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Variax Standard vs. JTV-69S

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I did an interesting test today, compairing my Variax Standard vs. my JTV-69S against my Strat Deluxe with Tom Anderson stacked humbuckers (in single coil mode). What I found was a bit surprising.


The Tom Anderson pickups certainly sound better than either Variax mag pickups. The tone is richer, thicker in the midrange, and generally a bit warmer while still having a lot of high end. I had expected that as I have some experience playing live with all these guitars. But it was nice to be able to compare them more closely.


What was surprising is that the Variax Standard pickups sounded much closer to the Tom Andersons than the JTV-69S pickups. The bridge and neck pickup were pretty close while the bridge pickup was just a bit thinner and didn't have the warmth and richness. The JTV-69S pickups were somewhat of a disappointment by comparison. They sounded thin in the mids, and didn't have the warmth or sustain.


However the models were just the opposite. The Variax Standard Spank model exhibits some high-end artifacts on the models, I suspect a bit of clang tone. This is especially noticeable on the single pickup positions. That guitar also seemed to pickup more of the pick noise and doesn't seem to like a V-pick Tradition - my preferred pick.


The JTV-69S models actually sounded quite good. There was no sign of any artifacts or clang tone. It took the V-pick just fine, no noticeable or odd pick noise. The Spank model stood up well against the Tom Andersons and provided a nice, different and usable Strat tone.


I suspect that the piezo pickups fit into JTV-69S bridge pieces better and this transfers more energy from the string into the pickup and reduces any artifacts from pickup not making good contact in the bridge piece. I think my Variax Standard has actually improved over time. The bridge pieces may be settling in and making better contact as the guitar is played. But overall, the models sound much better in the JTV-69S.


I'm changing the magnetic pickups in my JTV-69S to http://www.amalfitanopickups.com/SVL_Daytona_strat_pickups.php (I'm a big Matt Schofield fan). I think this will be a significant improvement in the guitar and a good investment since it is becoming my main gigging guitar.

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