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stevecu

My Next Variax

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So, I currently own a Variax 600, and I'm very happy with it ... mostly. The old Workbench software is pretty bad, especially on my windows 10 laptop with very high DPI monitor, and lacks some of the cool integration with HD500 edit that show up when you select Tyler Variax.  I also would like a more traditional Strat shaped body. So, I'd like to upgrade to either a Standard or possibly JTV-69. 

 

From what I see, they appear to be the same as far as the electronics go. The knob layout on the Standard seems better to me, and I've read several posts that say the JTV neck is "chunky" (as in thick). I do wish they had the belly cutout but it looks like that's where they put the battery compartment (on both).

 

I do not have a retailer nearby that carries either so, while I'm hoping to find one used, I'll most likely end up ordering one from Sweetwater or Amazon. 

 

For me the choice seems obvious. The Standard looks nicer on paper and is several hundred dollars cheaper. But 2 things elude me.

 

  1. Is the build quality any better on the JTV (not the made in USA models, those are way out of range)?
  2. Are there any features I'm overlooking in the electronics (or in the software; Workbench HD / HD500 Edit) that I may be overlooking?

 

Comments from anyone who's played both would be great. 

 

BTW, the sound of the Mags is really secondary to me. I really play around with the acoustic models more than anything. 

 

 

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I own only a Standard, so I can only reply to question 2: they are the same electronics wise.

 

 

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Have you come across any issues or observations that make you wish you'd gotten a JTV instead?

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I've been happy with a  used Standard (it looked brand new) I found at Guitar Center. After I set it up properly and put on some locking tuners (the original tuners were adequate) I've had no complaints. I prefer a thinner neck, so went with the Standard after comparing to a JTV in the store.

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2 hours ago, stevecu said:

Have you come across any issues or observations that make you wish you'd gotten a JTV instead?

 

Maybe the bridge. Most of my guitars are Floyd Rose equipped and a vintage tremolo is a super duper set back for me. A two pivots bridge would be probably better.

You can setup the Standard bridge and get a very good performance tho. :)

 

 

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Thanks for the comments.

 

I recently picked up a Squire "51 (second hand on the cheap), which has a Strat body (never owned a strat before). I'm less excited than I thought I would be after play it for a few days. I thought the shape would be loads more comfortable than my 600. Not so much. Not that is isn't great, but if it didn't have the tummy cutout in the back I think it would maybe be less comfortable to hold than my 600 (I play sitting down 99% of the time). 

 

I also installed Workbench on an old laptop with 1024 x 768 screen, and I dislike it quite a bit less now. All in all I'm not sure the upgrade is warranted ... Though I would like the separate know for alternate tunings / v capo. 

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I had a JTV 59 as my main guit.  Dropped a bigsby on it to have a trem.  Got a Standard as a spare.  Broke a string at gig and used the Standard for the rest of the gig.  Left the 59 in the case every gig after, and ended up selling the 59 to get another standard as a spare.

 

Got both the Standards Plek'd, and the spec sheet came off them as being better set-up pre-Plek'd than other high end guits the guy works on (or so he says), but both play really really good now (they were good before). 

 

I only use modelled sounds.

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I use both Standard 500 & JTV59.  Standard has particular strengths and weaknesses just like the JTV59.  

 

59 uses good sounding magnetic pickups so in practice modeling takes more of a back seat to "normal" electric guitar output.  JTV Strat model can be tweaked much better than the standard, IMO.  But the JTV Special Bridge lost something compared to the standard, go figure?  

 

But for certain tunings, textures and acoustic sounds the JTV is certainly convincing and just a better built guitar than either of my 500's.  

 

Oh, I've never met a chunky neck yet that couldn't be made less chunky, LOL...  Yeah drastic, but sub-$1000 guitars, who cares?  If it's not an heirloom, I make it to my liking.  I never enjoy thick gloss finish on guitar necks anyway....

 

Definitely add better quality tuners either flavor you go!  Locking tuners JTV59 can make string changes much simpler.  

 

I have friends/coworkers who play 69's and we joke how the Strat modeling sounds better than the stock magnetic single coils.  Not so when comparing 59 Alnico Magnetic humbuckers to the JTV Lester models.  

 

 

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I am desperately hoping for upgrades to the HD Models. With Helix going full speed it seems like the guitar modeling is being left behind a bit. It honestly is not that good. It got better, but not as good as it should be. My only fear is that for a great Variax it might be a complete overhaul like the Helix was. Sure people get passable tones. I have gotten some and I think it's good. Then a grab my Kiesel and plug into the same patch or amp and then I want to smash the Variax. I justify it by saying it is a tool and only use it for things like banjo, sitar etc. Instruments I do not have. The guy in the Doobie Brothers uses a Standard live and sound great. He does it so he doesn't have to switch instruments. No one notices in the mix but I bet they would if he switched back to the real thing with a guitar tech to hand him the next instrument 

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I should add I had a, JTV69. It was crazy butt lollipop heavy. Otherwise it was much better build wise but you have to like how James Tyler does things. He uses a unique neck profile that some love, others not as much. 

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One other comment. The actual models and variax board are Identical as are the models. There is zero difference in modeled tones between the two and anyone who perceives such is just getting the placebo effect. We did a few blind listens in a shop when I had my JTV with a standard into the same amp. No difference. In fact we were accused of not switching a few times. 

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