2011 Line 6 James Tyler Variax JTV59 is a modeling guitar that can sound like many iconic guitars at the flip of a switch. Combine this with a Pod HD 500 and DT25 amp and you have the “Dream Rig” that can sound like most any guitar, any amp and any pedal you ever heard or could dream up.

I changed the tuners to locking tuners as I found some direct replacements that required no drilling. Greatly improved tuning stability and made changing string easier.

The JTV features a beautiful arched flame maple top, mahogany back, and a set mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. A contoured heel makes reaching the upper frets a breeze. The JTV-59 is loaded with a pair custom-wound humbuckers designed by James Tyler. (wound to Tyler’s specs).

I actually owned this same Line 6 JTV-59 model in Black for a while as well, but that one was sold as well.

Black Line 6 JTV-59

Black Line 6 JTV-59

Controls include a 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, a master volume & tones. A rotary model selector dials the 25 virtual guitars plus sitar, banjo, and resonator guitar tones. Pressing the Model knob switches between models and magnetic pickups A rotary alt tuning selector lets you pick from 12 alternate tunings. The fully adjustable Tyler Custom stoptail bridge is fitted with an L.R. Baggs Radiance Hex piezo pickup system for sweet acoustic guitar tones. A Graph Tech Black TUSQ XL nut keeps the strings from gripping and sticking.

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Specs:

  • Top: flamed maple
  • Back: mahogany
  • Neck: mahogany set neck
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Scale length: 24-9/16″
  • Radius: 12″
  • Number of frets: 22
  • Nut: Graph Tech Black TUSQ XL
  • Nut width: 1-11/16″
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Pickups: 2 custom designed PAF style humbucking pickups
  • Bridge: fully adjustable Tyler Custom stoptail bridge with L.R. Baggs Radiance Hex piezo pickup system
  • Tuners: Custom tuners
  • Binding: maple
  • Case: padded gig bag (Made by G & G)
  • Included: Workbench USB adapter, Li-Ion battery, and switching power supply
  • Workbench software downloadable for free from Line 6

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The guitar came with a very well made gig bag, but I picked up a really nice SKB Hard Shell case that fits this guitar perfectly. I also bought an extra battery and charger.

Electric Guitar Models

The electric models are exceptional and easily accessible—but it doesn’t end there. Your JTV-59 also captures the idiosyncracies of each instrument: Volume and Tone controls behave the same as on the original guitars. You can hear the body resonance by just brushing against the strings or tapping on the bridge, without even playing a single note. Humbucker-based guitars tend to be louder than those with single coils. In short, JTV-59 lets you harness the sonic experience of each instrument—full of richness and detail.

To see how to select each instrument, check out the JTV-59 user guide.

T-MODEL

The Fender® Telecaster® put the solidbody electric guitar on the map in 1950—revolutionizing the sound of music. Artists including Keith Richards (“Brown Sugar”), George Harrison (“Let It Be”) and Andy Summers (“Roxanne”) have favored these guitars.

Based on* 1960 Fender® Telecaster® Custom. Leo Fender’s Telecaster®, originally known as the Broadcaster, was the first commercially successful solidbody electric guitar and has been in continuous production for over fifty years, powering the Nashville sound and a long list of rock and jazz guitar luminaries. Note: The neck pickup position of this model, like the original, has a very “deep” sound and the tone control is bypassed.

SPANK

The hugely popular Fender® Stratocaster® can be heard on hits by legendary guitarists Jimi Hendrix (“Foxy Lady”), Stevie Ray Vaughan (“Pride and Joy”), Eric Clapton (“Layla”) and many others.

Based on* 1959 Fender® Stratocaster®. Considered a radical departure when introduced in 1954, the Stratocaster® influenced electric guitar design more than any other single instrument—and its distinctive comfort-contoured body, bolt-on neck and versatile electronics have become industry-standard features. Our model takes one slight liberty—unlike the modeled instrument, the tone control works on the Bridge pickup, too.

LESTER

You’ve seen and heard Les Paul® guitars in the hands of many iconic guitarists including Jimmy Page (“Black Dog”), Slash (“Welcome to the Jungle”), Pete Townshend (“Baba O’Riley”) and others.

Based on* 1959 Gibson® Les Paul® Standard. Gibson’s first solidbody electric design was a collaboration with popular guitarist and recording pioneer Les Paul. Unlike the easy-to-manufacture Fender designs, the Les Paul® retains the carved top and set neck construction of their hollowbody models. The original series was a commercial failure and discontinued in 1961, but a resurgence of popular interest led to its reintroduction in 1968.

SPECIAL

Based on* 1976 Gibson® Firebird V. The Firebird, introduced in 1963, was created with the help of Detroit automobile designer Ray Dietrich. Neck-through construction and Epiphone® style mini-humbuckers gave the Firebird a unique combination of good sustain and a biting, trebly sound—characteristics that made it a favorite of blues slide guitar legend Johnny Winter.

Based on* 1955 Gibson® Les Paul® Special. The Special was added to the Les Paul® line in 1955 as an intermediate step between the utilitarian Junior and more luxurious Standard. A second P-90 provided greater tonal options—and helped make the Special a favorite of reggae legend Bob Marley. Our model is based on the original single-cutaway version.

R-BILLY

Based on* 1959 Gretsch® 6120. The 6120 was the first of several models that Gretsch developed with country guitar whiz Chet Atkins, and is usually associated with the “twangy” sounds of players like Duane Eddy, Eddie Cochran and Brian Setzer. Our model is equipped with Filter’tron hum-canceling pickups.

Based on* 1956 Gretsch® Duo Jet. Gretsch introduced this series in 1955. Though called a solidbody by Gretsch, the Jet series actually has internal hollow chambers that contribute to its light weight and resonant tone. It was the favorite instrument of Cliff Gallup, original lead guitarist for Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps. The guitar we modeled had DeArmond® pickups and a Melita bridge.

CHIME

Based on* 1966 Rickenbacker® 370. Though overshadowed by the success of the 12-string, the 6-string versions of Rickenbacker’s stylish models continue to be popular with players looking for something a bit extraordinary, like Ed O’Brien of Radiohead.

Based on* 1966 Rickenbacker® 370-12. Popularized by George Harrison in The Beatles and Roger McGuinn in the Byrds, the distinctive jangle of the 12-string Rickenbacker® was a significant part of the ’60s rock sound. Our model has the original “toaster” pickups.

SEMI

Based on* 1961 Gibson® ES®-335. The semi-hollow Gibson® blends the tone and sustain of a solidbody with the balance and aesthetics of a hollowbody. The “woody” tone of these guitars made them popular with jazz artists like Larry Carlton and blues greats like B. B. and Albert King. Our model is based on a 1961 dot neck, with PAFs and a stop tailpiece.

Based on* 1964 Epiphone® Casino. Gibson acquired former rival Epiphone in 1957 and began producing Epiphone® guitars in its Kalamazoo factory. John Lennon was particularly fond of the Casino, and continued to record with it long after the breakup of The Beatles. The Casino features P-90 pickups.

JAZZBOX

Based on* 1954 Gibson® ES®-175. Gibson added a sharp “Venetian” cutaway and a fancier fingerboard to the budget ES®-125 model to create the ES®-175. With the addition of a second P-90 pickup in 1953, this quickly became a popular and enduring choice for jazz guitarists.

Based on* 1953 Gibson® Super 400. By the end of the 1940s, changing musical styles found premium archtops like the Super 400 to be lacking in volume. By simply adding the pickups and controls developed for its early electric guitars, Gibson created the electric version of the Super 400 in 1951. Our model is based on the version with P-90s. Check out Scotty Moore (and Elvis) playing a Super 400 in the ’68 Comeback Special.

Acoustic Guitar Models

Select “ACOUSTIC” on the Variax Model Bank knob and use the Pickup Selector switch to choose the desired instrument model. The Volume control acts as a simple level control. Since many acoustic guitars don’t have tone controls, we decided to let you shape the tone of these models by changing the position of a modeled microphone using the Tone knob. Give it a spin to explore a range of tonal flavor for each model.

Based on* 1959 Martin® D-28. The D-28 is generally considered the definitive Martin® flat-top. The Dreadnought (or “D”) body combined with rosewood back and sides produces a full sound ideal for flatpicking.

Based on* 1970 Martin® D12-28. In 1970, Martin added six more strings to the successful D-28 to capitalize on the current folk music trends.

Based on* 1967 Martin® O-18. The smaller “parlor” sized body with mahogany back and sides has a balanced tone ideal for finger-style playing.

Based on* 1966 Guild® F212. Guild’s jumbo-bodied 12-strings offered players the elusive combination of volume and clarity. We’ve modeled the F212 with mahogany back and rims.

Based on* 1995 Gibson® J-200. Easily identified by its impressive size and ornamentation, the J-200 was often played by flashy country and western artists, and was a later favorite of Elvis Presley.

Eclectic Instrument Models

Select “RESO” on the Variax Model Bank knob and use the Pickup Selector switch to choose the desired model.

Based on* 1999 Jerry Jones Shorthorn®. In the ‘60s Danelectro managed to make great-sounding guitars from Masonite and lipstick tubes. In the ‘90s, Jerry Jones continued that tradition with the same materials as their ‘60s counterparts. Our model is with the bridge and neck pickups active.

Based on* 1935 Dobro® Model 32. Though the Dobro® is generally a wood-body instrument, this model is based on an unusual specimen with an all-aluminum body that emphasizes midrange.

Inspired by* the Coral Sitar®. The Coral Sitar® enabled guitarists to get the buzz and drone of a sitar without having to learn a new instrument. On this model, the tone control changes the level of the drone strings.

Inspired by* the Gibson® Mastertone Banjo. The Mastertone series was introduced in 1925 and quickly became the definitive Bluegrass banjo.

Based on* 1928 National® Tricone. The Tricone uses three 6-inch cones mechanically coupled to the bridge to amplify string vibrations. The Tricone has a smoother sound than later, single-cone resonators.

Alternate Tunings

Standard (E A D G B E). By far the most popular tuning on a 6-string guitar.

Drop D (D A D G B E). The low E string is dropped down a full step from Standard tuning. This popular tuning has been used by bands and artists such as Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, Pantera and even The Beatles on “Dear Prudence.”

1/2 Down (Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb). Each string is tuned down one half step compared to Standard tuning. Some of the greatest guitarists of all time, including Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, played almost exclusively 1/2 Down.

Drop Db (Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb). Compared to Drop D, every string is dropped an additional half step. This tuning was made famous by Eddie Van Halen on the 1981 song, “Unchained,” and popularized by bands such as Nirvana on their In Utero album, Evanescence, Linkin Park, System of a Down and more.

1 Down (D G C F A D). This tuning is one full step down from Standard, and used by artists and bands including Elliot Smith, John Fogerty and Shadows Fall. You can also find it on Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” “Lithium” and “Drain You,” as well as Metallica’s “Sad but True” and “Devil’s Dance.”

DADGAD (D A D G A D). This tuning is common in Celtic music as well as hard rock. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page famously used DADGAD on “Kashmir.”

Open D (D A D F# A D). Also known as Vestopol tuning, Open D is popular because it allows easy access to major and minor chords. Favored by country and blues musicians, Open D is frequently used for slide and, on acoustics, finger-picking. You can find it on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album, Mumford and Sons’ “The Cave” and Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow.”

Blues G (D G D G B D). Also known as Open G, Spanish Tuning or Chicago Tuning, Blues G was used by The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, in Mississippi blues by Son House, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson, and in Pink Floyd’s “Fearless.”

Reso G (G B D G B D). The standard tuning for squareneck dobros, this is traditionally used for bluegrass dobro stylings.

Open A (E A C# E A E). One step higher than G tuning.

Baritone (B E A D F# B). This tuning is popular with a variety of hard rock and metal bands, from the Foo Fighters to Carcass.

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Review on JTV-59 Variax by Premier Guitar

Line 6 JTV James Tyler Variax Demonstration

Demo of the Dream Rig