With the introduction of the Spider II amps, Line 6 has amazed me again. Based on the original Spider amp line-which has been wildly popular since its introduction-this amp offers more power, more amp models, better effects, and bolder looks, all for less money.
To see if the Spider II 212 has what it takes to play with the big boys, I tried it out at a monthly jam session with the guys I came up with. They're a noisy, rowdy lot and all of them have more gear than talent (I mean that in a nice way, guys). The jam degenerated-as always-into a yowling, pounding, amp contest. With its 150 watts through two 12" Custom Celestion speakers, this little combo drowned out the whole lot of them without even breathing hard.
Its punchy tone penetrated through the railing cacophony with ease, but without splitting my eardrums. It's a well-balanced, robust tone that keeps the highs crisp and clear without making them brittle. The bass is very tight and responsive, never muddy. All the guys were duly impressed and promised sabotage or worse if I keep bringing the Spider to our jam sessions.
More amp models
The Spider II's 12 amp models are double the number on the original Spider, and they're a very useful selection. From soft jazz to pounding power chords, you just turn one knob to access the right amp for the feeling you're after. Six bicolored LEDs around the knob let you know which of the 12 models you've selected.
When you switch to a new amp model, the tone controls and effects are automatically set to the optimum setting to sound most like the amp in question. If you adjust one of the EQ knobs, it jumps to the value on the dial. This is cool because each of the amp models is like its own channel, accessible with the turn of a knob. One of my favorite features about this amp is that no combination of amp model, tone settings, and effects settings will swamp the voice of the guitar. The tone knob on the guitar still rules and the character of different guitars shines through clearly.
The Spider II's effects are incredibly easy to use on the fly. There are only three effects knobs: two with three effects each, and one reverb. The first two knobs are divided into one effect per third of a rotation with well-tweaked, very usable effects on each section. If you want to dial up phaser or sweep echo-both new with the Spider II and extremely cool-just turn the knob to that section and fine-tune for the exact effect you're after. The effect can be used simultaneously with one of the effects on the other knob plus reverb, so you have three effects at once. (In my experience much more than that turns into mud anyway.) A tap tempo button makes the delays much more useful.
When you've dialed in your amp model, drive level, tone settings, and effects, just hold down one of the four channel buttons until it turns green for a second, and you've saved your settings-just like saving a radio station on your car stereo. Call the whole scene (minus the master volume) up later by pushing the channel button. It's super easy to set up prior to the gig and a breeze to adjust on the fly. The effects are so clean you can run the preamp directly into a recording mixer with good results. The Spider II is compatible with all of the FBV series control pedals, which give you handsfree access to the channels and more, depending on the model you use.
To create some absolutely scorching preset tones, Line 6 invited members of Slipknot and Evanescence'—both Line 6 users—to create and name patches for the Spider II. Slipknots's patches include: Snarl, Meat, Sanitarium, and Cheese. Evanescence's patches include: Satanic Crunch, Bring Me Your Wife, My Immoral, and McMars. These presets are everything you'd expect from these premier artists.
Bolder looks and more
My good feelings about this amp started as soon as I pulled it out of the box. It has a sleek, aggressive, and professional look with a gray control panel on the front set off by hefty chrome knobs and the distinctive Line 6 logo. I would feel comfortable with this amp on any stage. I actually got a couple of compliments on its looks when I took it to an afternoon gig.
I'm always impressed by features that make my life easier. In that vein, one of the coolest features of this amp is the built-in tuner. What's especially cool about it is the clever way it uses existing features. You enter the tuner mode by holding the tap tempo button down for a few seconds. Then the LEDs surrounding the amp model knob tell you what string you're on while the channel LEDs show you whether you're flat, sharp, or right on. It's a good, stable tuner that doesn't get confused or persnickety. A front-panel stereo headphone out is also very useful, since I don't know anybody who can afford to be blasting away with two 12" speakers every time he or she wants to practice.
Line 6 has had four years since the original Spider came out to push their technology. And they have taken advantage of every minute. The result is evident in this combo. What truly astounds me, though, is that they can make an amp with more power, more amp models, better effects, a built-in tuner, and killer looks for considerably LESS MONEY! For the working musician who needs a reliable, powerful, and full-featured amp, the Spider II is definitely a smart way to go.
Line 6 Spider II 212 Combo