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I've been considering selling my 74 Strat and getting a Variax.  The ability to play clean electric tones up through heavy overdrive, plus an "authentic" electric 12 string would be fantastic.  I noticed a black JTV 59 James Tyler on Reverb.com for about $700.

 

My other guitar is a Carvin AE185 hybrid so I can already cover a lot of ground.  The strat has a new neck/frets/locking tuners and 3 of the Gold Lace Sensor pickups and covers a lot of ground through my POD HD500x.  ( I did keep the original strat neck and pickups )

Playing almost exclusively contemporary praise music in church, direct to mixer.

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I have a JTV-59 and I love it. Just be aware that the neck is a Gibson style neck and will take some getting used to if you typically play the thinner strat-type neck. Also the frets installed with a JTV-59 are jumbo size. I replaced mine with standard size.

 

Going with a Variax is an excellent choice. But if possible I suggest you play both a 59 and a 69 before purchasing to determine which style you prefer.

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Personally, I wouldn't part with a good Strat to get a Variax...and I like my JTV. Some folks don't take to the Variax all that well...no way to know until you've messed with it for a while. If you decide is not for you, then you're out a Strat too. Save up the $700, then experiment.

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Great thoughts, thanks.  The strat's neck is now a Warmoth variable radius and I do like it.  I think the frets are medium jumbo stainless.  Guess I'll have to see if Guitar Center or anywhere else close has one I can try.  Somebody mentioned palm-muting could be different than what you're used to.  How are the tuners that come with it.  If not stable on tuning or not locking tuners, I'd probably upgrade them.

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As others say: try both.

If you are a strat guy, also check out the JTV-69 as well. Be aware of that a lot of the "complaint" of the 69 is the neck, and are easily changed. You already have the Warmoth neck and the original Strat neck which should be "plug & play" (in the neck switch world that is)

 

Tuners (on the Korean) are ok, but what you really should do is to buy the Hipshot tuners for about 50$. This is the ones which are on the US Custom version also.

 

You should be able to get JTV's (both the 59 and 69) for 550-700$ from Sweetwater and Musicians Friend etc.

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I need to play one first which means seeing if the local Guitar Center carries them.  I'm leaning towards the 59 since I've never owned anything like a Les Paul.  Tell me I'm crazy but I want one in black.

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I had to drive 250 miles to find a GC who actually stocked Line6 instruments.  And even there, they were tucked into a dusty corner and had corroded strings.  With this type of support from their "dealer network" (and I use the term loosely) they should give some thought to doing a Carvin and selling the instruments directly to consumers.

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I play on JTV-59 and Stratocaster. Most of the songs I play on JTV-59, it's a good guitar, but ...
If for some reason I take to performances only one guitar, I always will choose the Stratocaster.

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I have both the 59 & 69S - love them both, but each has its own personality.

 

I've been a Fender guy since the early 1970's. My first was the Tele Deluxe in '73, then in the 80's, I got a late 70's Strat and used that for gigging. If you have a guitar you love NEVER give it up for another, you'll regret it. I sold a '66 Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman when I bought the Strat because I felt guilty getting another guitar. You get over it.... I got that Country Gent back about 2 years ago, after over 25 years from the band mate I sold it to -- it was a "bucket list" thing for me, and I'm glad I could get it back....

 

Anyway back to topic. I bought the 59 first in 2011 after ordering it in late 2010. I didn't care for the "super strat" HSS pickup arrangement of the 69, but when they came out with the 69S - SSS PU arrangement, I bought my shoreline gold 69S in late 2012. They are BOTH really good guitars, and both sound really good, but I gotta say that I gravitate more to my 69S for a nights' gig. It's just more in my comfort zone of sound, again, being a Fender guy for so long. My tobacco sunburst 59 is very pretty, though. I carry 2 so I can choose either and have the same models in case of a broken string, etc.

 

I know there's a lot of folks that changed their 69's necks, but I never had a problem with mine, so never felt the need to do it.

 

About finding them in a guitar shop, I've only seen the JTV's in my local Guitar Center a few times, and usually only one at a time, so not a high likelihood of being able to compare one to another. Last fall, I was in the Minneapolis area (much larger metro area than where I live), and stopped by a GC up there. They had 1 JTV-69 and a couple of Variax Standards - think that was the most I'd seen in one place at the same time. I'm not a fan of the Standard, just doesn't look "right" to my Strat sensibilities, so take that for what it's worth (just my opinion, so not much ;)) Each to their own.

 

I also use the magnetic pickups for 80 - 90% of my playing, and use the models for specific sounds. like acoustics and tune shifted songs, Drop-D and Drop-Db, etc. The 59 pickups are fine, though some people change those to their favorite HB. The 69S PU's sound fine, but I was used to noise-free, and was re-introduced to the noise level I had with my Strat. After about 3 months, I changed the 69S PU's to some DiMarzio noiseless single coils (the Paul Gilbert set), and they are now even quieter than my 59's HB's - love them... I have 9 electric guitars now, including my 2 JTV's and a Variax 300 I bought in 2005 that set me along this current path of JTV's and various incarnations of POD floor units, and now the Helix for the VDI connection to power and switch the Variaxes, so it's a slippery slope... Enjoy the slide...

 

Dave

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Awesome responses. If this forum was populated with kids I wouldn't be getting this kind of feedback. My wife is a tight wad so to keep things pleasant I suspect the carvin ae185 may have to go. Honestly I'm thinking it's mainly the 6 and 12 string acoustic tones I'd use on a variax. Don't do alternate tunings. What could you do with a variax when the song is in Eb?

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What could you do with a variax when the song is in Eb?

 

Crank pitch shift down 1/2-step and you're set.

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I wouldn't use a pitch shift FX in a preset. I would just turn the Variax Alt Tuning knob to the "1/2 Down' setting and play in E. Takes less than half a second, and no actual string tuning required.

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I have a black 59 and it has replaced my fender telecaster as my main guitar. It plays better than any guitar I've played and that claim is backed up by my dad who has played guitar for 50 years (used to be in a band with John bonham before led zep)

 

The only negative is tuners, it's stable enough tuning wise but a half turn can move you half a note , so you need to be light fingered with it while tuning up

 

I noodle for hours with the acoustics and resonator models, the les paul sounds great for my solos and the tele sounds pretty close to my real tele

 

It can take a bit of time with the software to level up the guitars and strings , my E A D were much louder than the other strings when I first used it so I had to turn them all down a bit

 

I kept my fender telecaster and to be honest I'm glad that I did, although it doesn't get much use its my only other guitar and should I ever get a problem with the jtv I'm gonna need it.

I scraped together a few hundred quid and had the rest on interest free finance over 9 months (a deal pretty much available at every music store in the uk) it costs about £30 a month for the 9 months and I keep the tele

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I use the pitch shift in presets for certain songs - then title the preset the song name. I had used the shift dials on the JTV's then forget it was set that way for the next song, kind of embarrassing.... When I hit the song, I hit the shifted preset, then on to the next song with a different preset, and don't have to worry. I have songs I have presets for D (down a full step), Drop D, Drop Db for both the banjo and distortion guitar in the same song. Used to have a couple in Eb, but don't do those songs anymore in our sets... All in how your work flow works for you, individually. Before the JTV's, I had to set up special Variax pitch shifted presets on my 300's Custom positions, then have the preset on the XTLive, or X3Live choose those Variax presets. With the JTV's and the HD500(X), life got a lot easier, and now the Helix is doing the same.

 

Dave

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I need to play one first which means seeing if the local Guitar Center carries them.

Good luck. I'm 10 minutes from a large GC, and 2 Sam Ash locations...never seen a Variax at any of them.

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I couldn't find one to try within easy driving distance in the uk either, and it's amazed me how many musicians I've bumped into who have no idea what I'm using, fortunately the online retailer I bought from (Andertons ) offer a 30 day money back trial and free postage both ways

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I'm becoming more convinced.  With 2 electric and 1 acoustic guitar in our church band, we have to work at separating parts so we don't have a big wall of low mid-range sound ( band also has digital piano, keys, acoustic drums, bass guitar and vocalists ).

 

So sometimes I'll use a capo to get away from what the acoustic guitar is doing, sometimes I use it to avoid a key I don't like.

The variax definitely opens up possibilities there.   I already have the 500x POD and love it.

 

Sounding like I'm going to have make this purchase without handling one.  I may start with Reverb.com and Ebay, looking for a clean used model.

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...

 

Sounding like I'm going to have make this purchase without handling one. ..

I had to do that too, but I was very familiar with the Gibson-style neck and I knew I was likely going to have to replace the frets, which I was prepared to do. If either of these things concern you try to get a reasonable full-refund return period if possible.

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I could play a friend's Les Paul if you're saying that is the type of neck the 59 would have might feel significantly different than my Warmoth strat neck or Carvin AE185 neck.

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I wouldn't use a pitch shift FX in a preset. I would just turn the Variax Alt Tuning knob to the "1/2 Down' setting and play in E. Takes less than half a second, and no actual string tuning required.

 

That's exactly what I was referring to.  How is Variax tuning not a pitch shift?

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Sorry - I thought you meant a pitch shift FX in a Helix/POD preset. No offense intended. Just my confusion in terminology.

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I'm curious why I see JTV59's new anywhere from $900 to over $1500  ?   I may buy used anyway but assuming there are different options on tuners, pickups etc that account for the new price differences.

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Yes, strange isnt'it? The only difference is actually the sellers markup...

A JTV59 dont have any others options than the colour. (I'm talking about the Korean model, not the US Custom model which runs at >3000$)

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BTW, you should be able to get down to around 700-800$ with some coupons or so with the dealers. I've been down to 550$ for a 69.

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Now a slightly different angle: what does the combination of jtv59 and HD500x bring to the table.  pedals/switches on the POD reducing knob fiddling on the guitar.  Connection type/cable from pod to guitar -- does one take battery life out of the equation?

 

What can you do with the two custom knob positions on the JTV? 

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They are £630 brand new at every music store in the uk, which is just an insane price for the high quality of the instrument, I'd have to spend £1000 to get something that competes with it (and that would be without the modelling, and I can't remember the last time I used the mag pickups , even though they sound great too)

I did a lot of reading up before I bought it and I read a lot of stuff about problems with plinking noises, switches not activating etc so that kind of put me off getting a used one just in case I got a dud, get one locally if you can so you could maybe try it out when you go to collect

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Now a slightly different angle: what does the combination of jtv59 and HD500x bring to the table.  pedals/switches on the POD reducing knob fiddling on the guitar.  Connection type/cable from pod to guitar -- does one take battery life out of the equation?

 

What can you do with the two custom knob positions on the JTV? 

A lot  :wub:  

Look through all of Sean Halleys videos on youtube for the different possibilities

 

A brief summary: in a patch, you can store the tuning of the guitar, which guitar and pickup and you can have both magnetic pickups and modeled at the same time (acoustic and electric at the same time is a blast). Or you can have your magnetic pickup going into a Marshall and a Strat going into a Fender. 

You have to use the VDI cable for this, it will also power the guitar. 

 

Custom positions - you can save different guitars here. You have 10 "slots" in total. 

You can also alter the different other original patches. Look up " Variax Workbench" on youtube or here.

BTW, if you buy it second hand, make sure the workbench thingy is coming with the guitar. You can buy it separately for aprox 100 $/€/£

It should also be a battery and a charger for the battery.

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I see the Workbench HD software available on the Line 6 site, apparently free:
Workbench HD  Version 2.12 Released 2/18/15 Works with: James Tyler Variax

POD HD Pro POD HD Pro X  POD HD500 POD HD500X Variax USB Interface Adds support for Variax Standard

OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10
( 20.50 MB ) GET DOWNLOAD

A lot  :wub:  

Look through all of Sean Halleys videos on youtube for the different possibilities

 

A brief summary: in a patch, you can store the tuning of the guitar, which guitar and pickup and you can have both magnetic pickups and modeled at the same time (acoustic and electric at the same time is a blast). Or you can have your magnetic pickup going into a Marshall and a Strat going into a Fender. 

You have to use the VDI cable for this, it will also power the guitar. 

 

Custom positions - you can save different guitars here. You have 10 "slots" in total. 

You can also alter the different other original patches. Look up " Variax Workbench" on youtube or here.

BTW, if you buy it second hand, make sure the workbench thingy is coming with the guitar. You can buy it separately for aprox 100 $/€/£

It should also be a battery and a charger for the battery.

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Yes, free - or rather, included in the price of a Variax guitar.

 

Workbench HD works with Variax JTV and Standard guitars. If you don't have one of the listed POD devices you will need the Variax USB Interface hardware to connect the Variax to your computer running Workbench HD. The interface device should also be included with the guitar purchase.

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I have the POD HD500x and use an Alto powered speaker at home.  Direct to PA elsewhere.

 

Yes, free - or rather, included in the price of a Variax guitar.

Workbench HD works with Variax JTV and Standard guitars. If you don't have one of the listed POD devices you will need the Variax USB Interface hardware to connect the Variax to your computer running Workbench HD. The interface device should also be included with the guitar purchase.

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Make sure the USB interface is included. It sometimes gets left behind in the return of used Variaxes. Even if you don't need it you will want it for potential resale.

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I think I'm really going to at least get my hands on a friend's Les Paul first as some are saying after going from a strat, the neck on the 59 was just too thick.

My strat has a Warmoth vintage/modern neck.  I'm not sure how my Carvin's neck measures up to a JTV 59

 

Standard Features on  Warmoth Vintage/Modern Construction Necks
USA Fender® vintage/original Strat® Heel Shape & dimensions1" Thick 1 Piece OR 2 Piece Neck with fretboard .2" (5mm) thick fretboardVintage single truss rodWalnut skunk stripe and walnut plug at the peghead

10"-16" compound radius fretboard

25 1/2" Scale        Flat bottom nut slotCream or black phenolic face dotsPredrilled Neck Mounting Holes

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I think I'm really going to at least get my hands on a friend's Les Paul first as some are saying after going from a strat, the neck on the 59 was just too thick.

My strat has a Warmoth vintage/modern neck. I'm not sure how my Carvin's neck measures up to a JTV 59

 

Standard Features on Warmoth Vintage/Modern Construction Necks

USA Fender® vintage/original Strat® Heel Shape & dimensions1" Thick 1 Piece OR 2 Piece Neck with fretboard .2" (5mm) thick fretboardVintage single truss rodWalnut skunk stripe and walnut plug at the peghead

10"-16" compound radius fretboard

25 1/2" Scale Flat bottom nut slotCream or black phenolic face dotsPredrilled Neck Mounting Holes

Scale length is another thing to consider...I can't find it here on the site anywhere, but I think the 59 has a shorter scale length than the Strat that you're used to. That may or may not matter to you, but it's the reason I don't own a LP. I could never get comfy on the shorter scale. If you're a Strat guy, I'd look seriously at the 69 instead. The modeling is all the same. Comfort is everything if you're gonna like any guitar.

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I rarely play above the 12th fret.   Some say once they play the thicker neck for a while, they love it.  Since I already own a nice strat, and I really, really like the look of the 59, I'm still stuck on that. Guitar Center has a used one for about $600 with 45 day money back trial period.   Still trying to check in with friends who have both strats and LPs.  May go to the store and play a LP since that may be as close to the jtv59 as I'm going to find available.

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I see Line 6 sells a 25 foot VDI cable which I presume you could gig with in place of a regular cable.  I'm leaning towards buying  the jtv59 new since the price difference isn't huge   (  ~ $600 used vs  $999 new ).  I'd want a hard shell case also.

 

Guitar Center mentioned a 45-day money back on the used one I considered.  I'd assume something similar when buying new from any sort of store or major online retailer.

 

Looks like Amazon has this same cable for $30

http://store.line6.com/accessories/cables/variax-digital-cable.html

A lot  :wub:  

Look through all of Sean Halleys videos on youtube for the different possibilities

 

A brief summary: in a patch, you can store the tuning of the guitar, which guitar and pickup and you can have both magnetic pickups and modeled at the same time (acoustic and electric at the same time is a blast). Or you can have your magnetic pickup going into a Marshall and a Strat going into a Fender. 

You have to use the VDI cable for this, it will also power the guitar. 

 

Custom positions - you can save different guitars here. You have 10 "slots" in total. 

You can also alter the different other original patches. Look up " Variax Workbench" on youtube or here.

BTW, if you buy it second hand, make sure the workbench thingy is coming with the guitar. You can buy it separately for aprox 100 $/€/£

It should also be a battery and a charger for the battery.

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I do not like the Line6 VDI cable.  I got mine from Best-Tronics MFG.   btpa.com part number 98-030-004-XXX   These cables are great.

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