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Strange tones on Spider IV
by bluebluetones on 2010-01-01 12:33:32.6400

Hi all,

Would first like to say a big thank you to Line 6 for what I feel is the best Spider amp they have produced so far.  I have had the Spider IV 150 (2 x 12) for about a week now, and am having a lot of fun with it!  I think the IV models are the most "bouncy" and musical amplifiers they have released thus far.  The mere fact they have given me control over the reverb and tremelo makes all the difference compared to the Spider III.

I have previously owned an AX212, Flextone II Duo (2x10), Flextone II 2x12, Spider II HD150, Flextone III 2x12, and a spidervalve HD100.

The reason I am writing is because of the unusual modelling timbres, or tones, I am encountering with the Spider IV on the two "Class A" presets (both green and red).  There are additional tones (or harmonics) present when playing on guitar's G string from approx. the 5th fret up to approx. the 12th fret.  It is apparent when there is gain added and it sounds like an alternative singing tone or pitch that is not very musical to the actual pitch being fretted by the guitarist.

This is the second time I have noted this in my history of owning Line 6 amps, it was also apparent when I owned the Spider II HD, the Flextone III and the spidervalve head.  This obviously points out that Line 6 is using similar modelling tones or techniques between different series of amplifiers.  If my memory is right, these additional stray harmonics or tones were present on the Marshall presets on the Spidervalve ("Crunch") and on the Flextone III presets called either A-30 (or Plexi 45?)  Well, one play around the 5th to 12th fret with some gain and you will know.

I have tried these presets on new amplifiers in a store as well as on a Duoverb (yum! why was that amp discontinued!?) and found the stray tones too, so I know it is not my guitar or any coincidence.

Is this an accurate portrayal of an actual AC-30 or a Divided by 13 9/15 amplifier? (or in the case of the Flex III, a Plexi 45?)  I have never owned or heard these original amplifiers in person, but it is an unusual sound and not very good when playing lead work. With chords it is not apparent (more than one notes played).

I believe I have been clear in my description, if any players have more questions I would be happy to answer them.  I am still very happy with the amp, but would like to be able to use each preset fully and without hesitiation.

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by Nick_Mattocks on 2010-01-02 03:56:07.0060


Whether the amp models you hear in Line 6 gear are accurate or not is a very subjective thing

It's almost certain that many of the original supposedly identical amps sounded different to each other in minor ways anyway - a bit like when someone claims to sell an accurate modern day replica of a Fender Strat 1959 bridge pickup as in those days pickup bobbins were wound until the bobbin was full with wire - neither the wire gauge nor the number of turns could be guaranteed to be exactly the same every time, so whilst a pickup may well be accurate when compared to the unique original sample pickup used to copy from it will probably sound a bit different to other original Strat pickups produced in 1959.  I don't know exactly how Line 6 achieve their amp models, but I believe they do have a number of original amps which are analysed electronically, digitally and by simply listening to them side by side with the modelled variants.  I think also that amp model settings will be agreed on somewhat by a committee of people who work for Line 6, freelance players and technicians.  On that basis, what you are going to get with any Line 6 modelling amp is a pretty darned close representation of the original amp(s) used to create the models you hear.

Mostly, I think the Line 6 models we get are as accurate as they can ever hope to be, but I don't actually think it's possible to be 100% acccurate as there is no such thing as a standard identically performing amp in the first place due to component tolerances and wear on them.  At the end of the day, the models offered to us are only ever going to be someone else's opinion of what sounds right.  But that said, the models presented are certainly going to be in the right ball-park, so I would expect that what you can hear is going to be at least a 98% accurate representation of what the original modelled amp would also sound like.  Of course to be 100% sure, you would need to find an example of the original amp, set it up in terms of drive and tone the same way as the modelled version and play your guitar through it to compare.  If you're hearing the same kind of overtones in more than just the Spider IV, the chances are that what you are hearing is pretty accurate for the amp that Line 6 actually used when creating the model.

I don't know what guitar you are using, but you've probably heard of so-called 'wolf' tones which are odd harmonics caused by having the pickup pole pieces set too close to the strings.  It may be that you need to adjust the pickup on your guitar so that the pole piece associated with the G string is moved further away.   Some amps enhance certain frequencies more than others - and some famous players have used original AC30 amps for this very reason - notably players like Brian May and Rory Gallagher and others have favoured Marshall for the same reason but different results.

I believe you have used your own guitar with all the tests you tried out in store on the SV etc...?  Can you try a different guitar other than yours with the amp models that are displaying these characteristics you're hearing?  I'm just thinking that it might be something related to your particular guitar such as pickup position, type or string type.  It may even be something to do with the bridge saddle on your specific guitar like a bit of a wire edge or burr.  Obviously you know your own guitar and it probably doesn't display any of the problems you're hearing on any normal amp, but trying another guitar would rule out the problem from being anything to do with your guitar - only a suggestion.

I don't have experience with the original Marshall Plexi amps either, but I have used two or three AC-30's in my time, and you should be aware that not all AC-30's were based on the same design, so I'm not sure which AC-30 model type Line 6 have based their AC-30 model on - I think it might be documented somewhere.


Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by bluebluetones on 2010-01-02 06:30:42.2910

Thanks Nick,

A very cool reply!  I appreciate you taking the time to write all that.  I agree with everything you said, I think Line 6 has done a very good job modelling the amps mentioned in their manuals.

Actually, I am not too concerned that they are accurate in their interpretation of the classic amps because, as you mentioned, all amps sound a little bit different.  What means a lot to me is a variety of tones and it is that which makes the spider amps useful.

What concerned me about the Class A modelling sounds I hear is that that particular range of notes or frequencies makes the sound kind of un-useable.  Although I originally asked if Line 6 felt that an AC30 or Divided By amp actually sounded that way, I would be surprised if someone answered, "Yes, they do."

To me, it sounds like an obvious sonic quirk and am wondering why no one else has noticed this, and why it has passed through several generations of amplifiers and models?

All my tests done on the different amps were done at different times, on different guitars, and on different amplifiers.  Nick, you mentioned "wolf tones", I am familiar with that term and physical phenomena, and the sound I am describing sounds very similar.  But having tried out several amps at different times on different guitars in a music store (and at a private sellers house in the case of the Duoverb) confirms to me that it is the amplifier modelled and not any physical guitar issue.

To summarize again, I am still very happy with the Spider IV 150 amp I bought, but find the Class A patches strange!  Have any users tried them out and found the same thing?  Using humbuckers or single coils?  Remember to add some gain or drive...

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by Nick_Mattocks on 2010-01-02 09:18:47.1770

No problem.  Just thought it worth mentioning the wolf tone phenomena - not everyone would necessarily know about that Obviously you do.

It sounds as if you have given it some pretty thorough testing on several amps using several guitars.  Not much more you can do really.  

I've been a bit busy this afternoon building a little swich box for something else and hadn't tried my own Spider IV until just now when I've done a very quick test.  I can hear heavy harmonic overtones on the Class A amp settings.  I tried two guitars - USA standard Strat (single coil) and Ibanez RG 1570 (humbucker).  It was in evidence there too.  However I have to say it was what I would have expected from a Vox AC 30

In the meantime

Happy New Year and I hope you get some other answers


Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by bluebluetones on 2010-01-02 12:42:04.9480

Thank you for taking the time to try your amp out, Nick.

What is most unusual it that the "overtones" are limited to a relatively small frequency (or pitch) to my ears...those pitches around the 5th to 12th fret on a guitar's G string.  Only on Class A models, and with Drive added.

When I get more time, I am going to experiment with different guitars. (I have 16!)  I have a real fondness towards single coils in the neck position, therefore I am going to try all my pickup variations with Les Paul, Semi-acoustic, etc...I will take the time to write back if I discover anything different.

Have fun using the Line 6 - happy new year to all!

RE: Strange tones on Spider IV
by AParedes on 2010-01-05 17:02:17.5640


Yes, the amp modeling and the perception of the tone is a very subjective topic (as Nick has already pointed out). Amp modeling may reveal "weaknesses" in the original amps, and even the same brand/model can sound radically different between individual units. YOu may want to try the original versions of a couple of the amp models you are calling out to see if you notice the same behavior.

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by cgtrman on 2010-01-06 14:03:46.1020

I posted the same question about the Class A Red model on the Spider IV 75 three months ago:

Do a search for ghost notes on Vox AC 30s, it's a characteristic that has been accurately modelled by Line 6 in their amp models.

Since I also own the new Spider Valve MKII I can tell you it is that way on that amp too. I really like the new Class A models!

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by bluebluetones on 2010-01-07 07:15:15.2330

Thanks for the reply Line6Andy and cgtrman, It’s nice to hear from you Andy.

I should mention once again I am still very happy with the amplifier, so a personal thanks to you and the staff at Line 6. This is a happenin' amp!

I understand what you meant by perception of tone, but this is not a perception issue (and perception is not too important to me.  Can you imagine trying to answer a writer’s concerns about “how their Marshall sounds different than the Line6 modelled one?”)  It would be exhausting dealing with this forum, as I’m sure it is at times.   The “ghost tones” are there and I was not sure if it was a limitation of modeling technology or as they actually appear on certain amplifiers.  Like a lot of players, I have had quite a few amplifiers in my lifetime (and played through quite a few too) and I have never heard this quirk with any of them with the exception of the Spiders and my Flextone III.  What I was hoping for was for other players to write back and acknowledge the transient tones on their amps, or if they don’t hear them.

As for Line 6, I would hope someone at the company would plug into their amp (at the settings I mentioned) and give me their opinion of what is happening.

Thank you cgtrman.  I was not aware of “ghost tones” happening on Vox AC30’s.  I will take the time to check out what that is all about.  I think you have answered my question.

I hope this has been informative for all readers.

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by abltsarr on 2010-04-07 05:22:48.5570

I have the same problem...

It seems like a number of amp models have this issue. I don't know if it is intentionally modeled or not... but I agree the sound's not cool.

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by bluebluetones on 2010-04-07 13:54:45.2580

Thanks for taking the time to write, Abltsarr,

I had come to the conclusion a while back that these tones were intentional modeling on Line 6's part.  I don't necessarily find them useful, but they appear to be authentic on the amps modeled.  I for the most part do not choose those amps...kind of a pity really.

This was the first time I have ever heard of "ghost tones", but I have read a lot since.  I should note, your post and the other links included are very interesting to read.  There is a lot of very interesting opinions and info there.  I appreciate everyone's writing here, I always learn a lot!

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by micas1 on 2010-05-25 16:18:20.6380

Hi! I own a flextone III plus and i have the same problem. I' m portuguese, so sorry for any mistake in the spelling! Anyway, when I bought the amp, I was very pleased with the variety of tones I could get, and ALL models were working perfectly. I repeat, ALL of them! I used to practice at home using the "Class A-30" at clean settings ( I play Jazz/fusion guitar, mostly with clean/crunch sounds). So, as I said, this model didn' t had any problem, but one day, about 2/3 months after I owned it, It started to produce these ghost notes when I played some notes. That' s very strange, it produce these detuned harmonics (that' s what it is to me!) only on a few notes. I sent the amp back to be repaired. The technicians never heard of this problem in Portugal and, after 3 weeks or so, they sent me the amp back. Surprise, the problem disapeared, at least apparently,but after a few weeks, it started to do it again. I sent the amp back one more time a month ago, but now they told me they can' t hear anything!

I´ve read the questions and answers about this problem, but I can tell you one thing: it is NOT intentional and it is NOT a characteristic of the original amp, at least with this intensity, and like you said, the same problem occurs on the plexi 45 simulation, I think. I wish it was a purposed reproduction of the original amps features, but I' m afraid it' s a factory problem. Of course, we have 32 amps on the flextone, so if 2 of them doesn' t work, we still have 30, but we paid to use all 32. If the problem doesn' t have a solution, I consider returning the amp back to the store and get another one, but one any tech could repair ( it' s not easy to find people who are able to repair modelling amps, as it' s more about computers than classic amplification), but I think I will not buy Line 6 products again, because the amps become discontinued in a short period of time, and like I said, they are tricky to repair, at least here in Portugal.

I hope all people having this problem ( and others) should find a solution. It' s sad, because I really like their products, but they seem to have a lot of technical problems as the technology involved grows (I had a flextone 1 a few years ago and it worked perfectly). I don´t know if you have your problem solved, but I would like to know...


                                                                      Michael Maia

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by bluebluetones on 2010-05-26 10:47:44.5360


Your spelling is excellent, and so is your English.

I think we readers have found that this is accurate modelling in terms of the original amps that have these "ghost tones".  The original amps had these anomolies as well.  I have found these alternate tones on many Line 6 amps (Duoverb, Spidervalve and Spidervalve II, Flex III, spider II HD, and Spider IV) so it is obviously a modelled accuracy and not a mistake.

I too am not crazy about these ghost tones, but I have a lot to learn about vintage amps as well.  I use these particular amp models for strictly chord work, and use others for solo or single-note playing.  I hope this helps in some way...I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the Spider IV, or the others as far as I know.  Thanks for contributing!

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by micas1 on 2010-05-27 06:44:45.0140


Well, thanks for answering so fast! I have done some research about ghost tones and read what other users think, and I guess this is a normal problem, since nobody seems to find another explanation ( I just hope this is not Line 6 trying to convince us this is a normal feature).

So, the only solution for me is using the Jazz Clean amp, as it´s a solid-state amp, no valve failures, Right?

Best regards,

                                                          Michael Maia

Re: Strange tones on Spider IV
by poynt99 on 2012-09-09 13:06:30.5850

Further research into the so-called "ghost-note" issue has revealed that it is extrememly unlikely that these discordant notes are ghost notes modeled from the amplifiers.

There are at least a dozen amplifier models in the POD X3 and Spider IV amplifier (and probably many more products) exhibiting this problem, and the suspicious fact that makes it difficult to believe these are modeled after the amplifier itself, is that every one of these models exhibits the exact same discordant note. One would expect each amplifier that was being modeled would exhibit its own unique-sounding artifact, yet this is NOT the case with these modeled amplifiers.

Have a listen for yourself and come to the only logical conclusion available.

PS. I have not yet listened to the POD HD, but I will report back what I find in this regard.

The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.