Blackstar Amps

Elric

Member
Messages
4,641
So, is Blackstar the UK version of Peavey essentially?

Not meaning are they owned by them but are they kind of in the same place/niche in the market?

When they came on the scene they looked like they were going to be a 'Marshall but better' type but it seems like they ended up competing on price/value rather than on quality.

What do folks think of their tube amps?
 

guitarman3001

Member
Messages
10,986
When soliciting opinions about Blackstar amps on this forum, keep the primary demographic makeup and buying habits of this site in mind.

Blackstars makes great sounding amps. I've owned several over the years and currently own an HT20MKII and an HT60MKII. The Blackstar engineers are former Marshall engineers so they have a pretty decent pedigree. My biggest issue with the amps is they are heavy as hell. The HT60MKII 1X12 would make a great grab n go amp if it was 10 or 15 pounds lighter.
 

Defendant

Member
Messages
6,339
I’ve found the ones I’ve tried to be disappointing.

It did strike me recently that being the engineer from Marshall isn’t really much to crow about when you look at Marshall’s products from the 30th anni onward.
 

guitarman3001

Member
Messages
10,986
Except Peavy makes a few tube amps that sounds pretty good.
I’ve found the ones I’ve tried to be disappointing.

It did strike me recently that being the engineer from Marshall isn’t really much to crow about when you look at Marshall’s products from the 30th anni onward.

lol....what did I tell you about the opinions you'll get here?
 

jds22

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,787
I like the features of the HT series but they never wowed me enough to keep them very long.
I've owned the HT40, HT20 MKII, and HT60 MKII.
Something about the tone of the drive channels doesn't work for me. I wonder if an EQ in the loop would help?
On the plus side, these amps work really well at low volumes so if that is something you need the HT series might be worth looking into.
 

guitarman3001

Member
Messages
10,986
I like the features of the HT series but they never wowed me enough to keep them very long.
I've owned the HT40, HT20 MKII, and HT60 MKII.
Something about the tone of the drive channels doesn't work for me. I wonder if an EQ in the loop would help?
On the plus side, these amps work really well at low volumes so if that is something you need the HT series might be worth looking into.
I'm of the opinion that if you need an eq pedal to make your new amp sound good you bought the wrong amp. Tone is very subjective. Nothing wrong with an amp's tone not being to your liking.
 

TS808

Member
Messages
1,659
Just got an HT Club 40 Mkii and it's a great amp. I did swap the stock speaker out for an Eminence Texas Heat and it gave it a much warmer sound; very usable. I really like the versatility of the amp and it sounds good with both single coils and humbuckers. The stock speaker is too bright in my opinion; I never liked the Celestion 70/80 at all in ANY amp that I tried that had one.
 

JLR

Member
Messages
268
I took my HT20 combo and removed the Celestion Rocket 50 then took it to the sand pit and proceeded to put a round right through the dust cover with my Thompson 50 cal Muzzloader. Best thing for that speaker. Most stupid thing ever made round. Put in a WGS Invader and put a Tungsol 12AX7 in V1. This made a substantial difference. It's still not in the same arena as Marshall, Friedman, Orange or Mesa but serves the purpose which is home use or on the fly rehearsals and not gigging.
 

guitarman3001

Member
Messages
10,986
I took my HT20 combo and removed the Celestion Rocket 50 then took it to the sand pit and proceeded to put a round right through the dust cover with my Thompson 50 cal Muzzloader. Best thing for that speaker. Most stupid thing ever made round. Put in a WGS Invader and put a Tungsol 12AX7 in V1. This made a substantial difference. It's still not in the same arena as Marshall, Friedman, Orange or Mesa but serves the purpose which is home use or on the fly rehearsals and not gigging.
I had a Marshall and still have a Mesa and a Friedman and an Orange and they all stayed home while my main gigging amp was a Blackstar HT20MKII combo.
 

FiestaRed869

Member
Messages
2,008
The 100 watt heads have truly amazing cleans, the OD wasn't for me. They are on par with Marshalls DSL to be fair.
 

jimk4003

Member
Messages
1,058
When they came on the scene they looked like they were going to be a 'Marshall but better' type but it seems like they ended up competing on price/value rather than on quality.
Yeah, that seems kinda true. I have an Artisan 15, which was one of the first amps they came out with. All turret board wired, Heritage Greenback speaker, welded steel chassis, carbon comp resistors, etc. Basically a little boutique amp; sounds like a Marshall 1974X crossed with a Vox AC15, but with a little more clarity and definition, and built like a tank.

Since then, Blackstar have really gone after the mid-range. My guess is that the hand-wired Artisan range were released first to establish credibility as amp builders, whereas the mid-range stuff was really where they saw their core market being.

That said, I'm keeping my Artisan; it's phenomenal.
 

classicplayer

Member
Messages
623
Yeah, that seems kinda true. I have an Artisan 15, which was one of the first amps they came out with. All turret board wired, Heritage Greenback speaker, welded steel chassis, carbon comp resistors, etc. Basically a little boutique amp; sounds like a Marshall 1974X crossed with a Vox AC15, but with a little more clarity and definition, and built like a tank.

Since then, Blackstar have really gone after the mid-range. My guess is that the hand-wired Artisan range were released first to establish credibility as amp builders, whereas the mid-range stuff was really where they saw their core market being.

That said, I'm keeping my Artisan; it's phenomenal.
I'd hang onto that, if I were you. Are the current Artisan 15 models constructed the same way? Is the tone of that amp anywhere near or reminiscent of the HT line. Early on, I had the HT1R combo as a home amp. The clean tones were likeable, but as others state, the gain always had this annoying “whine” to it that I could not dial out.

classicplayer
 
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jimk4003

Member
Messages
1,058
I'd hang onto that, if I were you. Are the current Artisan 15 models constructed the same way? Is the tone of that amp anywhere near or reminiscent of the HT line. Early on, I had the HT1R combo as a home amp. The clean tones were like able, but as others state, the gain always had this annoying “whine” to it that I could not dial out.

classicplayer
I think the Artisan range are still made the same way, though they brought out an Artisan 10AE which isn't handwired or built to the same standard overall, which somewhat confuses the whole range. Here's a gut shot of the handwired Artisan 15 from the Blackstar site:



The Artisan range just doesn't seem to be promoted much, or as widely distributed as the other ranges. They also bumped the prices up massively; the RRP of the Artisan 15 is £1699 today, which is the same price as the equivalent handwired 15 watt Marshall. Back when I bought my Artisan 15 they cost £700 new, which was half what the equivalent Marshall cost. Blackstar were a new company back then, and I think they were just trying to make a splash and buy market share with unsustainably low prices; which worked out okay for me!

EDIT: Missed the question about the tone of the amp.

The tone isn't really reminiscent of anything else Blackstar do. It's a classic low wattage non-master volume amp, and it has great chimey cleans at low volume that really crunch up as you push the volume. It also has an EF86 preamp, similar to a vintage Vox or Matchless amps, which delivers a fatter, punchier tone.

It's not a 'modern' sounding amp at all; more like a slightly refined Marshall/Vox hybrid. It's best suited to blues/rock players who want to crank the amp and control everything from the guitar's volume knob.
 
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Defendant

Member
Messages
6,339
The Artisan was the first BS amp I played.

Not bad but not in the same class as similar stuff by 65amps, TopHat etc. And not much cheaper IIRC.
 

assquatch20

Member
Messages
214
I've got a couple of their products, and I'm interested in more. As a company, there are facets of their "image" and product development that strike me as a bit scattered, but I suppose diversifying ain't such a bad thing. To me, they existed as a high-gain tube amp company with some boutique stuff, some pedals... now they've got things in between that, digital and solid state, and as of this year, acoustic amps.

Don't confuse their Artisan amps with the Artist 15 and 30. The Artist amps are PCB. I've got the Artist 15 and I'm not crazy about it with the Tele I've been using but it sounds great with humbuckers through it. Tons of headroom for 15w, I guess partly because it's 2x6l6's. Two channels but a pretty clean amp, really. Definitely a pedal platform. It's kind of a big cabinet as well.

I need to try a MKII HT-20. Might've been the better choice for me but I like the Artist 15 a little more each time I use it. The Studio 10 amps are a neat concept as well. I also hear good things about the Series One.

I've also got an HT-5 "metal" head that I use at home and small stuff that I really like. I never, ever need to take the gain past 9 o'clock. Its sweep is more usable with a 12AU7 but the volume loss is a little annoying so I just use a 12ax7 and set the gain to where it's barely on usually. Having a push-pull 5w tube power section with an FX loop (parallel, no less) is nice, then you get the practice amp stuff like a stereo auxiliary input and stereo emulated out. There's a clean channel too... good if you wanna use pedals, but its controls are limited to a tone and a volume.
 
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Corvid

Member
Messages
325
Not to derail the thread, but in my opinion Laney is the Peavey of the UK, having long been the cheaper, less talked about alternative to Marshall, although I think Laney amps generally get a little more respect tone-wise compared to Peavey overall (in terms of overarching image on the Internet; whether one would find any given Peavey or Laney amp more sonically pleasing is entirely subjective, isn't it?)
 

Axe-Man

Member
Messages
6,264
Wasn’t the engineer the guy that designed the Valvestate? That is what I read so...if I’m correct whilst he was from Marshall...he wasn’t exactly the designer of the original Plexi or DSL or JVM or JCM800...

I think BS has definite merit but the build quality is less than stellar outside of the Artisan line.
 




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