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Hi! I’m looking to make a few modifications to my JTV-59 and wanted to get some input of what’s in the realm of possibility with the Variax technology. The main things I’d like to add are tuner locks of some kind, a whammy bar, and a sustainer pickup. Would any of these be possible and what should I look out for when installing these additions? I mainly use the Variax models but, from what I understand, they’re all coming from the bridge so I don’t know what limitations that brings to what I’d like to accomplish. I know the Variax technology can be a very complicated topic and, hopefully, this is the best place to get an answer to my questions! Thanks everyone!
I just performed my first mod to my Variax Standard: locking tuners. Turns out that the tuners on these guitars are identical to the tuners Fender uses on their newer guitars. They are generally refered to as "two pin tuners", meaning that the the tuners have two pins that keep them in correct position relative to the headstock. I have been using locking tuners on all my "6-in-line" headstock guitars for years, and was happy to discover that I didn't have to drill 6 tiny holes in the headstock to install them on my Variax. I found some very nice locking tuners on eBay for approx. $40, and swapped them in under 1/2 hr., reusing the same strings that came on the guitar to avoid any set-up issues while I was experimenting. It worked fine, and I'll use those old strings at rehearsal tomorrow, then put on new ones. The next bit of customizing will be a new custom pickguard. Has anyone done this yet? Any recommendations on suppliers? Does anyone know of a pickguard maker who already has the pattern on file? My plan is to take the original off the guitar and make a tracing/pattern with all the holes and cutouts to be sent to the supplier. I have one in mind, but am curious if anyone has done it already and had a good experience. Next mod after the guard will be either pickups or a custom neck. I believe I may be able to fit a Fender-type 22 fret neck by making a spacer to go under the finger board extension, and will likely try that in the next month or so, but ultimately I would prefer a fatter neck with a nice headstock shape. Maybe even a 3x3 headstock. I get that production makers of after-market necks won't want to tool up for an "odd-ball" guitar like the Line 6/Yamaha, but I know at least one luthier in my area who would be willing to sculpt a new neck for this guitar. It'll be pricy, but unique. Incidentally, I believe a G&L neck will work on the Variax Standard/Yamaha Pacifica. Both G&L and Yamaha have gone with 22 fret 25.5" scale necks on their bolt neck guitars, and the only thing that seems to separate them from Fender 22 fret necks is the under-cut fingerboard. Fender did this so that a 21 fret and a 22 fret neck will fit on the same body, allowing owners of older strats and teles to be able to "update" their guitars with with newer necks. G&L and the Pacifica guitars came along after that 22 fret "standard" had been established, so there was no need to produce necks with the fingerboard extension. Thus, their bodies are made with a neck pocket positioned for the slightly longer necks. I wish I had a G&L neck to experiment with! Anyway, I'll keep everyone up to date on the mods I make and what, if any, pitfalls accompanied the work. Stay tuned...