“ Brand: Line 6 / Guitar Accessories „
I purchased this amp after leaving for University, around 5-7 years ago now. I had left my Marshall Valve half stack at home, and wanted something that took up considerably less space, and with which I could practice without upsetting my new hall-mates. As such, I decided to pick up a solid state amp.
Valve amps tend to produce more pure, seductive, tones, but they also need to be pushed to do so. Even a little ½ watt valve amp needs to be brought up to quite a significant volume before you can really hear the benefit.
I also wanted an amp that could be gigged if necessary, and a hundred and fifty watts of stereo power seemed more than appropriate for that challenge.
Usually, when buying guitar equipment, I would head on down to my local music shop for a play, but having tried out a Spider II many years previous, and quite enjoyed it, I decided to waste no time and took the plunge online.
Many years hence, and looking back, I regret this decision a little. Whilst my valve amps are still musically relevant today, the spider has begun to sound dated as the years have moved by. Reverbs have a clear artificiality to them at high settings, but are passable if not over used. Effects and delays have their own character, and are quite usable. At low volumes, this 150 watt amp sounds fun with some of the tone settings. Others are bizarrely functionless. One in particular features a pretty shoddy distorted harmonizer, that I personally can't imagine featuring in any viable recording.
The real problems arise however, when you crank this amp up, or try to use its direct recording functionality. The direct recording feature appears to contain no element of amp simulation, and so produces a dry and two dimensional signal. It sounds amateurish, and it will take you a lot of time, and effort in a software studio, to bring your sound up to an acceptable level. It also seems to apply a degree of compression, or at least gives the impression that it has. Hand movements across strings can be as loud as clear tones, and whilst this has a certain bar-room charm on the clean settings, this charm is more than lost when you are trying to lay down a tight high gain guitar solo, for the umpteenth time, in the middle of the night, and you have work the next morning.
You will want to throw this amp out the window. Don't. It's heavy, you might hurt yourself.
The problems that arise at high volumes are similar to those experienced during recording. Background noise is an absolute killer, and can also invade the spectrums of other instruments, making your "ensemble" sound messier than deserved. Tone can also become a little reedy and underwhelming.
In summary, there are some elements of this solid state amp that are laudible. I like some of the sounds at low volumes, and as a 10-15 watt starter, or practice amp, there would be a huge amount of value here. As a big, potentially professional, level amp, it is a dud. Better solid state options are available in software formats - if you have a laptop, or p.c, to run them on - and if you want a live performance amp, there are a number of full valve, or hybrid options, from Blackstar for example, that are likely to better meet your needs.
Perhaps none of the solutions above really meet my initial goal, which was to have one amp that could do everything with the minimum of compromises, at a low price. On that basis, perhaps the line 6 still has a place out there. Solid state sound does get better with every generation so, if you find yourself in my predicament, and without a powerful laptop, perhaps a newer Line 6 amp would be worth a look. Tech 21 amps are also well received, and I have heard excellent things about Vox valvestate amps. I'd recommend playing with these before making your decision, and also remembering that, like valve amps, solid state amps sound different when pushed. Ensure that you can use the amp, at volume, in the shop before buying, lest you find that a swan heard at lower volumes, returns to ugly duckling form once driven!
(Edit - I think Swans actually sound pretty horrendous, so maybe that's not the best metaphor!)
I bought this as my first 'big' amp after having a less than brilliant 10watt practice amp for a few months, I was 15 and hadn't been playing guitar for very long so this amp was perfect for me, however I now feel I have outgrown it. Back then all I wanted to do was play and I needed a simple amp so I could gig and this is perfect for that as you pretty much just select a preset sound that you want for you guitar and start playing. You twist a switch to blues and you're a blues guitarist then you switch it to metal and everything you play sounds like metal, if you don't want to spend ages fiddling around with your sound or you're just starting out and want to keep things simple then this is the one for you.
It can be a very loud amp but it also has quite a decent sound quality even at lower levels, something some other amps lack, there is also an inbuilt tuner and mine came with a two button foot switch. You can save up to four 'customised' channels to switch between quickly using the foot switch, these 'customised' settings consist of the 'clean' preset for example, with a bit more or less Gain, Mid, Bass or Treble. Don't get me wrong, some of the presets don't sound bad at all, however if you want to craft your own sound then you should get an amp without this kind of feature as it can be very restrictive.
I used the amp to gig alot playing everything from Metal to Indie and it is very reliable and sturdy,obviously it's heavier and/or bulkier than carrying an amp head around with you and just borrowing cabs but it is a trooper and it is pretty versatile.
Line 6 have provided guitarists with a beautiful piece of amplifying tech here, and the Spider III is one decent bit of gear to have. The sound is whats important, and i can assure you it is sufficiant, no flickering or sketchy static, just pure sound, unless of course you want that, then you can just twist a few dials and make some of your own styles. The makers really had preference in mind with this amp, as well as sound quality, and have such added 4 Channels for your musical pleasure, Clean, Crunch, Metal, and Insane, all off which can be altered to ones preference and are even saved by simply holding the button down for 2 seconds. The dials include standards such as Drive, Bass, Mid, Treble and Chan Vol, but this amp is a real package in that it has a range of effects added on aswell.
- Chorus Flange
- Sweep Echo
- Tape Echo
There is also a Tap Delay Time button, once again for your own preference of length in echo times and such. Although the likes of Phaser can get old, the Reverb and sweep echo can always inspire more musical output, aswell as Chorus Flange. Now onto Volume, and man this thing packs a punch, and if the Master Volume isnt enough for your already bleeding ears, just turn up the Channel Volume and youre as good as deaf. Now as for some more special features (as if saving up to 4 different styles wasnt enough) You can take advantage of the CD/MP3 In Jack (and of course a HeadPhone Jack) and mess about with some of your favourite bands and songs, You can even record from your Amp-via-computer, providing you have some nice software and the cables to connect.
The only downside is that theres no case:S so that meens you gotta lug this beast through the rain by its handle... hmmm well, not advised. Depending where this amp is purchased from, it may have a european plug, on the end of the 2 and half metre cable. Is there anything else? hmmm you get a couple packs of delicious Silica Gel.. Whats really great is that your amp changes as fast as your mood does, so if you get tired of metal and grungey stuff, you can just tap Clean for a mellow, chilled, relaxed tone. And this even works with volume controls, so if you are playing a quiet riff, one little press, and you can be strumming in an ultra loud mode. I hope this has been helpful to you guys..
Before I start, I want to make it clear that I am not reviewing the 150 watt version of this amplifier. This review is judged solely on the 30 watt version.
About a month ago now I purchased one of these fantastic amps off of Amazon. In the month I have had the amplifier, I must say I am very impressed with it. Not only does it produce fantastic sound quality even at maximum volume. It has countless other features and gizmos that you can play about with.
The 30 watt version comes pre loaded with 6 FX (effects) models, of which 2 can be used at the same time. The first 3 of the effects are based with the physical noise the guitar will make through an amplifier; this involves the chorus flange, the phaser and the tremolo. All of which have a brilliant sound to them and come in useful for many famous guitar songs. The other 3 FX models are to do with the echoing of the notes. First of all, you have the 3 different effects: sweep echo, tape echo and Reverb. This may not seem that special as you could get these features on any amplifier. Although this is where the spider III pulls ahead. With the echoing effects, you can tap your own tempo onto a button. Therefore setting the time it will take for the echo to come through your amp. Furthermore, the level of echo can also be altered with the dials, from soft to loud etc. The other side to the Spider III is its audio inputs. The amp. comes with the standard guitar input and a headphones input. Plus a 3.5mm jack input, a recording input and a FX pedal input. Personally I find the 3.5mm jack the most useful as this allows you to play music from your phone or laptop through the amplifier.... While you are playing, making it much easier to get the rythms of the songs you play.
Sound and Price
On the sound front, I can not fault this amp. at all ( I am being honest). The sound quality is out of this world, its so clear whether its being played super quiet or super loud. The sound output range is also perfect; for once with an amplifier, you can play songs loud enough to hear them, but not so loud that you annoy other people in your house. So overall, the effects and the speaker installed in the Spider III produce a truly brilliant noise. In terms of price, the Line 6 Spider is around about the average for a decent 30 watt amplifier. I picked up mine on Amazon for £112 which I personally thought was a bargain. When you consider the amount of equipment you get for your money, all those effects, audio inputs, echo tempos etc. it really is worth the money.
So overall, the Line 6 Spider III 30 watt amp. is the perfect amp for home use. The effects and various other functions allow you to create fantastic, professional effects with great sound quality to back them up. This is the recommended amplifier if you need one!
Well I own a small 15W spider practice amp and was told that the bigger models are far better in their quality. So I went to my local guitar store to demo this one.
The tones in this amp are a fuller and don't seem so bland as they did in the smaller amp I own.
I still feel though that Line 6 have not come out with an amp that is capable within itself to truly model other amps. The sound seems cheap and too electronic and the effects are pretty poor. While having an amp with all these effects built in is great in practise the Spider III just doesn't pull this off for me.
For the kind of money you can spend on this amp, you would be much better off trying to find something like a used Orange tube amp. Or any decent amp and then if you wanted to add decent effects then use Line 6's pod. Not one of their do it all amps.
The Spider three amplifiers are produced by Los Angeles manufacturer Line6.
Line6 are renowned in the guitar industry for their guitar and amplifier modelling. Amplifier modelling is making an amplifier sound like another amplifier by electronically modifying the sound parameters such as tone, body and acoustics of the amplified sound. This is useful as a guitarist can emulate many of their favourite sounds and only need one amplifier to achieve this, making savings in both space required and the obvious financial savings.
The spider three amplifiers are the third amplifier in the Spider range and features Amplifier Modelling and integrated guitar effects (devices that change the characteristics of your guitar sound). The amplifier also sports hundreds of preset guitar sounds and artist styles, more on these later.
The amp controls and settings
There are several variants of the Line6 spider three amplifier, the wattage and effects available separating them from each other. I have chosen to review the 150 watt twin speaker combo, as it is the amplifier that I use in my own band.
The first thing you notice about the amplifier is its weight, it is very heavy. It does have a built in single strap handle on its top, but it is still difficult to carry for long distances.
Despite its weight, it is a relatively compact amplifier considering its extremely loud output volume. It's a little over 2 foot wide and less than 2 foot tall and can be fitted comfortably into the boot of an average family car, if you can lift it!
The front of the amplifier houses the control panel, power switch and input jack sockets. There are 10 shiny silver rotary controls -
Amp Selection control - This is used to select the amplifier model required. There are 12 models in total ranging from beautiful clean lush sweeping sounds to harsh and ear shredding distorted models.
Drive Control - Usually referred to as Gain on most amplifiers this increases the input signal in strength and effectively pushes the amplified sound towards a hotter grittier sound.
Bass, Mid and Treble controls - These should be self explanatory. These three controls shape the overall tone of your guitar output.
Channel Volume - The output volume that refers to the settings made. This differs to the master volume. Having several different stored guitar sounds and channel volumes allows you to switch between patches and vary the volume without having to adjust the master volume.
Effects control 1 - On this rotary control you have three effects. Chorus/Flange gives a spatial and fullness to your sound, phaser changes the sound into astral spaceship effects and Tremolo gives a cut out effect that is commonly used in Western film soundtracks. Of these effects you can only use one at a time. Each effect has about 120 degrees of the knobs rotation, increasing in effect. A small red LED light highlights which effect is currently in use.
Effects control 2 - This rotary effect controls three echo effects. The first effect is delay, which repeats the sound you play and decreases in volume after each repeat. This is a similar to shouting in a grand canyon. The second effect is Tape Echo. This effect is similar to the delay effect though the sound distorts and disfigures on each repeat. This type of echo emulates the old tape based echoes used in the seventies. The final effect is the sweep echo that is similar to the tape echo but adds more noise and stereo panning to the effect. This is a sound is often used in reggae dub tracks.
As with control effects 1 only one type of effect on this control can be used at any one time, however a combination of both control knobs is possible. The tempo of the effect can be altered by tapping the speed of the effect required on a small button labelled 'Tap' that is above the effects section.
Effects control 3 - Reverb
This sound creates a reverb sound that adds ambience and space to the sound. If you think of the way that your voice changes when singing in a shower or large hall then you've grasped the concept of reverb!
Master - The output volume of the amplifier. The further right the knob is rotated the more likely your neighbours will come around and hit you! (Assuming you can hear the door bell that is!)
In addition to the rotary knobs there are 4 channel buttons. These buttons can be pushed to instantly access a preset user sound that has been stored earlier. To create a sound you rotate all of the control knobs and effects until you have created your desired sound and then hold one of the 4 buttons down for a few seconds until it flashes. A secondary push and the sound has been stored and can be recalled at any time. What is worth noting is that if you recall a sound using the channel button then all of the current control settings are ignored and overridden.
The final button on the panel is a 4 way D-Pad switch that allows you to scroll through and select a sound from the hundreds of preset sounds from the internal sound banks. Several famous guitarists from bands such as Suede, Razorlight and even Slipknot were involved in creating their recognisable signature sounds and then programming them into the amp. There is also a huge selection of song based templates from the past four decades where the sounds of The Rolling Stones, Police, Pink Floyd and many others are emulated. The selected bank is highlighted in a yellow LCD panel to the right of the button. This LCD is also used to display the inbuilt guitar tuner.
Finally the front panel has two inputs sockets, one output socket and a pedal connector. One socket is the standard input used for your guitar and the second socket is a smaller 3.5mm socket that can be used for plugging in an alternative sound source such as an MP3 player, enabling you to play along with your favourite tunes. The output socket is used to plug in Stereo headphones or to connect directly to a recording desk. The output does not add additional hiss to the sound so is quite useful for recording loud sounding guitar in a quiet environment. Finally the pedal socket allows you to connect and optional foot pedal that enables you to scroll through the user presets with your foot rather than using the buttons on the panel. This is essential for live performances and uninterrupted playing.
The back of the amp is open backed an exposes two Custom 12" Celestion speakers. In addition to this there is a large heat sink (that keeps the amp cool but does get blisteringly hot itself) and two 8 ohms speaker sockets that allow the amp to connect to additional speaker cabinets if required.
What does it sound like?
So know we know what the amp looks like and its onboard controls the big question is what does it sound like!
The amplifier is a transistor amplifier, as opposed to a Tube amplifier. Tube amplifiers use glass electronic tubes to give body analogue warmth to a sound. To try and match this desired sound the Line6 uses its modelling electronics to try to emulate the sound.
As it would be impossible to review the hundreds of presets programmed into the amp I have decided to choose some of my favourite sounds and comment on them.
For the tests I used a Fender Jaguar guitar, a new set of Ernie ball light gauge strings and a leem guitar lead.
Sound Test One - Slipknot patch-
I chose the default Slipknot patch, though there are a few more included. As soon as this patch was selected the amp was spitting sonic fire at me! Tuning the top string to D instead of E and selecting the neck pickups on the guitar produced a bottom heavy, extremely distorted (yet tunefully audible) guitar sound. The solo guitar riffs sounded akin to agitated bees in a jar. This is undoubtedly a sound used by Slipknot on many of there songs, 'Spit it out' instantly sprung to mind when choosing this. Overall this was a very convincing and useable sound.
Sound Test Two - Another Brick patch -
Presumably this sound was modelled on the Pink Floyd guitar sound from their number one hit. This sound is a million miles away from the Slipknot sound. I selected the bridge pick up on the guitar and strummed a chord. The result was a sharp, clean and echoing guitar. There may have been a dash of reverb too, but this is an extremely bright and clear sound not that dissimilar to the Police's walking on the moon guitar sound. I admit I did have to go onto the web to listen to the original singles guitar sound to compare. Yes there are similarities, maybe not exactly the same but a convincing clone.
Sound Test Three - The Drowners -
I really liked the sound of Suede and Britpop in general. The Drowners was one of Suede's more anthemic numbers and Butlers (guitarist) sound distinct. So I set the guitar to its middle pick up and strummed and finger picked a few notes in true Butler style. The result was a clear guitar sound that was slightly overloaded and distortion bubbling underneath. Initially I wasn't convinced by this sound and didn't recognise it as being the Suede sound at all. It was only after cranking the amp main volume halfway that the sound suddenly changed and became much more authentic. I was pleased with this sound.
Sound test four - Riggs
I am unsure what this preset represents (I have lost the manual!) however this is probably the sound that I have most used since purchasing the amp. The sound is akin to a Marshall Guitar stack used in most rock tracks. It provides a distorted guitar sound that is both sharp and pronounced and sustains forever. If you think of the Darkness hit 'I believe in a thing called love' then that is this sound. Testosterone fuelled spandex trouser rocking fun!
So the four sounds I chose were all excellent and useable. If you were to scroll through the plethora of sounds then I am sure there is a sound in there to suit every guitarist of every genre of music.
The effects are extremely useable too, though maybe a gimmick rather than a necessity on this amp. Of the effects, the reverb is a little one dimensional and adds a swamp like sound to your playing. The chorus is maybe a little overpowering and the phaser is fine if you want to play in a space rock type band. The tremolo is an effect that I seldom use, but for that Cramps or Pulp Fiction sound it can be useful. The delays however are much more controllable and sensible.
Another thing to consider is that this is a LOUD amplifier and can shake the walls when you turn it up. In fact at three quarters of the volume our drummer was noticeably getting drowned out from the sound.
Considering its reasonable pricing point and overall variety of sounds then you are definitely purchasing a lot of power for your money. The modelling seems quite authentic; in fact it replicated an old fender amplifier I had once owned very realistically. The artists signature sounds are good, though I would expect that you would require a similar guitar as used by the artist to emulate the sound truthfully.
Being a transistor amp it is noticeably not as 'warm' in its tones as a tube amp and this area of tone is difficult to emulate regardless of the amount of processing and electronic wizardry.
It may not be a Marshall Tube Stack from the seventies; however it is a very useable amp both in the home and studio environment and is a great first buy for the budding Hendrix.
Price and Availability
The amplifier was available for £265.99 from www.amazon.co.uk at the time of writing.
Copyright Otalgia (M Jones) 2008