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Jtv-89f First Impressions

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I just wanted to share some initial thoughts about my JTV-89F to those who already own one or those who might want to buy one.


2 weeks ago I received my JTV-89F in black and I've waited for it for 5 months. I've been playing it almost everyday since I received it. When I bought it I was looking for convenience and versatility as I play a lot of different genres and tuning. I play my guitars through my Fender Mustang III and guitar Rig 5 and I play everything form Buddy Holly, Clapton, Led Zappelin, Tears for fears, U2 to Zakk Wylde, Jason Becker or Dream Theater. I have a Gibson Les Paul Studio 2013 so most of my comparison is done based on this guitar.


I will not extend too much just a brief recap of the guitar and the modeling sounds.


The guitar itself seems a quality guitar compared to any Ibanez of LTD of a $800 range, there were a few flaws in the head stock painting, the black painting was over the maple sides, just a bit but it should have not happened.


The graphtech bridge is well made keeps the guitar in tune if you know how to use it correctly. The guitar came with a good set up, about 3/64 of an inch in the low strings and there was minimal buzz in the 5th and 6th strings (also intonation was perfect), I don't like it that low any way so I raised the action to 5/64, this also good for the acoustic models as they'll sound better this way. After I raised the action I needed to adjust the bridge and intonation.


One thing that surprised me was the quality of the rosewood fret board; it is so easy to do the bendings and to get harmonics out this thing. As for the quality in the construction of the electronic parts like the knobs battery, everything is OK.

One thing that disappointed me were the mag P/U they do not sound good, too noisy, muddy and not defined, I had previously read that they were not so bad but the only thing that keeps me from putting them in the trash can is that I’m not that skilled to change the P/U in a variax, I’ve done it in some Epiphones but I’m afraid that doing the same in this guitar will not be that easy.


Now let’s go with the software. I never used workbench 1.9, I upgraded to 2.0 the day I received it. The graphic interface of WB HD is very nice and helpful; the installation of monkey and WB 2.0 took me about 2 hours to make everything work. Consider I have never used any of these programs before. I have the same bug like other with the P/U’s of the strat, hope line 6 fix this quick, it is not fair they are selling something people can’t use.


Now the heart of this thins, the modeling sounds. I bought this guitar mainly for the FR Graphtec Bridge, the modeling sounds and alternate tunings, the FR passed the test.


I’ll tell you one thing and consider this very very well, regardless of the modeling sounds themselves it is very unfair and hard to give an opinion about the modeling guitars if you are not using the correct amp, PA or rig. The acoustic sound are a good example of this, any of the acoustic guitars or resonators will sound good in a normal amp, in my amp they sound like crap, you need a PA system or in my case I play them through Guitar Rig 5 using the acoustic preset and holy cow they sound so good, 100% credible. In a mix no one will notice the difference, they’re that good, even if you play them with some alternate tuning they’ll still sound very good, even the 12 string version sound credible.


For the Lester sounds I use my Gibson Les Paul Studio as a comparison, the LP 58 modeled P/U feels a lot dirty, you cannot get a clean sound form it and when you put overdirve it feels too harsh. The middle position is OK and the Neck position is the best one, so good that beats the 490R in my Les Paul, clean or lead the modeled P/U is better, actually the neck P/U’s aof the Gibson modeled sound feel very good.


The Tele sounds are OK, although I have never played a real one so I can’t comment on that. The strat pickups are good, although for some reason I’m not getting a good sound in my mustang amp while in guitar rig the sound is almost like the real thing, I make comparisons with reviews of different strats in youtube and using guitar rig I can get a very similar sound to high quality strats. So that’s why I said that even if a modeling sounds seems to be not that good in an amp maybe in another amp it will sound good.


The high gain modeling sounds are Ok and they definitely sound better than the mag P/U’s. very usable if you want to play Metallica or Dream theater although you won’t get the defined and compressed sound of a good pair of Dimarzios or EMG’s.


For Chime are mediocre I think they do not capture the essence of a real Rick, and among the semi and jazz models the outstanding model is the ES-335, with a VOX AC30 or Blues Jr. you could make wonders with that model.

There’s no latency in any of the models, nor static noise, which is a blessing or any other real flaw other than some of the models doesn’t sound that good but overall I’m satisfied with the guitar but I they really want an outstanding guitar they need to put some decent mag P/U’s on it.


So that is my review so far, I hope Line 6 keeps making improvements and they can add some guitar models for metal because almost everything is for jazz, rock or blues.

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Ok Broker I'll try that. The Mustang has actually some acoustic presets and when I tried them first I wasn't impressed with the sound but then I made the test using guitar rig 5 and the acoustic models sound better than my acoustic guitar. I'll try waht you say and I'll let you know, I might even post some samples.

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Thanks Charlie. Also I'd like to add that I can't say there's a problem with palm muting in any of the models but definitely you need a good palm muting technique, more than with mag P/U's. There's no strange sounds if you pinch harmonics in the acoustic sounds.


As I said I'm very please with the acoustic sounds using Guitar Rig 5, I'll be posting some samples.  

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  • 2 years later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I just recieved the 89 F myself but find that the whammy bar just swings around freely and won't stay in a fixed position even when the flange screw is as tight as it goes. does anyone know if this is supposed to be the case?


I never use the bar on any of my variaxes.   Put ultra light 9s on the thing and the playability of the 89F is superb.  Sometimes during play though I slip the high or low E strings off the neck, but thats just me :)

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  • 10 months later...
  • 4 years later...
On 10/25/2021 at 11:12 AM, aa0300 said:

Anyone still using this model. Any impressions or improvements?


The last firmware update of any significance was sometime in 2014, so that pretty much covers "improvements". Impressions are another matter, and as with anything else, they're all over the map... but you're in the right place. You can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting an opinion... but generally speaking, Variax guitars are either a love or hate it product. They're not for everybody...take a month off from work and read to your heart's content. ;)

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Last functionality update for Flash in 2015, Monkey and Workbench HD updates in 2018.

As far as how significant they are, is relative to what you had before you updated. All in all,

improvements in functionality and updates to current computer OS versions like Windows 10.

Still not up to the new Win 11 yet.



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  • 2 months later...

I bought this guitar recently. I am trying to increase volume of piezo from the software but there is no change in the volume. I have saved the preset as high as 6db but the volume is still the same. Am i missing something?

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I didnt create a ticket in-case if i got an answer here. It could be something I am missing but I dont think so. 


I have made quite a few alternate tunnings that I use which works fine. This is the first time i attempted to increase volume volume which didnt work. 


In the Lester mode, i increased the 'level' to 6db and then downloaded it back to guitar. However, there is no increase in pick-up volume.


I also tried the same thing by increase the 'preset' volume to 6db, which didnt do anything either. 


So question is, am i missing something. 



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