Line 6 is best known for the Pod, a recording device that allows users a large amount of control over the tone of a guitar by using a variety of amp and effect models.
The Pod has also been adapted into a multi-effect configuration for use in live performances.At some point, Line 6 decided to use some of these models into a versatile, yet inexpensive amp targeted mainly at beginning guitarists. The result of this is the Spider amp series, with the current line being the Spider IV.The Spider IV comes in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 15 to 150 watts.
The more practice oriented models are the Spider IV 15 and Spider IV 30. While they lack some of the more advanced features of their larger cousins, the smaller Spider IV amps offer the best value due to their lower cost.While the versatility, quality, and value of the Spider IV are nice, the built in features are what set the Spider IV apart. The Spider IV comes with several rather novel features built into it that are very useful for beginners. The most notable ones are the built in guitar tuner and the headphone jack. While neither of these are required for practicing, both are very useful features that would normally require buying extra equipment for guitarists that wanted to take advantage of those features.
Features are one of the strong points of the Line 6 Spider IV amp. The amount of features actually does vary based on which size amp is being looked at. The best beginner option is the Spider IV 15. The other Spider IV amps can be good options for beginners, but the Spider IV 15 offers the best overall value. It is loud enough for practice purposes and still has a good amount of built in features. The Spider IV 15 has four built in amp models and six built in effects.
In addition, the Spider IV has numerous other built in features that are useful for practicing. The Spider IV has a built in tuner. A CD/MP3 input jack allows guitarists to practice against recorded music. The Spider IV also has a headphone jack, allowing it to be used in situations where noise is an issue. The Spider IV allows you to practice against a CD while using headphones, so you don’t disturb neighbors and roommates. This can be a very useful feature for guitarists that want to be able to practice whenever they want.
Line 6 products, particularly the Spider amp series, often get criticized for tone quality. This can turn off some beginners from even testing their products. However, this is actually a bit misleading when taken out of context. Line 6 products are modeled off of other companies’ generally more expensive amps and effects. If you compare the Line 6 model against the actual amp or effect it is based off of, there is definitely a quality difference. In terms of a beginner amp, this is not actually an issue. The tone issue is more for professional guitarists or audiophiles.
Taken in the context of a beginner amp, the Line 6 Spider IV has a good, flexible tone. The clean and crunch channels work quite well. Some tinkering with the tone controls and effects can further help the tones. The metal and insane channels are a little weaker, but this is hardly surprising. Solid state amps, like the Spider IV, aren’t very well suited for the same level of distortion as the Mesa/Boogie amps those channels are based off of. However, this really is not a huge issue. The crunch channel is a solid choice for metal style guitar. In addition, since almost every beginner amp is solid state, there really aren’t many alternatives for high distortion tones. Just the fact the Spider IV even offers them puts it above most of the competition.
Ease of Use
Despite the wide variety of features, the Line 6 Spider IV is remarkably straight forward to use. On a basic level, it can be operated like virtually every other guitar amp. The control panel of the Spider IV does have more controls and jacks than other beginner amps, but this amp can be operated without using most of them. The standard input port, volume control, and bass, mid, and treble tone controls are present, just like with virtually every other amp on the market.
Even the additional features the Spider IV offers are not difficult to use. The amp model being used is selected by pressing clearly marked buttons. The effects are controlled using two clearly marked control knobs. The built in tuner is activated using a button. The only thing most first time users might have to look up is how to store and access memory settings. This is not difficult, but it is the only major feature not activated with a clearly marked button or control knob.
Overall, the build quality is good on the Spider IV. The construction feels solid and all of the controls seem to be secured firmly in place. It is still a good idea to inspect any amp before buying it for manufacturing defects, but the Spider IV does not seem to have any glaring build quality issues.
The Line 6 Spider IV is probably the best overall value of any beginner amp. Despite the amount of features it offers, the Spider IV actually isn’t noticeably more expensive than most of its competitors. In some cases, it is actually cheaper. The Spider IV seems to mostly use technology Line 6 developed for other products, so they seem to be able to market it cheaper than most companies would be able to do so.
The Line 6 Spider IV is a good beginner amp for any guitarist. The amount of built in features gives guitarists far more flexibility than can usually be expected from a beginner amp. Even higher end equipment doesn’t usually offer similar amounts of options in a single package. In a few specific situations, some other amps can present a better value than the Spider IV. However, most beginners are going to be hard pressed to find an amp in this price range that offers even half the things the Spider IV does.