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fjs1962

JTV-59 low E string tone difference on some models

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I’ve got a JTV-59 that I bought new a couple of months back. According to the serial number it was built in 2017. Build, setup, everything is awesome on it, no issues at all. But in getting to know it I’ve noticed something and I need to find out if what I’m hearing is normal or an issue with my guitar. 

 

On a few of the models the overall tone tone is very consistent from string to string until I get to the low E string, then the low E sounds like you turned the tone control from 5 to wide open. The low E tone is thinner and brighter compared to the other strings. It is most noticeable on clean sounds, and isnt as bad when I run it into a gained up amp. It doesn’t sound like piezo quack, and it doesnt seem to be string balance either as it doesn’t change if I turn the E down in the preset or global string setting, it’s the same sound just quieter. 

 

This seems to be worst on the Jazzbox and Semi models, and isn’t really noticeable on the Lester and JTV69 models. I’ve played with Workbench and it seems to get worse with certain bodies and or pickup models. 

 

Let me say I love my Variax other than this issue, and it would be pretty much perfect otherwise. 

 

So is this his normal or something weird (funky low E piezo maybe?) on my particular JTV?

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Tone and amplitude differences are normal between models. Using the Workbench HD application,

one can fine adjust to taste a number of parameters. Lester is of higher amplitude, while Jazzbox and Spank

tend to be the thinner sounding ones. That's normal, it's an aspect of the instrument that was modeled.

 

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That's not what he's saying...

 

"The low E tone is thinner and brighter compared to the other strings."

 

He's talking about the low E string sounding different relative to the other strings of any one particular model...it's not a LP vs Strat thing. 

 

Sounds like the typical "plink" issue to me...

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Right, this isn’t a difference between models, it’s a difference in tone from string to string within the same model. I do find that there are some models where it gets worse, and some models where it’s not as bad. 

 

I thought the famous plink issue was more in the note attack from palm muting? This is something that I’m hearing only on the low E and it’s more of a tone issue, it can hear it no matter how hard or lightly I play the note. And I don’t think it’s a fret/setup type thing, because acoustically there is no rattle of buzz in the setup. I do guitar and amp tech work for a living including warranty work for several companies so I feel like I have the setup dialed in just fine in the guitar. 

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2 hours ago, psarkissian said:

Tone and amplitude differences are normal between models. Using the Workbench HD application,

one can fine adjust to taste a number of parameters. Lester is of higher amplitude, while Jazzbox and Spank

tend to be the thinner sounding ones. That's normal, it's an aspect of the instrument that was modeled.

 

 

The thing is Jazzbox in particular sounds nice and warm as you’d expect on all strings except the low E, but the low E sounds different, almost like you switched to a model of an acoustic guitar compared to the other 5 strings. What I’m trying to determine is if this is just something in the modeling and they all do this or if there is something that needs to be addressed on my guitar. 

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2 hours ago, fjs1962 said:

 

The thing is Jazzbox in particular sounds nice and warm as you’d expect on all strings except the low E, but the low E sounds different, almost like you switched to a model of an acoustic guitar compared to the other 5 strings. What I’m trying to determine is if this is just something in the modeling and they all do this or if there is something that needs to be addressed on my guitar. 

 

It shouldn't be doing that... what's causing it is anybody's guess, but "normal", it ain't.

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1 hour ago, psarkissian said:

I'll check into that one further with guitars I have here.

 

Thanks, I appreciate any input you have on this!

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I’ve said in the past it could be helpful to have audio output directly from the 6 piezo pickups.  Not only helpful tracking down "plink Gremlins” and output differences, but since the 1980’s piezo-acoustic guitar pickups have become an industry standard sound of their own.  There’s times I could use that trick in my bag.  

 

Maybe hardware simply wouldn’t allow for it without major re-design but if there’s any sort of casual “wish-list” floating around Line 6, please consider raw piezo bridge pickup audio output…

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2 hours ago, jerseyboy said:

I’ve said in the past it could be helpful to have audio output directly from the 6 piezo pickups.  Not only helpful tracking down "plink Gremlins” and output differences, but since the 1980’s piezo-acoustic guitar pickups have become an industry standard sound of their own.  There’s times I could use that trick in my bag.  

 

Maybe hardware simply wouldn’t allow for it without major re-design but if there’s any sort of casual “wish-list” floating around Line 6, please consider raw piezo bridge pickup audio output…

 

Folks have been asking for that for years...if they had any intention of doing that, I think we'd have seen it by now.

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Thread died I guess. Anyone willing to try the Jazzbox setting on their Variax for me and see if the low E string sounds brighter and clearer than the rest of the strings on that model?

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There can be significant variability in the piezo pickups, and this can be exasperated by how the piezo pickup fits into the bridge piece and how the string goes over the pickup. I have found that this changes over time as the guitar gets used and the pickup seats differently in the bridge piece. You could start by using Workbench HD to adjust the pickup volumes. I use my DAW metering and the global string volumes to balance the string levels. The variation can be quite significant and this alone can really improve the sound of the Variax models. You may find this will correct your problem since sometimes something that's just louder is perceived to sound brighter, fuller, etc.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, amsdenj said:

There can be significant variability in the piezo pickups, and this can be exasperated by how the piezo pickup fits into the bridge piece and how the string goes over the pickup. I have found that this changes over time as the guitar gets used and the pickup seats differently in the bridge piece. You could start by using Workbench HD to adjust the pickup volumes. I use my DAW metering and the global string volumes to balance the string levels. The variation can be quite significant and this alone can really improve the sound of the Variax models. You may find this will correct your problem since sometimes something that's just louder is perceived to sound brighter, fuller, etc.

 

 

I’ve played with the global string settings a bit, but turning the low E down didn’t really change the way it sounds, it just made it louder or quieter. 

 

Which model do do you use when balancing the global volume? The reason I ask is that there seem to be string balance issues in the models too, so it would seem to me that you’d almost have to be able to output the raw piezo to do this effectively, and that’s not an option.

 

im going to try to upload a clip of the sound I’m hearing. It’s most noticeable on the Jazzbox model, and seems to happen no matter which pickups I select on that body model. I was showing the issue to one of my buddy’s and he said he feels like he’s hearing a difference on the low E on other models too, but not as bad. It’s like all the other strings have the same tone within a model, then the low E string sounds noticeably different. I’ve tried different brands of strings and it doesn’t change this, but I haven’t tried different gauges. 

 

I dont one think it’s a setup issue, because the guitar sets up and plays great acoustically, with not noticeable buzzes or rattles.

 

if you could listen to the stock Jazzbox model, particularly on the neck pickup, and see if yours does the same thing that would help. If they all do this then I’ll just chalk it up to a flaw in the modeling, but if not I want to get mine fixed. 

 

A piezo that that isn’t functioning properly would make sense if I do have an issue.

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12 minutes ago, brue58ski said:

Thanks for the reply! When you changed out the piezos were they not working or did they just have an odd sound?

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In my case they had a low output. I've been lucky in regard to odd sounding piezo's but I know they exist. I think that the original Variax's worked off of a low piezo signal i.e. they didn't amplifiy it very much. The JTV piezo's output signal seems to be amplified a lot more and I think that's why they are so sensitive to different piezo's and their flaws. Their sound differences (volume, quack etc.) or flaws are amplified a lot more than in the old original Varaix's therefore a lot more issues in that regard. Just my theory, it's never been confirmed.

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played around with Workbench some today. What I'm hearing seems to be coming mostly from the body model. If I use the same pickup model on a different body the difference isn't as noticeable. Some pickups make it worse, some are better. So for now I'm going to say it's probably something inherent in the modeling itself. I just find it odd that the model would vary as much as it does from one string to another, because I've never heard a guitar do that unless something was wrong with it. :)

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I have the low e string problem too.  Most noticeable on Lester pickups.  Not there on some others.  JTV-59.

 

To figure whether it is a firmware problem, I reverted to Flash 1.9.  The effect was much less, barely there.  Couldn't check it out very much - 1.9 doesn't support interface with the HD workbench, so mixing and matching is very difficult.    But reverting from 2.23 to 1.9 definitely made the sound of the low e string much closer to the others on the Lester pickups.

 

I loaded 2.0, problem was back.  

 

I have gone back to the latest, 2.23.  The 89 Neck seems to be better than the others.  But I wish the E string didn't do that.

 

As a note, when I bought the guitar used, the low e string had the crud problem, about half the output of the other strings.  Cleaned the bridge, level now same as the rest.  But way twangier than the rest when using the humbucker simulation. 

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Workbench HD is for JTV's with Flash v2.00 or higher. 

Workbench is for Flash v1.90 or lower, and older Variax guitars (300, 500, 600, 700). 

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My 2 cents is I noticed this when I change strings on my 69s or my 59 on certain models  (not all). I noticed it goes away as the string loses the brassy newness that I normally love on acoustic and normal electrics. It does go away after the string ages and is played a while. My 69s is my go to, and my 59 is my backup, so doesn't get as much playing time, so takes longer for the effect to fade...

Like I said, that is my experience with this, and my 2 cents...

Dave 

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I'm definitely seeing this too on my new jtv-59, very noticeable on the jazz boxes, especially on the es-175-ish (Jazz Seventy Five body) models. Luckily it's not as pronounced on the casino (Jazz Super Four body) but still there.  For all of them I'm fighting a strange nasally kind of tone that I'm hoping to alleviate with some EQing but have yet to try.  

 

Any pointers for getting a decent sounding jazz tone? 

 

 

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What I’ve found over a couple of years of messing with a Variax is that the global string settings can make a big difference in all the models. When full up (the default) the piezos seem to compress and “plink” more. I play with the global string levels until each string is balanced and doesn’t compress as much on the attack. This may require bringing the level of the models up a touch up to compensate. I think of it as setting the input gain on a mixer. I wish there was a way in Workbench to balance the raw piezo levels but I feel like we’re pretty much stuck with what we have with this tech. On my current Variax (a JTV69S) I have the low E and A cut back more than the others and everything balances out nicely. 
 

Also a good setup where the strings ring true seems to be essential to getting the most out of the modeling, even if that requires a little higher action than you’d typically use. You can get away with a few buzzes and rattles with magnetic pickups but the piezo is going to reproduce those artifacts, which can make the models sound odd. 

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Thanks for the great info. I'm still using the original stock strings (10s I think) but am planning switching to 12 or 13s once my replacement jtv-59 arrives next week (instrument I received was the wrong color).  First thing I did was reduce the global string level using the lester models, ending up with somewhere between -10 and -12 db. For me the 1 and 3 strings were louder than others. 

 

So far I'm impressed with the strat, tele, and acoustic sounds, less so with the jazzbox and semi sounds. I've spent several hours trying to get a decent jazz sound (I'm mostly a jazz player), tweaking everything including pickups, bodies, polarity, tone resistance/capacitance, etc.  but haven't really found anything usable thus far unfortunately.  The inconsistency of the 6 string, very noticeable piezo nasally quack of strings 4-6, and the inability to tweak the EQ of individual strings has beaten me down so far. I absolutely love the ability to change tunings on the fly though, that's the killer feature for me.

 

Anyway, I'll report back when I get my new axe and string it up with fatter flatwounds.  I realize that it's not the recommended setup and likely will destroy any semblance of authenticity for the other models but if I can get a usable jazz tone that will be good enough for me.

 

 

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@fjs1962 forgot to mention, raising the action was one of my first adjustments and you're totally right, it did improve things immediately.

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Got my new JTV-59, as expected seeing the same issue with the low E-string. To me this reflects well on Line-6's build consistency and negatively on the 2 Jazzbox bodies :). Something is definitely weird there: the Jazz Seventy Five body has an overly bright 6th string while the Jazz Super Four has an extremely muddy one.  The good news is that, strung up with 12 guage flatwounds, all the models still sound good to my ears and I was able to find some decent mellow jazz tones using other bodies.  

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On 12/19/2020 at 8:12 AM, fjs1962 said:

What I’ve found over a couple of years of messing with a Variax is that the global string settings can make a big difference in all the models. When full up (the default) the piezos seem to compress and “plink” more. I play with the global string levels until each string is balanced and doesn’t compress as much on the attack. This may require bringing the level of the models up a touch up to compensate. I think of it as setting the input gain on a mixer. I wish there was a way in Workbench to balance the raw piezo levels but I feel like we’re pretty much stuck with what we have with this tech. On my current Variax (a JTV69S) I have the low E and A cut back more than the others and everything balances out nicely. 
 

Also a good setup where the strings ring true seems to be essential to getting the most out of the modeling, even if that requires a little higher action than you’d typically use. You can get away with a few buzzes and rattles with magnetic pickups but the piezo is going to reproduce those artifacts, which can make the models sound odd. 

Hi fjs1962,

Thanks for coming back to this thread during the years so I can find this post. I used to have a shuriken and just got a jtv-59. Both have the same problem with the low E string. It's definitely thinner and brighter compare to other strings. I thought it was the pickup but since the new guitar has the same problem, I 'd say it's a design flaw. I will try to play with the workbench and see if I can make it any better. 

I have a theory. Maybe the groove on the low e pickup is too small for the string so the string doesn't have a good contact with the pickup. A thinner gauge may help? I may try that later.

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I've had my JTV-59 for nearly 7 years. I have been hoping for a fix for the "thinner and brighter" low E string for nearly 7 years. I'm a professional musician who's pushing 60 years old. I've been around and know my way around guitars pretty darn well. This is NOT a Piezo problem. (I've swapped Piezos to no avail) It's NOT a string type or size problem. It's NOT a "thin model" vs "thick model" problem. (I hear the problem on ALL models though it is definitely more pronounced on some models more than others). It is most definitely a software problem. I wish Line 6 could acknowledge this and work on a fix instead of continuing to deny the problem's existence.

 

I have an idea for a way we can at least make this problem a little less noticeable. If we can adjust the volume of each individual string in Workbench, why can't we also adjust the TONE of each individual string. How about it Line 6? This way, all of us who are experiencing this problem could run the tone control back a bit on our low E strings and at least limit the amount of "thin brightness" we all hear. Any takers there in Tech Support?

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 If we can adjust the volume of each individual string in Workbench, why can't we also adjust the TONE of each individual string.

 

100%. This would be a huge improvement.  I've resorted to using a multiband eq pedal but without the ability to target specific strings it's of limited utility. To be honest, I only use the JTV acoustic models for recording (which are really convincing)--haven't been able to get tones I can live with using any of the other models.

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