Price paid: £ 160
Purchased from: GAK.com
Sound — 3
I played through this first with a Westfield SG replica I bought second-hand, and I have also played through it with my current guitar, an American Standard Telecaster. When I first started playing it, I was instantly put off by the muddy 'clean' channel, I had a hard time getting a nice sound out of it, and from the times I used it to practice with a band it was tinny and weak. The other clean channels are barely worth mentioning, with 'twang' being way too quiet, even though 'blues' was occasionally satisfying. The 3 distorted channels are also not really worth mentioning: 'crunch' has no depth to it, 'metal' doesn't really sound THAT metal and 'insane' is obviously limited in use, but was the one I used most prominently. After a few months I realised I needed a pedal so bought the obvious choice of a Boss DS-1, which made my replica SG actually sound pretty cool when put through the clean channel. However obviously this instantly makes all the other settings completely useless, with me only using the clean channel with the pedal. The amp is pretty quiet even for a 30w, especially the twang setting. Even though I have since replaced it with a Fender Mustang III, it still makes appearances at band practices when we have no other choice. My band plays a mix of music rooted in punk, but also drawing inspiration from general rock and alternative, reggae, ska, and some other styles where I require to switch between clean and distorted. In all honesty, I hate using this amp for practices and it often hinders my playing. Very glad I upgraded as it would not handle a gig at all. In terms of sound and variety, this amp really is weak.
Overall Impression — 3
To be frank, this amp has never left me feeling fulfilled or particularly excited after a long jam. The only good sounds I ever got out of it was through my DS-1 pedal. It would have been nice if I'd not been so brash and just bought it from one friend's recommendation, but I was pretty naive when first starting out with guitar. I should have saved a bit more and just bought the Fender Mustang III straight off the bat and not wasted 160 pounds. If you are just starting out, I suggest not buying a 'flashy' effects-based amp, and just get yourself a nice basic solid state Laney practice amp or something and maybe a pedal too, you will get a lot more mileage out of that than with this thing. If it got stolen would I buy it again? Most definitely not. I'm giving it a 3, and personally I think that's being pretty generous.
Reliability & Durability — 6
It seems fairly durable although I couldn't really say because I haven't exactly taken it many places, but it seems sturdy enough to I'll give it credit for that. It hasn't broken down on me ever (unlike my bandmates' Spider III which often breaks down mid-practice...) but again I can't really say because I haven't used it in many different environments.
Features — 5
Bought this brand new from GAK (Guitar Amp Keyboards) online. The Spider IV was my first amp, and I was told it was a 'good starter amp'. It has a wheel to choose one of 6 amp options, 12 if you include the dirty/clear option for each of these. 3 of them are clean channels (clean, twang, and blues, although blues can also be distorted) and 3 are distorted (crunch, metal, and insane). It has a very simple setup for an amp like this, losing the small computer panel that appeared on the III and IV 75w and opting to just use knobs to choose your effects. It works off presets, but one thing I noticed is how unreliable they could be: they never sounded exactly like I'd set them once turned on and off, and if you saved them with any of the effects active, the effect would be changed when turned on again (example: the tremolo setting would no longer be active, except it was audible separately in the background). Obviously this became very annoying, but is not too bad because the effects themselves are terrible. It has 3 primary effects: chorus flange, phaser, and tremolo. The chorus flange is alright but nothing special. The phaser is WAY too loud, drowning out whatever you are playing, and the tremolo is too slow and sounds bad anyway. The delay settings, due to them not being editable, are not great either, and the ones I was hoping to use most (just plain 'delay' and 'tape echo') were again, too slow. However the reverb is actually not bad at all, and with a bit of patience I got a nice psychedelic sort of sound when mixing the reverb and 'sweep echo' delay. Overall this amp's features are not user-friendly enough to bother playing with but if you really have to, you can probably get something you like out of it.