Blackstar St. James 50 EL34

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guitarman3001

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New Blackstar logo on these, perhaps they are attempting to re-brand, they do have a certain reputation.

I have an older HT60, which I’m happy with, but I think I’m in the minority, especially around here.
I have an HT20 MKII and an HT60 MKII. I love them both. Screw the haters.

I'm not in the market for an amp but I could see myself selling the ridiculously heavy HT60 and replacing it with one of these.
 

Sammicus15

Silver Supporting Member
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I’m obviously highly interested (I started the dang thread) but for what it’s worth I looked up candlenut on the wood database and found this:

“Rot resistance: rated as non-durable to perishable, poor insect resistance.

Generally, the wood is too weak and soft to be used for structural applications.”

Keep it away from termites I guess. Another serious question I have, as I’ve not owned any Blackstar products before: how is the reliability? One of the knocks on the brand seems to be that there aren’t any available schematics, and that the only authorized service centers are in the UK. And since they use a lot of ICs on a PCB (again, I don’t care, I really like how it sounded), they would be extremely difficult to work on without accurate schematics.

Any thoughts from Blackstar owners out there? My initial experience with the EL34 combo was enough to sell me on it, but I like to know what I’m getting into.
 

guitarman3001

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12,026
I’m obviously highly interested (I started the dang thread) but for what it’s worth I looked up candlenut on the wood database and found this:

“Rot resistance: rated as non-durable to perishable, poor insect resistance.

Generally, the wood is too weak and soft to be used for structural applications.”

Keep it away from termites I guess. Another serious question I have, as I’ve not owned any Blackstar products before: how is the reliability? One of the knocks on the brand seems to be that there aren’t any available schematics, and that the only authorized service centers are in the UK. And since they use a lot of ICs on a PCB (again, I don’t care, I really like how it sounded), they would be extremely difficult to work on without accurate schematics.

Any thoughts from Blackstar owners out there? My initial experience with the EL34 combo was enough to sell me on it, but I like to know what I’m getting into.
Most modern mass-produced amps are the same way - a lot of ICs on PCB. They are for the most part either disposable or repairable by replacing the failed circuit board. I'm pretty sure they do have service centers in the US.

I've never had any reliability issues with my Blackstars. I've owned several over the years.

As for the wood, if my amps are being eaten by termites, I have bigger problems to worry about that the amp itself. And a guitar amp is not a structural application.
 

thornie

Silver Supporting Member
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3,516
I also want to say that lifting the OX UI and layout for their DI IR shaping tool is a genius move. What a cool amp. I'm really stoked to see what else comes out this NAMM.
 

Deuterium

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1,436
IMHO, a lot will come down to the SMPS tansformer, and how it interacts in the circuit/system of a 50W tube-based guitar amp. Will wait to hear actual customer reviews before getting excited. I can't stand the artificial hype and rather unsavory tactics of the manufacturers with their ersatz-salespeople -- i.e., the "Paid Promotion" reviews by YouTube "Influencers".
 
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guitarman3001

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12,026
Seem like decent, disposable amps for those interested in such things.

The fact that they only have 2 12AX7s tells you everything you need to know about what lurks on the inside (as if the Blackstar name didn’t do it alone).
giphy.gif
 

ragingplatypi

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712
I'm excited to hear more reviews and comparisons to regular transformers. I think big iron transformers are as important (if not more) to our love of tube amps as the actual tubes.
 

Barquentine

Member
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2,896
Seem like decent, disposable amps for those interested in such things.

The fact that they only have 2 12AX7s tells you everything you need to know about what lurks on the inside (as if the Blackstar name didn’t do it alone).

I'm not a fan of Blackstar and their tendency to describe products as 'pure valve' when they're not but, if you like the sounds, does it matter?
 

Barquentine

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2,896
I’m obviously highly interested (I started the dang thread) but for what it’s worth I looked up candlenut on the wood database and found this:

“Rot resistance: rated as non-durable to perishable, poor insect resistance.

Generally, the wood is too weak and soft to be used for structural applications.”

Keep it away from termites I guess. Another serious question I have, as I’ve not owned any Blackstar products before: how is the reliability? One of the knocks on the brand seems to be that there aren’t any available schematics, and that the only authorized service centers are in the UK. And since they use a lot of ICs on a PCB (again, I don’t care, I really like how it sounded), they would be extremely difficult to work on without accurate schematics.

Any thoughts from Blackstar owners out there? My initial experience with the EL34 combo was enough to sell me on it, but I like to know what I’m getting into.

If I wanted this amp I'd keep an eye on their forum for a few months to see if any issues are being reported. They have a reputation for questionable reliability and poor service. They never respond to issues raised on their forum.
 

Pantalooj

Member
Messages
3,577
Interested in the tone (the EL34 vintage oriented one), the low power feature and the weight and compact cabinetry.

I wonder if a valve amp with this kind of feature set would have ever been made if it had not been for the advent of the non-valve new products of the last 10 years or so? This occurred to me because I have also been mulling over a Fender Tone Master that offers the same things that I would be looking for ... including classic American clean to cleanish tone.
 

59Jazzmaster

Member
Messages
651
2 years ago, these amps would’ve been $899. Such is the state of things right now.

There's plenty of great values to be had in music gear. You can get really amazing guitars for low prices. This amp is way overpriced. Blackstar is good as a value brand. They always sound good to me, and this amp sounds a helluva lot better than a Tone Master to me. If they wanna gouge and go for that market, they don't get my dollars. Maybe if they get cheap used.
 

thornie

Silver Supporting Member
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3,516
There's plenty of great values to be had in music gear. You can get really amazing guitars for low prices. This amp is way overpriced. Blackstar is good as a value brand. They always sound good to me, and this amp sounds a helluva lot better than a Tone Master to me. If they wanna gouge and go for that market, they don't get my dollars. Maybe if they get cheap used.
I actually 100% agree with everything here, and feel the same way. I’m preparing myself for what’s coming out of NAMM this year. I suppose Blackstar won’t be the only one pricing their stuff high.
 
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