Andrew P Watson

Web Developer

Line6 Spider III 120 – probably the best practice guitar amp I’ve ever heard

Thu, 03/26/2009 - 20:12

I’ve been pondering buying a new guitar amp for a while now. I currently use this old Crate Guitar Combo Amplifier that I bought off a friend like six years ago. It’s good and all, but the clean channels crackle and the effects are only fair. I want to begin recording some tracks in my basement and the sound from the Crate just isn’t what I am looking for. I’ve had it for years, driven it hard, and it owes me nothing. I guess it’s time to move on.

Over the years I’ve developed what I consider to be a unique progressive funk-rock style of playing. When it comes to electric guitar, I primarily play my Gibson Les Paul Studio. For my sound, I like strong mid-range, a decent amount of gain, and rarely use any effects aside from reverb. I’m not sure why, but I’ve had this mental block about muddying up the guitar tone with needless effects. It’s strange, I’m a huge Joe Satriani fan and he uses a bunch of effects. I guess I’ve always thought that he just uses them with a certain level of “taste” that other guitar players, myself included, just can’t seem to be able to duplicate. For me, too much effect can ruin the sound. For example, in my opinion Steve Vai just seemed to pile up the effects layers as high as he could, like someone buying a big truck or fast car to make up for something. Needless to say, I was never a big Steve Vai fan. (Go ahead, start the hate mail… ;) )

Anyways, I went to Daddy’s Junky Music* today during lunch to look at some recording gear. I’m thinking about picking up the Tascam 01FX/CD multi-track digital recorder in the next month or so and they have a couple models on display that I wanted to check out. Besides, I just like to poke around the store and tinker with all the gear. I’m like a kid in a candy shop.

While I was there I also checked out the guitar selection. I found myself standing in front of the wall of guitars saying to myself, “Self, while I’m here I may as well try out one of these shiny new Schecter HellRaiser electric guitars dangling on the wall in front of me. I mean honestly, it’d be rude not to…” My fiancé can’t stand going to these types of stores with me; I like to try stuff and can routinely spend an hour or so looking around. Today however, I was there with a few peeps from the office. Two of them also play, so they were off doing their own thing. I felt I have a little time to indulge myself.

I grabbed the guitar from the wall, and after walking around the store for about five minutes holding it up like a battle-axe and looking for a cable to use, I selected a Line6 Spider III 120 combo amp to plug into. I powered on, activated a crunchy sound, fiddled with some knobs, and was instantly blown away…

I have never played through an amp that had this level of clarity while using a high gain channel. Actually, “high gain channel” is a bit of an understatement. The distortion level on this amp ranged from mildly dirty to a brain-melting, eye-popping shred tone. I loved it. I played for about fifteen minutes, trying different settings and tones and have to say that the Line6 has the best on-board effects I have ever heard. I’ve never been able to hear the sound of the guitar so clearly, while complimenting it with so many layers of effects. I had reverb, chorus, flange, echo and more activated and could still make out the subtle tones produced by the guitar as I played. It was simply amazing. Even though I didn’t even begin to touch all the presets, the ones I did where outstanding. And here’s the kicker; the little sign next to the amp said it came with 400 effects settings! Oh my gawd, I could play through that thing for days! I felt like it was all new again. I was able to produce sounds that I never have in 17 years of playing.

I am definitely going to get me one those little suckers for recording. I never knew Line6 made such amazing gear. I still think of them as relatively new on the market, even though they’ve been around for many years now (since maybe 1999ish?). I guess I’ve been locked in my little world with a Gibson, basic amp, and a bunch of pints of Guinness. Truthfully, it’s been a pretty cool pace to be, but add that Line6 Spider III into the mix and things are going to get interesting – pretty quick!

* For the record, when it comes to stores that cater to musicians I think Guitar Center completely kicks Daddy’s Junky Music’s ass. If you want some 70′s mixer with beer and cigarette stains, go to Daddy’s – especially if you demand to pay full price. For everything else, go to Guitar Center. Just my $0.02

Buy this amp, I demand it. You’ll thank me.

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