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JTV's vs JTV's custom vs Variax Standard?

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So jumping into variax guitar I got problems making up my mind. Locally there is no store that sells Variax guitars. So I do not have the luxury of testing them all. I must by online. 

 

Afaik the hardware and the pickups and similar on all variax models, correct?

 

Variax Standard.Made by Yamaha. How well does this guitar play straight off the show room? Does the guitar require additional setup and work done by luthier, or will it work well right out of the box? If you ever play your variax standard without the variax cable and functionality how did that go for you? Are pick ups good? What about the neck and the frets, does this feel like a entry level guitar for you or does guitar feel, play and sound like more expensive model? I am not after a direct comparison between this standard and a real strat from late 50's. It's more a question of the money saved by producing the body and neck in Japan really makes you feel that, and is that in fact a good thing as Japan have been doing great in manufacturing with low tolerances in production for the past 4 decades?

 

How noticeable is to play a JTV's vs JTV Us custom? About 3000 dollar saved from one to the next. What does rectify spending that much more on a US Custom over a regular JTV? I mean I understand things will be different, and those differences can be nimble and hard to notice for someone. But how well does the differences between them present itself over a little longer period? Say you played both of the models over several weeks?

 

Are JTV's guitars in the low range actually a guitar that suits players both for practice, jamming, and light gigging?  We are talking small local events. Like in a pub or a small movie theater etc. 

 

Will a US custom be so much different in how the guitar plays, and feels that I will notice it immediately when comparing?  Do you know someone that went for the US custom and so traded down to plain JTV? 

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Don,

 

Check out this thread: http://line6.com/support/topic/17107-jtv-69-korean-vs-us/

 

might answer half your questions as I don't think they talk about the Standard in that thread. 

 

The proverbial "you get what you pay for" scenarios applies here. Is the US model worth the extra +/-$2000, that's a answer you'd get a different answer from everyone you ask.

 

Jd  

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So jumping into variax guitar I got problems making up my mind. Locally there is no store that sells Variax guitars. So I do not have the luxury of testing them all. I must by online.

 

Afaik the hardware and the pickups and similar on all variax models, correct?

 

Variax Standard.Made by Yamaha. How well does this guitar play straight off the show room? Does the guitar require additional setup and work done by luthier, or will it work well right out of the box? If you ever play your variax standard without the variax cable and functionality how did that go for you? Are pick ups good? What about the neck and the frets, does this feel like a entry level guitar for you or does guitar feel, play and sound like more expensive model? I am not after a direct comparison between this standard and a real strat from late 50's. It's more a question of the money saved by producing the body and neck in Japan really makes you feel that, and is that in fact a good thing as Japan have been doing great in manufacturing with low tolerances in production for the past 4 decades?

 

How noticeable is to play a JTV's vs JTV Us custom? About 3000 dollar saved from one to the next. What does rectify spending that much more on a US Custom over a regular JTV? I mean I understand things will be different, and those differences can be nimble and hard to notice for someone. But how well does the differences between them present itself over a little longer period? Say you played both of the models over several weeks?

 

Are JTV's guitars in the low range actually a guitar that suits players both for practice, jamming, and light gigging? We are talking small local events. Like in a pub or a small movie theater etc.

 

Will a US custom be so much different in how the guitar plays, and feels that I will notice it immediately when comparing? Do you know someone that went for the US custom and so traded down to plain JTV?

Wow... where to start? Virtually every question you've asked is completely subjective. For the guys who love them, a Variax often becomes their primary instrument. Some don't take to them, and go back to their arsenal of traditional guitars. You won't know till you try one.

 

As for the numerous "will I notice this vs. that" and "what does it feel like" questions you've asked...there are no objective answers to any of those questions. You'll either like it, or you won't. You might think the US made JTVs are worth 4x the money, or you'll think it's ridiculous. Either way, I can't guess at what your assessment would be. It's like the never-ending Squire vs. Fender argument... what's better? What does "better" mean? There is no answer, and nobody's "right" or "wrong". If you like an instrument, then it's good. If you don't, it sucks.

 

You're in the same boat as most of us... these guitars are hard to find in stores. Many of us (myself included) bought online. It's a gamble. Buy from a place with a liberal return policy like Sweetwater, so you're not stuck with it if you don't like it.

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Reading on the forum it seems that many people are very pleased by going for the standard jtv's and then do a neck upgrade. Looking at prices for Warmoth necks that might be a very affordable way to upgrade a JTV and make it more into what neck I like and what best suits me. Heck i could save even more as that neck swap would work great with a used Jtv 

 

But there are issues to solve before diving into a replacement neck. Like what kind of tuners to get and what tuners will in fact be an upgrade over the standard ones. Should a neck upgrade also trigger upgrade of pickups? If so what pickups to look for? Never modded a guitar this way before so this is all new to me. I guess the neck swap will be fairly easy. Probably the pickups will swap fairly easy. Maybe a little soldering job needed? 

 

I will take a few days and think this over before rushing off buying stuff. I can get a little too eager when it comes to gear and I have in the past wasted money on gears that turns out not the be the right one for me. So while I think this over, let me know what else then the neck you would consider swapping out from a JTV guitar?

 

This still leaves out the variax standard made by Yamaha. Has people compared that to a JTV or JTV us custom?

 

Here is one short youtube on the standard vs Jtv. 

 

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Reading on the forum it seems that many people are very pleased by going for the standard jtv's and then do a neck upgrade. Looking at prices for Warmoth necks that might be a very affordable way to upgrade a JTV and make it more into what neck I like and what best suits me. Heck i could save even more as that neck swap would work great with a used Jtv

 

But there are issues to solve before diving into a replacement neck. Like what kind of tuners to get and what tuners will in fact be an upgrade over the standard ones. Should a neck upgrade also trigger upgrade of pickups? If so what pickups to look for?

Again, it's ALL subjective. A neck swap is really for comfort and feel more than tone...hell, you're buying the thing for how the fancy electronics will manipulate the tone after the fact anyway.

 

You're putting the cart before the horse...in a big way. All these mental gymnastics are a ridiculous waste of time until you've actually played one. You've never been in the same room with a Variax, yet you've already decided that everything needs replacing. You might like the stock neck. Some do, some don't. And even if you don't, replacing the neck doesn't automatically require replacing the pickups...they're addressing very different concerns. Just try one before you decide it needs to be gutted. There's nothing wrong with the mag pickups...I actually like the single coils, though they are a bit noisy. But, I hardly ever use them anyway. I've got other guitars for that. I have the Variax for its modeling technology.

 

As for tuners...locking tuners are locking tuners. Aside from slight differences in gear ratios, they all do exactly the same thing. In the dark, you can't tell one brand from another...

 

...let me know what else then the neck you would consider swapping out from a JTV guitar?

Nothing. Neck, pickups, tuners... what else is there? Bedazzled Gucci strap buttons?

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Well I do have played fat nack guitars earlier and they don't really sit well with me. And everyplace I read about the guitar it seems they all mention the fat neck. So yes I am pretty sure neck won't sit well. And as I will need to order online both guitar and neck it would make sense to have them both arrive at the same time. That way rather then ending up not playing the guitar for however long it takes for a new neck to arrive I can just make the swap and be done with it. 

 

If it turns out neck does fit well then I am out 500 for a new neck. Still huge savings from a us custom. And most likely I can get some money back by selling the neck if I don't use it. 

 

Reason I asked about pickups is I read that us custom used different pick ups then the standard series. Usually swapping pickups is not that expensive and give you lots of value for money. So I figured if they had to save money someplace pickup would be sensible place to save as the guitar is made for being a variax first and foremost. If swapping pick ups means some gain it might be worth it if one need to play with using the variax modelling piezo pick up for some reason. 

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If it turns out neck does fit well then I am out 500 for a new neck. Still huge savings from a us custom. And most likely I can get some money back by selling the neck if I don't use it.

 

 

It's your money, but why dig a hole before you even start?

 

Also, you don't need to spend anywhere near $500 on a neck...perfectly good Warmoth necks can be had in the $200-$300 range, and Mighty Mite sells replacement necks for well under $200.

 

Do whatever you like, but buying a replacement neck and pickups for a guitar you don't own yet, based on nothing but speculation that you won't like the stock ones, is nuts. Play the thing first. Make sure it has no issues. These guitars can be quirky, and lemons are out there. Go read up on "piezo plink" and "clang tone"... if you're a high gain player and/or do lots of palm-muting, you may have some problems. Decide if guitar modeling is for you before you blow even more money on a neck and pickups for a guitar that you could end up returning.

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Yeah I am gonna order neck at the same time. Get things shipped overseas is a PITA and delivery can be anything from a forth night to up to 12 weeks. Then there is custom and handling could be several weeks for that too. I'll be damned if I am gonna look up at a guitar on the wall for 12-16 weeks and not be able to play that thing comfortable. 

 

Hey it is only money, it seems to always find its way out of my pocket anyhow. Worst case I loose some money. Best case scenario the fat neck is perfect for me and I double the money when selling the unused neck. 

 

But I have not made up my mind yet. It could be that the slimmer profile neck on the Variax standard work out well for me. And it is made by yamaha so that should mean something. After all, Yamaha know guitars. And has decent quality on their builds. 

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What I am after is not necessarily a JTV or a variax guitar. It is more the variax experience I crave. If I could go out and buy only the variax electronics to transfer them into any guitar I would do that, and I would know that the outcome would be to my satisfaction because it was mounted into a guitar I know and love.  And should I get bored with the variax, well hey I could just use the guitars original pickups and still be happy. 

 

What kind of witchcraft is actually going on in a variax guitar? Is the guitar itself without DSP? What I mean is that the knobs and toggles and piezo pickup the only electronic wizbang inside a variax guitar and the processing takes place like in a variax compatible amp, multi FX or pc software? Or is it more to it? 

 

What happens if just the standard jack is connected to any non-variax compatible amp? Only magnetic pickup working? Or will guitar still do drop D tuning with the turn of a knob? When using a variax amp you can go to town with easy tuning, sounds etc. So is the whizbang in the guitar itself or in the amp/multi FX pedal or pc?

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The Variax standard looks pretty much like a yamaha pacifica. Hi have both a jtv-69 and a yamaha pacifica. I love my pacifica, after having done several changes to it but the most important one was the trem block. The original one was a flimsy zinc block. Once I changed to full-sized steel piece it the pacifica became another instrument: the tone shines and has sustain.

 

IMHO, it has nothing to envy from the JTV-69 (guitar-wise) - in fact it has more sustain.

 

There is a huge difference in the neck, both good, very thin in the yamaha. It comes down to personal preference.

 

Now, the problem with upgrading a variax trem block, is that it contains the piezo electronics, which closes the door to aftermarket parts and I would anyway never dare to go mess with it.

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What happens if just the standard jack is connected to any non-variax compatible amp? Only magnetic pickup working? Or will guitar still do drop D tuning with the turn of a knob? When using a variax amp you can go to town with easy tuning, sounds etc. So is the whizbang in the guitar itself or in the amp/multi FX pedal or pc?

Hmmmmm... I see this has gone unanswered for quite some time. I'll provide a short explanation, even if this user doesn't return to see it...

 

The 'whizbang', meaning the various guitar models and alternate tunings, are created by the Variax onboard electronics, and are available as outputs via a conventional 1/4" phone jack, and a special digital interface that allows direct connection to a Line 6 device, such as a multi-effects unit. The signal that's presented at the 1/4" jack is essentially identical to the signal you would get from a conventional electric guitar. There are no 'effects' -- reverb, amp modeling, compression, tremolo, etc -- it's a simple audio guitar signal, which gets processed and amplified by whatever amp or effects unit it's plugged into. If it's plugged into a plain-vanilla guitar amp, the amp just sees it as a guitar and doesn't know anything about how the signal is produced.

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There is a huge difference in the neck, both good, very thin in the yamaha. It comes down to personal preference.

 

The neck on the Standard is thinner than a Steinberger, but way bigger than an Ibanez or ESP. It's between a Caparison and a Steinberger IMHO.

Very comfortable, yes. Not very thin if you ask me.

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 Just a heads up, it is not just a simple neck swap for the Variax Standard.  I swapped in a Fender neck as a test.  The neck pocket on Variax Standard had about a 1/4" of difference on where the nut position was. So even though they were same number of frets and same scale length, the fret positions were off, which would wreak havoc on note intonation all across the new neck. It can be done, but would require a lot more work to modify the neck pocket.

 

As for the Standard's stock neck, it is definitely thinner than the JTV-69. But it is not flat like the JTV-89 (or a Ibanez Wizard neck).

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Just a heads up, it is not just a simple neck swap for the Variax Standard. I swapped in a Fender neck as a test. The neck pocket on Variax Standard had about a 1/4" of difference on where the nut position was. So even though they were same number of frets and same scale length, the fret positions were off, which would wreak havoc on note intonation all across the new neck. It can be done, but would require a lot more work to modify the neck pocket.

 

Yup. It's WAY more trouble than it's worth. Anyone who's super picky about the neck dimensions should just get a JTV69 and swap it out with whatever Strat replacement floats their boat. The modeling is all the same anyway...

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So recently i bought a JTV 69s Korean.

 

All the variax electronics were fine and did everything I wanted. I had no problems there.

 

The build quality is very decent throughout.  The nut looks plastic but its actually graphite and is just as capable as a bone nut.

 

The action was pretty terrible though. I had to get my guitar set up by a proffesional for it to be playable  (the place I bought it didn't provide setups). While he was setting it up, he noticed the springs in the magnetic pickups were not installed properly and he had to manually re-cut them. 

 

Once the pickups were adjusted they sounded excellent.

 

After the setup, the guitar is as good as, if not better than an american strat. Plus there's all the cool modelling stuff.

 

So I would say that its worth getting if you're willing to have a proper setup done or if the place you buy from does it for you. 

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Some other differences between a JTV-69S and A Variax Standard:

  • To my ear, the Standard single coil pickups sounded better then the stock pickups on my JTV-69S. I suspect there’s veriability here, so this may not be the same for other instruments
  • The pickup selector switch is too soft and too close to the pickups on the Standard, so its easy to hit the switch by accident and unintentionally change pickups. JTV-69S switch is closer to where it is on a Strat, and has a much better, tighter feel. Its also easier to put the switch in the right pickup without overshooting.
  • The Standard’s volume control is also too close to the bridge pickup and too high - it gets in the way of picking for me. JTV doesn’t have this problem
  • The Standard’s tremolo bar has a lot of play in it and there’s no way to install a tremolo bar spring - the hole goes all the way through. You can wrap plumber’s tap around the threads to solve this, but it has to be redone every time you change the strings. JTV tremolo bar is excellent.
  • The Standard doesn’t stay in tune as well - I tend to tune my JTV once a night and it rarely changes. 
  • The Standard neck is certainly thinner and this can be a plus if you have small hands. But that thin neck seems to be much less stable than the thicker, heavier JTV neck. I find the action on the Standard changes a lot with temperature and humidity, while the JTV is rock solid. I’ve come to like the JTV neck even though I have smallish hands. 
  • The Standard is a good utility instrument. But the JTV feels more like a quality instrument you’d keep for a while.

 

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On 4/30/2018 at 5:12 PM, amsdenj said:

Some other differences between a JTV-69S and A Variax Standard:

  • To my ear, the Standard single coil pickups sounded better then the stock pickups on my JTV-69S. I suspect there’s veriability here, so this may not be the same for other instruments
  • The pickup selector switch is too soft and too close to the pickups on the Standard, so its easy to hit the switch by accident and unintentionally change pickups. JTV-69S switch is closer to where it is on a Strat, and has a much better, tighter feel. Its also easier to put the switch in the right pickup without overshooting.
  • The Standard’s volume control is also too close to the bridge pickup and too high - it gets in the way of picking for me. JTV doesn’t have this problem
  • The Standard’s tremolo bar has a lot of play in it and there’s no way to install a tremolo bar spring - the hole goes all the way through. You can wrap plumber’s tap around the threads to solve this, but it has to be redone every time you change the strings. JTV tremolo bar is excellent.
  • The Standard doesn’t stay in tune as well - I tend to tune my JTV once a night and it rarely changes. 
  • The Standard neck is certainly thinner and this can be a plus if you have small hands. But that thin neck seems to be much less stable than the thicker, heavier JTV neck. I find the action on the Standard changes a lot with temperature and humidity, while the JTV is rock solid. I’ve come to like the JTV neck even though I have smallish hands. 
  • The Standard is a good utility instrument. But the JTV feels more like a quality instrument you’d keep for a while.

 

Having both a Std and a JTV I'd say this is pretty accurate - particularly the switch placement on the Std.  I had a Strat neck put on my JTV, turned it into  a go=to for me.  The Std neck was fine out of the box.

 

I will say - I'm now looking at letting one of them go, and it will probably be the JTV.  With its little quirks and such, the Std is just more fun for me - lighter, a bit more alive, more rock 'n roll feeling.  But either one is a decent instrument, hard to go wrong...

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