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June 2017 Giveaway

REVIEW: Line 6 Spider IV

I’ve been using Line 6 gear since the company opened its doors. From the original POD to a POD Pro, from Amp Farm to Echo Farm, and finally to my current M13 (which I absolutely love as a grab-it-and-go pedalboard), I’ve happily owned and used many of the company’s products. Now, Line 6 has announced the latest in its long lineage of modeling amplifiers: the Spider IV series. Like their predecessors, the fourth-generation Spiders offer amazing value, tremendous flexibility, and great convenience. Plus, these new Spiders sound even better than their ancestors.

There are eight models in the lineup. There are, of course, common features included in all of them, such as a CD/MP3 player input jack, a headphone/direct out, and a built-in tuner. All but the Micro Spider are compatible with Line 6’s foot controllers. Here’s a rundown of some of the features that are specific to the various amps:

Micro Spider – 6 watts, 6.5” speaker, 5 amp models, 6 effects (2 simultaneous), 1/4” microphone input, 5 user-programmable channels, only 7 pounds

Spider IV 15 – 15 watts, 8” custom speaker, 4 amp models, 6 effects (2 simultaneous), noise gate, 4 user-programmable channels

Spider IV 30 – 30 watts, 12” custom Celestion speaker, 12 amp models, 7 effects (3 simultaneous), noise gate, 4 user-programmable channels

Spider IV 75see review below

Spider Jam – 75 watts, 12” custom Celestion speaker, 2” tweeter, 12 amp models, 7 effects (3 simultaneous), aux effects, 3-band EQ, XLR mic in, 1/4” aux in, RCA outputs, 200 artist presets, 150 song presets, 36 user-programmable presets, more than 100 Jam Tracks and Drum Grooves, 24-minute looper

Spider IV 120 – 120 watts, stereo, dual 10” custom Celestion speakers, 16 amp models, 20 effects (4 simultaneous), adjustable noise gate, adjustable boost, more than 300 artist presets, nearly 200 song presets, 64 user-programmable presets, 4 channels, 14-second looper, manual mode

Spider IV 150 – 150 watts, stereo, two 12” custom Celestion speakers, 16 amp models, 20 effects (4 simultaneous), adjustable noise gate, adjustable boost, more than 300 artist presets, nearly 200 song presets, 64 user-programmable presets, 4 channels, 14-second looper, manual mode

Spider IV HD150 – head version of the Spider IV 150.spider4-hd150-large

I was fortunate to get my hands on an advance unit of the Spider IV 75, and I spent days with it in my studio, putting it through its paces. To summarize, the amp is freaking ridiculous. Here are just a few of its features:

  • 1 x 12 combo format
  • 12” custom-designed Celestion speaker
  • 75 watts
  • 16 amp models; two versions each of Clean, Class A, Twang, Blues, Hi Gain, Crunch, Metal, and Insane
  • 20 effects
  • 4 effects at a time
  • tap tempo for time-based/rhythmic effects
  • adjustable noise gate
  • adjustable boost
  • 4 programmable, selectable amp channels/memories
  • manual mode for running the amp in “real time” from the front panel
  • built-in chromatic tuner
  • headphone out that can also be used for direct recording
  • built-in looper
  • support for FBV2, FBV Express Mk II, and FBV Shortboard Mk II foot controllers
  • CD/MP3 input
  • new effects, including a smart pitch shifter and an auto wah
  • more than 300 artist-created presets from over 50 artists
  • nearly 200 presets re-creating the sounds from specific songs/recordings
  • 64 user-programmable presets
  • light weight – the amp comes in at just 36 pounds

The Spider IV’s artist presets cover a wide range, from country to jazz, rock to blues, and pop to metal. The artists include such icons as Pete Anderson, Albert Lee, Johnny Marr, Bumblefoot, Lee Ritenour, Steve Stevens, David Torn, John Jorgenson, Killswitch Engage, Deftones, As I Lay Dying, 311, Fear Factory, Meshuggah, Riggs, Slipknot, Stone Sour, Vertical Horizon, Volto, The Donnas, Dashboard Confessional, Coheed & Cambria, Lincoln Brewster, and many more.

spider4-120-largePlus, there are signature tones for songs from each decade, from the ’50s to the ’00s – there are even tones for worship songs. Examples include “Outshine,” “Master of Puppets,” “Aqua Lung,” “Back in Black,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Daytripper,” “Purple Haze,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Crazy Train,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Comfortably Numb,” and many more.

With all these presets, there may be times when you call up a familiar song but don’t agree with the preset tone. If this happens, then here’s a suggestion: put on the original song and really focus in on the guitar – try to block out the bass, the drums, the keyboards, and the vocals. You might find yourself surprised at how the guitar really sounds when you isolate it. Of the songs I knew, with the recordings I had for comparison, I’d say Line 6 was spot-on with the song tones, which makes for a very interesting educational opportunity for dissecting the tones and learning what works in a mix.

You can also operate the Spider IV in “manual mode,” where the settings of the front-panel controls determine the sound that you hear from the amp. When you select an amp model, the tone controls automatically adjust to give you a decent sound, so you have somewhere to start from, then you can tweak them to dial in the exact sound you want. Speaking of the tone controls, they actually change voicing when you move from one amp model to another. In other words, the way the tone controls respond on the “real” amp is how they respond on the Spider’s modeled amp.

The range of tones you can create with the Spider IV 75 is mind boggling. From crystalline clean to raging crunch to thick scream, this is one amp that can truly cover it all – any genre and any tone you want. The sounds don’t “feel” modeled. With the custom Celestion speaker, which is firmly ensconced in a 3/4-back enclosure, the tones come to life and breathe and respond naturally, with good depth, articulation, punch, and definition. Once you plug in and crank it up, you won’t think, “these models sound great,” rather, your ears will tell you, “this AMP sounds great.”spider4-15-large

There’s so much more to discuss with the Line 6 Spider IV amps, of course – such as the quality of the effects, the looper, the new Smart Harmony pitch shifter, all the presets, the extra features, and so on. But, there’s no way I could cover it all in one review. If you’re looking for a one-stop tone solution that will cover every genre, then this is a great solution; the Spider can give you anything you need.

Based on what I found during my time with the Spider IV 75, these amps offer a tremendous combination of flexibility, power, value, and tone. They’re perfect for a cover-band situation where you need a variety of sounds, or for finding your own signature sound. Compact, lightweight, and comprehensive – you can’t go wrong!

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