The Future of James Tyler Variax Guitars

Enter a world of guitars that has been expanded by two more models. An existence made broader with modeling both wilder and more serene. A dimension where rationality is nonexistent and sentences routinely end on prepositions. Enter the future.

Line 6 sets out to build upward higher than previously thought possible with their original line of Variax guitars by adding two new models to the roster. And away we all go with our inquiries. Are they just new body shapes? Has the hardware seen any kind of update? Just what can these guitars do that the others cant?

By now we’re creeping up on about two years since the James Tyler Variax was first announced / released and we all knew that the ideas weren’t going to stop there. Since Line 6 has just announced the next installment of JTV guitars now seems like as good a time as any to bring this topic back up.

The Variax Guitars

Before we get too into the new guitars I’d like to take a moment and reflect on what Line 6 and James Tyler have done up to this point with the guitar in hopes that it might better shape our impressions of the advancements that have been made.

Line 6 had teamed up with luthier James Tyler to design a guitar that played as well as the best of them, while being capable of being whatever the guitarist needed it to be at any given time without having to go through much more than the quick twist of a knob or two. From tuning changes to tonal changes like single-coil to humbucker to acoustic to sitar, Line 6 had applied their knowledge on modeling in a new way.

The JTV-59P

Variax JTV-59P

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JTV-69S

Variax JTV-69S

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The JTV-59P, a model reflective of the Les Paul style, and the JTV-69S, the more Strat-like of the two, are designed physically different to appeal to the preferences of the feel of a guitar, but when it comes to the internal hardware both offer the same starting point.

The new models offer 29 different guitar models, some of which do appear on the original trio of Variaxes and the default tunings are all the same, but ultimately these are peripheral details since you can tweak the guitar or even plug it into your computer and use the Variax Workbench software to make your own custom guitar design and save it to the guitar. In the most basic case these are just a good starting place to give you an idea of what the Variax can do, but the real magic is what you actually do with the Variax.

These guitars also include a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that’s good for about 12 hours of playing time and uses four LED lights to show how much life is left. Unlike a lot of batteries in guitars you don’t actually have to unplug the guitar to turn the battery off. Just turn the volume all the way down and it will go into sleep mode. And if you happen to run out of battery life, no problem. It will just bypass the electronics and become a guitar like any other.

For further reading and insights to the development of the James Tyler Variax guitars check out Scott Collins’ interview with Line 6’s Rich Renken here.

The Models

Variax Guitar

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The full list of guitar models includes:

Fender Models

1960 Fender Telecaster Custom
1968 Fender Telecaster Thinline
1968 Fender Telecaster
1959 Fender Stratocaster

Gibson / Epiphone Models

1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard
1952 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop
1961 Gibson Les Paul Custom
1956 Gibson Les Paul Junior
1976 Gibson Firebird V
1955 Gibson Les Paul Special
1961 Gibson ES-335
1967 Epiphone Casino
1957 Gibson ES-175
1953 Gibson Super 400

Gretsch Models

1959 Gretsch 6120
1956 Gretsch Silver Jet

Rickenbacker Models

1968 Rickenbacker 360
1966 Rickenbacker 360-12

Acoustic and Miscellaneous Models

1959 Martin D-28
1970 Martin D12-28
1967 Martin O-18
1966 Guild F212
1995 Gibson J-200
1935 Dobro Model 32
Coral Sitar
Danelectro 3021
Gibson Mastertone Banjo
1928 National Tricone
Eclectic Instrument Model

The default tuning list includes:

Model
Standard: E A D G B E
Drop D: D A D G B E
1/2 Down: Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb
Drop Db: Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb
1 Down: D G C F A D
DADGAD: D A D G A D
Open D: D A D F# A D
Blues G: D G D G B D
Reso G: G B D G B D
Open A: E A C# E A E
Baritone: B E A D F B

Kyle Smitchens (448 Articles)

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.