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Line 6 JTV-59 Variax - Black Reviews

4.5 stars based on 16 customer reviews
Questions about the Line 6 JTV-59 Variax - Black?

Questions about the Line 6 JTV-59 Variax - Black?

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  • from Tinley Park, Il November 26, 2015Music Background:
    Passionate Hobbyist / Weekend Musician

    Constantly Inspired by my JTV-59

    I picked up a B-Stock deal on the black JTV-59 in March, and still can't find any flaws on this awesome instrument. Everytime I pick it up, something new comes out of the collaboration between my fingers and the host of tonal options available with this guitar. First off, this guitar is a well made, well balanced, solid performer. Quality hardware, smooth frets, stable tuning, a comfortable neck (even for my small hands), and very good sounds from both the humbuckers and the piezo bridge. Stand alone, straight into an amp, it sounds excellent, and is so versatile. Being able to change tunings with just the turn of a knob is priceless for playing along with and learning new songs for the cover band I play in. When I mate it with my HD500X, the possibilities become endless. It has not let me down one bit, on stage or in practice. I had been scoping these out for a while, so glad I made the investment in my guitar playing.

    As usual, Sweetwaters service was impeccable from sale, to delivery, to follow up, thanks again Micheal and your staff.

  • from Austin, TX February 27, 2015Music Background:
    Christian Musician

    JTV-59 TS Great Guitar

    I used the JTV-59 in combination with an HD500x for a three day spiritual retreat. They performed flawlessly while I switched from acoustic to electric, to bass sounds for different songs. I had already used them a few times in the praise band at church for their five song sets. The spiritual retreat was 72 hours with lots of music. Thank you for these products and the great service from Sweetwater.

  • from St. Louis August 3, 2013Music Background:
    More-than-a-hobby for 14 years, gigging, recording, covers, originals, etc.

    Yes!

    Starting with cosmetics/appearance: This guitar is beautiful. Enough said!

    Feel: It's roughly 8 lbs, it feels solid and the hardware is also very solid. I.e. there are no loose tuners, knobs, switches, etc. and they don't feel like they would snap easily, either. The neck feels just like a top-notch Paul Reed Smith, to which I have played a few. I'd take this guitar over a PRS any day. The only negative mark I'll add on feel is that the neck becomes very fat where it meets the body (about the 17th fret), which makes it very hard to keep your dexterity on the bassier strings, if speed is your thing, but this doesn't affect my playing style at all!

    Sound: With the Variax modeling turned completely off, you run straight through the humbuckers that are shown in the photo, which sound amazing. The lead position sounds beautiful compared to many other guitars, which have entirely too much treble and not enough bass on the lead position, this guitar is balanced perfectly, in my opinion on the lead position. The rhythm position is adds a lot of low end, just the right amount, and also remains crystal clear, whereas many other guitars lose all the treble on the rhythm switch, causing a very muddy tone. I give this guitar's rhythm position 5 stars! The middle position, on the other hand, I believe sets the pickups out of phase (if you don't know what that means, look up "phase inverter" on a search engine and see what that means for humbuckers--it's usually described as a slight volume drop and a "nasal" sound--very unpopular). Now, on to the Variax modeling...

    The possibilities become endless at this point! The modeling is rather spot on, although I've found that the Les Paul models (including the Juniors) have a bit too much lows. The Fenders are spot on, the Gibson ES-335 is possibly my favorite for cleans ("Semi" model with the white light on). The sitars, banjos and resonators are cool to play around with, but I have no practical use for these, so I will say that I'm pleased with them, simply for lack of experience with these instruments. I bought this guitar for the tuning flexibility mainly.

    The Variax Workbench is a very handy piece of software that allows you to absolutely 100% customize this guitar. In your custom slots (you get 10, I believe), you can pick any of the preloaded bodies (which makes a big sound difference, believe it or not), any of the preloaded pickups (my favorite are the P90s) and you can program that patch to play any tuning you want, as well. What's more is that you can move the pickups to any position you want. I.e. you can slide the virtual position of the pickups as close to or are faraway from the bridge as you want, down to the .01"!!! Like I said, 100% customizeable. But, as with anything ever made from Line 6, there is a very steep learning curve, so you will be sitting behind your computer and guitar for at least 8-12 hours before you can "kick the training wheels off."

    This guitar is built with great quality! Is 100% customizable and can accurately emulate DOZENS of guitars in ANY tuning and you can switch between any of these presets in the blink of an eye! I have a song with my band where I start off the intro/verse using a 12-string acoustic in standard and then switch to a distortion for the chorus, using Les Paul model with a B-E-A-D-G-B tuning, and I'm able to go back into the verse to the 12-string, back into the chorus with the Les Paul and so on, virtually seamless!

    It is expensive, but it is worth it! This guitar costs less than just ONE of the classics it models flawlessly, so I consider that a good bargain. If you play in one band and stick to the same tuning, same sound, same genre, this guitar isn't so much for you. It's for the guitarists who want multiple tunings, multiple sounds and the versatility of multiple guitars, to whom I would absolutely recommend this guitar!

  • from PA November 6, 2012Music Background:
    Musician

    Line six Variax

    This guitar is awesome. Looks great, sounds incredible. Easy to lean all the basic functions. I haven't put it through the POD or used the additional software tools so can't comment on that however the sounds right out of the box are excellent. The 12 string shimmers and even the twang of e sitar is wild. This is no toy. The guitar has weight, the action is low, the neck is beefy and this guitar rocks. I was a little skeptical on the alternate tunings function but it works and I'm blown away. If you want a great functional electric. This is your guitar.

  • from Western PA March 8, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Church Musician

    You will NOT find more versatility anywhere...

    Disclaimer: I am a Line6 endorsee... however, there is NO written agreement that I must talk nicely or talk at all about this product, so this review is my own opinion apart from that very casual "business" relationship. I have highly recommended Line 6's products for years, and this is the one I've been most happy with, at least initially. Also, for the way I do music ("two-voice guitar") this guitar ONLY works well for me with the POD HD 500, so I have only really used it in that context.

    This guitar is not for everyone. If you are looking for an absolutely perfect rendering of all the guitars, played by themselves through a great amp, with every facet of the sound perfect... that's impossible. If you have the money, just go buy the dozens of guitars that are modeled in here. If you are looking for great sound in the mix with the band, and need to play a lot of different guitars, this is for you. So I'm weighting this review towards that second person, and giving it 5 full enthusiastic stars.

    You can NOT find more versatility in an instrument than in this guitar. All of the different sounds are very convincing, the ability to fine-tune them with the Workbench software means that you can change them even beyond what is available (including some really "wacky" pickup combinations that you'd NEVER find or install in a regular guitar, but can try out with this one rather easily). Tele? yup. Acoustic? Oh, yeah (although there is a strange "mid-range hump" that you have to tame with eq... not much different than a piezo equipped guitar, and easily done with a combination of "virtual mike placement" in the Workbench software and EQ in whatever you are connecting to). The magnetic pickups sound great to my ears, too. Blending two sounds, either two different electric sounds (mags + modeling) or an electric and acoustic, with the HD 500 is a WHOLE lot of fun.

    I like the Tele model a lot, the Gretsch model, and the Strat. The 12-string Rickenbacker is an insane amount of fun as are the acoustic 6- and 12-string models. Those and the built-in magnetic pickups are the ones I'm using the most, although I am OFTEN using the built-in magnetic pickups with an acoustic model, processed separately. One thing! The octaves up on the 12-string guitars (especially the G) have an occasional odd warbling issue that really doesn't affect how I play, except for 12fret harmonics (which are sometimes an issue). Line6 has hinted that this might be addressed in the imminent software update, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and edit this later if needed. (Even if they don't fix that, I'm still enthusiastic about my 5-star rating.)

    There are very few "what is up with that" "blemishes" found in my sample, such as a tiny finish flaw on the back of the neck (that I didn't even notice for about a month and doesn't affect playability) and some weird grooves in the fingerboard right next to the frets, which you also have to look really hard to even find. These are the kinds of things I'd never expect to see in a top-quality US-made instrument. However, the instrument more than holds up with others in its price class, including US-made Fenders (my Variax is the Korean-made one, not the US-made one, which I have not even seen). The weight is a little less than a good Les Paul (there is a LOT of wood routed out for the electronics, so it's similar to a chambered Les Paul). The neck is pretty chunky, like a 50s Les Paul neck. Just the way I like it.

    The guitar plays, handles and balances very very well. The action and setup were spot-on when it arrived. I only needed the tiniest neck adjustment after a few weeks (totally to be expected in a mahogany instrument that moves to a new climate), and I raised the action just a smidge (I like my action higher than many). The fretwork is outstanding, the neck is totally straight and level, and the quality of the hardware seems to be rock solid. There have been some reports of the knobs and switches giving problems on early units, but I waited a year after they came out, and my instrument has no issues with any of those things. (I will admit, however, that I think the knobs are butt-ugly up close, but look fine from normal distance.

    The VDI cable is a minor pain to plug in (you really can't strap on and then plug in, the guitar gets in the way of itself and you have to open a "door" and then plug in the VDI cable), but once you have it plugged in, you're good to go. With the HD 500 this is a REVELATION in tweakability and sound variation. Running the Workbench software will probably be necessary for anybody, as I had to equal out the levels of the different models (to my taste) and raise them to match the volume of the magnetics (which I lowered a lot... because I like my pickups low off the strings.) Also, with the Workbench software, you can create any pickup combo you can imagine (as long as it's only two pickups, you can't do three or more). two humbuckers in the exact same spot? no problem. A lipstick pickup and a Filtertron at odd angles out of phase on a hollow-body Jazz box? No problem... I think this might be a cool guitar for somebody experimenting with odd sound combos to figure out if they want to buy a specific guitar. I think the sound combinations on this guitar might be nearly infinite, but most of us will go with the tried and true.

    One small thing. I am a guy that likes the pole pieces on my neck pickup "out" a bit and the ones on my bridge pickup "in" a teeny bit. Somebody at Line6 must agree with me, because that's how my guitar arrived, which is nice, because the pole pieces on the pickups seem VERY stiff compared to other guitars, and I appreciate not having to adjust them.

    Lastly, some have reported an issue with "palm-muting" strings, and indeed, when you palm mute on this guitar (when using the modeling sounds) you have to adjust how you do it, because it responds differently than regular magnetic pickups, especially with very high-gain sounds. I don't use those high-gain sounds and can report that I have very little trouble with this issue on the electric sounds, but a little bit on the acoustic sounds, where I find I need to adjust more. Line 6 is apparently improving this for the next update, but even without that update, I am still satisfied with the way this works on my guitar. You should definitely check this guitar out in person if you can and see if this issue is one that does or doesn't affect you and your playing style.

    I can't highly recommend this product enough!

  • from New York September 27, 2011Music Background:
    Record Producer and Musician

    Must have for any Studio.

    WOW!!! This guitar is the future of guitars. It does exactly what it says and it does it well. I use this with my la610-mkii and man does this guitar sound great. Even without the modeling the guitar sounds and feels just amazing. Where else can you change the tuning a 12 string with a turn of a knob or run the sitar threw a wah pedal. Dont think, just get it! You will never pick up another guitar.

  • from Leeds, Yorkshire, UK. June 10, 2011Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Finally Settled In - And Staying!

    For the first 48 hours, I hated this guitar. I really regretted selling my 500, because it felt and sounded much better.......but that was because I stupidly expected to be able to simply plug the JTV-59 into my Pod X3 Live and use all the same patches....you know....the ones that I'd taken 6 months to perfect, and it didn't happen...... because it's not the same guitar!
    What it is, is a beautifully crafted, resonant stunner of a guitar, far better sounding than previous the Variax models (I also have a 700).
    A little reprogramming, and a firmware update from Line 6 Monkey, and my patches sound better than ever.
    I've had to change from Ernie Ball Slinky up to 11-49's as the higher frets combined with my over strong fingers meant awful sounding notes near to the nut, but thats not a big deal. It plays very well, and the neck feels great.
    To be honest, it could have done without the pick ups from a playability point of view, but it does look stunning with them!
    I sit off stage, waiting to go on, and watch it shine under the stage lights. Drool.
    Well worth waiting for, and a welcome addition to my life!

  • from Buchanan Dam, Texas September 26, 2013Music Background:
    Vocalist, bassist, 12-string player (for 38 years), and now 6-string player. Church musician.

    If you've been thinking about it, do it now!

    The JTV-59 is a good-looking, great SOUNDING guitar, whether I'm using the modeling or the built-in mag pups. Out of the fifty models in "memory", there are only two I don't expect to ever use (no, the sitar is NOT one of those two). It was easy, out-of-the-box and plug into the amp. The most difficult part of owning the JTV-59 is learning where all the different models are. I love it.

    There IS one thing I would change if I were making this instrument: I'd lighten it a bit. Mine is (only) eight pounds, but, after hanging it on my 62-year-old shoulder for an hour, I don't want to pick it up again 'til the next day. I'm lucky I do most of my practicing while sitting at my desk.

  • from Nashville, TN September 14, 2012Music Background:
    Semi-Pro Guitar Player

    Great Tool for a Working Guitarist! Problem Solver!

    I bought this guitar 11 months ago hoping it would solve a few problems for me. I'm a 46 year old guy who played in the bars every weekend from 15 -25, quit for 20 years and then starting playing again. I play in a two local rock cover bands, one classic hard rock and the other 90's and newer rock, it just for fun, but it's a good show.

    I've owned 30+ guitars including Les Paul's, SG's, Strat's, Tele's, Ibanez, Jackson, ESP, PRS, Taylor, Martin, Ovation and recently four guitars custom built for me so I know a quality guitar when I feel it and hear it. At this point in my life I can afford to play what I want to play (within reason) and am willing to spend a few bucks to uncomplicate things so I can just play hard and have fun.

    Anyway, the music I am covering had me taking five guitars an stage, two acoustic & three electric, all with different tunings (drop D, drop Db/down 1/2, open D#, 1/2 down, standard) and using capos on a couple of songs also. All of my custom built guitars have floating trems so I was either setting them up for the tuning or using trem blocks/locks. Hauling all those in wasn't as bothersome as the delay between songs changing guitars and often tuning because they came out sitting under the lights.

    I was already using an HD500 in my pedal board (another great tool) so I thought I would give this JTV Variax guitar a shot. To be perfectly honest I thought I would probably end up selling it on eBay a month later. 11 months later I use it on stage almost exclusively, only changing when I have to have a tremolo. I will be buying a JTV-69 shortly and then won't change guitars all night unless a break a string.

    It feels solid, looks great and was very playable right out of the box, but to be perfectly honest the intonation needed some work (typical of mass production guitars), I had it PLEK'd (wasn't really necessary, I'm just anal), minor filing of the nut for the strings I use, changed the tuners out to Schaller locking (tuner are a little cheap) and changed the strap buttons out to Schaller locking.

    The magnetic pickups sound good, are very responsive and I use them often when I don't need to use the alternate tuning feature (you have to engage the modeling to use alt tuning). The guitar models are all very usable, responsive and as far as I can tell fairly authentic sounding, even though, like most of us I've never actually owned a 1952 Les Paul Gold Top w/P-90's, 1956 Gretsch Silver Jet or 1960 ES-335. I use 7-8 of the guitar model in any given night.

    I've now bought a DT50 head, played over an Egnator 212 cab, to round out the Line 6 "Dream Rig".

    I can now move seamless from acoustic sections of songs to electric sections even if they have different tunings or capo's, of course you need the HD500 to do that "seamlessly". Actually, I can change guitars, tunings, amps/preamps, strings of effects...virtually everything with one button.

    I take a fully charged extra Variax battery on stage with me just in case, but I've never had to replace a battery during a gig. As a matter of fact I often go two weeks of practice and rehearsal on one battery charge.

    The only thing I would ask Line 6 to consider on the JTV-59 is to reverse the positions of the volume and tone with the guitar model and tuning selector switches so the volume knob is easier to access. This problem doesn't exist on the 69 or 89 (baffling design decision).

    I highly recommend this guitar. The electronics do what they are supposed to do, it's super easy to set up and use and you won't hesitate to take this guitar to the stage.

  • from Nashville, TN November 7, 2011Music Background:
    Club musician with 35 intermittent years experience.

    Variax voodoo inside a solid guitar! Worth 2X the price!

    I've owned many Line 6 effects processors and one amp and I've read many reviews of the earlier versions of Variax guitars so I expected the electronics to function as advertised, but was very skeptical that the JTV-59 would be a guitar I would want to take to the stage. I'm a middle age guy who's played almost every guitar brand worth mentioning in the past 35 years. My middle age crisis drove me back to the stage in a band that covers rock from the last 20 years and I find myself playing four electric guitars and one acoustic with a total of five tunings. Unless you have a guitar tech off stage (and, I don't) It's a pain in the a*#, so I thought I would give this thing a shot. I couldn't be happier I did. This is a very good guitar without the Variax. It feels solid, looks great and sounds like you'd expect (hope) a neck through, mahogany/maple/rosewood, dual humbucker (les paul styled) guitar to sound. Then you activate the Variax and start running through the models...awesome, better than expected and everyone is usable. Then you experiment with the alternate tunings and capos.....VooDoo!!! It works, it actually works! The only reason I gave it a 4.5 is the ghost notes you hear when using alternate tunings at lower volumes. Turn it up and their gone. I'm headed to the stage with one guitar in hand. I highly recommend this guitar to anyone who doesn't want (and can't afford) 20 guitars in the studio or five on the stage.

  • from warwick Rhode Island July 13, 2011Music Background:
    regular gigging musician,25+ years playing.

    Awsome axe!

    I love this guitar,for my personal situation (cover band)it fits perfectly,the alt.tuning abililty is my favorite,many review this as a great recording guitar,but as for the variaty of sounds ,electric and acoustic,and the tunings,it works great in that aspect,I got this one from the "new" batch ,and I did have to send it back for switch replacement is the only reason I did not give it a five star rating,the acoustics are much better than previous variax models,is it dead on ,no but for the many possibilities it offers well worth ,the small differences,highly recommend it!!!!

  • from Melbourne, Australia June 5, 2011Music Background:
    Committed amateur musician, recording engineer, guitarist

    JTV 59 downunder

    What can I say? Looks great, feels great! I dont know who would bother using the mag pups, when you've got 25 of the finest guitars ever built in there as well!
    Definitely benefits from a pro luthier setup, and for those not used to higher fret heights, it takes a little getting used to, particularly down near the nut. Latency is not an issue, unless you're dropping the tuning of all strings (a bit of processing there on the fly) but not a deal buster.
    Good neck dimension selection too, as the Line 6 guys have clearly thought about the acoustic finger-pickers (yours truly included) in the specs.
    Beautifully quiet electrics and well built.
    Very glad I bought it!

  • from April 5, 2015

    Great Guitar!

    I bought the JTV-59 strictly for the acoustic and sitar modeling to use for recording purposes. The acoustic and sitar sounds are incredible but I am really impressed with the electric models and the regular magnetic pickups in the guitar. Also hooking it up to my POD HD500 using a VDI cable is essential to get the most of this. The ability to have a modeled guitar in one path and the magnetic pickups in another via the POD is incredible. Check out some of Sean Halley's videos on Line 6 about the Variax and the possibilities to be had with the POD HD and Variax.
    The only reason I do not give the JTV-59 5 stars is because there was not any information included by Line 6 regarding setup. I couldn't find anything on the Line 6 website and nothing with the guitar. You get a bag of Allen Wrenches and you are left on your own. But the guitar was pretty much set up to my liking by Sweetwater so I didn't have really do anything and Sweetwater tech support was very helpful. I just think that Line 6 should have included a basic setup guide regarding this guitar.
    I would also recommend not going to light on the string gauge with this guitar. The guitar came with 0.10's and I put some 0.09's on and I noticed a "plinky" sound coming from the 6th string when using the modeling. After sifting through Line 6 forums and videos I found that it is recommended to use a heavier gauge string because of the piezo pickups respond better. Again, if there was a set up guide I wouldn't have wasted time using a lighter gauge.
    I have noticed that some people have complained that the neck is a little a big and a little harder to play. I noticed it too but after playing it for a few hours it's hardly noticeable and I actually prefer this neck. The notes seem to sustain better. What I was told by Line 6 is that the neck has to be a little bigger in order to minimize "crosstalk" on the piezos.
    The great thing about this guitar is that it has sparked creativity with me. By integrating it with the POD HD500 and being able to go from a Les Paul in standard tuning, to a neck pickup Strat, to a 12-string acoustic in drop D, to a sitar all within a second by the click or flip of a switch is incredible.
    Pick one up, you will be extremely with your purchase! Also let me add that if you have any questions with this guitar call Sweetwater they are extremely helpful and knowledgeable and will save you a lot of time so you you can spend it playing!

  • from Fredericksburg,VA December 23, 2014Music Background:
    publishing sales, teaching

    Brains & Beauty

    Plays great, sounds great and advances the sport! It's brand new, and only time will tell as to wear & tear, for me it is definitely a tool for advancing one's ear, playing and creativity.

  • from Syosset NY May 3, 2012Music Background:
    Musician

    Amazing!

    I have been playing for 45 years and own over 20 guitars, many of them vintage. I was reluctant buying the Variax because there were no stores that carried them in my area and I would be buying it without hearing and feeling it. Just listening to youtube demonstrations was not enough. After months of hemming and hawing, I decided to order it online. When I opened the box, I was very impressed with the craftmenship but I would have to play and hear it for myself.The sounds were amazing. Very realistic renditions of all the guitars and I own many of the vintage guitars that are being reproduced. The feel of the neck and body is very similar to the Les Paul. I do have one problem with the guitar and that is it does not stay in tune.I will give the strings some time to stretch as they are new but it should have locking tuning pegs and the JTV-59 does not come with a tremelo bar which the guitar needs. The alternate tuning works well and the vitual capo also works well.The acoustics are great. I really don't have to carry 10 guitars every time I play anymore. I reccomend this guitar to everyone.

  • from Dallas, Tx July 30, 2014Music Background:
    Avid Amateur

    Disappointing Quality

    Purchased this recently as a backup to my beloved JTV-69-S. The Variax sounds are great, just as expected. However, the build quality was a huge disappointment.

    Out of the box the frets needed to be leveled. My first clue was that the strings buzzed in several places. A quick check with my handy fret rocker revealed that nearly all of the even number frets were high.

    I'm also disappointed in the magnetic pickups. I expected a little more PAF or even Burstbucker type tone, but these pickups are weak in comparison.

    While I would highly recommend the JTV-69, I would have to steer my friends away from this JTV-59.

Questions about the Line 6 JTV-59 Variax - Black?

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