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regalpierot

Good people of Variax ownership

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So, I've never really considered a Variax before. To be honest I always thought they were a bit Fugly, but in retrospect I think all I'd ever seen was the original ones pre JTV (which to be honest always had a look of starter guitar that you'd get in Target).

 

Being a Helix owner now though turned me on to doing a bit of investigating around the whole VDI input and to be fair of all the new HD Variax models I think the jtv-59 looks super nice and I'm pretty astounded by some of the demos I have heard especially around the acoustic models. The integration with Helix and being able to tie models and tunings in to a preset is obviously an amazing bonus. In typical fashion though GuitarCenter doesn't have any Variax at all on hand to try out so asking the folks on here for opinion

 

- To all variax owners. How do you like the guitar, and I guess the integration with Helix. I'm still a bot confused about when people mention blending the VDI and regular signal from the magnetic pickups. Are you running one of those Cat5 type cables AND a regular 1\4 inch guitar cable to out of the guitar and into the helix?

 

- To just jtv-59 users. How do you find the playability. It's a very subjective matter I know but this is my main concern, some folks online say it feels like a beautiful guitar and neck to play whilst others seem to say it is almost unplayable.

 

Thanks so much in advance, all opinions welcome.

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I love my JTV-59 it fits my hands perfect. I have always preferred Les Paul and SG guitars and the JTV-59 neck feels like Gibson 60s neck to me.

 

Even if using the VDI cable with the Helix you can run both the Magnetic pickups and the JTV modeled guitars at the same time or set them up on separate signal chains and switch back and forth (you won;t need a separate 1/4 inch connection).

 

-Max

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In typical fashion though GuitarCenter doesn't have any Variax at all on...

That's usually the case. I'm still waiting for my first retail Variax sighting. Most of the time you're stuck buying online. Find a place with a liberal return policy in case you don't like it. Sweetwater is good that way.

 

- To just jtv-59 users. How do you find the playability. It's a very subjective matter I know but this is my main concern, some folks online say it feels like a beautiful guitar and neck to play whilst others seem to say it is almost unplayable.

 

Thanks so much in advance, all opinions welcome.

As you said, the necks are entirely subjective. The 59's are generally described as being "chunky". I hated the neck on my 69...fortunately, Strat necks are a drop-in replacement, so that was easily remedied with a Warmoth neck.

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I have both a 69 and a Std - that alone should say something, it's become a go-to for the variety band I work with.   The ability to switch between acoustic/electric/dobro/banjo on the fly is a godsend in that environment, as is the special tunings capability. 

 

Now - studio recording of an acoustic?  I'm still throwing my Samson ribbon in front of my Takamine - but for live use the acoustic models hold their own against most any piezo'd acoustics. I'm not one of the "purists" who niggle about the accuracy of the Strat/Paul/Tele/etc models - to me they are just different "in the ballpark" flavors that you'd otherwise have to cart a metric lollipop-load of guitars around to have available.  ( I actually typed "lollipop" - yielded to the censor long ago...)  Note my signature line - the Variax is a dancing bear.

 

I have yet to integrate w/Helix - never did w/HD500 - just 'cuz I luvs me my wireless.  But I have another project in the works where I will be doing so - and have no qualms or doubts about doing so, it's very transparent to do.  And there's a hint that L6 may be whipping up some enhancements for the Helix as regards Variax i.e."fx blocks" that could provide "in-patch" control.  Cool if it happens.....

 

VDI + mags is integrated in the VDI spec - just the one cable carries both signals.

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In typical fashion though GuitarCenter doesn't have any Variax at all on hand to try out

Oddly I got both of mine off the shelf at local GC's (Phoenix area) - used to work in MI retail so I understand the "you stock what you sell" mentality, but still - you're gonna sell more of something if people can put their hands on it.

 

I get that the mom-and-pops can't speculate on these marginal items - but GC is the 800lb gorilla and should be willing to keep these available, at least 1 or 2 in any given market.  Baffles me....

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I own a 300 electric and four JTV's, (2) 69's and (2) 59's. Being something of a Gibson

kind of guy, I love my 59's. Run them thru GX, UX1 or UX2 interface, or an X3 Live.

 

Not a good idea to run VDI and 1/4" at the same time, it's not designed for that kind of current draw.

I'm also the guy at Line 6 who works on JTV's, so I know.

 

The other thing is, if you try running magnetics while in Alt Tune,... one will be in alternate tunings and

the magnetics won't be. Use Workbench HD to customize Model patches.

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I personally get along better with strat-style guitars because of the way they balance on me and I prefer unfinished necks.  That being said I still like the JTV59 better than the rest of the Variax.  It's neck is thinner than the JTV69, but not super shredder-thin and flat like the JTV89.  It's got some meat on it, but it is comfortable.  Definitely more along the lines of a Gibson 60's neck than a 50's as maxnew40 mentioned.  Plus I like the sound of mahogany (I think it makes a difference for both the magnetics and the piezo pickups).  

 

I also think another benefit of the JTV59 is the shorter scale length.  Bigger strings really do make a difference with the piezo pickups.  And I can still play comfortably with a little less string tension. And as with any instrument, especially ones on the wall at most music store, a good set up goes a long way for play-ability.

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I play a Variax Standard, which is basically a Yamaha Pacific with Variax innards. It'll never replace my US Stratford, but it's so versatile to be able to use one guitar for both electric and acoustic sounds. Setting the Variax pickups and magnetics on separate paths giving latency free switching from acoustic 12 string to a Les Paul through a Marshall is great

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Thanks all so much for taking the time to respond. Super useful information. Think I will have to 'buy n try'. I've been doing a good bit in a covers bad of late and as someone else said the switching to acoustic etc in between songs is getting painful, especially when they throw together set lists without guitar changes in mind (the cheek huh).

 

And I too fall into the category on not being a purist on what guitar was used in a song as long as the tone fit and the playing of course was done well.

 

My only hesitation is these guitars have been around a few years, be my luck to buy one just as Line 6 announce the next generation of Variax release :rolleyes:

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Sorry, follow up Q as I'm dangerously close to just grabbing one. In looking on Sweetwater though they have that Workbench Application listed as a separate application for $100. Am I missing something or do you truly have to spring another $100 for the software that allows you to build additional tones....really thought it was a given that that came with the guitar.

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It comes with the guitar, at least with the JTVs. I'm not sure about the Variax Standard models.

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The Variax plays well as long a it has a decent set-up on it. Sometimes when you buy something off the floor, it's just been sitting there with no TLC. This can make any guitar feel funky. Especially if the strings are old. If you connect the Variax to the Variax input of Heix, they will communicate great with each other. You can set the Helix to tell the Variax to automatically go to a tuning that you programmed into that particular preset.

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Workbench software is free - if you have the USB interface.  This interface comes with every JTV and Standard when purchased new.

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I've been doing a good bit in a covers bad of late and as someone else said the switching to acoustic etc in between songs is getting painful, especially when they throw together set lists without guitar changes in mind (the cheek huh).

 

This is why you can never allow singers, or (God forbid) drummers, to make decisions. ;)

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I have the JTV89F and as with the other Variax's it's great with the Helix. I was in a cover band too and it was fun to see some of the looks on people's faces when they'd hear acoustics and "strats" coming out of what looks like a metal guitar. To me this guitar is the DO-ALL of all of them since it has a whammy bar if needed and can still do all the same models of guitars as the other ones (and vice-versa).

 

It's neck is not nearly as flat and wide as an Ibanez.. I almost didn't get it because I was afraid of how wide it might be. It's not really flat at all either. More strat-like if anything.

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Gibsons generally either have a thin neck (like a modern Strat almost) or a thicker rounded neck.  The JTV '59 has the rounded neck.  Very nice, but just so you know.

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I have a 59(and a 69). Both have been flawless for years, and integrate with the Helix extremely well. I have big hands(unlike some :D) and find the necks very comfortable. The shape is different than my Fender and Gibson guitars, but I got comfortable with them in no time.

 

The ability to change guitars and amps with a single footswitch is a godsend to a cover band player like me. As mentioned before, you can determine if you want to send both the mag and modeled pickups to the Helix in the input stage of the Helix.

 

Like any mid range guitar, having a setup by a pro, maybe a bit of fretwork with increase the playability to match just about anything out there because the design of the guitars is good out of the box.

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I have a JTV-69 that I use with Helix and previously with HD500. Assuming you like the guitar, one of the best things about the combination of Variax and Helix is simply that the Helix powers the Variax over the VDI cable so that you never have to think about charging the Variax battery.

 

Overall, I like the JTV-69 and use it as my only guitar live and in rehearsal in my busiest band. (In another band I use a Lone Star Strat and a Les Paul Special tuned open-G through a Marshall tube combo, keepin' it real!) I like the ease of switching models and tunings, and the access to Tele, Strat, Les Paul, ES-335, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, acoustic, and acoustic 12-string models. I keep alternately-tuned models as custom selections so that I don't have to mess with the tuning dial, which is difficult to see and takes too long to flip through all the tunings to get to the one you want. I don't use the magnetic pickups, but I have by accident and they sound fine to me. Having no hum with the single-coil models is a dream come true!

 

There are some things that I don't like about the JTV-69, but they aren't deal breakers for me:

- The nut has the high E string slot cut a bit too close to the edge of the frets.

- The neck is a bit fatter (front-to-back) than I'd like.

- The Line 6 VDI cable is stiff and gets in the way, except under the hot sun.

 
I really like the easy switching among different guitar models, but an unexpected drawback is that they all feel like the same guitar. I miss how a Les Paul feels different from a Strat, and how an acoustic feels different from an electric. I miss feeling different gauges of strings and a hard-tail versus a whammy.
 
I've tested integrations like Helix presets selecting Variax models or tunings, and Variax knobs controlling Helix model settings, but I don't really find these necessary for how I play gigs.
 
I used the Workbench software to create a couple of custom models approximating a Keith Richards Tele and an Eddie Van Halen Strat. It was easy to use and did
the job.
 
Audition a Variax Standard, and if it feels good, go for it! Otherwise, try the stock JTV models. If you are still not happy, you might want to get a JTV-69 and replace the neck with something that feels good to you.

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I use my JTV-69 often. Its one of my go-to's when Im in a hurry for quick change ups.

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The JTV 69s is great for me and it's nice to flip a switch and have new sound. The best think for me with Helix is the ability in Helix to assign the tone pot on variax to control the volume. in Helix I place volume pedal at the end of the chain. I can now easily turn my overall volume up or down without using foot pedal. I,m a volume nut and like to blend my stage volume with the drums and other musicians , so this is great for me, but you can assign anything you want and control it from either volume or tone port on the variax. I use a stagesource powered speakers for my PA and my Helix.

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Went to look and see what was the 69 and this video was at the bottom the dude is fantastic.... I too have been contemplating a JTV I like how the standard sunburst looks the best but after reading what was said about the 89 I want to do a little more searching on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh yea I'm sold!!!

 

Is the 89 the one with the thin neck? I started out playing chunky necks and like them till I got my JP15. It has a very thin neck and I'm finding I like it a lot.

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Is the 89 the one with the thin neck? I started out playing chunky necks and like them till I got my JP15. It has a very thin neck and I'm finding I like it a lot.

That's what caught my eye.....

 

but not super shredder-thin and flat like the JTV89. 

 

and that's what I like. I can't stand those fat LP necks, they do sound good though.

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It looks like the 89 has jumbo frets. I gave up on jumbo's. I'll be watching for a 69 with the HB in the bridge, and possibly swapping in a Warmouth neck, since I'm partial to maple and SS frets. 

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Why do some 69's have three knobs in a row and some have four knobs, two and two? Is the three knob an older model?

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The fourth knob is above the neck pickup.

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Why do some 69's have three knobs in a row and some have four knobs, two and two? Is the three knob an older model?

Every 69 I've seen has 3 knobs: volume, tone, and model-select, plus the alt tuning "wheel" above the neck pickup...not really a "knob" in the traditional sense.

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So is the standard different from a 69? I see them with four knobs and they look like a 69, so maybe (more than likely) I'm confused.

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So is the standard different from a 69? I see them with four knobs and they look like a 69, so maybe (more than likely) I'm confused.

Yes. The Standard is not a 69. It's basically a Yamaha Pacifica with Variax guts..."official" proclamations to the contrary notwithstanding. They wanted a Variax at a lower price-point than the JTVs, and this is it.

 

Never seen a Standard in person, but I'm guessing the 4th knob is for the alt tunings (like the "wheel" on the 69 that I mentioned).

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Had a Variax 600 back in the day.  No pickups, so comment at audition was that the guitar looked weird.  Electric 12 model, and bit of distrortion for REM song sorted that opinion.  I did back away, but only because I started to get paranoid about starting that searing guitar solo with a banjo model by mistake...  Been intrigued by JTVs for a while.

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I did back away, but only because I started to get paranoid about starting that searing guitar solo with a banjo model by mistake...

Lol...yeah, expecting "The Song Remains The Same" and hearing "Deliverance" instead would be quite a Spinal Tap moment. ;) You'd laugh at it later, though...

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Lol...yeah, expecting "The Song Remains The Same" and hearing "Deliverance" instead would be quite a Spinal Tap moment. ;) You'd laugh at it later, though...

With my JP15, I have a piezo, so I can do an acoustic intro, then switch to magnetic pups with a toggle switch. I'm assuming with a Variax going into a Helix, I'll need to rotate the small knob to make the same change. Or with the Helix, is it possible to relegate that to a foot switch?

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There are several ways to do this with a Variax (JTV or Standard) and Helix. You can do it with a footswitch (new patch or same patch), with a pedal sweep (blending the two tones within the same patch), or with the Model Select knob on the Variax (and perhaps a footswitch simultaneously).

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