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katiekerry

Make Your Variax Sound 100% Better

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Hi katiekerry - what size file did you use to increase the size of the grooves in the casing front of the piezo elements?  I guess it was pretty small...  thanks.

Also - did you just file down the casing and bridge under the LOW E or did you have to adjust it for the A string as well?   Thanks.

I used a five inch long triangular file. Each side of the triangle was about 1/4". I'm not sure where you live, but if there is a Home Depot nearby, that's where I bought the set.

 

This is what I got from Home Depot.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Nicholson-5-1-2-in-Assorted-Hobby-Craft-Mini-File-Set-6-Piece-42030L/203336567

 

I did mine several days ago and it still sounds great.

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Thanks Rocco_Crocco.

 

How did you manage to widen the groove without touching the piezo element inside with a file that large?

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I laid the guitar flat on my workbench, then filed slowly while holding the file like I would hold a pen, almost perpendicular to the ground. I filed up and down only moving about an inch in each direction. An inch down, then an inch up, etc. So only about an inch of the file was used.

 

I had the re-string the low e a few times before I took enough material off the casing to get rid of the ping.

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I've noticed a pretty good groove has developed under my high E string on my JTV59.

Enough that if I push on it it pops out of the groove and makes an audible ping.

 

I'm a little nervous about filing the groove out and going too far! Are these piezo bridge parts easy to replace? Where can they be bought when they need replacing?

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I've noticed a pretty good groove has developed under my high E string on my JTV59.

Enough that if I push on it it pops out of the groove and makes an audible ping.

 

I'm a little nervous about filing the groove out and going too far! Are these piezo bridge parts easy to replace? Where can they be bought when they need replacing?

 

You shouldn't file too deep. You'd have to file pretty badly to go into the piezo.

 

I've filed the piezos before on my 600 and it's fine. Piezos are probably the easiest thing to repair on the guitar that works with the Variax side of the guitar. I've done it many times on my 600. I've never done it on my JTV, but I'm sure it's virtually the same process.

 

Just file what you need to file, and nothing else.

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I took my JTV59 to my luthier with the intention of getting the groove in front of the low E piezo widened but after he had a good look at it he told me that the string had enough clearance above the groove and that there was no way it could move enough to make contact, and he thought the same about the groove behind the piezo, and the clearance over the front of the bridge. They gaps are all small but the string barely moves that close to the contact point.  Seems like my piezo's are seated with enough clearance which means that any plinks or weird sounds must be coming from somewhere else.

 

He even double checked the piezo movement inside the casing and when the string tension was relaxed it rattled but as soon as normal string tension was placed on it then it did not rattle.  So I have to look elsewhere for any odd artifacts that may be affecting my JTV59.

 

PS: I haven't put the tail piece on yet - that will happen when I next change strings. 

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I looked at the string clearance on my JTV69S in front of the piezos and it looks like plenty to me.  Your luthier is correct that the strings barely move that hear the contact point.  If the piezo does not seat solidly, I can see that being a problem.  There is a lot of force pushing down on it but if the seat isn't perfectly flat, it might be able to move around and cause bad noises.

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I took my JTV59 to my luthier with the intention of getting the groove in front of the low E piezo widened but after he had a good look at it he told me that the string had enough clearance above the groove and that there was no way it could move enough to make contact, and he thought the same about the groove behind the piezo, and the clearance over the front of the bridge. They gaps are all small but the string barely moves that close to the contact point.  Seems like my piezo's are seated with enough clearance which means that any plinks or weird sounds must be coming from somewhere else.

 

He even double checked the piezo movement inside the casing and when the string tension was relaxed it rattled but as soon as normal string tension was placed on it then it did not rattle.  So I have to look elsewhere for any odd artifacts that may be affecting my JTV59.

 

PS: I haven't put the tail piece on yet - that will happen when I next change strings. 

Understood. It appeared on mine that the string was not making contact with the piezo casing as well. See the picture. I used the "A" string casing as the focal point of the pic because my "E" saddle has already been filed. The "E" casing looked just about the same, with the string coming a little closer to the casing but still appearing not to touch.

 

A%2Bsaddle%2BVariax%2B59.JPG

 

Anyway, despite this I filed anyway. No harm, no foul, right? The act of filing  almost completely removed the pinging. YMMV, but if it were me I would file it anyway.

 

My $0.02.

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Thanks again Rocco_crocco.  And thanks for posting the pic.

 

I have ordered some mini-files so I may try it myself when they arrive.   My luthier didn't want to charge me for a job which he thought would not help the problem.

However, I can waste my own time and see whether things improve as in your case and for KatieKerry.

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Here are some close up pics of the low E piezo on my JTV59 so everyone can see the clearance of the string in front of and behind the piezo:

 

 

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That looks like there is plenty of clearance in the front of the bridge!  One thought:  With the standard bridge, the string tension pulls it forward.  If you were to install a tailpiece, then there is no large force pulling the bridge forward and it might sit back further on it's mount.  That would reduce the clearance in front.

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Here are some close up pics of the low E piezo on my JTV59 so everyone can see the clearance of the string in front of and behind the piezo:

Wow there is a huge difference on how high your saddles are compared to mine.  In just correspondence to the rest of the bridge.  Your casing for the piezo's sit much higher than mine does..  Mine is almost flush with the rest of the bridge..  But thank you for the profile pics...  yeah and by the way you don't have any wear marks from the string like mine did so I wouldn't worry about it..

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any posts on how to achieve something similar with the JTV tremolo bridge? looks like you may be able to thread a thin, narrow strip of fabric underneath the saddles between the string and the vertical bridge screws. wondered if it was worth investigating...

 

 

I can say that Yes, it is worth investigating. Cut a thin strip of fabric, (i used an old tshirt) and simply lay it in front of the saddles and then GENTLY tuck it underneath so its resting against the wires that come down  from the peizos. Cleared up 80% of the noise from the tremolo arm and improved the articulation and tuning stability of the models. 

 

I also put foam up at the nut, but didn't really do much for the sound. 

 

I will devise a more permanent solution, but for now am really happy with results.  JTV 69 tremolo bridge.

 

post-61827-0-90831800-1438978350_thumb.jpg

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I can sat that Yes, it is worth investigating. Cut a thin strip of fabric, (i used an old tshirt) and simply lay it in front of the saddles and then GENTLY tuck it underneath so its resting against the wires that come down  from the peizos. Cleared up 80% of the noise from the tremolo arm and improved the articulation and tuning stability of the models. 

 

I also put foam up at the nut, but didn't really do much for the sound. 

 

I will devise a more permanent solution, but for now am really happy with results.  JTV 69 tremolo bridge.

 

attachicon.gif1bridge.wrap.jtv69trem.jpg

attachicon.gif2bridge.wrap.jtv69trem.jpg

attachicon.gifnut.wrap.jtv69trem.jpg

Well I am glad your mod has helped clean up some of the artifacts, I think they need to figure out a way to make the piezo pickups a bit less sensitive.  ( but then I think we would wind up complaining cause it doesn't pick up all our little nuances in our playing_) Its so difficult weed out the funny sounds we don't want but keep the articulation we do want..   I don't have the 69 I have the 59 burst, just a personal question does your head stock graphic drive you nuts.  It just looks really tacky to me the way it has James Tyler plastered all over it..  That was one of the turn offs I had about the 69..  I used to be a strat guy before I got the variax ( I like the looks and feel of a strat more than les paul style)..  sorry went a little off topic..

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just a personal question does your head stock graphic drive you nuts.  It just looks really tacky to me the way it has James Tyler plastered all over it..  That was one of the turn offs I had about the 69..  I used to be a strat guy before I got the variax ( I like the looks and feel of a strat more than les paul style)..  sorry went a little off topic..

 

Many of us loathe the stock JTV-69 neck simply for its dimensions and contour (nevermind the decal).  Replacing it with a strat neck solves both problems.

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Many of us loathe the stock JTV-69 neck simply for its dimensions and contour (nevermind the decal). Replacing it with a strat neck solves both problems.

That decal doesn't exactly make you wanna have a beer with the guy. There's a reason Gibson doesn't stamp "Les Paul" on the headstock 43 times. If you wanna put your name on something you designed, fine, but be classy...do it once.

 

Look at my guitar, Look at my guitar, Look at my guitar, Look at my guitar, Look at my guitar....

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I think it's fine... and light years better than what james tyler puts on his own line of guitars.

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Replacing it with a strat neck solves both problems.

 

I like the JTV neck alright and I'm a Strat guy from way back. I vote thumbs down on the decal, but whatever. IMHO the Variax 500 had the best neck ever. Love the way that guitar plays.

 

snhirsh have you swapped a strat neck on the JTV 69? It looks to me like that would not work due to the 69's one offset neck-joint  screw. 

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Strat necks work fine on  a JTV69.  You just have to move the screw holes.  No big deal.  It's only wood screws into wood.

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Affirmative.  I mounted a Mighty-Mite compound-radius strat neck on mine, then sent it out for a Plek leveling.  Plays like a dream.

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I like the JTV neck alright and I'm a Strat guy from way back. I vote thumbs down on the decal, but whatever. IMHO the Variax 500 had the best neck ever. Love the way that guitar plays.

 

snhirsh have you swapped a strat neck on the JTV 69? It looks to me like that would not work due to the 69's one offset neck-joint screw.

Lots of us have replaced the 69 neck with Strat necks...Warmoth, Mighty Mite, etc. The off-set holes are easily dealt with. If you have Warmoth build one from scratch, they won't pre-drill the holes unless you ask for it. But even if the holes are already there, doweling and re-drilling is well within the wheelhouse of any decent luthier... It's actually quite common to have those threads get stripped on older Strats...fairly common repair job.

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I think it's fine... and light years better than what james tyler puts on his own line of guitars.

Well..."better than something that's an order of magnitude uglier" is not exactly what I'd call a ringing endorsement, lol. And I've looked at his site...at least some of those models have essentially the same graphic with his name 19 times, just minus the "Variax".

 

But I agree, those other headstocks are god-awful. 8th grade woodshop project awful...

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Well just thought I would post a  heads up on how my variax is sounding and playing since I filed the casing..  I have not heard a single ping or artifact since..  Was able to turn off the global eq settings I had set up to help neutralize the nasty ping frequencies.  Over all I am quite happy with the variax, probable would say its my favorite guitar I have owned of all time now..  I am hoping the others that have filed it has had the same results...

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Its been quiet a while Since I have filed the gap in the piezo casing and bridge..  I am glad to acknowledge I have not had a single ping or any sound artifacts since..  The guitar sounds great and plays great..  Good luck guys with solving your variax issues hope the best for you..

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bridge1.png

 

These parts can make a noise if you pick it with your pick. The G string on mine was pronounced when I picked it, and it sounded exactly like the sound that the G string was making when I picked the string normally. Putting a piece of masking tape around that part of the string made the noise go away.

I cut small pieces of shrink wrap tubing as someone recommended. I feel it made a big difference.

post-1641830-0-33303400-1447101792_thumb.jpeg

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I cut small pieces of shrink wrap tubing as someone recommended. I feel it made a big difference.

 

Awesome! I'm glad it helps.

 

On a side note, when I break strings, they no longer slip into the guitar as the tape catches the ball end of the broken string!

No more worrying about ball ends in the guitar anymore either!

 

It really does work, and I highly recommend trying it out if you're having odd noises from the guitar.

No mods to the guitar, just loosen your strings and dampen the ball ends with tape or something to your preference.

 

I never knew how much the strings behind the saddles contributed to that much noise before.

 

 

I did it on all strings and the guitar sounds way better now. No more pinging noises on any of the strings when picking them.

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I cut small pieces of shrink wrap tubing as someone recommended. I feel it made a big difference.

Hey I am glad they figured out a way to block out unwanted noise for the the trem version...  I don't think the Floyd version has any issues since it is clamped on both ends..  May be why some people think it sounds better than the other models...  But that's Awesome  great Idea....

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Finally got around to fitting my new tail piece to my JTV 59 as per katiekerry.
 
Here are the pictures.
 
NB: The white strips near the nut and the bridge are pieces of self-adhesive Velcro with the backing paper still in place.  These are in position to stop extraneous ringing between the nut and machine heads and between the saddles and the tailpiece.

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OK - when I tried my JTV59 acoustically with the new tail piece it sounded great - however - when I connected the JTV59 using VDI to my HD500 and played using the model sounds and the piezo's, I immediately became aware of a metallic semi-acoustic type sound mixed with each model I tried - almost as if I was mixing a dobro or resonator body with each one.  I then noticed that if I just tapped on the body of my JTV59, that I could hear a loud audible tap through the piezo's and if i tapped the tail piece I could hear a loud thump through the piezos, and if I tapped the string tails I could also hear that sound through the piezos.  So although I had placed velcro over the tails, and it had suppressed the ringing, it was not suprrsing any other transmitted vibration.  The tail piece I bought was cheap, so it is probably made out of cheap metal alloy covered in chrome, and it appears to be very resonant, and as it is fixed to the body by a large metal plate, there is a lot of contact area so a lot of body vibration is able to come back into the strings.

 

I will try to see if I can dampen the resonance from the tail piece any further to see if it is possible to get it under control or less noticeable, but I don't think I am going to have any luck.

 

Unfortunately, it is looking very much like the tail piece is not going to make things better for me and I will have to revert back to the original set up and look at lining the original bridge grooves with insulation tape or continue wrapping the tails of my strings before fitting them.

 

I will post an update once I have finished experimenting.

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NB: Quick update:   Noticed that the strings did not align directly across piezo and through gap in saddle block - better alignment of the strings and better placement of the Velcro did reduce the metallic semi-acoustic overtone.  More experimentation required....

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Decided to abandon the new tail piece as I could not get rid of the extra unwanted metallic semi-acoustic overtones.

 

So I reverted back to the standard bridge BUT this time I coverd the string slots with electrical tape and pushed it into the slots as best I could, then I used some small diameter heat shrink tubing over the tails of the strings and I restrung my guitar.     See picture.

 

NB: I have locking machine heads so that made the restring a lot easier as I had to shove the ball ends into the slots and tug the strings into the grooves to get them to fit and to keep the heat shrink tuning in place.  It would probably be even better if you can get smaller diameter heat shrink tubing than I used - but that was the smallest diameter I could find and it did the job for me.  I think it will work just as well using only the heat shrink tubing - the electrical insulation tape is probably unnecessary.

 

End result - it's not pretty BUT it has eliminated all the unwanted metallic overtones or plinks I was getting. So big improvement on all modelled tones via the piezos.

 

YMMV.

post-187255-0-75328000-1459871257_thumb.jpg

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This is nuts.  Spend $1000 or more on a new guitar and start putting tshirt patches and velcro on it, plus filing??   Maybe I should cancel my JTV59 order  :-)    Does string gauge play any role in this?

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I have string dampeners on every guitar I own.  Especially my acoustics.  I hate the sound of those short strings vibrating.  It's not a Variax issue any more than a Martin or Taylor issue.

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I don't need the velcro dampeners on my JTV59 and I didn't need to file the piezo saddle slots. The heat shrink tubing around the string tails and the electrical tape on the back of the bridge resolves the metallic overtones I was getting with my particular JTV59.

 

I believe the issue in my case is just the resonance of the bridge combined with the sensitivity of the piezo's and the movement of bridge parts following pick action and pick scraping sounds being picked up which leads to the all these unwanted metallic overtones coming through in the modelled signals.  No problems when using mags only.

 

I also think that once your ears tune into a particular odd or unwanted artifact from the guitar that you can't "unhear" it even if in reality it is not that prevalent and may not be noticed by anyone else.  Also, because it is a modelling guitar I scrutinize each modelled sound much more than I would a standard guitar, so there are probably subtle nuances that may be on a standard guitar but not noticed,  but they really stand out in the JTV modelled sounds.

 

If anyone has a JTV that exhibits the peculiarities (plinks, metallic overtones etc) mentioned in this discussion thread, then one of the suggested solutions may well resolve the issue for them. 

 

YMMV

 

Remember though, that plenty of people report they don't have any problems with their JTV - so you may well be lucky when ordering a new one - but you won't know until you get one in your hands and try it yourself with your amp etc. And if it's a bad one then you can always return it as long as you buy from a reputable company with a returns policy - so no risk involved.

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I appreciate the feedback, research and photos.  I've never noticed the problems mentioned on other guitars I've owned.  It must not be restricted to high-gain or tapped licks since someone reported using these "fixes" on acoustic guitars.

 

http://leftyfretz.com/review-gruv-gear-fret-wraps-string-dampeners/

"especially when doing tapped licks, as literally no muting is required at all.  This eliminates not only sympathetic string vibration, but also the scratchy noises your palm can unintentionally create when trying to mute.  It really is a perfect solution for super clean playing."

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I appreciate the feedback, research and photos. I've never noticed the problems mentioned on other guitars I've owned.

And you wouldn't, as mag pickups generally don't suffer from these issues. Piezos are orders of magnitude more sensitive by comparison. As such, weirdness can ensue...any unwanted resonances if sufficiently amplified, become a nuisance. Some guitars have issues, some don't. No use wringing your hands over it. You can't predict a blessed thing until you play it.

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I'll know by Thursday.  I've had a few electric acoustics with piezo in the bridge as well as my Carvin AE185 which has humbuckers and piezo in the bridge, but it isn't like the piezo bridge on the JTVs.

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I have the 59 & 69S. I've tried the tape on the string ends and have not noticed a difference before or after, but didn't have a particular problem with it either, so I must be one of the "lucky ones".

 

Dave

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Well recently in another discussion I ran across an Idea to help eleviate some of the sympathetic resonance that occurs with the variax guitar.Link here http://line6.com/support/message/485558#485558  (quite amplified do to the Full Range of the Variax and HD500 capability's).  I expanded on his Idea and chose to add vibration relief on the Bridge also.  (there are pictures showing what I did on the other discussion).  I wanted to express my extreme satisfaction in the results I am getting.  Over the last few days of practice I am amazed at the sound quality of the modeling. (greatly improved I think from the lack of sound artifacts being modeled along with what I was playing).  Also the quality of the alternative tunings I used to never use the 12 string models cause I thought they sounded terrible at times especially tuned down.  Now they sound phenomenal no warble sounds, just true to what I was playing.  I am not kidding I sat for about an hour going through the different models and tunings amazed at how great they sounded.  ( the last time I was ever impressed by a piece of gear was about 16 years ago I bought a 5150 combo and fell in love with tube distortion, just loved the sound of it.) made me enjoy playing.  I am hoping that others try this technique and have the same results (Truely I do)..  Thanks for Others in these forums that have always been helpful for me...

The link isn't working for me

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