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Struggling With Spider Valve Mkii In Live Settings


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HI there.  I absolutely love the tone I can get out of my Spider Valve MkII 112 combo.  I've had it for two years and I keep coming back to the amp.  I've owned the MkI 212, and I have tried the DT series - but I still like the feel of the SV MkII best of all.


However, I can't help but be frustrated when it comes to trying to use this in a live setting.  When I am at home, I can play with the knobs all day and get very usable tones.  And if I leave the amp in Manual mode, I can play the amp as if it were a single-channel amp that's easy to negotiate when playing live.


But I want the preset capabilities to be useful for me!


In a nutshell, here's what I run into:

  • Presets sound different in a bedroom setting than they do in a live setting.  I totally get that.
  • In a live setting, I may need to start tweaking the tone knobs.  HOWEVER, I don't know the current position of each tone knob on a preset unless I go into the LCD screen.  As I start to tweak things, I tend to get lost and mentally lose my reference point. 
  • In a live setting, I may also need to re-calibrate the channel volumes for each of the patches (so that patch-to-patch transitions have consistent volume.)  But I face the same challenges as I do with the tone knob - PLUS - the Master Volume tends to rattle-and-slide during performances.  When that MV position changes on its own, so does the perceived volume deltas between the patches. 
  • As I make changes, you want the settings to stick around the next time you get to that preset.  That forces you to save your preset every time you make a tweak.  In my case, I wind up having to re-save presets multiple times in a session.  Once again, I kind of lose my reference point. I know I can have a "base" set of presets in one bank, and have my "changed" ones in another, but it requires a whole bunch of button-mashing. 
  • I think many of us know about the challenges with the MV knob by itself (scratchy at low-volume adjustments, linear-taper makes it hard to dial in something between whisper-quiet and stadium-loud, etc.) - and haven't really heard about any solutions here.  At present, I use the Volume pedal in post-position and roll off volume to help dial in some in-between volumes - not ideal at all, but kinda works in a pinch.


Clearly, if the SV MkII's panel was laid out a bit more like a conventional multi-channel amp (DT series included), you can avoid a good chunk of the pain above.  But I really enjoy playing through this amp and would hate to swap out my rig just because I struggle with the control layout.


Aside from my complaining here, I'd like to hear what experiences you have had with the amp in live situations (where extensive button-mashing isn't an option when you're trying to reduce/eliminate dead air in-between songs).  Am I missing something here?  Do you have a better approach to how to tweak things on-the-fly?


Would love to hear your thoughts - thanks!

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   I'm not sure why you need to tweek the settings in a live setting (aside from the presence knob depending on the room). Let the amp work for you. Spend some time to program patches that work for your live sound. Set up a decent portable recorder close to your amp and capture the gig so that you can make changes for the next show. Eventually, you will achieve the sounds you want, and can concentrate on the playing instead of the tweeking.

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