REVIEW: Line 6 Pocket Pod

First off, the Line 6 Pocket Pod is such obvious genius that I can’t believe it wasn’t the very first thing the company invented. You know that episode of the Simpsons where Homer had financial problems and he dreamed he invented something that changed the world (and fitted in the palm of your hand) but he was woken up before he could see what it was? Well I’m pretty sure it was the Pocket Pod.

What you get here is 100% of the famous Line 6 digital modelling technology in about 1/8 of the size. The Pocket Pod is the same familiar kidney bean shape as the regular desktop Pod, but it’s about the size and thickness of a Bubble-O-Bill ice cream. For a small handful of cash you get 32 classic and modern amp models, along with 16 cab models and over 300 custom presets by guitarists from Thursday, Ash, As I Lay Dying, Sparta, 311, P.O.D, Razorlight, Hawthorne Heights, Killswitch Engage, Maroon 5 and Guns N’ Roses.

The list of amp models – ready for this? – is ’64 Fender Deluxe Reverb, ’59 Fender Bassman, ’68 Marshall Plexi 100 watt, Marshall JTM-45 meets Budda Twinmaster, ’60 Tweed Fender Champ, Budda Twinmaster head, ’65 Blackface Fender Twin Reverb, ’60 Vox AC 15, ’60 Vox AC 30 non-Top Boost, ’85 Mesa/Boogie Mark IIc+ Clean Channel, ’85 Mesa/Boogie Mark IIc+ Drive Channel, Dumble Overdrive Special Clean Channel, ’95 Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Head, ’89 Soldano SLO Super Lead Overdrive, Dumble Overdrive Special Drive Channel, 1987 Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus and Line 6 Insane.

Available speaker cabinet models are 1960 Fender Tweed Champ, 1952 Fender Tweed Deluxe Reverb, 1960 Vox AC-15, 1964 Fender Deluxe Reverb, 1965 Fender Blackface Twin Reverb, 1967 Vox AC-30, 1995 Matchless Chieftain, 1959 Fender Bassman, 1996 Marshall with Vintage 30s, 1978 Marshall with stock 70s, 1968 Marshall Basketweave with Greenbacks, Line 6 4×12, Line 6 1×12, Line 6 2×12 and Line 6 4×10.

There are 16 effects: Compressor, Tremolo, Chorus 1, Chorus 2, Flanger 1, Flanger 2, Rotary Speaker, Delay, Delay/Compressor, Delay/Tremolo, Delay/Chorus 1, Delay/Chorus 2, Delay/Flanger 1, Delay/Flanger 2, Delay/Swell, Reverb.

The sounds are great whether used for practice or recording. For my money, some of Line 6’s best work is in their emulations of naturally overdriven Marshalls and highly distorted metal amps. I was able to create some quite authentic classic rock girth and grit with the former (rocking the 100 watt Plexi model with my PAF-alike-loaded Ibanez Talman), and some Megadeth ‘United Abominations’ style tones with the latter (via the Insane model and my trusty Ibanez RG550 with Seymour Duncan Parallel Axis Trembucker). I also had a lot of fun calling up a somewhat ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge‘-era Eddie Van Halen sound using the Soldano model and Delay/Chorus 1 – headphones really brought this one to life especially during my half-assed rendition of whatever I could remember of Eddie’s live ‘316’ solo from the ‘Live: Right Here Right Now’ CD/DVD. Dragging out my old Strat copy I was able to pull convincing faux John Mayer sounds out of the Dumble Special drive channel-inspired model, and I went all SRV with the ’64 Fender Deluxe Reverb-based model and some reverb.

There’s so much tonal variety on tap here that you can play around with sounds for hours, and that’s before you start tinkering with them via computer with the included Vyzex software, where the on-screen control layout takes the fiddly work out of setting your sounds. Editing sounds using the Pocket Pod itself can be a little tricky, but since this device isn’t exactly configured for on-the-fly live use, you wouldn’t really expect a huge assembly of up-front editing features on the surface.

The casing is probably a little too light to use live regularly if you’re in an energetic band, but I could definitely see myself throwing one of these puppies into my guitar case to use as a backup if my amp ever packs it in mid-gig. It would also be a very handy teaching tool – it never hurts to have an easily accessible library of classic guitar tones to dial in when helping a student nail their favourite song.

Every guitarist needs one of these bad boys in their parts box, guitar case, gig bag, or on their desktop. It’s an invaluable backup as well as a fantastic tone generator in its own right. I only had the Pocket Pod on loan from the distributor for a few days but I would definitely like to buy one. In fact, every time I sit on the couch jamming unplugged on one of my electric guitars I can’t help but think of that baby Pod and wonder where it is now.

This is an expanded version of a review that originally ran in Mixdown magazine.

LINK: Line6.com/pocketpod/

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