The Line 6 Spider Classic 15 modeling amp is an entry level amp. It arrived in a box that was surprisingly heavy. When you first remove the amp there seems to be nothing there other than the cabinet. It turns out the 15 opens in the back with an opening a little larger than a mail slot in the back. The power cable and various documentation is stowed in there.
The build quality of the combo is very good. It is heavy and rugged of solid construction. All the knobs feel great, no play and consistent torque is required to move them and they all move smoothly. The on/off switch is a small rocker-style switch which seemed small but worked well enough. And the push buttons that toggle various modes on and off feel good and activate with a solid click. The cabinet itself is well made and has quite chunky molded plastic protective corners while all the controls sit on the chamfered edge that slopes diagonally at the front. This means that you can stand the amp flush facing the wall without any of the controls making contact, so they are protected from general knocks.
I was pretty excited about this classic 15 modeling amp. I kind of skimmed over the specs and point of sales pitch without looking at the fine print. So when I got it home and fired it up and started to play with it I have to admit I was a little disappointed.
It says modeling amp, but there are basically 4 main amp models one for each type of tone that most guitarists are most likely to need and a few basic effects. The point of sales pitch shows modeling software that I assume lets you change the preset amp settings. The only problem is that you need an accessory that costs as much as the amp itself in order to hook up the amp to your computer and run the software. That’s almost an extra $100 almost doubling the price to add extra functionality to an entry level amp.
When I looked into the amp further it turns out that the Spider Classic 15 is actually exactly the same as the 5 year old Spider 15 with minor cosmetic changes. Black knobs instead of chrome and a nice brushed metallic black backplate to the controls. Otherwise, it’s pretty much identical.
So forgive my initial disappointment. Despite this I did give it a fairly thorough going over and tested what features are available out of the box.
It has four amp models in the four buttons across the top of the amp. These are the defaults that I believe can be changed with the addon that lets you hook up to your computer. They are labeled Clean, Crunch, Metal and Insane.
This is supposed to be a clean guitar sound. Which basically means that the naked sound of your guitar is amplified. It works ok at a lower volume but has a little sustain/reverb added which increases as the volume goes up. If you play it loudly that sustain moves into a slight echo with a phase effect. So it’s a bit weird. I actually had to check that the effects channels were turned completely off.
Gives you a pretty nice ACDC crunch if you hit the strings hard, but also does a pretty good impression of a bluesy classic rock. I actually quite like it.
Metal gives you that 80’s/90’s metal high gain sound that, depending on how you equalize it, can be a good power chord rhythm or hard rock lead done.
Is basically Metal Plus and sounds a bit over the top and edges towards buzzy.
The equalizer section of the amp has the traditional five knobs: Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble and Volume. There is a separate Master Volume on the far right. These are pretty traditional and work as you would expect. You can tweak the tones quite a lot by adjusting these and mix in some digital effects from the remaining two effect channel knobs positioned to the right of middle.
Effects Channel Knobs
Each knob as three effects on different sections of the knob rotation and can be varied from twisting from the left to right. These are: Chorus/Flange, Phase and Tremolo on one knob and Sweep Echo, Tape Echo and Reverb on the other knob. A tap tempo button is positioned above these and lets you tap a delay timing for effects that use it.
Misc Controls and Inputs
You also have the guitar input jack, a ¼ inch headphone out or recording jack. There is also a small 1/8 inch 3.5mm CD or MP3 input jack and a Cat5 type socket for the fancy pedal board and PC connectivity which is sold separately.
The amp has a small 8 inch speaker with an open back. That makes the speaker a little on the small side but even so it doesn’t sound terrible. It is a guitar speaker and loses a little detail as well as low down punch a more expensive combo amp would have. At bedroom or living room volume it sounds ok which makes it an ok practice amp. The effects are a bit digital and the presets are quite loud by default. The volume knob on the equalize controls is also stored with the four presets. By default they are probably at 12 o’clock so if you want to play quietly and decide to change from clean to crunch, the volume will jump to being very loud. You have to touch the volume knob for it to adjust to the knobs volume to the lower physical position. You can set your own amp presets. It’s not obvious how to do that without the manual, so you may want to keep it handy.
The amp preset sounds themselves sound ok but I wasn’t too fond of the built-in effects. I only really used the reverb when playing because the others sounded a bit digital and not really my thing.
It’s an ok amp. But it is showing its age. It’s basically their old spider 15 amp with some cosmetic changes to bring it up to date and make it look cooler. I guess the Classic in the name is there to tell you it’s their trusty old practice amp. It’s on the expensive side of cheap amp but does sound better than most amps you will get in a starter pack. However, if you can stretch to $200 (about $50 more) there are a plethora of modern amps available from Line 6 and other manufacturers. The Spider 30 is a modern Line 6 modeling amp that offers hundreds of effects, amp sims, programming and recording via USB to your PC or mobile device. When you get so much for an extra $50 it is very hard to justify this amp and it’s older tech.
The Spider Classic 15 fares quite well against my Marshall MG15CFX which is the same generation. The default presets are better and will get you started faster while the Marshall requires a lot more tweaking to get a good sound. This one has better high gain distortion tones while the MG15 has cleaner clean tones. Overall the Spider Classic 15 just edges it. But again if you can stretch to a modern current generation modeling amp like a Line 6 Spider 30 or 60 or a Marshall CODE 25 or 50 then I would highly recommend one of those. The newer generation of modeling amps are incredibly versatile by comparison.
An Ok amp that's showing its age
Product Name: Line 6 Spider Classic 15 Modeling Amp