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Line 6 JTV-59 Variax - Cherry Sunburst Reviews

4.5 stars based on 11 customer reviews
Questions about the Line 6 JTV-59 Variax - Cherry Sunburst?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Jeff Jent

    When I'm working in my studio, I often need to use different guitars for different songs. Sometimes this can "kill the vibe", or be a hassle that takes away from the fun of simply playing guitar. This is why my Line 6 JTV-59 Variax is now my go-to electric guitar. It sounds more like a strat than my strat! And having the 12-string electric sound available at my fingertips (without having to tune 12 strings) is awesome! I haven't even taken my baritone electric out of its case since getting the JTV. Plus, I've actually started writing in alternate tunings (something I previously had no desire to do). Ultimately this guitar makes me more excited about playing and always provides some inspiration in my studio!

  • from Raleigh, NC February 24, 2015Music Background:
    Gigging Musician

    JTV-59

    This guitar does a wonderful job at nailing various guitars and tunings. Enables me to bring less guitars to gigs now! Very pleased with it and getting pictures of the exact guitar I purchased prior to receiving it, blew me away. Sweetwater is Top Notch!

  • from October 8, 2013

    This is the answer

    I'm no expert on vintage guitars. All I know is that when I pick this thing up and plug it into my HD500x, I have the most amazing banquet of sounds at my disposal. I'm able to pretty much get whatever sound I'm aiming for with any song. I took it to a friend's house who IS an expert at vintage guitars. He closed his eyes and was able to identify the Gibson ES355 spot on as soon as I dialed it in and started playing. The acoustics take some getting used to because you're playing on an electric body. You have to develop a very sensitive touch or you'll squeeze every chord out of tune. You also lose the ability to do percussive stuff with the guitar body. But still, worth EVERY penny!

  • 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 Los Angeles, CA March 13, 2011Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Songwriter, Engineer, Producer

    A BEAUTIFUL INSTRUMENT

    Well, my JTV 59 arrived yesterday and having never seen one in person, I have to admit I was extremely nervous. Would it play well? Would it sound OK? Would it deliver on the promise of alll the videos? The simple answer is YES, YES and definitely YES. WOW.

    This is a beautifully crafted, amazing piece of technology. It's everything that I have come to expect from Line 6. The sounds are pristine. The action, intonation, construction...all perfect. I simply LOVE this guitar. Stayed up all night playing it, tyring the sounds, replacing old tracks in Pro Tools and Logic. This is going to be one of the most useful tools in my studio. Thanks again, Line 6. You guys are the masters.

    BTW - also got a JTV - 69. See review.

  • from Minnesota December 1, 2015Music Background:
    Student

    Almost everything works perfectly

    I've waited quite a while to write this review; I bought the guitar used off eBay about 18 months ago and waited until now to ensure that I was able to really figure everything out about the JTV-59

    Looks: It is gorgeous. Mine came used, so I had a few dents (that were talked about on the listing) but the sunburst finish was flawless and the craftsmanship was world-class. If you're considering the US version and you aren't a millionaire, don't bother; these Korean ones are top notch.

    Magnetics: Pretty good. I actually have found myself frequently using the magnetics instead of the electronic part because it's easier while practicing alone. It sounds like a $500 Les Paul - a middle-high area Epiphone, for example, with better feel.

    Guitar emulation: Everything but the acoustic guitars and weird stuff (banjos, sitars) sound very authentic. The strat ("spank") setting in particular is very very good, as well as the Thunderbird and "Jazzbox". The acoustic and 12-strings are noticeably "digital" sounding, so I would recommend against using them in the studio if that's something you are interested in.

    Software: Quite good. Easy enough to set up and I don't recall ever having connectivity issues. The ability to adjust the pickup settings is amazing, although I wish there were some more options for body types.

    Alternate tuning: Absolutely brilliant, within limits. Don't try doing anything crazy because anything more than about 5 half-steps from normal will sound awful. No bass emulation, sorry. Can be a little difficult to set custom tunings; often, I'll hold down the guitar model button and the guitar turns off. Make sure you read the manual before you try and mess with custom tunings because it can be challenging.

    Battery: Lasts long enough, easy to charge, and being able to always see how much is left is an underrated feature. It's also very easy to buy a second battery and always have one fully charged. Sometimes you can put the battery in the charger and it doesn't charge, so make sure the light comes on before you walk away.

    Ultimately, this is an amazing guitar. I wouldn't trade it for anything other than the US version. It's so easy to switch between tunings and different genres of sounds.

    Full disclosure, I don't play gigs and I'm not a professional musician. However, if I did play a gig, I would have no qualms about using this guitar live. It plays consistently, and if the battery does die, it has the magnetic pickups to fall back on.

    It lost a half-star for a bunch of tiny things. The acoustic guitar sounds are the biggest downfall; they're not great. But 4.5 for crushing my expectations for what I was sure would be a gimmick.

  • from Western kansas January 25, 2015

    This is incredible

    Have you read the reviews on these? they are something else and for good reasons! the pickups themselves are excellent- almost bright with a lot of presence. The models are incredible along with the tuning. The one upgrade i will do in the future is locking tuners however the ones on it are adequate. also, i ahve some complex pieces that I have wrote that are baritone and have harmonics. a little too much to do accurately but I have other instruments for this and it would work if I had to fly across the world. get one of these- actually get all three- this one, the strat model in the shaded model and the locking tuners in that beautiful blood red. Also, get a hd500 model processor. this stuff is excellent!

  • from Southeast Missouri December 3, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist, Student

    Nice Guitar at a Nice Price

    I was originally in the market for a Gibson SG. Looking on Sweetwaters'website, this guitar caught my eye. After reading the reviews and doing some internet research, I decided to take a chance on it. Even though I was nervous about buying a guitar that I have not played before,
    Sweetwater was great to deal with, even sending me pics of my guitar after they had set it up. It arrived a couple days later and I was amazed at how well it played right out of the box. The magnetic pickups are sweet, so the modeling and tuning options are just a bonus. I especially like the acoustic effects. The fit and finish on my guitar is flawless. The fretwork is very good too.Initially had a little noise in the pickup selector switch, but after toggling a couple of times it cleared up and has been fine since. Dust? Overall very satisfied with my purchase. Love an SG but compared to the price of a Gibson, after purchasing this guitar I still have enough money left to buy a nice Epiphone SG. More is better, right?

  • from Virginia MN USA January 15, 2015Music Background:
    Amature 45+yrs playing 8yrs recording also live

    Line 6 JVT-59 Cherry Sunburst

    First I want to say I was very happy with the whole order process! I ordered just before XMas and it only took 2 days to get it, and the box it came in didn't even look like it was handled at all. Guitar itself was the one pictured when I ordered, no surprise's, and in perfect condition(very pretty guitar) It was very playable right out of the box, in fact I did play it for about an hour just as it came (well I tuned it, no duh) then I swapped out strings and did some minor tweeking for my own personal feel.
    The reason I gave a rating of a 4 was because of the neck. I am not a fan of chunky necks. This one is not real thick, but if you are use to 60's style Gibson slim taper necks this will feel fat. If I had tried this in a store I may not have bought it. That would have been a shame though cause after playing for about a month I am more comfortable with it. It does sound very good, and switching models from one to another they do all sound different, and playing them through different amps and pa's you get different results(all pretty darn good) very good acoustics!
    I bought this guitar to use at church for our music, we play a very wide selection of music and the need to switch from acoustic to electric in the same song is why I got this, really does the job!
    I have been playing guitar for over 45 years mostly Gibson LP's and Strat's , one Ovation, and an old Hammer. This guitar sparked new enthusiasm in me! I record my own music just for fun(and in hopes of someday...) This guitar brings a new level to your imagination! I never would have thought I would enjoy slide guitar, so cool, new life to old recordings!! I have only scratched the surface. I have new ideas every day that would never have come without this guitar, and I still have not got into Work Bench, it's fun to get up in the morning again!
    Would give this guitar a 5+ if it had a slim tapper neck, would buy it all over again if they put that on one, in the mean time I will just get used to playing this one, really is a minor issue(really) don't think you will be disappointed, I sure am not, wish I would have gotten it sooner!
    I play this through a Line 6 pod studio KB37 and a variety of amps and PA's and it works well but I am going to get the pod 500x for ease of playing and the L2t to round out the sound can hardly wait!

  • from Carlisle, PA May 29, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist, life long player

    Interesting mix of features and asthetics

    This guitar is interesting. On the one hand, it is a perfectly playable Les Paul style guitar with decent enough dual humbuckers that for the price make this an OK deal. But then you have the built in modeling which gives you a pretty big selection of other guitar tones, modeled after some of the classics out there, namely Strats, Teles, Gretsch and Les Paul guitars of varying degrees, Rics and acoustics -- not to mention a resonator, banjo and sitar emulation. If you happen to own Line 6 POD HD500(x) series modeler, these two items work in concert to give you a one button access to a guitar, amp and selected effects models. very cool if you can get the sounds you like and aren't uber picky about their authenticity. They aren't bad per say, just not the real deal.

    My real problem if I have one is with the overall build quality and the complexity of the guitar itself. I had a knob that I had to pad to get to stay on for starters. Then, I had to do a decent setup because the low E and A strings buzzed like crazy giving me overtones I loathed. Fortunately, I am capable of doing that so no big deal, but still I think it ought to be more "quality" controlled before it gets to me. There is also the matter of the 3 position selector switch which has felt from day one like it was on the verge of breakage. So far, so good in 8 months of ownership, but it just feels funky as heck. The this and the knob are especially annoying because it is just an example of corners cut.

    As to the complexity, well the reason I say that is simply this; When it all works, great. The switch I mentioned above would be a nightmare to change in my opinion because a) it is not a normal toggle switch and likely has extra leads and b) digging into this guitars wiring as basically a computerized guitar would be very daunting, meaning that even if you've got experience in wiring guitars as I do, I still would likely have to take this in for service which equals $$$. Just a word to the wise that you should know what you are buying and accept these things as how it is.

    Despite those misgivings, I give this a 4 because it plays well and does a tone of things pretty darn well overall and it's fun to play "let's try this today", no doubt.

  • from Carlisle, PA November 26, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    Amended Review based on one year of straight studio usage

    First off, IF this thing worked correctly it would still retain the original $ rating I gave it (see review by Steve - below). But here's the thing...when you turn off the modelling on my guitar, the bridge magnetic pickup does not work. Now, if I switch back and forth multiple times I can USUALLY get it to kick on, sometimes even full volume. Most times, I get seriously reduced volume or worse, scratchy static along with partial volume. It straight up sucks actually.

    Yeah, I know Sweetwater would likely take my guitar and try to fix it and God bless them for offering. I have an extensive background in electronics, and I have built my own guitars from parts and also am actually certified in soldering so I can do that myself. First of all though, to me, this guitar shouldn't be doing this and if you check online I am not the only victim of this cheap 3-way switch that Line 6 is using. Worse though is the fact that this is no standard three way switch owing to the fact that this is a modelling guitar and that switch does a lot more than switch between a pair of magnetic pickups. Even though I got this at a scratch and dent price, I think that the $900 I paid for it buys me the right to say that Line 6 has failed us in terms of the parts used for a Korean made James Tyler Variax. So far at least, the modelling part at least works and it changes models so far as I can tell (they at least sound different), but I have no degree of confidence that this guitar will be around in 10 years and still work properly.

    Now, this may come off as sour grapes, and maybe it is but everything I have said here is true. And a $900 guitar should not be flaking out like this in a smoke free, controlled environment studio such as mine. The feel of the switch is all you'd need to say "yeah, that is a cheap feeling piece of kit". In any event, it has me swearing off complicated guitars going forward. I also own 3 American made Stratocasters and an American made Telecaster which I have had over ten years, paid the same (roughly) for and still all work like new. Now, one of these I changed pickups from the basic MIA Strat single coils to a set of Abi-wound Custom Shop 69 pickups and used orange drop caps in the pick guard build, but still the other three 60 year old Fender designs are straight stock and work like new.

    So this is a fair notice to anyone considering this guitar that it may or may not be in it for the long haul.

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