The guitar I most commonly play through this amp is an ESP/LTD JD-600, Jon Donais model (Mahogany Neck/Body, Ebony Fingerboard) in which I've swapped pickup positions (EMG 81 @ the bridge, EMG 85 @ the neck). The type of music I play can range from Pink Floyd to Alice in Chains, Lamb of God to Meshuggah-esque palm muted mayhem. While both the guitar and the amp may seem like anything but a winning combination for some of those musical selections, there is so much more to this than what is on the surface.
The amp does take a while to get used to and yes, there are things about it that are annoying, but please, trust me; after an hour at practice volume you will quickly learn to live with its quirks. It is powerful, tight, punchy; to be honest, I'm blown away by just how good it sounds. I'm in a band with two other guitar players and my role is pretty much to provide a tight, almost percussive mid-low range to our sound. In this respect, the Flextone III is an absolute monster. Lows and mids hit hard, highs provide definition, and gain never really seems to hit an undefinable level. How does it fit my style? Like it was made FOR me.
Noise is an odd issue in the Flextone III. My cohorts both play Boogie gear (A Roadking II and a Stiletto Ace) and when we're through with a song, we all roll down our volumes near simultaneously. However, my cohorts both switch to their clean channels to kill the noise as well. This simply isn't the case with the Flextone III. On the highest of high-gain settings, this amp is whisper quiet, almost frighteningly quiet. Volume up, yes it will take a steady hand and probably a fair bit of distance to keep noise at bay but in my humble opinion, this is the case with ANY practice volume amp.
As far as clean goes, I'm using what should be the JC-120 model for my clean sounds, though I don't remember off-hand what cabinet model I'm using it with. Regardless, I set the channel volume to max, and slowly up the gain to match my dirty sound. The result is a crystal clear clean tone that at a drum-kit competing volume does not break up. It does get a bit muddy and honestly, I'm still trying to get it sorted out just right, but for now, it works well enough.
The Line 6, high-gain sounds have always been an issue for me. Doesn't matter what the amp, they always seem to sound compressed. Having put some decent time into this amp, I think I've discovered what I believe to be the cause of this; the speakers. They need time to wear-in. Lately, I notice the compression less and less and even my cohorts have taken notice. Using the Triple Rectifier model, through a 4x12 1960A model, two self-proclaimed "Boogie-for-lifers" comment on a regular basis just how potent this little box is in the gain department.
Overall, I could write substantially more than I already have about how much I'm enjoying it. Yes, it does have downsides, but as I said, there is more than meets the eye to this amp...
I've had it since August and have had no problems whatsoever with it so far. Turns on every time, and performs without fail every time.
Unfortunately, I can't afford a backup, otherwise I would absolutely bring one. Don't think this bad of the Flextone, just of me being jaded after 10 years of playing live music and dealing with all manner of equipment failures throughout those years.
|Customer Support ||
Have never dealt with Line 6 but they seem to have quite a knowledge base off of their website. If I were looking for the answer to a question with an issue, that's probably the first place I'd go.
|Liked about it ||
First things first, in my humble opinion, this amp MUST be combined with one of Line 6's FBV controllers. I purchased the FBV shortboard (Now replaced with the Shortboard MKII) and the two literally are a rig in a box. When we set up to play a show, I'm ready inside of a minute. Plug amp in, plug FBV in, plug guitar in, dominate, repeat steps 1-3 in reverse. You cannot put a price on this sort of simplicity.
Second, again a matter of convenience to cost to performance. The amp sounds fantastic, isn't too pricey and it weighs less than nothing (Figuratively speaking of course). Again, I can move this amp by myself with my guitar strapped to my back. It has a very shallow depth which makes it the polar opposite of bulky. Again in comparison to my cohorts amps, I move this by myself, then I help them move their gear.
Third, what more can I say, with the FBV shortboard it IS a rig in a box. It does so much and I feel like I've gotten so much out of it and I know I haven't even scratched the surface of what this thing is capable of.
|Didn't like ||
First, I'd say that compressed high-gain sound the amp first exhibited. Granted it is going away little by little, it is still there and I'd be a liar if I said I didn't occasionally miss the raw feel of a good tube amp.
Second, the narrow depth is a blessing, though I'm not quite sure about the completely open back. The amp is capable of some fantastic low-end response, but I am tempted to close up that gap a bit to see what it gets me.
Third, the FBV shortboard should be a part of the package. While the inclusion of any foot controller would have been a blessing, only with the shortboard does this amp really come into its own.
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