Get a Good Rock Tone with the Line 6 Spider IV

Get a Great and Versatile Rock Sound with the Line 6 Spider IV 75

The Line 6  Spider IV is one of the best selling amps of all time.  If you are looking for a better tone out of this amp, read on.  The stock overdrive tones on this amp are not good, and the tone I found that really shines is not what you would expect.

What constitutes a good guitar tone from an amp?

These are three things I look for from an overdriven guitar tone:

  1. You should be able to hear all the notes in chords clearly.  When you play a chord like E7, you should be able to really hear all of the notes.  A good test for this is the chord changes in the verse in Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots.  If you can play those four chords and it doesn’t sound like a bunch of mush, you’ve got yourself a good overdrive tone.
  2. It should sound as good with the bridge pickup as it does with the neck pickup.  A lot of times when I program a tone in any amp simulator like Line 6 or Bias Amp, I’ll get something that sounds good with the bridge pickup, but then when I switch to the neck pickup, it sounds really messy.  Then if I get a good sound with the neck pickup on that same sim, the bridge pickup sounds too bright.  It’s nice to be able to switch pickups during a song, so obviously you don’t want to have to also switch amp tones when you switch pickups.
  3. If you lower the volume on your guitar, the tone should still sound good, just different and cleaner.  It’s nice to have an overdrive sound that can also sound a little cleaner if you want to add some dynamics to a song.  One thing I find myself doing with certain songs is having a light overdrive for the verses and then switching to a heavier overdrive for the choruses.

The best overdrive on the Line 6 Spider IV

It’s not what you would expect.  What you want to do is use the Line 6 Clean amp on the green setting, and then pair that up with their Classic Distortion pedal, which is based on the MXR distortion pedal.  This amp and pedal combination can be used to create heavy rock tones for songs by Van Halen or AC/DC, and also lighter bluesy overdrive sounds for songs by the Rolling Stones or the Beatles.

Here’s a screenshot of the settings for the overdrive tone:

Here is a recording of me playing the riff from Highway To Hell by AC/DC with this tone.  I used a 2008 Les Paul Standard with the bridge pickup.

And here are the settings for the lighter overdrive that sounds good for songs like Honky Tonk Woman by the Rolling Stones.

Here is a clip of me playing Honky Tonk Woman with the same Les Paul, but using the neck pickup this time.

Some final notes

I recorded these audio samples at home and had to use a lot of blankets and pillows over the amp to make sure the kids weren’t woken up by loud guitar playing.  I used a Sennheiser E609 mic placed at the edge of the speaker.

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