Build the Best Artist Tones With Line 6 Modeling Amps and Multi-Effects
You’ve just purchased your new Line 6 gear. Whether it’s a Spider® IV modeling amplifier or new POD® HD multi-effect, your quest for tone has begun. The only problem is where to start. How do you approach tone-building? How do you dial in that blues, metal or rock tone that drove you to buy your new gear to begin with? How do you find that specific artist tone or band sound?
For a lot of people, this can be an overwhelming and often frustrating endeavor. While tone is always going to be subjective, this guide, hopefully, will help you develop and hone in your patch-building skills. Who knows, maybe along the way you’ll find your tone which can be even more exciting.
The Big Four
In this blog post, I’m going to provide you with four basic tips on how to approach dialing in a tone based on an artist, band or genre: know your gear, know the artist’s gear, use factory presets as starting points, and ask the Line 6 Community. These general guidelines will help you find that tone much quicker than if you blindly jumped in and started turning knobs. Here we go…
1. Know Your Gear
It sounds self-explanatory but it’s so important to understand -- on as deep a level as possible -- how your new Line 6 gear works. Reading the advanced guides available at www.line6.com/manuals will open up several new doors of understanding about your gear. I guarantee you’ll learn about a certain feature you didn’t even know existed, and it might play a crucial role in achieving that sound you’re looking for. (Understanding the output modes in our POD products comes to mind immediately.)
2. Know the Artist or Band’s Gear
Dialing in an artist or band tone on a POD or Spider is a lost cause if you don’t actually know what kind of gear the band or artist actually uses. Understanding the gear an artist uses and how it’s set up can save you countless hours of tweaking.
There are a couple of good resources on the internet that list what gear certain bands and artists actually use. The first one is GuitarGeek. This site is a great resource for learning what certain bands and artists actually use live and in the studio. One aspect of the site that is especially useful is the way the gear is graphically represented for each artist. Take a look at Dave Grohl’s rig as illustrated by Guitar Geek.
You’ll notice that the entire rig is laid out nice and neat in a full-color graphic making it easy to see the correct signal flow and all. Keep in mind, that this rig illustration is fairly old (circa 2000) so things may have changed since then.
Another great resource for learning about artist or band rigs is UberProAudio. Like GuitarGeek, UberProAudio lists several artists and band rigs but the layout is a bit different. You won’t get nice little graphic representations but the ability to comment on rig listings as well as how UberProAudio constantly updates the rig info is very helpful. If anything, it puts into perspective just how many different types of guitars, amps, pedals, etc. a lot of your favorite artists or bands use!
See Dave Grohl’s gear according to UberProAudio. You’ll definitely notice gear differences between the two sites but for the most part, the amps and guitars are the same. Dave’s rig has definitely evolved a little over the years.
3. Use Factory Presets as Starting Points
Presets can be a really good “diving board” to get you on your way to achieving that sound you seek. There are several generalized sound, song and artist factory presets in the new POD HD series that are great starting points. Many of these presets may need only a few tweaks to get close to what you want. For example, if you’re looking for a Foo Fighters tone, start with the Ever Longing patch in the POD HD HD500 (preset 3A). Consider starting with that patch and tweaking it to what you think sounds close.
4. Ask the Line 6 Community
Line 6 has worked very hard to build a community devoted to sharing tones. This can be a valuable resource in the event you ever get stuck creating one. Here are some good threads and forums you may want to visit:
Share Your Settings. This is a great user-to-user forum within our online community where folks can talk about tone settings and share CustomTone patches.
Share your Line 6 Spider IV Settings. This is a thread within the Share Your Settings community created by “dylanjunk.” You’ll find specific knob settings for the smaller Spider IV series amplifiers.
Share Spider Settings. Another great thread within the Share Your Settings community created by “AgileReaper.” Look for more knob-specific settings called out here for all Spider amplifiers.
Tone Building Tips/Tricks. A more generalized thread for POD HD users within the POD HD support forums. In here you’ll find tips on how various users approach tone and patch-building as well as best-practices, etc.
CustomTone. A Line 6 website dedicated to tone-sharing and uploading. Here, you can download thousands of tones for various compatible Line 6 gear and use our editing software to sync them up. New tones are added everyday so check back often! (I’ve also uploaded my interpretation of a Foo Fighters patch on CustomTone using the Ever Longing factory preset as a starting point. You can find it here.)
Creating and Balancing Tones. This is an exceptional FAQ that Line 6 product specialist Andy Paredes created. It has a wealth of knowledge in regards to building tones and also includes a huge list of gear various artists actually use.
So to sum up, read your manual, research the artist you are trying to emulate, use the factory presets as starting points and refer to the Line 6 Community. If you follow these basic and simple guidelines, you’ll be on to mastering tone emulation and patch building in no time!