Price paid: A$ 340
Purchased from: Private Sale
Sound — 9
Using a variety of guitars with humbuckers, P90's and single coils, there is a vast amount of sounds and textures on tap. The high gain models are up to Line 6's normal high standard but then, these days, most amp modelers seem to be able to to a pretty good job of high gain hard rock and metal tones. Where the Spidervalve really shines is the "on the edge" tones where the amp is just starting to break up - particularly blues type sounds. The clean models are nice and clear with a little added warmth but if you want, you can wind up the gain on these to provide a nice clean but slightly edgy tone that is quite satisfying. After using a POD XT Live through a combo (Marshall VS100 Valvestate) I would have to say the Spidervalve does sound better with more natural valve compression coming into play. The presence control really works well adding that high end sparkle and zing you just can't get from normal eq. Oh, and last but not least, this amp is friggin' LOUD! It says it's rated at 40 watts, but I'd be happy to put this up against a half stack Marshall and I reckon the Spider Valve would compete nicely. With the master volume at 10 o'clock, it is too loud to be in the same room in a domestic house without doing some serious damage to your ears, the plaster, crockery, windows etc, etc, etc! Anyone who says this amp isn't loud enough for gigging is deaf!
Overall Impression — 8
I play mainly heavy rock but do dabble in other styles and as such, the Spider Valve 212 is ideal for me. I can now get pretty much any sound I want without having to resort to external stomp boxes or rack effects. Over the 35 years I've been playing, I've had amps from Roland, Acoustic, Mesa Boogie and a couple of Marshalls (valve and Valvestate) and reckon this amp can do everything they did plus more. The flexiblity to dial in so many different and great tones is a godsend for a gigging guitarist but to get the most out this amp, you really have to buy the Line 6 FBV Shortboard. That is the only downside as the FBV is currently over $329 AUD new and you have to use the Line 6 unit as nothing else will work. But apart from that, I'd have no hesitation in buying another Spider Valve if I ever lost this one. From what I've read, the MKII version is even better with more amp models, a looper, and the ability to do computer editing of the user settings.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This is my 4th piece of Line 6 gear, and as I've never had any problems in the past, I'm not expecting any now. Line 6 gear is built pretty tough and the Spider Valve is no exception. Being a second hand piece of gear when I got it, I stripped it down to give it a full clean and once over. Internally, everything is well built and looks like it would handle gigging without any hassles. The power amp valves are enclosed in a full steel cage and each valve is held in place with a dual spring loaded cap that should prevent them from losening and falling out. The 2 pre-amp valves don't have the same protection but as they are behind the power amp valve cage and are not easy to get at, should be safe from accidental knocks.
Features — 9
This is the original SV 212 (there has been a MKII version out for some time now) but even considering what is available new now, this amp is still right up there with the best. 12 amp models, some great, some good and a couple of slightly "iffy" models but overall, a broad selection to cater for just about any taste. 3 digital effects at a time: modulation (chorus/flanging/phaser/tremelo) delay (delay/tape echo/sweep echo) and a rather nice reverbliven things up somewhat. The reverb and delay effects are very useable but the modulation effect are a little to intense and unsubtle, but then that may be just what you want! 4 quick access channels that are available for selection from the front panel or via footswitch, over 200 "artist" presets and 36 user memory locations that can be accessed via the front 4-way navigation rocker and LCD or from an optional FBV Shortboard. The normal eq controls plus cahnnel & master volume controls and presence plus a few "hidden" functions including boost, noise gate and a finally a wah (only if you have and FBV Express or FBV Shortboard connected). Contrary to some opinions, this is a real valve amp with a 40 watt power amp section designed by Bogner and 2 x 12AX7 pre-amp valves in the pre-amp section. This is then enhanced by Line 6's amp modelling software and effects. Round the back you have an effects loop, and a direct out for recording that also has cabinet emulation. Speaker duties are handled by a pair of Celestion Vintage Series 12" speakers. Cabinet is covered in a heavy duty black yinyl and is surprisingly heavy and well built and tahnkfully comes with a set of heavy duty removeable casters.