Line 6 Flextone II XL Review
Original author: Hardtail
Model: Flextone II XL
Price: $300 used
The tweed Front really helped set the Flextone II and III apart from the rest of the Line6 Pack. It has a vintage look but it forces the electronics onto the top which can be kind of awkward if your not standing up while working with it.
The Celestion G12P-80 8 ohm speakers were custom made for Line6 to provide a super flat response which allows the circuitry to "Model" different speakers and cabinet sounds. It is NOT 100% accurate but it is very close and the best type speakers to use if you want to use modeling amps live. The Vetta has a slight upgrade on these. See pic below.
On the left side you have basic Power switch, Headphone Jack, and foot switch jack for Midi capable footswitches. On the right side things start getting interesting.
You have a Return/Send setup which when paired with say a PodXT allows you to do dual model layering. Very cool!
Midi In / Midi Out jacks allow you to plug the amp into a computer among other things and using the software provided by Line6 you can tweak the sounds even further and save hundreds of presets on the PC. These can be recalled on the fly and alot of people even use a laptop while gigging in lieu of a footswitch.
The Speaker outs provide 8 ohms each channel. If you only use the "Left" channel and send it to a 2x12 Flextone cabinet for instance... You can then run all 4 speakers in stereo. The two in the amp itself will switch from stereo to mono to allow this. If you use both speaker outs then all the juice goes to those jacks and the amps internal speakers are disabled.
XLR outputs are where the money is. These allow direct audioboard connecting for either recording or performing. The reproduction on most Powered Amplifer systems is impeccable. The ground/lift switch is usually set to Lift because the audio mixing board itself is usually already grounded... otherwise flip the switch. The Live/Studio switch is a bit confusing at first. It doesn't change the XLR outputs at all but allows the amp to act as a stage monitor (leaves the speakers on) if set to Live. If set to Studio the main speakers are disabled and the guitar can only be heard through the mixer.
See pic Below.
For PodXT users please skip this section. The abilities are identical but the layout is different. Everyone else read on.
Basics: Master volume drives end amplification and is not saved with the programs. Channel Volume is like the Master volume but IS saved for each setting. This allows one saved setting to be quieter or louder than the next without touching the Master Volume. Drive acts as the preamp driver. This is exactly the same as most amps.
Amp Models: Most of the "Line6" presets are junk. The rest of the dial gets names like "Tweed Blues" and "Rectified" but they actually model a "1959 Fender Bassman 4x10" and "1994 Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier" respectively. There are 32 models to choose from total. 16 are on the nob and the other 32 are obtained by holding the "TAP" button and turning the same nob. Most models are reproduced faithfully. This also assumes that you have the Flextone II with the Flextone III ROM upgrade which mine has.
Effects: The amp contains basic effects. Kris uses Delay for example set at very fast intervals to "fatten up" his sound as he says and I have found that it works perfectly on this too. The rest are self explanatory for veteran players and are easy enough to breeze thru and test. The FX Tweak knob alters each of the effects settings but is only saved when you save the channel. If you switch from one to the other the FX tweak knob setting will return to its preset. Bypass allows you to use no effects.
Tap: Tap is really neat. You can either tap the button repeatedly and it will continue blinking at that set speed or you can Hold it and move the FX knob to the desired rate OR you can hold it at pluck a string at a set rate and it will maintain that rate. It controls the effects as well. For instance to obtain Kris's "fattened" sound you tap it pretty fast and set the effect to Delay. This means that after each pluck of the string the amp will return an "echo" of the pluck immediately after. The FX tweak knob controls the fading volume rate of the echo... this whole scheme is called Delay.
Holding Tap: This also unlocks several other functions of the Flextone II. For instance holding tap while turning the Effects knob switches between different cabinet and speaker settings. These DO have an effect on the final sound. Some are faithfully reproduced and others I cannot comment on since I've never ehard them. You can't see them in the picture but below each knob is the alternate "tap" setting. These include Distortion on/off, Delay Feedback, Delay Level, Presence On/Off, Volume Boost, and Noise Gate On/Off (turn that bastard off lol). Tap setting to "Off" on the Cabinet (Effects) knob is great if you have zero'd in on a specific style you like to play and have replaced the amps speakers with specific speakers for that style.
See pic Below
For someone like me who needs reliability and a HUGE range of sound styles in a single gig the Flextone II has me covered. I am never left wanting when it comes to finding settings appropriate for different songs and styles. If you aren't sure what your style is or you play in a setting requiring diversity of styles then the Flextone II or III is a great amp.
Wide selection of sounds.
Accurate Amp Modeling.
Stage AND studio designed.
Solid State very reliable.
Weights a TON (I weight-lift regularly and this thing is really heavy even to me).
Buttons are awkwardly placed at rear of top and recessed. Forces you to stand over the amp thus blocking light needed to read the damn thing. Not a big deal if you dial everything in at home or on the PC.
Style dialing better done on a PC than using the array of knobs with double settings. Can get confusing.
P.S. - Please post with any corrections if I missed something.