearsal last night, so I was able to use the JTV-69 in a "real" setting. I was impressed!

My signal chain is Guitar > Pedalboard (PedalTrain with various stomp boxes, no HD500 (yet)), then to an amp for electric (either a modified Traynor YCV40 or a Vox AC30) or to an LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI then to the PA for acoustic sounds.

We ran through some songs that I'd normally play banjo on. Using the banjo model (through the PA) in the "Blues G" tuning it was totally usable and believable in the mix. We also played some where I used an acoustic model, also sounded great.

On some other songs I used a Tele, 335, and Lester through my amp, from clean to mid-gain. Sounded great.

I wasn't the only one who noticed. Everybody else in the room was in agreement that the guitar sounded fantastic. So, it's a keeper!

I will definitely try adjusting the set screw. The one complaint that I have is that the trem arm was swinging and really really squeaky. So, hopefully with some adjusting (and a little lube if necessary) I can take care of the squeak.

I did notice (and so did my bandmates) that the 12 strings sound pretty fake. Do you have any advice on how to adjust them in Workbench to get a more natural sound? I haven't even tried Workbench yet, but hope to get try it over the weekend.

Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by TheRealZap on 2012-12-05 09:08:14

I've heard of some users adjusting the octave strings a little in workbench... to either add a little detune or remove a little detune to taste...

i personally think the 12's are ok... certainly less headache to tune it up this way!

Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by pcep on 2012-12-05 11:08:05

I will definitely play around with it.

I know I'm being overly critical. And I'll bet that they sound fine in the context of a mix. But I was just playing with the 12 string models by myself, cranked through the PA, and I noticed that they didn't sound as natural as some of the other models. But it sure beats having to haul around a 12 string, and keep it in tune between sets!

Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by pcep on 2012-12-17 11:55:14

Had my first gig with the JTV-69 this past weekend. I had nothing less than a great experience with it.

I mainly used the Lester, Tele, & the Martin D-28 models. I had several people approach me after the set to compliment me on my guitar tone.

So, overall, I'm very happy with it. I have a recording session coming up in a couple weeks, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it will work in the studio.

Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by DrFunk on 2012-12-18 14:13:59


I've been enjoying your thread. Very positive, really what the JTV is all  about. It's funny that most people are here to complain!  Anyway, I really like what you have to say and your criticisms are accurate. Alot of people have noticed artificial sounds with the 12 strings (frequently noticing artifacts in the harmonics). I think line 6 did a really thorough and good job on the models including the 12 electric and acoustic strings. May I suggest the solution is not to tinker in Workbench, but to adjust the JTV's string height just a tad higher. See if that does not improve the models. If you notice artifacts or strange harmonics just adjust it back to where you had it or slightly lower in height next. I think this will solve your problem,,,

If the string height is right- ALL the models should sound good,,. In fact they should sound Great just like the instruments they are modelling,. Line 6 really nailed it.,, In a band mix or in a recording, very few discerning ears can even suspect that you are doing this with a modelling guitar!

I don't think you'll have any problem with your pedals if you get an HD500. It has programmable EFX loops that you can put anywhere you like in the signal chain. So, Wah's, OD,distortions, Fuzz you can put before amps and Modulations, Delay and reverbs you could put after if you like and keep any of the pedals you want to continue using.  Line 6 has ~96 effects on board to choose from. many of them are excellent, ultra programmable, and may replace a few of your pedals. So even less to carry around. Sounds like you'll be bringing~ 3 less instruments with you already!  I love my Electro Harmonix Black Finger (tube compressor), the Radial Tonebone Classic (tube distortion), TC Chorus and the EH Deluxe Memory Man (Delay),... So I can keep them in my signal chain thru the EFX loops at will for any given preset, Oh yeah, and the Eventide Pitch Factor (harmonizer).

I'm a strat guy, Not surprising that I have a few strats at home. I find the strat model that Line 6 chose sounds as good if not better than some of my Customshop strats! The sound is really good. I only miss the 'feeling' of the fretboard/ neck on some of them- that's what I notice but the sound is terrific. they nailed a perfect stratocaster!

Good luck with your JTV69, the band and in your recording. Lots of JTV owners are cheering you on, Have Fun and Enjoy,,,


Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by pcep on 2012-12-19 09:46:39


Thanks very much for your kind words!

I will try your recommendations regarding string height and see if that helps with the 12 string emulations. As is, they are fine...I should really try recording some sound samples using the 12 strings, then listen back. I'd bet a lot of what I'm experiencing is psychological, and not even audible.

For example, I wasn't totally sold on the acoustic models. At our last rehearsal, we were running a new song, and I was playing the Martin D28 (direct into the PA). At the time my perception of it was "I guess it's okay."

I recorded the last run-through of the song on my iPhone, just so I'd have a reference to listen back to later. The next day when I listened back to it, I was floored! There's a part when it's just vocal & the acoustic guitar (JTV), and is sounds *really* good.

As for the HD500, maybe eventually. But for now I am incredibly happy with my pedalboard and overall sound.

Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by soundchaser on 2012-12-26 14:17:30

One of my favorite things about owning a Variax is the ability to learn songs I never could have before, due to alt tunings.  Try this one on 12 string in Open C, CGCGCE; Question by the Moody Blues.  Your ears wont be able to tell the difference between the JTV and a 12 string.

Re: New JTV-69 Day!
by dgnyberg on 2012-12-27 18:26:12

I haven't got a JTV, yet, but for my older Variaxes both the electric and acoustic,

I changed the Banjo tuning from standard to Nashville and the difference is night and day!

The lower strings kind of deaden the tone of the banjo, to me.

Another thing you might consider is doing a retune of one of the 12-string models to mandolin tuning through Workbench.

I'm not sure how it would sound, but it might work well enough. Just a thought.

I am planning on ordering my JTV at the end of January.

Hope the ideas lead you to some fun experimentation!

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