Line 6 (company)

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Line 6
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryAmplification, Musical instruments
Founded1996; 28 years ago (1996)
FounderSusan Wolf, Marcus Ryle and Michel Doidic
Area served
United States, Europe, Japan
ProductsGuitar effects, guitar amplifiers, Software, Electric guitars, Wireless systems
ParentYamaha Corporation

Line 6 is a musical instrument and audio equipment manufacturer, best known as a pioneer in guitar amplifier and effect modeling.[1][2] The company's products include guitar effects, modeling guitar amplifiers, software, electric guitars, and wireless systems. Line 6 has an active user community, and provides software that allows users to easily download and share patches or device settings for many of the company's products. Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Calabasas, California, the company has been a subsidiary of Yamaha Corporation since 2014.



Marcus Ryle and Michel Doidic (two former Oberheim designers) co-founded Fast-Forward Designs, where they helped develop several notable pro audio products such as the Alesis ADAT, Quadraverbs and QuadraSynth, and Digidesign SampleCell. As digital signal processing (DSP) became more powerful and affordable during the 1980s, they began developing DSP-based products which would emulate the tones of classic guitar amplifiers, cabinets, and effects. According to Ryle, the name "Line 6" came about because the phone system at Fast-Forward Designs only had 5 lines. Because the new guitar-related products were developed in secrecy, the receptionist used "Line 6" as a code word of sorts, and paging them for a call on Line 6 meant to stop any guitar or amp-related sounds so that they would not be overheard by other Fast-Forward clients or callers.[3]

Launch and success[edit]

Pod X3 "bean"

Line 6 launched in 1996 with their first digital modeling amplifier, the AxSys 212, a combo amp using two 12" speakers.[3] This was followed in 1997 by the Flextone modeling combo amp[4] and in 1998 by the modeling software Amp Farm, which became popular among music producers and professional guitarists using Pro Tools.[5]

Fearing digital modeling was beyond the reach of ordinary guitarists, Line 6 sought to design an affordable, simple, standalone guitar amp and effects modeler with a unique look.[5] This led to the company's breakthrough product, the 1998 POD, a famously red, kidney bean-shaped desktop processor that emulated 15 classic amplifier models with multiple speaker cabinet options and onboard effects. Premier Guitar described the original POD as instigating "a long-overdue liberation" from cheap practice amps and expensive vintage amps. Line 6 subsequently expanded the POD into a family of products, with later additions increasing the line's amp choices and processing power.[5]

A Spider III Amp.

The following year, Line 6 launched the Spider series of modeling amps with the Spider 112 and Spider 210,[6][7] as well as their "Stompbox Modeler" series of modeling effects pedals with the DL4 Delay Modeler and MM4 Modulation Modeler.[8]

Bob Mould performing with a Line 6 Variax acoustic guitar.

In 2002, Line 6 introduced the Variax line of electric, acoustic, and bass guitars.[9]

In early 2008, Line 6 acquired X2 Digital Wireless, who had introduced digital wireless systems for guitar. Further developing this technology, Line 6 developed and introduced a family of digital wireless microphone systems in 2010.[10]

In light of increased market competition from companies like Fractal Audio and Kemper, Line 6 began devloping a next-generation flagship modeling effects unit, the Helix, which it introduced in 2015. Utilizing a newly-developed HX engine, Helix featured 72 amp models, 37 speaker cabinets, 16 microphone models, and 194 effects. The Helix has since expanded into a successful family of products, including the smaller HX Stomp and HX Stomp XL, and the Helix LT, with the diminutive Stomp consistently ranking as the top seller among all amp modelers and effects processors on[1]

Change in ownership[edit]

In December 2013, it was confirmed that Line 6 was to be bought by Yamaha Corporation, to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary with the internal management remaining the same. In 2017, Line 6 became part of Yamaha's first-ever guitar division, which became Yamaha Guitar Group, Inc. the following year.[11]


  1. ^ a b Handley, Joel (11 June 2021). "6 Years of the Line 6 Helix". Reverb. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Line 6 Case Study". Analog Devices. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b White, Paul (March 2006). "Line 6: Inside the Tone Modelling Factory". Sound On Sound. SOS Publications Group. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  4. ^ "Line 6 Timeline". Line 6. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Moore, Adam (12 October 2008). "10 Years of the POD". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  6. ^ White, Paul (November 1999). "Line 6 Spider". Sound On Sound. SOS Publications Group. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  7. ^ Kobylensky, Paul (20 March 2017). "Line 6 Spider V 120 Review". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  8. ^ Gill, Chris (10 May 2022). "How the Line 6 DL4 changed the game for digital modeling effect pedals". Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  9. ^ White, Paul (June 2003). "Line 6 Variax". Sound On Sound. SOS Publications Group. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  10. ^ Stroud, Peter (14 August 2008). "Gone Wireless". Premier Guitar. Premier Guitar. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  11. ^ "Yamaha Guitar Group: Our Story". Yamaha Guitar Group. Yamaha Guitar Group. Retrieved 1 December 2023.

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