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Señor Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess the formal name for this would be a 'Line 6 Variax James Tyler JTV-69'?

So, a couple people might remember this deceptively titled thread: http://www.metalguitarist.org/forum/guitar-instrument-discussion/90890-ngd-28-guitars-pickups.html

Anyway, I still contend that the Variax system kinda cuts out the "need" for passive pickups but I've been kinda digging the look of the JTVs lately. This one popped up in need of some repairs but otherwise pretty clean looking and at the right price, so I jumped on it. Potential irony but the Variax in it currently isn't working (looks like someone spilled beer all over it when it arrived) but the passive do and sound surprisingly good :lol: I'm waiting to hear from Line 6 and Full Compass about sourcing the replacement parts.

I like the color a lot (I think it's billed as Candy Apple Red), and the previous owner added the pearloid pickguard and these unbranded locking tuners. There's also a "goes to 11" tone knob where the volume knob is supposed to be :scratch:

















 

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I had that very guitar, but had to "Jeff" it. I love the concept of Variax guitars, and they even sound pretty decent. But I've had awful luck with them, for some strange reason. The first one was the Ibanez style hardtail one, and I quite liked it, except that a week in the electronics went nutty, and decided to change models, as well as make a weird gurgling sound, on its own. Sent that back, and none more were available at the clearance price they had.

The second one, this candy apple red 69, I bought, and everything seemed fine until I brought it into the shop for a setup with my preferred strings. Tech looks at it and goes "uh, dude. Neck is warped." Fuck. I thought about swapping for a Warmoth, as these are compatible. That's what I should have done, looking back. But I rage-quit and sent that one back too. :(
 

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Every time I see one of these threads, my mind thinks "James Taylor" instead. Like you're hanging out at home woodshedding on Fire & Rain. :lol:
 

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Dream Crusher
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How's it sound for palm muting? That was my problem with my old Variax 700.
 

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Señor Member
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@Jeff

Honestly, I can sympathize with all of that. I bought that 300 model because I was just curious how they worked and didn't have a ton of requirements as far as features and audio quality (mostly bedroom jamming), so the ~$300 I got the 300 for shipped with HSC was worth the risk. The two things that had me weary of the newer models is the higher price tag and all the added 'stuff' that could potentially go wrong. From a solely utilitarian, diagnostician perspective, the blending mags w/ modeling features, the 'click to change modes' model knob and the separate tuning knob are all COOL but not essential to what the Variax does but come across as more stuff that can fail.

If I was having the problems you ran into, I'd have done the same thing and never looked back.

In the back of my head I was thinking about getting one of these 'some day' if the price was right, obviously not at the $1200 original price, fairly tempting at the what... $600 - $700 clearance price? But still not impulse buy pricing. To wit, I got this on the cheap (I'm hoping to be under $500 all in after I get this fixed) but yeah, the electronics currently don't work.

Now that the ones people bought on clearance are hitting the used market and youve got that filtering out the duds and lowering the prices more, that seems like a more reasonable arrangement for trying one out or getting one for a Warmoth neck swap.

Assuming the repair works out, I'm tossed up between tweaking it to be more James Tyler like (pickguard and maybe neck) or more strat-like, the way this guy did his, sans 'true temperament':

 

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Señor Member
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Every time I see one of these threads, my mind thinks "James Taylor" instead. Like you're hanging out at home woodshedding on Fire & Rain. :lol:
Further complicated by the fact James Taylor occasionally plays a Variax :lol:



How's it sound for palm muting? That was my problem with my old Variax 700.
The modeling is still not working on this one, but I've followed the palm muting woes a bit.

I heard the palm muting was completely non-existent and/or unusable at one point but was 'corrected' across all lines in a firmware update... I'm not sure if you're talking before or after that. While I've heard the JTV and new standards have a higher resolution audio signal (more on that later), I haven't heard any speculation their palm muting was any better; actually, I believe someone chimed in on the thread about my 300 on SSO and said the palm muting on the OLDER models might be better because of the saddle and piezo element design. As far as my experience with the palm muting on the 300, it's definitely usable... if nobody ever told me palm muting was a problem, I probably would've never notice but my only critique is that it's a little more aggressive than how hard I actually think I'm picking but still fairly convincing. YMMV

As far as the whole 'higher resolution audio' thing and how convincing the output of these is, I can understand the skepticism based on Line 6's meh reputation in the modeling world. I typed up a long write-up about that in my previous 300 thread and an amended version in the sister thread to this on SSO, but the more pertinent point, I'm not convinced it takes a tremendous amount of modeling ability or processing power to do what these are doing. That Yamaha Silent Guitar was my first fore into simulated instruments via piezo elements and EQing, and that was convincing enough that I didn't see how what the Variax does could be any more difficult. The extra horsepower in the newer models might help on some of the more elaborate settings like the 12-strings or sitar, but I'm still not entirely convinced the processor should show an appreciable difference in the basics like the strat/tele/lp or 6-string acoustic models. :2c:
 

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Dream Crusher
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It's just that the physics of palm muting on a piezo element are different than a magnetic pickup; I'd be interested to see how that might have changed. I had a first gen Variax, though, back in I think 2004ish?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Massive grain of salt since I don't have this particular newer model working yet, but most indications I've seen say the physical aspects of the piezo setup hasn't change in a way conducive to picking up on palm muting any better. I mentioned the modeling aspect because I *think* the fix was to increase the gain/sensitivity on the piezo saddles, which obviously requires SOME modeling since you're compensating for the absence of vibration reaching the pickups in the saddle.

I'm terrible with sticking to promises of clips but when I get this going, I'll try to do an A/B of the palm muting next to the 300.

EDIT: I don't know how the mag vs. modeling blending works but I suppose you COULD blend the magnetic pickups in some and that'll 'hear' the palm muting a little more accurately? Just an idea.
 
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