Hi guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, and today I have one heck of a treat for you guys today, because I get to do a hands on review of the Line 6 JTV-59. The JTV is a continuation of the musical dynamo that was the original Variax, this new and improved version improves upon the design in a multitude of ways. The first and most important being, that this features a new dual core processor, which really shines up, and improves the models from the original Variax, adding everything from the addition of body resonance, to the ability to do altered tuning on 12 string guitars. However, this is all “under the hood details” the real “in your face” difference about this guitar, is the fact that this guitar looks nothing like the first range of Variax guitars. This guitar is a classic Single cut, with a wrap around bridge, and two James Tyler humbuckers.
That’s right, this guitar also functions as well…just a guitar! You can just play though the standard humbuckers and never even have to fiddle with the wealth of electronics that live inside the body, and you wouldn’t be disappointed in the sound at all. The JTV-59 has a very respectable, vintage style voice to it, with clean tones that shimmer and distorted tones that just sing. However, while having a great sounding guitar is good, most great sounding guitars don’t have a computer sitting in the back of them, most of them don’t have a thousandth the power that a guitar like this has.
because with the flip of a switch, this guitar quickly transforms from a great sounding single cut guitar, with some rather PAF sounding pickups, to an acoustic 12 string, or a Stratocaster, or for that matter, a banjo. Because this is, after all, a Variax. That means that this is a modeling guitar at heart, even if it covers it up well. The tones available to a guitar like this rise exponentially when you use it with almost any of the Line 6 PODs, or almost any of their amplifiers, as you will quickly have the ability to change your pedals, the sound of the amp, and the guitar that you’re playing with the flick of a switch or the push of a button.
The models included onboard the Variax are a regular cavalcade of the most sought after studio guitars and sounds you could ever dream of. Sure, it doesn’t have everything, but it does have everything you could really need in a studio, or live situation. As a normal guitar, you have more than enough tones at your finger tips, as the PAF style humbuckers are a real force to be reckoned with tonally. However, activating the Variax circuit and suddenly having a telecaster would be a god send on a country gig, being able to switch from a dirty LP sound, to a clean spanky tele without having to switch guitars or deal with the not-so-realistic sound of a coil splitter in a live setting, perfection. On a rock gig, during the big ballad-y numbers, being able to switch from a soft acoustic 12 string to a soaring shred solo, without having to deal with one of those acoustics on a stand, now that is something that you just cant live without.
Some of the more out there sounds, like the Resonator guitars, the banjo, or the sitar are surprisingly handy, and you’ll quickly find them worming their way into your playing in no time. They also are surprisingly accurate, having played a good deal of Dobro, and tricone reso’s in my time, these models are surprisingly accurate with all of that steely snap and sparkle that made these guitars so iconic. The banjo is a fun thing to mess with here and there, and the ability to change tunings with the twirl of a knob makes this model so much more accurate.
Speaking of a tunings, this guitar has the ability to change tunings in the blink of an eye, which is amazingly useful once you get the hang of it. As someone who regularly has to carry around a spare guitar just so he can play slide in open G, having the ability to just transform the tuning, without having to actually retune would be amazing. It works a lot better than expected as well, as long as your amplifier is loud enough to mask the “real” note of the string, which doesn’t change, as the guitar actually digitally changes the pitch, rather than mechanically changes it. There is even room to store custom settings and create custom guitars with the Line 6 Workbench software.
The Variax was a game changer when it hit the scene a few years ago, and now the James Tyler versions of these fine instruments are set to do the same, with the combination of killer looks, killer tones, and killer computing, these guitars really are in a league all their own. Having the ability to carry around 26 guitars in one discrete gig bag is a power that just can’t be denied. All of the models are as accurate as the human ear can tell, probably more so thanks to the power of the new processors and hi-tech computing inside the Variax’s internal computer. For its ability to be a litteral Jack of all trades, being the ultimate studio and live guitar, the Line 6 JTV-59 earns an easy 10 out of 10, and if I wasn’t stuck with a 10 out of 10 grading scale, you can bet I would give this a higher score.