Three stars (Really Good)
What I like:
This is a really nice guitar. It's designed well, the fit and finish were very good, and the locking tuners were a nice touch. It's a good deal smaller and lighter than an actual Strat, but it's not stupid looking. The stock pickups sound pretty good, but I hardly ever use them (I mean, why would you when you have pretty accurate imitations of some of the best electric guitars ever brought to market?) The tremolo bridge is very nice and reminds me of the system G&L uses on their guitars. I like the feel of the neck and the jumbo frets.
My favorite electric guitar models include their Strat, Les Paul, Firebird, Gretsch 6120, ES-335, and L5. For digital recreations, these instruments really sing and respond well to playing dynamics. They also interact well with every amp or simulated amp I've played them through. Nice job Line6.
The Workbench software is fun too. Very easy to use, and I've tweaked a few of the instruments that I wouldn't have used into models that fit my style better. I love that flexibility.
Nice long battery life. I like that you can turn down the volume knob to save the battery without having to unplug.
What I wish was better:
The acoustic models really disappoint me. There are almost no midrange frequencies present, and I find them overly piercing and boomy at the same time. No good. They sound very synthetic if you're picking arpeggios and the processor just doesn't seem to have the power to consistently push out a well modeled acoustic low E. It's better if you're just strumming. Overall, if you're looking for an instrument that does electric and acoustic sound really well, the Taylor T5 is probably the way to go. The JTV easily does electric guitar better, but the T5 demolishes this thing when you want to sound like an acoustic.
The 12 string guitars sound really bad. Again, it's particularly bad when you're trying to pick individual notes. The modeled high octave notes sound like a vocalist with a bad scooping habit. When strumming the 12 string models, it sounds less like an actual 12 string guitar and more like a 6 string going through a cheap chorus pedal with the wet/dry knob maxed out.
The digitally altered tuning is a nice idea, but once again the processor on board this thing can't quite get it done. The higher your gain, the less noticeable the processing lag is. I might go to dropped D in a live setting where I'm not the featured rhythm instrument driving the song, but I'll certainly never record with the tuning digitally altered. Not quite good enough.
Not a fan of the gig bag! Above a certain price point, all guitars should have tuners made of nicer material than snot colored plastic (are you listening Gibson???), included strap locks, and a nice hard case. For the price, the JTV should come in something better than ugly padded canvas with a zipper.
Typical Line6. Loaded with features, but some features sound way better than others, and you’ll probably only use a few of them with any regularity. What the JTV does well it does fantastically well. In my opinion the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, and this little guitar is worth the investment. I'm excited to see what Line6 and others do to make the next generations of digital guitars even better.