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Modified JTV69 with fretlight neck...

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Hi Guys, 


Here is a little project I just finished...


As you may know Optek, the company who makes the Fretlight guitars are really horrible people, their led system is totally incompatible with magnetic pickups: the multiplexed voltage system they use to save on wiring produces an unbearable whining noise interference when used in conjunction with ANY magnetics pickups.


You would have thought, after 30 years of using that technology, that they would have produced a piezo equipped guitar but no, they prefer to keep on duping their customers as they have always done...


Anyway, I still think it's a valuable learning tool for visually oriented people so I came up with this little idea:


I started with a second hand JTV69, I fitted a second hand fretlight neck, not a straightforward swap, lots of routing involved here, I found a way to fit the fretlight electronics in the already busy variax body, upgraded the pickups, fitted a cool decal and presto, here is the FRETLIGHTVARIAXOCASTER!


The neck was slightly reshaped and is actually very comfortable, a million times better than the original neck, and, to my surprise, the guitar sounds really, really good with the magnetic pickups, it is on par with the best superstrats out there, with the added bonus of the variax sounds...


I researched the old interweb a bit before i did this and found no other mention of a similar project so this might be the only in existence :-)


Let me know what you think, and I'd be happy to assist anyone embarking in a similar project!



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The pickups are a custom set from a local maker here in Belgium called Heartbreaker, basically they are 60's style strat single coils with a custom, paf style, humbucker.


I highly recommend them to any JTV69 owners, they are a huge improvement over the originals and mix very well with the variax sounds...

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  • 2 months later...
  • 5 months later...

Fredes, fantastic work. I watched your youtube video and left a message but here is probably better. I will build the same guitar. Buying a JTV69 this week, and then looking for a second hand Fretlight which might take some time, who would buy one? If you have any helpful tips then please let me know. I have built several guitars (standard items) so am not frightened to pull a guitar apart so would just view this as another project. I can't for the life of me wonder why Fretlight haven't done what you have done. It has a certain inbuilt market resistance anyway, (guitarist being a conservative lot), but a sound issue built into the design, is crazy. I have seen Fretlights answer to your criticism in other youtube videos, but it doesn't answer why build such a flawed design?

Hopefully you will find this enquiry in the fullness of time. Best wishes Bob.

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