Founded in 2004 as a ‘new challenge’ taken up by four friends who were not only musicians but also bandmates with over 50 years of combined experience working at the upper echelons of the amp-design industry (particularly for Marshall), Blackstar has quickly exploded onto the scene and in the past 8 years have added some of the most talented guitarists in the music industry to their list of endorsers including Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, Bob Mould of Husker Du/Sugar, Gus G of Ozzy Osbourne and Firewind, Neal Schon of Journey, Silenoz of Dimmu Borgir, and James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers just to name a few. For a more complete listvisit their website.
From the early planning stages, it didn’t take long for their collective dream to become reality. By March of 2007, after two-and-a-half years of “intense technical research in a garden shed in Northampton, England,” the first Blackstar products were ready for the public and were launched at the Frankfurt MusikMesse in Germany, Europe’s largest music industry trade fair. Since 2007 Blackstar has steadily grown, not only adding to their impressive list of endorsers, but also adding award-winning new combo amps, amp heads, cabs and effects pedals to their growing list of products and amazingly talented people to their team.
As the folks at Blackstar put it: “We are all musicians and understand the importance of great tone, whether practicing at home or on stage in a live environment...We hope our unique and patented innovations will take you a step closer to finding the 'sound in your head'.”
The guys at Blackstar had one thing in mind when they started out just over a decade ago, and that was to give musicians the tools that they need to express themselves to the fullest. Within every Blackstar Amp is that full, toneful classic tube clean sound that is perfect for taking effects and creating spacious, airy sounds with tons of headroom. Beyond that, however, Blackstar amps offer the tools you need to find the crunch, overdriven and saturated tones that modern guitarists need for lead and rhythm playing, as well as a range of classic and modern tones perfect for every genre of modern music. And somehow, Blackstar manages to add features and value without drastically affecting the price of the amp, offering a selection of competitively priced amps versatile enough for just about any musical setting.
The Blackstar ID:Core Stereo 20 programmable combo amp may be the ideal practice amp for beginning and intermediate guitar players. The Blackstar ID:Core 20 combines digital modeling with Blackstar’s ISF control to deliver an array of classic tube tones and accurate effects that is perfect for practice and recording. With high tech features like immersive super wide stereo, USB connectivity, speaker emulated line out for silent practice and recording and Blackstar’s Presonus Studio One SAW software, the Blackstar ID:Core 20 comes fully equipped with everything you need to realize your musical vision.
The Blackstar Studio 10 EL34 10 Watt tube combo amp is ideal for anyone looking for the classic, low gain British crunch tone that has been a staple of Rock and Blues for decades!
The Blackstar Studio 10 EL34 is equipped with an EL34 power tube which features a pentode design that is the driving force behind what is known as the “British” amp sound. Known for its strong mids and aggressive punch, the Blackstar Studio 10 comes infused with tons of this warm British crunch which is then pumped through a Celestion Seventy 80 speaker, giving it well articulated, controlled lows and punchy, aggressive mid-tones.
Couple that EL34 power tube with an ECC83 in the preamp stage, and you get a flawless boutique crunch that is warm and elegant. The Blackstar Studio 10 also comes with a footswitch that allows you to switch between clean and crunch tones and also has a preamp boost that delivers an excellent classic rock tone and is great for bluesy leads! Studio quality digital reverb give a spacious ambience to the crunch tone without watering it down, while speaker emulated line-out and an emulated headphone-out make the Studio 10 perfect for practice and recording.
The Blackstar Studio 10 EL34 10 Watt tube combo amp really delivers an impressive level of tone for its size! Loaded with studio-friendly features, like its speaker-emulated output, easy to use effects loop and ambient digital reverb, it is sure to become a favorite for recording. With its impressive tonal range and its great sounding 12“ Celestion speaker, you’ll find yourself plugging into this little tube amp every time you pick up your guitar!
Over the last decade, Blackstar has made a huge impact in the world of amps for 6-string guitar players, but with the Unity Bass Amp series Blackstar is setting its sights on lovers of low frequencies everywhere. While those who have been following the rise of Blackstar may wonder what has taken them so long to take aim at bass guitarists, anyone who truly knows them surely understands the painstaking process of research and development that made Blackstar what it is today.
Of course, before breaking into the bass amp market, they would certainly put the same time and attention to detail into creating the ‘straight forward’ and ‘very powerful’ bass amps that now make up the Unity Series as they put into their world famous lines of award-winning 6-string guitar amps. The result is a series of competitively priced combo amps that are plenty loud enough for gigging, with classic ‘boutique amp’ aesthetics and intuitive controls that are easy to manage. These Unity Series Bass Amps will not let you down and are great for gigging, recording, and anything else you need them to do.
Built for sonic versatility and complete tonal flexibility, the Unity Series U500 from Blackstar is a 500 Watt bass combo amp with two built-in 10“ Eminence Opus speakers and response control which gives you a choice of three classic power amp stages — Linear, 6L6, and 6550 -- delivering three distinct preamp voicings -- classic, modern and flat.
The drive section consists of three classic and modern overdrives which you can blend to create your own distinct tones, including OD, Distortion and Fuzz, while the 3-band EQ with semi-parametric Mid knob gives you plenty of sound-sculpting power. Effects including compression, chorus, and sub-octave increases your punch, depth, and low-end muscle while a series effects loop allows you to integrate your pedalboard and external processors into the mix.
The Blackstar Unity Series U500 is packed with power and toneful features, as well as a host of high tech inputs and outputs for optimal connectivity including a XLR + 1/4" line output, a headphones output with independent level control, a cabinet-emulated line output and USB audio output, and an MP3/line input for supercharging your practice sessions, all of which can help make recording your next project a breeze.
Blackstar Unity Demo
The Blackstar Unity 60U delivers many of the same high tech features as the U500 in a scaled down format featuring 60Watts of solid state power with a single Eminence Opus 10“ speaker.
Whatever sound you are looking for, you can get it from the Blackstar Unity U60 Bass Combo. It begins with three distinct preamp voicings -- Classic, Modern, and Overdrive -- and a 3-band EQ with semi-parametric Mid knob which supplies the sound-sculpting power you need to create your own distinct sound. If you need even more depth and punch, the U60 has built-in compression and chorus effects that will help you shape the bass tone you are looking for.
Recently launched in 2017, the HT Venue MKII Series is a redesign of the original HT Venue series featuring a variety of modern updates. After 3 years of intensive research and development, Blackstar delivered a series of modern amps that “...take the [HT Venue Series] to a new level of sonic performance, whilst adding every major enhancement that guitarists have requested; resulting in a massively flexible feature set that is still intuitive and musician-friendly.” (Quote from Blackstar's website.)
In redesigning their HT Venue series amps, Blackstar consulted current and previous owners of the amplifiers to learn ways that they could improve about their already award-winning amplifiers. After 3 years of intensive product development, Blackstar delivered significant modern upgrades and feature expansions without a significant increase in price. The result is a series of great amps with, asGuitar World Magazine put it when reviewing one of the HT Venue models, “...outstanding clean, overdrive and distortion tones that rival the sound of amps costing up to four times as much with a versatile selection of professional features...” making them “...one of today’s best amp values...”
The Blackstar HT Club 40 MKII Venue Series Tube Amp is the total package delivering the volume and tone that you need for club-sized venues, along with the next level features that you need for modern recording and rehearsing. The most amazing aspect of this tube amp is its versatility. With a truly mesmerizing clean tone that is both punchy and spacious, the HT Club 40 also delivers amazing crunch and saturated lead tones, giving it the versatility performers need for modern music no matter what genre, with a price tag that won’t break the bank!
Equipped with a 40W power section driven by 2 EL34 valves, and 2 ECC83 tubes in the preamp section, the HT Club 40 features two distinct, footswitchable channels. The new clean channel delivers groundbreaking and punchy clean tones with dynamics and tone controls that have been expanded to allow you to cut through the mix in live situations. Studio quality reverb and an effects loop give you all of the versatility you need to get the perfect sound combinations for your music.
The overdrive channel, equipped with Blackstar’s amazing ISF control allows you to dial in the exact type of tube sound you are looking for, from American high gain to classic British crunch, and any combination of these tones that you like.
The amazing Power Reduction feature uses an attenuator to reduce the output of 40 watts of power down to 4 watts (10%) to really drive the valves, easily providing all of the crunch and super saturated lead tones you will ever need from your amp even at low volume, making this amp ideal for practice, performance and recording.
This innovative 40 Watt valve combo amp also features digital Reverb with a special light/Dark switch, an effects loop with a level switch, speaker emulated output with 1x12/4x12 voicing, and USB connectivity for digital recording, making this a very versatile valve combo ideal for just about any situation.
The Blackstar HT-5 MKII delivers the full and toneful tube sound that you are looking for in a low wattage format that gives you everything you need for practice and recording. Featuring two distinct channels with footswitchable voices, studio quality reverb, effects loop, USB audio out and line/MP3 in, you will be able to jam along with your favorite tracks or record authentic valve tone, while refined boutique looks makes this beautiful valve amp really stand out wherever you use it.
In the shop we have had the chance to play on some of these new Blackstar amps and we can’t help but marvel at the versatility that they offer. Take the HT Club 40 Venue Series Combo for instance. Delivering 40 watts of valve power, the HT Club 40 features the patented Blackstar ISF control which is a sound shaping or contour control that changes the overall tonal character of the amp, giving this Blackstar tube amp a wide range of classic tube tones available at the turn of a knob.
The ISF control, when turned counter-clockwise, shifts the amp toward a classic “American” tube sound, with a scooped midrange. When you turn the ISF clockwise, the sound is more “British,” with punchy midrange and top end. There are many different tonal shades or colors in between these two extremes which are yours to experiment with as you like.
In addition to the ISF control, the HT Venue series amps come with a built in attenuator which allows you to to reduce the output power of the amp by a factor of 10, thus allowing you to push the valves at low volume settings. The attenuator allows you to enjoy that full and saturated lead tone that you can usually only get from a tube amp at high volume at whatever volume setting you like, making this amp perfect for performance, rehearsal and recording.
The best thing about this and all of the other Blackstar Amps that we offer is the price tag. For an authentic tube amp, with a wide range of premium features, Blackstar amps are very competitively priced. We are very pleased to bring these high quality, competitively priced tone machines to all of you! If you have any questions about any of the amps that appear in this article get in touch with us and one of our knowledgeable staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have!
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July 13, 2021 8 min read
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