Price paid: $ 200
Purchased from: local music store
Sound — 8
I use an HSS Strat, an LP Custom Copy and a semi-hollow 335-esque guitar. To be honest, I have yet to try most of the amp models in the Spider IV. I have however, tried a lot of amps from playing in different rehearsal studios and gigging venues. I have played with Laney, Marshall, Vox, Fender and Orange (SS and tube amps alike), and even two custom/DIY tube amps. Ergo, I know the sonic difference between a dinky Spider IV 75 and a 100 watt valve head. I know that the "sag" and "warmth" of tube amps are not just mere bywords but real aural phenomena. That being said, I think most of the amp models in the Spider IV 75 are good if not great. They are more useable than haters would like you to believe. It's worth mentioning right now that only the Class A models have any semblance of the said "edge of breakup" tone. All the rest seem to go from clean to dirty almost immediately. Still, I like most of the models on this amp. I particularly like the Clean Red (JCM 900), both Twang models (Fender models I can't remember right now), Metal Red (Mesa Boogie Dual Rec model) and the Class A Red (Vox AC30 top boost) models. I'm not sure if the Duo-Rec is authentic as I've yet to even see one in person but the others I've mentioned sound like good approximations of the said models. Nonetheless those are my faves. Now that I have completed my "pre-record contract pedal board" (hey, a guy can dream, right?), Clean red is my favorite and all I really use at the moment. It just takes my pedals so well. YMMV, of course. Special mention goes to Clean green as it is the only channel that I can dial a jazz tone with my semi-hollow that I'm completely happy with. Perhaps my least-favorite models are the Marshall models with dirt (Crunch red and Hi-gain red). I know what the dirty channel of a Marshall sounds like and boy, those two models sound off to me. The hi-gain model in particular seems to be "prevented" from completely overdriving into a satisfying level. You can max its Drive but it sounds like they put some ceiling to its Drive level. Perhaps it's to distinguish it from the higher gain models; but if you're a beginner, you might not upgrade to a real Marshall if you base the decision mostly on the sound of the model here. The same problem is present in the Crunch green (Orange AD30) model. It just won't overdrive to the level that makes me fall in love with Orange amps enough to look past the Orange tolex. The sound is more musical/useable for me than the two Plexi models though, and I also don't know what an AD30 sounds like so I'm not too offended. As for the other models, I am not familiar with how their originals should sound like but I must say that they sound good on their own. May not be case for owners of the originals/purists, but since this is more-or-less A beginner/low-budget sessionist's amp, it may not be a problem. I also find that the Insane models aren't really that bone-crushingly insane, but they have their use. The presets are hit-or-miss. That's all I can really say. The AC/DC ones are especially not convincing to my ears. There still are a lot of good presets though. And unless you know the tones of the specific artists/or songs by heart, you probably won't be able to tell the difference. One neat use of these presets though is going into the editing screen to see how these specific tones are dialed. It is especially great for a beginner (like me when I bought this amp). I didn't even know about scooping mids for heavy metal as a fact. I saw it first in one of the metal presets. Lastly, the quality of recordings you can make via the line out are really good, considering that it's nearly just a bonus feature. I can't say if it is POD quality as advertised, but I record demos through this thing with satisfying results. One noteworthy quirk of this amp is the uneven volume levels of the presets in the banks (and between models). While switching between them, you might suddenly pass by a channel/preset that is "pre-set" at a high volume and this could have terrible results, depending on your master volume setting. Good thing there is a master volume knob. Just remember to turn it down first before switching between models and presets.
Overall Impression — 8
I am most influenced by classic rock, blues-rock, punk, and its derivatives. From time to time, I try to play jazz and dick around with other styles. I've only been playing electric guitar for a few years (compared to my piano and acoustic guitar experience) so perhaps my tone tastes are not as refined as others. Yet, I am a rock music lover, and I still know what sounds good, especially in a band setting as I am in a gigging band. For a musician with a broad range of musical tastes, the Spider IV 75 can cover most bases. A caveat however, is it may not cover YOUR favorite base as well as others. More experienced and more financially independent musicians may slag this product off, but I believe they are not the market for this great piece of gear. For people on a budget, players just starting out, and those who simply want to have lots of tonal possibilities at their disposal, the Spider IV 75 has you covered. It's not a valve amp, it's not a Vetta, it's not even a Spider Jam. It's a 75 w SS amp with loads of features. There may be better options than this amp, but if you fall under those categories of players, you most likely won't be disappointed. Take it for what it is and you will love it. The Spider IV 75 is not a "9" or "10" amp, but for a modeler at this price, it deserves an 8. I have only two wishes for this amp's future version: (1) I wish the sound can still be monitored through the speakers during recording so I can monitor it through my amp (don't have good monitor speakers or headphones yet). (2) Better emulation of some amp models. Other than that, I am very satisfied with this product.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I will never gig with this amp. Not that it's unreliable. It's just that first of all, I'm only a weekend warrior. Lugging this amp around seems unreliable. Also, the places I play in have "better" amps in the form of half-stacks and higher end SS combos- which is also a reason why I'm not very compelled to upgrade anytime soon. Lastly, most of my sound comes from my pedal board setup anyway, so all I need is a good clean channel, and not all of the bells and whistles of the Spider IV. I might bring it to a recording session however if there's a particular sound that I just can't get with the studio's "pro" gear. In terms of durability, it is still functioning as perfectly as when I bought it. It has yet to fail on me while playing as well. It could probably survive on the road too, as SS amps are not as delicate as tube amps. The LCD is starting to do funny stuff though, like switching between preset screens and editing screens. Or when you turn a knob, the bars in the display won't move (but you'll still hear the sound being altered the way you're turning the knobs). It might eventually crap out on me in maybe a year or two, but I'm guessing that wouldn't be a difficult repair job for Line 6. I might have even upgraded to a better amp by then! (I'd give it an 8 if only in good faith, but I have to take a point off from that mild LCD problem).
Features — 9
I've had this amplifier for nearly two years now and I know I've had enough time with it by now to provide a fair review for anyone else still considering this amp. Here goes: The Spider IV 75 head and combo was released in 2009. It is a modestly-priced, solid-state modeling amplifier from the good folks at Line 6. It is a 75-watt amp (beginners take note: not as loud as a tube amp around the same power rating) that comes with a custom Celestion speaker (combo) and has 16 amp models, 4 channels with 16 banks each and 10 digital effects (although you can only activate 4 at a time). Over 250 song and artist presets are also included; as well as a looper, chromatic tuner, an aux in (for MP3s or what have you), a headphone jack and a line out for recording. You can also buy an optional foot controller to control the amp hands-free, to connect to a computer for minimal editing of effects/effects order and to download the latest firmware (new presets and maybe bug fixes included). As you probably know by now, this amp is just so feature-laden that it was/is very appealing to novices. I bought the Spider IV 75 as my first real amp (my first amp was a borrowed 10 Watt combo). When I was shopping for my first amp, I also tried a Vox ValveTronix (30w, IIRC), a Peavey Vypyr 75w, and a Marshall MG50. I will tell you right now that the Peavey sounded just as good, maybe better than the Spider to my untrained ears then (can't say the same for the other two, I'm sorry to loyal adopters). However, I went with the Spider primarily because some of the Vypyr's features (like the looper, IIRC) can only be accessed with the optional Sanperra footswitch (making the footswitch quite essential), whereas almost all of the Spider IV's features are readily available without such an add-on. I could be wrong about the Vypyr but hey, I'm happy with the Spider IV nonetheless. In fact, I'm happy enough with all the features of the Spider IV. In fact, I think it was a little overkill for my skill level then.