Blackstar Artisan Series? (What amp shall I buy?)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Loobster, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Loobster

    Loobster Member

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    I am in the market for a new amp. Specifically an EL84 Class A, 2x12.

    I am looking at the AC30H2 or a Blackstar Artisan 30 combo. The latter receives fantastic reviews in all the magazines although I spoke to a friend who owns a very renowned UK store who said it was really disappointing.

    I must admit that having a channel with a master volume does seem appealing to me after using a Hiwatt DR103 as my main amp for a while now. Of course, the AC30 doesn't have this facility but from what I've heard it's a truly great amp.

    http://www.blackstaramps.co.uk/products/artisan/artisan30.html - very nice amp on paper I'm sure you'll agree.
     
  2. hamfist

    hamfist Member

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    I've owned an AC30HH, and played an Artisan 30 for quite a while in a shop. Both are great amps, to be sure.

    I found the AC30 totally unuseable without an attenuator for my use, even with a band. But once I got a Hotplate in place, it was excellent. Very Chimey, and excelled at the lower gain tones - exactly as you would expect from an AC30.
    The Blackstar had a much more of a vintage Marshall feel to it - real quality though. Definately lowish gain for a Marshall-type amp though, although playing it at volume and getting power amp really cooking might increase the gain considerably.
    I really was very impressed with the Blackstar. If they had made a head version of it, I would have probably brought one. However, being stuck with the 2x12 combo format was a turn-off for me.
    Both amps are well worth trying out. I'm sure that in London you will be able to find places with them in stock.
     
  3. Loobster

    Loobster Member

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    Yup. Machine Head (according to their website) have both in stock so next week I'm going down there to audition both.

    I'm not worried about the AC30 having too much clean headroom. I have no problem using some nice fuzzes/dirt boxes into the front of it. Picking up a Hotplate would be an option that I'd entertain however.

    I've heard some horror stories about those Blackstars and I do remember on one brief occasion when I tried one out being somewhat less than blown away by it.
     
  4. hamfist

    hamfist Member

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    Be aware that Ac30's can be a bit fussy about which dirt boxes they get on with. They are certainly not as forgiving as your average clean fender or Marshall amp.
     
  5. Loobster

    Loobster Member

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    I will definitely bare that in mind.

    I have a few nice bits...Catalinbread Silver Kiss...'86 Small Box Rat....Subdecay Flying Tomato....AC Booster...
     
  6. Pat Healy

    Pat Healy Member

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    I spent some time this evening playing around with a Blackstar Artisan 30. Spent about 45 minutes playing though it with a Strat, a Les Paul, an EBMM Axis Super Sport, and an EBMM Luke. I came away pretty unimpressed. It's a decent sounding amp, but there are way better sounding amps in this price range.

    Channel 2 had a decent range of clean to low/mid gain O/D tones, but it was just kind of plain and lacking in character. Channel 1 was not particularly useful at all - just an average sounding clean channel. This amp really doesn't have that chimey Vox vibe at all, and it has nowhere near enough gain to do the Marshall thing.

    One thing I will say for it is that it's super loud - even in 10 watt mode. Things perked up some with the master cranked and the gain above 12 noon, but at that point the volume level was overpowering.

    For a mid-gain amp in this price range, I'd much sooner go with a Mesa Lone Star or Lone Star Special. Those are sweet sounding amps with beautiful cleans, lots more gain, and just more character in general.
     
  7. jazzandmetal?

    jazzandmetal? Supporting Member

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    I felt this way too. Then I jumped/blended the channels. Whole new amp. It completely came to life. That said, it is pretty expensive for a chinese made amp.

    I agree with you about the boogies. Or you could get an AC30 for a few hundred less.
     
  8. Pat Healy

    Pat Healy Member

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    I should have mentioned that I would also choose an AC30 over the Blackstar. My only beef with the AC30 is volume, but if you can crank it up (or put a good attenuator on it) it's magic.
     
  9. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    I tried a Blackstar Artisan 15 and 30 as part of a fairly thorough amp search recently (qualifier: I live in Australia were the range of builders whose amps you can try in the shops is small compared to the US and probably the UK too). I think I ended up trying 20 or more different amps. I had high hopes based on the Guitarist UK reviews ... I think the 30 got a Guitarist Gold award and the 15 got a Guitarist Choice award. I've also read their "long term" reviews following on from the main review ... all glowing and very positive. Anyway, I was completely underwhelmed. I thought they sounded OK, but nothing that would make me part with money, in spite of their reasonable price for a non-PCB amp. No doubt they're someone else's cuppa, but I'd recommend trying one first, despite the press reviews.

    For what it's worth, I ended up buying a Hughes & Kettner Statesman Quad EL84 combo. I've been delighted with it, and I'd imagine in the UK they're probably not too prohibitively priced (in the US I think they're a little prohibitive compared to the huge range of non-imported amps on offer). Might be worth checking one out ... it's a 1x12 but has an oversized, almost closed backed cabinet, so it sounds bigger than the average 1x12. PM me if you want more details.

    Another thing to bear in mind is the Artisan 30 is ridiculously heavy and needs to be played very loud, even on the lower wattage setting. The 15 might be a better choice if you value your back and ear drums ... and the tone is your cuppa.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2008
  10. straticus

    straticus Member

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    I palyed the Artisan 15 today and was pretty impressed. Nice crunch at reasonable volume and very dynamic. Seemed to like SC as well as HB'ers.

    I also played the 30 today and walked away not thinking much of that amp. But that little 15 is a real screamer. There might be an Artisan 15 in my future.
     
  11. danzig

    danzig Member

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    Great thread! I've been wanting to see some discussion of the A30 versus AC30 for ages. I think it's kinda weird that the Guitarist reviews didn't mention any comparisons between the two - both 30 watt EL84 amps with an EF86 channel and a 12AX7 channel.

    Can you blend the channels on the Vox just like you can on the Blackstar? Does anyone do this?

    Still no Blackstars available here in NZ but I hope to try out an AC30H2 soon.
     

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