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mykejb

Current JTV-59 build quality ?

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I've seen various threads about build quality on the Variax being "questionable" at times, and it's a case if "they're great if you get a good one". I'm talking about the affordable Variaxes, not the USA built ones here. 

 

Having said that, I have a 700 from years ago that's still working fine and there was a lot of talk of those being a bit flakey.

 

Is build quality still an issue at all, or are most perfectly ok now with the odd rogue one that slips through QC same as with any other product. I'm thinking of getting the 59 if that makes a difference

 

Mike

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I've had one since 2013 that I bought as 'B stock' and I use it all the time and its great!

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I have not heard much here about build quality problems.  My JTV69S (2012) is flawless in fit and finish.

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My JTV59 looks great and plays beautifully. No issues with it, ever.

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Build quality of the guitar itself is generally not the issue...the electronics on the other hand, can have any number of issues anywhere from day one to never. Mine just started misbehaving after about 3 years of "all good"...see the other thread I started today, re the volume knob.

 

"The more complicated the plumbing, the easier it is to clog the drain."

- Capt. Montgomery Scott ;)

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Have a Tobacco Sun and Cherry Sun, plays great, works great.

Love 'em.

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The build quality of my 59 is at least as good as , if not better than my fender tele

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Because I l-o-o-v-v-e my JTV59 so much just because of the sound versatility, I've pretty much use it now, as my main axe. The other guitars I own are now taking a back seat; they're lucky if they see the light of day at least once a week! The build of the JTV59 (in my opinion) appears and feel of high-quality. I agree too that my concern are the built-in electronics that are contained inside; especially the model selector. So far I haven't a need to change tuning yet. Of all things, the electronics should be able to withstand a nuclear blast as far as I'm concern.

 

But I'm sure that Line6 (with all their products) have tested the quality, workmanship and endurance of the guitar's components. Especially not only Line6, but James Tyler names are riding on the quality of the JTV line. And I'm sure they want to uphold that status of the company that make high-quality state of the art musical instruments.

 

However, in my career, I work in computer technology. Like clockwork, when we order laptops from a major PC manufacturer, out of 1000 computers that we received, at least 5 will have an issue with one of its components (hard drive, motherboard, video, etc.). The all have supposed have had passed quality control and everything. As I see in the forum, the JTV59 may suffer the same fate, due to the mass production aspect of the issue. Hopefully JTV59s is better that 5 out 1000. At least improve the numbers to at least 1 out of 100,000!

 

Again, since the JTVs are man-made, mass produced with somewhat fragile electronics, I've decided (just in case), to be very, very, very selective on when I should enable either the Model or Alt tune knobs now. Since sounding just like the musician on a recording isn't that critical for what I play, I just concentrate on execution of the riffs/licks. I've pretty much created several clean, crunch and several standard modulation effects and wah tones with the mag pickups and only play around with the volume and tone knobs.  I only call up the Model Selector only when needed.

 

With my way of 'stretching' the use of the JTV59 electronics, it should last either mine or the guitar's lifetime. ;)

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I just picked up a used JTV-59 the other day that was made in 2012. Build quality is excellent, and everything works great. I don't know how much use it got up until now, but I will certainly be putting it through its paces. The fretwork and quality/feel is as good as any other ~$1,000 guitar I've played, including my Gibson Les Paul, G&L Legacy, and Schecter Hellraiser, all of which are excellent.

Not too keen on the Variax Standard/Yamaha though. The JTV definitely feels next level, and the Standard is really not THAT much cheaper relative to the price range.

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Well, I have to change my grading from a "5/5" to a "4/5" on this JTV-59. Picked it up used from Guitar Center for $699 a few days ago, haven't had much time to mess with it. It plays pretty good, but I have noticed open chords kept playing out of tune and I had to really relax my grip. Sure enough individual notes were way sharp on an otherwise tuned string. Also I had a bad buzzing on the 9th and 10th frets on the middle strings. Also found the magnetic pickups to be very harsh and muddy.

 

Well, I busted out my tools and got to work. The truss rod was completely loose, no tension. The pickups were way close to the strings, the action was actually pretty good at about 5/64" on the bass side and 4/64" on the treble side. Well it would seem the person before me was trying to put way too much relief into the neck to account for a VERY HIGH 11th fret which was causing the major buzzing. Rocking the frets there were a few that were a tad high, but this one was WAY high.

 

Busted out the wrench and tightened the truss rod, about 1/4 turn after I felt tension. Checked the action, needed to be raised. Played some more and yeah, buzz city in the 9th/10th frets. Busted out my trusty file, ground down the high fret, crowned and polished it, and now no more buzzing. Decreasing the relief in the neck also slightly lowered the strings at the first fret, and now the guitar plays in tune all up and down the neck. Intonation was good, didn't have to change it. String height I had to tweak due to the neck tweaks, but kept it around where it was, felt good. Lowered the pickups and they seem much improved, but still need to tweak the height a bit. They measured at 12.5K neck and 13.5K bridge for anyone interested. I check the fretboard radius, and it came in at 14 inch. The strings at both the bridge and the nut followed the radius perfectly, so no issues there.

 

So any guitar is going to need a setup, doesn't matter if it costs $100 or $5,000, due to player preference. But a $1,000 guitar that was borderline unplayable due to this high of a fret and having to tweak around it is not acceptable. The rest of the quality of the guitar is very good, but I am disappointed to have to put so much work into getting this thing playable. A $200-500 guitar - sure. But a $1,000 guitar? Shouldn't need to be grinding on frets. I have a Korean Schecter Hellraiser that didn't need anything but a few tweaks based on my personal preference, and that's about an $800 guitar. The JTV plays excellent now, just as well as any of my other guitars, but I can see why the person who had it before me traded it in - it was in barely used condition, still had the plastic covering the truss rod and rear control covers. Even had picks, strings, capo, and string winder in the bag. It's obvious they bought it, couldn't get it dialed in properly (can't blame them), and said screw it.

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When you buy a used (maybe abused) guitar you have to expect it to need some  setup work.   But high frets are a mfg problem that should be fixed.  You will love this guitar once you get it dialed in though.

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Well, I have to change my grading from a "5/5" to a "4/5" on this JTV-59. Picked it up used from Guitar Center for $699 a few days ago, haven't had much time to mess with it. It plays pretty good, but I have noticed open chords kept playing out of tune and I had to really relax my grip. Sure enough individual notes were way sharp on an otherwise tuned string. Also I had a bad buzzing on the 9th and 10th frets on the middle strings. Also found the magnetic pickups to be very harsh and muddy.

 

Well, I busted out my tools and got to work. The truss rod was completely loose, no tension. The pickups were way close to the strings, the action was actually pretty good at about 5/64" on the bass side and 4/64" on the treble side. Well it would seem the person before me was trying to put way too much relief into the neck to account for a VERY HIGH 11th fret which was causing the major buzzing. Rocking the frets there were a few that were a tad high, but this one was WAY high.

 

Busted out the wrench and tightened the truss rod, about 1/4 turn after I felt tension. Checked the action, needed to be raised. Played some more and yeah, buzz city in the 9th/10th frets. Busted out my trusty file, ground down the high fret, crowned and polished it, and now no more buzzing. Decreasing the relief in the neck also slightly lowered the strings at the first fret, and now the guitar plays in tune all up and down the neck. Intonation was good, didn't have to change it. String height I had to tweak due to the neck tweaks, but kept it around where it was, felt good. Lowered the pickups and they seem much improved, but still need to tweak the height a bit. They measured at 12.5K neck and 13.5K bridge for anyone interested. I check the fretboard radius, and it came in at 14 inch. The strings at both the bridge and the nut followed the radius perfectly, so no issues there.

 

So any guitar is going to need a setup, doesn't matter if it costs $100 or $5,000, due to player preference. But a $1,000 guitar that was borderline unplayable due to this high of a fret and having to tweak around it is not acceptable. The rest of the quality of the guitar is very good, but I am disappointed to have to put so much work into getting this thing playable. A $200-500 guitar - sure. But a $1,000 guitar?

Don't take any of this as defending crappy workmanship, because I'm not. However...when these things first hit the street, they were $1400. It's been said many times around here that the JTVs are "$700 guitars with $700 worth of fancy electronics". I agree with that assessment. If it weren't for the modeling, I would not spend $1000 on a JTV, never mind $1400. They're decent enough for a Pacific rim import, but nothing spectacular in terms of craftsmanship...which leads me my round about point: Fretwork on assembly line produced guitars mostly sucks. It's just a fact. They're pressed in by some guy who has 200 necks in front of him that he's gotta finish by 5:00pm, so the attention to detail is just about what you'd expect...I've seen it a million times, even on more expensive axes from the more "household name" brands. Should it be this way? No, but it has become par for the course.
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I got a jvt a couple of weeks ago. It drained the battery after five minutes. I sent it back to the dealer and now I have a guitar with very uneven inter-string volume and the piezo on the low e-string giving that string a really bad sound. I have to return this one as well. Seems that electronics could be an issue here. I’m not sure if I dare to buy another one. Line6 are not testing them before shipping.

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They get tested at the distribution hub. The set-up (action, neck relief, etc) can change

with the climate (temp and especially humidity) of the end destination. Since the distribution

hub doesn't know the end destination of the retailer or customer location at the end, they

set-up at their location to specifications. Dialing in the set-up can be done at the end location.

 

Some retailers do added checks, check and adjust set-ups just prior to retail sale.

Check with your local retailer regarding that.

 

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Apparently, the right kind of testing has not been done. Otherwise, How could the first guitar that I got drain the battery in five minutes? And how could the second have a very missounding piezo on the low string? And How could the d-string be approximately 7 dB louder then the a-string? Proper testing should have detect those errors.

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Battery drain, not good. Since you returned it, it will be coming to me soon enough. Thanks.

 

Low string piezo, could be the piezo, could be the string action in the set-up. I would have to have

it on my bench to be certain. There are a number of ways that can occur.

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Ok. But still... If I dare trying a new one it will not be with on-line shopping, that’s for sure. I will try it before buying it. I like the instrument very muchl though, but this is ridiculous. The second one I got had a more thight tremolo arm (no slack as the first one).

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I have 20 guitars. I solely play me JTV59 because it is grand.

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I love my 59. I would put it up against my 95 lp standard any day

 

I also just recently scored a 2nd one on eBay the other day under 4 bills! Hope it arrives as good as the pics looked

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Quality control and build quality are two different things, of course. Judging from the all the positive reviews on JTV-59's (100's all over the internet) I'd say quality control is doing their job.

 

I bought a new Korean "59" in Dec. 2016 and I'd rate it's build quality at 9/10 -- in other words, pretty damn good. A few minor things were off: The selector knob wasn't quite centred; there was a loose nut on the G tuning post; the truss rod cover fit a bit loosely... like I say, all relatively minor stuff. But where it counts everything was perfect: The frets were perfectly spaced and dressed; the neck was straight; the finish was impecable; and all the electronics worked as they should.

 

But don't expect it to play perfectly out of the box. Every guitar needs a proper post purchase setup, which of course has nothing to do with build quality. The first thing I did was change to a set of 12/51 strings (D'Addario Jazz Lights EPN21) and that required a truss rod and bridge adjustment, plus intonation. Also, a couple of nut slots were a bit tight and needed some filing to prevent binding... but that's largely it.

 

My conclusion is JTV-59's play beautifully after a proper setup. I've compared mine to Fenders and Gibsons that cost 5X the price, and as far as playing and sound quality goes... they're on par.

 

So my opinion would be... you can purchase with confidence.

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Reeled in the much newer 59 and so far it seems great.  Maybe a smidgen lighter than the 2013?  Don't have a scale to provide real data, sorry...

 

Some of the knobs slightly different and the neck might not be quite as wide across but perhaps slightly thinner front-to-back?  

 

So far in studio use but tomorrow plan to throw it into regular gig and compare it more thoroughly sound wise to the older brother.  Stay tuned...

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Maidened new JTV59, 2017 last night.  Very happy and sounded nearly identical in almost every regard.  

 

Physically, even though the “knobs†may be slightly different (maybe they’re simply sitting in the body slightly different height?) the actual electronic taper for Volume/Tone seemed very similar to my 2013 JTV59.  

 

Still dialing in mag pickup height but the neck pup may be slightly weaker on this newest JTV59?  But hardly a problem.  Both mags sound quite good which is one of the main reasons I love this model.  

 

I’ll need to do more A/B performances between the two but I really liked and seemed to prefer the active/model sound output of this newer JTV59?  Models seemed identical but something about the entire “active/model†audio output was seemingly nicer, smoother, clearer?  

 

Hard to describe and might be nothing considering I’m recovering from a head cold.  A few more A/B’s between the two guitars in this controlled setting and I’ll have a better understanding/realization…  

 

There’s one small manufacturing issue, the neck is kinda lumpy around the 10-12th fret to the joint.  Rub my hand and look for it, it’s definitely there.  Seems like a little more sanding/filler would’ve taken care of it before finishing.  But for the price and Korean construction, it’s not that big of a big deal.  Does make me kinda yearn for a USA version someday?  

 

Intonation and/or fret placement is very good.  Maybe slight nod here to the newer JTV59 than the 2013 version?  I never suffered the overall bridge misplacement on the 2013 JTV59 as some have reported but I’ve notice some “funny†notes/spots along the fretboard. Even with the best action/intonation setup.  

 

Didn’t notice any funny’s last night and in fact a couple places sounded slightly more in tune than what I’ve been accustomed to hearing for the last couple months in those passages.  

 

 

Remember, I’m splitting hairs here.  Both awesome axes and great values, IMO.  This info seemed to be something worth sharing since I have the opportunity to report observations using a well controlled back-to-back comparison of older/newer JTV59.  

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I’ll need to do more A/B performances between the two but I really liked and seemed to prefer the active/model sound output of this newer JTV59?  Models seemed identical but something about the entire “active/model†audio output was seemingly nicer, smoother, clearer?  

Hi,

 

JTV-59 (probably earlier version) owner. Also have very early production '500' and a 600.

 

I'm not familiar with the term 'active/model' output that you're using here. Can you clarify it for me, please? I find your posts interesting and informative, but can't quite understand what you're getting at with this one.

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Hi,

 

JTV-59 (probably earlier version) owner. Also have very early production '500' and a 600.

 

I'm not familiar with the term 'active/model' output that you're using here. Can you clarify it for me, please? I find your posts interesting and informative, but can't quite understand what you're getting at with this one.

 

In the world of electronics there’s active or passive circuitry.  

 

When Variax is using only Magnetic pickups through the audio output jack it’s in a passive circuit mode.  The mag pickups come through the audio jack even without a battery installed.  Hence “passiveâ€.  

 

When we engage the modeling a battery (or power supply) is required for the circuitry to function.  That’s why it’s called “active†electronics.  

 

What I was saying here is that the newer JTV59 active/model output sounds slightly better, clearer, silkier than the older guitar.  

 

But in magnetic or “passive†mode, I don’t catch much, if any difference.  

 

My guess is that the newer JTV59 output is slightly better spec than the audio output of older guitars.  

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As a (retired) longtime electronics tech/field engineer, I'm very familiar with active vs passive electronics, especially with respect to guitars. I just misunderstood your combination term 'active/model'. If you'd also said 'passive/mag pickups' somewhere, the little light bulb may have gone off over my head.  :lol: My bad, my dumb...

 

At any rate, thanks for clearing my fog, and for taking the time to document your experience.

 

Maybe, while I have your attention, you could comment a bit on your (general) impression of the HD models? It's one of the reasons my JTV sat in its case for so long -- I was expecting, perhaps, too much and found that I much preferred the non-HD models, and those on my 500, in particular. I'll look through the forum to see if you've weighed in on this before...

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As a (retired) longtime electronics tech/field engineer, I'm very familiar with active vs passive electronics, especially with respect to guitars. I just misunderstood your combination term 'active/model'. If you'd also said 'passive/mag pickups' somewhere, the little light bulb may have gone off over my head.  :lol: My bad, my dumb...

 

At any rate, thanks for clearing my fog, and for taking the time to document your experience.

 

Maybe, while I have your attention, you could comment a bit on your (general) impression of the HD models? It's one of the reasons my JTV sat in its case for so long -- I was expecting, perhaps, too much and found that I much preferred the non-HD models, and those on my 500, in particular. I'll look through the forum to see if you've weighed in on this before...

 

Without getting too crazy OT I can quickly comment that in general I think the HD models to be very good sounding and quite useful to me.  Are they the same as the older 500?  Nope, they’re their own sounds.  

 

For example, the 500 Special bridge is/was one of my goto favorites for hot rod picking.  For whatever reasons, the HD Special bridge is of course similar, but it’s just not the same.  

 

OTOH, another model I think was always lacking in 500 (basically all the pre-magnetic pup Variax) - Spank modeling.  Just never hit the spot for me even after tweaking and boosting the model levels.  

 

Now the Spank HD?  Swap the body for Masonite plank and WHOA, that’s a nice and especially useful Strat 2/4 sound, IMO.  

 

A lot of this may be linked to our hearing and experiences?  We’ve listened to, cranked up and gone to battle with the older models for so long, I think we’re just more comfortable processing them in our various applications?  There’s some good ones no doubt and I’ll never get rid of my 2qty 500’s.  Still very useful guitars.  

 

But the HD models are also very useful and for me the addition of GOOD sounding mag pup’s makes for an even better overall guitar experience.  Now we don’t have to rely solely on the modeling.  Kinda helps my brain to stay “rooted†in the good old ways and use modeling “magic†for places where makes the most sense.  

 

JTV59’s Mags plus all of the great models is a beast.  I find myself switching from the LP type Mags over to Spank 2/4.  Funny to hear a nice 2/4 position "boink" coming from an LP type guitar?  Plus, all the other stuff that's available.  Oh, one nice HD thing is for adding 12 string to basically any body/pups.  I think the defaults are a little "strong" but backing off a little of the "tuning spread" and 12 string models generally do it for me.  

 

Although now that I’m swimming in 2qty HD’s I’ll relegate one of the old 500’s to full-time Resonator/Dobro lap style playing.  Nice tall bone nut and raise the bridge (being careful with the old wiring, of course)  Might even put a fake metal pan somewhere under the strings?  LOL...

 

But 500 resonator models sound really good and since old Workbench still plunks along I’ve managed to cook up many different tunings out of a base D blues.  Got minor/major coupled with slight of hand from the selector switch or XT Live foot selection, look out - they sound like fancy bar slanting!  LOL….

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i bought mine a year ago as a new "b" stock, never could figure out what the defect was -- was pretty perfect out of the box, certainly the fretwork was excellent -- i do my own setups, i was thrown off at first with the truss rod until i realized it was dual-action, with a "neutral" point, but once i realized that, just the slightest tweaking got what i wanted -- i sometimes compare it to other, good, guitars, it always blows them away, tone-wise, and we're talking the pickups alone, no modelling -- i often find myself looking down to see if i bumped the modelling knob and put myself in tele mode, but no, its the stock pickups(you'll see my other post where i'm looking for a spare set of these for another project) -- i agree with another poster that i actually use the modelling knob as little as possible, to increase its life span -- have had occassional problem with the 3 way selector, on pickups mode, not engaging bridge pup, so i may buy a spare switch for the future -- and finally, i find the high "e" a bit closer to the edge of the fb -- in fact, in comparison with my lp, i find the fb at the nut to be the same width, but the nut slot spacing is wider than standard(based on tusq pre-slotted dimensions) -- mostly no problem, and does give me more room for my fat fingertips, but have had a few embarrassing rolling off the string events

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Bought a JTV-59 yesterday, with serial number W1607...   So, June 2016 build.  

 

Pickup Selector switch does not change the Variax models.  

 

Alt Tuning does switch between model banks, as does the model switch changing major model groups.

All this shows on Workbench software, that the Pickup Selector Switch is stuck on position 1

 

Works fine in non variax mode switch between the magnetic pickups.

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Tremolo arm,... something other than a 59.

 

Now I gave 59 try. Seems to be a crappy piezo on the 6th string on this one as well. They can't be properly tested before the leave the factory. Or am I beeing picky?

 

Soundsample here: www.nutrition.se/reklamation59.mp3. First part is with "spank". The second with "lester".

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Now I gave 59 try. Seems to be a crappy piezo on the 6th string on this one as well. They can't be properly tested before the leave the factory. Or am I beeing picky?

 

Soundsample here: www.nutrition.se/reklamation59.mp3. First part is with "spank". The second with "lester".

"Piezo plink" is a well known problem, yet seemingly poorly understood, as evidenced by the official declaration from the powers that be that they would no longer be devoting much (if any) resources towards finding a solution. In essence,

some guitars will do it and others won't, and it's not necessarily the same cause each time, making a universal "fix" elusive. There are numerous other factors which will contribute to whether or not you have this problem...high gain tones often being a major factor. In other words, if you've got it, you're probably stuck with it. Anecdotal evidence of one fix or another abound in throughout a zillion other threads around here. Everything from switching to a heavier gauge string to dampening various sources of sympathetic vibration have been touted as "solutions". Might work for you, might not...

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