As we approach the 21st Century, I'm finding that many of the "immutable laws" of technology are dropping like flies. One of the absolute certainties that is fading pretty darn fast is the notion that you absolutely must have tubes in your guitar amplifier if you're ever going to get a satisfying tone.

Without a doubt, the champions who have destroyed this sacredly-held belief belong to a company called Line 6. These are the folks responsible for the groundbreaking AxSys 212, the amazing 100-watt stereo guitar amplifier that could emulate the basic (and most highly desirable) characteristics of many of the world's most famous amps. Thanks to its ingenious software-based design, the AxSys 212 got an operating system upgrade along with a new face decal and buttons to become their new flagship 100 watt stereo amp called the AX2 212 (list $1299.99). AxSys 212 owners could even turn their amp into an AX2 via an inexpensive upgrade (call us for details).

Now although this amp was what many in the the guitar world had been waiting for, there were still players who wanted many of these features but at a price that was, well, somewhat easier on their budget.

Good news! Now everyone can experience the tonal satisfaction and the awesome sonic flexibility of Line 6 products with the addition of the Spider Combo Series Amplifiers. There's the Spider 112 (list $599.99) with a 50 watt Mono amp, blasting into a single 12" speaker, and the Spider 210 (list $699.99) with a 50 watt Stereo amp, ravaging a pair of rugged 10" speakers. These new combo amps feature four programmable channels filled with totally new tones, all at a price point that's way below the competition.

The Spider Series highlights the advantages that Line 6's patented Digital Modeling technology brings to guitar amplifier design. It provides a far wider range of unique tones than any other amplifier in its price range.

The Spider Series is designed to offer the benefits of TubeTone modeling to a broad base of player in an eye-grabbing package at an affordable price. As already mentioned, there are four channels with six different amp models available and multi-effects capabilities designed to make Spider a lean and potent entry into the combo amp market. All this tone as well as effects are provided to you along with a headphone output, built-in cabinet simulator for recording without a microphone or direct box, and a remote pedal connection for use with the Floor Board (list $299). With the addition of this Floor Board, an additional two banks of sounds can be stored in Spider's memory for a total of 12 sounds.

The Spider series also uses a new approach to guitar effects called Smart Control FX. There are two Smart Control FX knobs on the front panel, and each of these knobs contains three individual effect types. The first Smart Control FX knob offers Stereo Flanger, Stereo Chorus, and Tremolo. The second Smart Control FX knob chooses Digital Delay, Ping Pong Delay, and Tape Echo.

And within each Smart Control FX knob, all three effects are totally adjustable. For example, on the first Smart Control FX knob the Flanger can be adjusted anywhere from a slow pulsing modulation to a deep, rapid jet flyby. Chorus can be adjusted from slow and deep pitch modulation up to a fast, but less detuned chorusing. Tremolo speed and depth are covered in the last third of the knob's range.

Both Spider Series amps contain six unique Line 6 Amp Models that cover just about every style of guitar timbre you can imagine: Twang, Blues, Crunch, Recto, and Insane, all of which provide the now-classic, high-quality tones found in all the Line 6 products. However, the new Spider Series Amp Models are actually capable of producing tones that are beyond the limits of traditional amplifier technologies. Think of them as "classic amps that have more tonal range, overdrive, and EQ flexibility than the originals. But the really big deal is that, along with the volume, reverb, and tone controls that many amps feature, the Spider tosses in a couple extra knobs and a few buttons that pretty much set it apart from the pack, like: Distortion, Boost, Presence, and a really usable Noise Gate.

After reading all this, there's a good chance that you, too, have been bitten by the Spider (and unfortunately, there's no known antidote). If so, call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer today and find out just how easy it is to get you own Spider for a pet. (And it'll do a good job of scaring your sister too!)

Daniel Fisher