Flextone III XL review by Line 6

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (48 votes)
Line 6: Flextone III XL
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Purchased from: George's Music

Sound — 8
Marshall's are better! Yes, it's not a tube amp and technology still can't beat the vacuum tube, but overall I'm impressed with the sound. And like I said it's extremely versatile. I use a Fender Deluxe American Fat Strat with it and I play many different styles and the Flextone handles them all very well. It can be heavy, melodic, bluesy, funky, whatever.

Overall Impression — 9
I was pissed that I had to shell out an additional $269.99 for the floorboard since the old one doesn't work with it. Still, I don't think you can build a better complete amp set up with effects for the cost, $1037 I think with tax. This obviously isn't my dream rig but like I said, for the cost, you can't beat it. If this amp were stolen I'd probably cry like an emo and cut myself because I really can't afford another one right now.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I haven't had this amp for long but my Flextone I lasted me quite a few years. Seven years, I think. I've practiced, gigged with it, spilled beer on it and it still works, it just loses it's memory settings sometimes so I can't count on it any more. Seven years is a pretty good run for anything digital and I hope to get the same out of my Flextone III. I plan on taking better care of this one.

Features — 9
I'm going to assume you know the basics on this, solid state modeling amp, 4 channels. I'm using the FBV shortboard with it. This should be a perfect 10 since this amp is extremely versatile but there are a number of things that annoy me about it. Line 6 managed to fix a few of the problems I had with the older Flextones like having more control over the effects, and more amp models. My main gripe is that getting to those controls is a huge pain in the ass. As ridiculous as it may sound, it just needs more buttons. For example, each amp model has two modes, a yellow light mode and an alternate red light mode. The red light mode is essentially a different amp. The problem is that in order to save space the red light amps aren't labeled. Most of them are pretty easy to figure out. The yellow light for "J-800" is a Marshall JCM800 and the red light is a Marshall JCM2000. Others aren't so easy. I have to remember that Brit Silver is the red light model for Plexi Lead 100, not Plexi Lead 45. I hate having to refer to the manual and I'll be damned if I can memorize them all. I suppose the sound is more important than the name of the amp models but it still makes it difficult to find the sound you're looking for sometimes. That and the cabinet models aren't labeled. They're arranged from small to large around the amp knob but that doesn't really help since there's more to the sound of a cabinet than the size. Another annoying feature is what they call "Amp Defaults". These are settings that are automatically loaded when you Switch amp models to "expedite your trip to tone nirvana." This annoys the shit out of me. Isn't that what having different channels is for? What if I have an EQ setting I like and I finally get the effects tweaked just right but just want to try it with a different the amp model? Thanks to the Amp Defaults feature all of these settings are lost as soon as I change models. I think the reason for this feature is that they want people trying their amps out to immediately find good settings in the guitar store without doing a lot of work. It's completely impractical if you actually own one. Supposedly, all of this could be fixed if I download the software and connect the amp to my computer. You're supposed to be able to control all of the settings through MIDI. I haven't tried this yet so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on it and assume it works very nicely. It's still kind of shitty that you need a computer to be able to control the thing. They did get some things right. Being able to change banks without actually changing the channel until you hit the channel button is really nice and something I wouldn't have dreamed of with the Flextone I. This means that you can go from say Bank 9 channel A to Bank 2 channel B without your sound actually changing until you want it to. You'd still have to press a lot of switches but it can be done without the audience hearing it. Another thing I like is the wah pedal. It sounds liquidy and smooth in any amp model with any EQ setting. That and you can save a channel so that the wah is already on when you Switch to it. It's kind of hard to press the Switch and get it activated but I think I just need to get used to it. Having the floorboard on carpet doesn't help either. Oh and XLR outputs are a pretty cool feature but I haven't tried them yet.

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    deadxseductress
    I love Line 6. Every amp I've ever played on by them sounds incredible, and they're constructed really well. I haven't tried this one out yet, but I definitely will.
    suminorudder
    flextone pwns spiders hardcore. spiders sound like you dropped it in a lake and tried to play it again. and if you actually dropped it in a lake it would probably sound better, because it wouldnt work. lol
    KY_GuitarMan
    I have one of these and if you put in the time to tweak your tones and get a shortboard to store them in it's awesome. With that said, the new spider valve is better. Sweeter tube tone that is every bit as good as Marshall, Fender, and Mesa. I own both so don't listen to any of these idiots that don't own either.
    RHCPROCK!
    has anyone played on the 60 watt version of this without the line out, the standerd flextone III? if so are they just as good as this one but quiter, because if so, when playing at a gig couldn't i just hook it up with a microphone to get it louder, or would it ruin the sound quality? i've saved enough for the standerd but don't have enough for the plus or XL . . .
    jscustomguitars
    Its ok, I got one a little while ago after I sold my 6505 stack coz I gave up playing live. Its a cool amp for practicing with and has loads of great sounds but I'd never gig with it. At high volumes the theres a slight rattle when you push the bottom end. There are some extremely important frequencies that have been taken out on all line 6 stuff, it makes it sound a little like theres a blanket over it, a little dull even with the pres and treb up high. Instead of that nice top end shine you get a nasty piercing sound at high volumes. There doesnt seem to be the definition like you'd get with a valve amp. The cleans are out of this world, the chrunch stuff is great but it really falls down with the high gain stuff for me. Maybe thats because Ive used a 6505/5150 for a long time. For practicing at home, awesome. For gigging, get a Valve amp. Theres no magic with these things.
    KY_GuitarMan
    I LOVE my flextone. The name is perfect because it gives me infinite flexibility with my tone. Tone is very subjective to guitarists. We all know this. The Flextone gives you the most flexibility when tweaking to get the sound you want. I hear a lot of guys give quick reviews on the Line 6. "Bad low end, distortions muddy out." I used to be one of those guys but it's only because I wasn't putting in the time to tweak it. A lot of guys don't realize that the tone controls (drive, presence, treble, mid, bass) are different for every amp model. You really have to put in the time and tweak the models you want. There are a lot of times I'm looking for a specific tone. My first attempt might be very muddy. Instead of giving up I back off the drive a tad or change the cab model or do a combination of a lot of tweaks and sure enough, I find what I'm looking for. The main thing to remember is that there are 32 amp models and all the tone controls, cab models, and effects models behave and sound different on every single amp model. Put in the time. It's fun. The day that I decided to embrace my flexton and really put in the time I was at Guitar Center and there was a Line 6 tech there putting on a demo of the Flextone. He had the same one I owned right out of the box (I watched him open it). He was blowing away everything I had tweaked and stored. I even stayed after to challenge him on what he was doing. I thought he had to be cheating somehow. He told me the same thing about the tone controls that I passed on above and asked me what I'd like to model. For the heck of it I threw out "Hell's Bells" intro by AC/DC. That tune has some really good chimey tube tone. I'll be damned if this guy didn't dial it in amazingly close in about 30 seconds. He was on the jcm 800 model had the treble fairly low (3-4) and the presence all the way up. He also had the drive lower than I would have tried and changed the reverb type (something I didn't even know you could do). After that I realized I had to put in the time and I've been very happy. That's my two cents worth. Rock on!
    recliner33
    ^ yeah the guy above me is right.If you just play around with the knobs a bit and do some tweaking here and there you can get pretty much any tone possible. With a little bit of time I was easliy able to replicate the sound of ac/dc's hells bells, black sabbath's paranoid, metallica's master of puppets, led zeppelin's dazed and confused, Rush's working man, etc, etc. If you don't have your own sound patened down or if you play many different styles, then this is the amp for you. This amp is very versatille and the extra effects included are great too.
    scottishme
    i am thinking of getting this amp have played it in store and it really is sweet as i play lots of different styles my only concern is reading some reviews saying that the overdrive gets thin at high volumes is this true or do you just need to play around with it to get the best sound since its hard to play at high volume in shops as they getted pi**ed when you annoy the the customers with pantera oh the guitar i will be using with it is my new dean FBD ml
    sg4ever
    My church has one. It's pretty sweet miked up in the iso box but I never get time to tweak anything but presence, reverb level, and the three band eq. I never get to mess with the cab models.