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bigmac11

First gig impression of the James Tyler 59 Variax

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I broke my own cardinal sin about using new equipment on a gig without trying it out first but I wanted to get my JT into action as soon as possible.  First some back story.  I play rhythem guitar in a 5 piece bar band and play a lot of utility playing between banjos, acoustics and electric fenders so you can guess why I bought this thing.  I got the guitar this past friday at 2:30 PM and the show started at 9 pm that night.  Now I ususaly play a 25th anniversary strat through a rack mount pod xt pro and back through a Tech 21 60 amp, the banjo direct boxed, and my tachamenie acoustic through my ART SGX 2000 rack processor.  The whole goal was to shrink what I brought to a show.  I ended up playing my variax through my xt pro live pedal and pumping it back through my 15 inch monitor and not use an amp.  

 

I brought  just a pedal, and a laptop to monitor which guitar modeling I was using because I was not familiar to any of the selection process and had no clue which guitar I was using unless I looked at the laptop screen to show me which one.  That was kind of nice and my band mates thought I was nuts.  They were asking if my other guitars were broke or stolen.  Now to the first impressions.  Even though I had about a sound check to pick which sounds to use...which were the special special on bridge pick up, the j200, and one of the 12 string sounds.  the pod xt live has banks 17 through 20 that are for variax guitars and I uses a couple of presets already in the pedal.  

 

As far as sounds I was pleasantly suprised how out of the box it sounded.  It did give me a heavier sound than my strats but not too much growl after a quick tweak on the stomp box selections.  What did blow me and my band mates away were the acoustic sounds.  They were sweet, espeically the j200 settings.  The 12 string sounded a little thin but you have to remember I did no setups on sounds due to the lack of time.  The guitar neck was a bit wider than I am used to but played very well.  I have to do some setup work to tweak it out but overall was very nice to play.  They need to change the string selection from the factory because the strings that come with it are a bit stiff.  A set of Ernie Ball Slinky's feel so much better on the neck.  The only complaint I would have to say was this guitar is not set up for fast rhythem work.  There are a few songs where I have to cover chords fast and have to slide a bunch of chords fast and either I wasnt use to the neck width or its just not a neck for fast rhythems.  I will update later if I get it worked out.   

 

Overall impressions...I liked it, band mates where blown away after they heard the versatility of this thing, and at the load out I was done in about 7 minutes with 4 of them were winding cables.  I will end up with a 500 or 500x eventually to expand the quick switching between settings and guitars.  The sounds were about an 8 out of 10 out of the box, the setup about a 7 out of 10, the playability for rhythem 6 out of 10 but of course I am comparing this to a 1979 25th anniversary stratocaster which is the fastest rhythem guitar in the world I think, and ease of use a 9 out of 10 once you get past the learning curve.   I am doing the next 5 gigs with this guitar only and will up date my numbers ( or down grade) of the overall personal feel of this guitar.

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Wow that is mad very brave!

Using a JTV with an HD500(x) is a revelation and takes the selection of models when playing live out of the equation as you just use the HD to select predefined JTV models... and tunings... and volume and tone settings... and the volume and tone knobs can be used to control Amp and Fx parameters...

 

Model selection is even better with the latest firmware as the HD will switch Bank on the JTV so that the pickup selector is correct no matter what the Bank selected on the knob is.

 

Welcome to the club, I am sure that a bit of tweaking will get everything to your satisfaction

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I am rarely impressed with most guitars on the market.  As a matter of fact the 25th anniversary was the last fender I felt deserved the name short of the Robert Cray version.  I really think line6 is missing the marketing mark with modeling guitars of this quality.  They need to stop demos that only have guys shredding and doing leads and start marketing the rhythem and utility players more.  Thats where the strength of this type of guitar lies.  I am under no illusion that a modeling guitar will ever match a real les paul, strat, or tele plugged to a tube amp using analog pedals.  No matter how good they get with the software.  This though is probably the best answer for all of us who have to cover a lot of ground on stage with tons of equipment.

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Interesting point bigmac.  But I think that in my opinion their marketing is fine.   Most guitar demos or marketing that I see is somebody shredding the crap out of it.  When I first heard the capabilities the first thought I had was now I don't have to carry around3-4 guitars.  I initially resisted even trying one out because I didin't want to be redundant and replace my 3 main guitars (The Paul, Kramer Pacer Custom, Parker Nitefly) which handled my gigging needs quite b=nicely.

 

I had Parker Peizo fail me one week before an important gig and I found myself buying a Red VAX700 from the local store here in Burlington VT.  And yes that guitar ended up replacing the other three for playing out.

 

I am now 4 deep into the variax with the latest being JTV89F.  Do you currently own a Variax?  I find the modeling quite convincing and effective.

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Interesting point bigmac.  But I think that in my opinion their marketing is fine.   Most guitar demos or marketing that I see is somebody shredding the crap out of it.  When I first heard the capabilities the first thought I had was now I don't have to carry around3-4 guitars.  I initially resisted even trying one out because I didin't want to be redundant and replace my 3 main guitars (The Paul, Kramer Pacer Custom, Parker Nitefly) which handled my gigging needs quite b=nicely.

 

I had Parker Peizo fail me one week before an important gig and I found myself buying a Red VAX700 from the local store here in Burlington VT.  And yes that guitar ended up replacing the other three for playing out.

 

I am now 4 deep into the variax with the latest being JTV89F.  Do you currently own a Variax?  I find the modeling quite convincing and effective.

Yeah, I just got the 59 version.  Thats what I was basing the review off of.  The last show I used it and didnt bother bringing a back up guitar.  Just plugged into a line6 xt live pedal straight to our presonus board.  Out of the box was good except for a few action issues.  I have readjusted the saddle a bit to speed up the action and had to readjust the low E string piezio pickup to  make it louder.  I still think that line6 should be pushing more to the utility players and start picking up that business.  I have to switch between 2 tuned strats, an acoustic, and a banjo and it was nice just turning a knob to change that instead of worrying about crossing signal cables up.  overall I like the guitar and getting aclimated to the new neck took about a set to settle in.  As far as comparing them to the real things I have the 25th anniversary strat and two 1970 fender super reverbs set up in my house.  Thats a sound thats going to be hard to emmulate.  I also have a parker nite fly which is an amazing guitar itself.  Talk about fast.

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Regarding your low E string. Try this. I posted this elsewhere.

 

OK I've recently gotten the high E, low level problem and this has been my solution. So far it works and is  cheap and easy. Apparently the connection to ground happens due to the contact between the piezo and bridge itself. There seems to be some slop in there so I can see how it could get grimy in there and create a less than good connection for ground. I sprayed some electronic cleaner into the piezo area using the thin straw and so far...Problem Solved!!!!!!  i specifically used Radio Shack's Precision Electronics Cleaner. It leaves no residue although when you first spray you'll probably start cursing.me. But I swear it goes away. It's been two weeks. I have changed my string and resprayed all the piezos again. I attempt to change my strings every month so I'll let you know if the cleansing keeps the problem away for a month. I think just a monthly squirt of electronics cleaner will end your string lownessdullness factor. Mostly because it's taken a year (or more) for this problem to start.  I'm sure it will work for any string with this issue if  bad ground connection is the cause

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Yes us Burlingtonians get around!  Sorry bigmac, poor reading comprehension, I only was commenting on your last post and didn't put the review and you together.  Glad you are happy with your 59.

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HI HI HI GUYS! FIRST LINE 6 Forum Post! 

 

I am A New Dream Rig Owner of about 1 Month! 

I play Modern Alternative and when Im not working with my own Bands i Do lots of Session Work In southern california. 

 

JTV-59 > POD HD500 > DT50 2x12 (Stereo into the House for Monitor mixes and my Acoustics)

 

I Am sooooo Impressed with the sound quality and versatility of this rig. 

 

I actually discovered the Dreamrig by Accident after my Custom TrainWreck Clone Head a from my sponsor TONESHOP (AMAZING CUSTOMSHOP in MI)  was stolen outside of the Viper Room in LA along with one of my guitars and my pedalboard :( 

 

I borrowed a POD HD BEan for a session at SUNSET SOUND and I totally started looking at Line 6 Differently. What i dialed in for the session was fast and sounded amazing . 

 

Sooooooo... after my equipment was recovered (some of it anyway) i sold it and got myself a DT and JTV . 

 

I just started recording my new bands EP and HOLY lollipop> 

Not to mention the time saved setting up and loading. less Cables.  

Im a singer FIRST and I play guitar to write and to fill space in a mix live. 
Before i needed  multiple guitars in multiple tunings and tons of pedals to do the same work im doing now. 

Amazing Sound and Amazing Versatility. 

Full Midi Functionality. 

My band does lots of electronic music etc as well. 

 

Im currently using the TREADPLATE model with super low gain and a a chandler with a EHX LPB1 in the POD FX LOOP. I also use the TUBE DRIVER model in the POD and the Screamer for even more BOOM lol. 

Im VERY VERY happy :)))) 

 

Hoping i can get my band sponsored lol 

 

My bassist wants a Bass dream rig lol (old variax basses are crap though)

 

I modded my JTV and POD for Touring thanks to TONEZONE LA :)
(Better footswitches and a GRAPHTECH GHOST PIEZO Wraparound Bridge to replace the flimsy stock Hex Piezo Bridge . A cheap investment for a regular player that turns the guitar into a reliable workhorse and i also wanted the 13 pin Midi Functionality.

 

Im hoping to throw Bigsby on my JTV soon :) 

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I modded my JTV and POD for Touring thanks to TONEZONE LA :)

(Better footswitches and a GRAPHTECH GHOST PIEZO Wraparound Bridge to replace the flimsy stock Hex Piezo Bridge . A cheap investment for a regular player that turns the guitar into a reliable workhorse and i also wanted the 13 pin Midi Functionality.

 

Im hoping to throw Bigsby on my JTV soon :)

 

Sounds awesome!  post some pics and sound clips when you get a chance.  Love to see the new bridge and definitely the Bigsby...

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UPDATE!!   

 

I have gotten a ton of gigs in and alot of playing time on my new 59 and wanted to update my critic of this beast.   Since my first gig I have added the HD500 pedal to the mix and mainly run directly through our presonus board but on larger gigs I pulled out my Tech 21 60 watt amp to take the load off my monitor mix.  I get more impressed every show of what this thing does for the performance.  I have become adept at setting up different guitars, pickups, and electronics via the software which I have to admit is pretty impressive.  To even be able to change out your pots and caps is very impressive for this old electronics tech and really fun to mix and match pick up styles.  Over all I do not regret getting one of these at all.  The one thing that line6 leaves out is for any utility player like myself is the ability to never let your show loose momentum due to switching guitars or messing around with stomp boxes.  Our performances seem to be a more bit intense and never lags at all.  It's still not my favorite feeling guitar to play but I dont mind strapping it on for 4 hours and the ease of use and the one click switching between songs makes a night flow seamlessly.  Our other guitarist uses a Tom Anderson and its a really good example of an 

American made classic and the variax with some tweaking can sound almost as good.

 

 The neatest thing I have come across is after a show or between sets more people "guitarists" come up with a confused look on their faces espeically after I do a set that starts with a les paul sound, to a fender sound, to a hollow body, to an acoustic, to a banjo sound and they are confused on how its done.  Have even been accused of tracking in a stringed part one night while using the banjo sound.  Overall, a good investment and glad I got one.  Had a tuning issue that the guitar was going out of tune quickly and found the problem to be the nuts on the tuning pegs were not tightened at the factory and didnt realize this till I put on a set of 11 gauge slinky's which really made the acoustic sounds much warmer and closer to a real acoustic.  I might end up with 12's before the year is out.  If you are on the fence about buying one of these just remember that you do gain a ton of versatility in the sounds, reduced physical equipment to load in and out, and if you work with the software and interfaces you can create some pretty close sounds that can cover tons of music styles.  you dont have to have the hd500's because I originally used the HD pod pedal on the first shows and it worked great but the 500 series does give you some features that the others dont.  Maybe one day I will get the amp that goes with this but the extremely neutral tech 21 amp works great with any type of modeling pedals and guitars on the market.

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...

the ability to never let your show loose momentum due to switching guitars or messing around with stomp boxes.  Our performances seem to be a more bit intense and never lags at all

..

 

absolutely TRUE!

 

 

 

... The neatest thing I have come across is after a show or between sets more people "guitarists" come up with a confused look on their faces espeically after I do a set that starts with a les paul sound, to a fender sound, to a hollow body, to an acoustic, to a banjo sound and they are confused on how its done.  Have even been accused of tracking in a stringed part one night while using the banjo sound.....

 

yeah, me 2 when playing solo harmonies....

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I have an Original Prog Band called Elephants of Scotland who are based out of Vermont (Total Null prog scene here) and I use a JTV89F into and HD500X with this band.  Another thing I have seen gigging is a lot more sound guys are recognizing the guitar and asking or making comments to me about the acoustic emulation out of the guitar.  They especially like the smooth transition I get from acoustic to distorted.  (Most of my acoustic patches use the volume pedal to pan between the acoustic Variax emulation and the magnetic pickups).

 

At this point I cannot see gigging for either my 80's cover band (Hot Neon Magic-JTV 59 believe it!) or EOS without a JTV

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Most of my acoustic patches use the volume pedal to pan between the acoustic Variax emulation and the magnetic pickups

 

That's a cool idea!

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It works very well and I also use it to switch/blend the sitar and position 4 Magnetics.  I am going to play around with the 12 string and mags to see what type of custom sound I can get.  The key to making it work is obviously the dual amp/mixer capability within the HD500X

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That's a cool idea!

 

Agreed...but embarrassingly, I can't figure it out, lol. I have a couple of dual-amp patches where I transition from a crystal clean to dirty with the exp. pedal, but how do you get it to switch the JTV from a model to mags at the same time? Unless I'm missing something, the patch will only store one Variax model at a given time...puzzled. :wacko:

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Agreed...but embarrassingly, I can't figure it out, lol. I have a couple of dual-amp patches where I transition from a crystal clean to dirty with the exp. pedal, but how do you get it to switch the JTV from a model to mags at the same time? Unless I'm missing something, the patch will only store one Variax model at a given time...puzzled. :wacko:

 

You set INPUT 1 to VARIAX and INPUT 2 to VARIAX MAGS (or vice versa) and set PATH A and PATH B accordingly for the inputs.  You select the desired Variax Acoustic model and save the patch.  When you swap to the patch it will switch the Variax to the chosen Variax acoustic model. When you use the Exp pedal to pan between Input 1 and Input 2 - you move between the Variax Model sound and the actual Mag Pickups on the Variax.

 

Hope that helps you crack it!

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You set INPUT 1 to VARIAX and INPUT 2 to VARIAX MAGS (or vice versa) and set PATH A and PATH B accordingly for the inputs.  You select the desired Variax Acoustic model and save the patch.  When you swap to the patch it will switch the Variax to the chosen Variax acoustic model. When you use the Exp pedal to pan between Input 1 and Input 2 - you move between the Variax Model sound and the actual Mag Pickups on the Variax.

 

Hope that helps you crack it!

 

OK...got it. I wasn't thinking about the inputs at all. Thanks!

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Sorry I should have been more specific on the mechanics in my post.  edstar1960 nailed it.

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Sorry I should have been more specific on the mechanics in my post.  edstar1960 nailed it.

 

No worries...I love the fact that I'm still finding new things to do with this rig more than a year into it. I really haven't been using the mags hardly at all, so that's probably why it didn't occur to me...but now I have a reason to dial in some new patches, lol. :)

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