#1
I'm pondering a new amp and over the years I've noticed the bad rap blackstar gets on here. Can anyone explain why this is? I've never really seen an explanation other than the general "because it sucks/it has no tone/etc.".
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#3
The vibe I've seen is that Blackstar market their amps as all tube when they're apparently not. And maybe people's opinion is that better gear could be had for the money. I personally don't care - if someone likes the sound then that's that
#4
I don't recall people saying that the tone sucked per se (some like it, some didn't) but the deceptive marketing practices are a strike against them.

I don't care how a things works if it does what I need it to, but I very much care when I'm lied to...
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#5
My amp right now is a vk212, and the not good boost channel on the distortion isn't all tube either (I think). So if the diodes on the blackstar aren't all tube, then I guess I'd expect similar results.

Great haiku, by the way At the most, I think I'll leave it last on my list of amps to try.
Charvel So-Cal (SH6TB/N, killswitch), Jackson RR5FR (TB6/Jazz, Drop C). Joyo pxl pro.
Loop1=Crybaby from hell, Boss PS-5, Seymour Duncan 805 or Green Rhino, EQD Hoof or Earthbound Audio Super Collider. Loop 1 into ISP Decimator II.
Loop 2 (FX loop)-Line6 M9, TC Spark Mini. Loop 2 into mxr 10band. All into a Peavey Triple XXX 212, Ibanez IL15.
#7
thanks. diodes by themselves don't make a design non-all-tube - it's what they're used for. in this case, the diodes themselves are producing solid-state clipping - in all-tube designs, all the clipping happens in the tubes.
Last edited by NakedInTheRain at Feb 9, 2015,
#9
Quote by CorrosionMedia
Didn't the JCM900 have diode clipping in the pre? My 2000 DSL definitely does in the high-high gain channel. Does that make it not all tube?


Until you remove them, yes.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
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#11
Some of the pushback on Blackstar was probably because they were very popular for a short period of time, especially among people buying their first amp or first tube amp. On paper, they were a great idea, small cheap low-watt amps with more features and distortion than most companies were offering. Guitar Center pushed them pretty hard for a while, which artificially inflated the perception of the brand, and now that they've stopped I think the market is correcting a bit. On top of all of this, better competition in the smaller amps market from things like the Tiny Terror lineup, Night Train, and any number of other mini- and micro-heads are pushing out Blackstar, which belongs more to the previous generation of small format, low output amps.

Fairly quickly, though, I think people started to notice that they weren't actually very good amps. The same thing happened with Blackheart amps a few years prior with an almost identical product line. They sold like mad, advertised heavily, and then all of a sudden the bottom dropped out once people started examining the product. They sold well initially because they were so cheap it was hard not to think about buying one at the price, and because a lot of beginners wanted a Real Tube Amp but couldn't afford anything else. The Valve Junior had a similar run, although a longer one and ended I think for different reasons. It turns out that 1-5W amps made as cheaply as possible aren't a sustainable product, either because interest dies out or because their margins are no good.

This is all about the HT-1 and the HT-5, which I think is most of what we talk about when we talk about Blackstar. Their larger amps are decent but have never been in high demand, which I think again points to an artificially inflated market for the smaller amps due to their advertising push and Guitar Center hard selling them for a while.
#12
Quote by Roc8995

This is all about the HT-1 and the HT-5, which I think is most of what we talk about when we talk about Blackstar. Their larger amps are decent but have never been in high demand, which I think again points to an artificially inflated market for the smaller amps due to their advertising push and Guitar Center hard selling them for a while.


Yeah, I'd wondered that. I own an HT20 head and I've tried a Series One 50 and they both sounded fine. The HT20 is generally a little dark for my tastes, so I just stick a Screamer in the front with the drive off and it tightens the lows and boosts the mids.
Last edited by CorrosionMedia at Feb 9, 2015,
#13
To add some perspective, I was looking specifically at the ht 40 and 60 (both 112 and 212 versions).
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Loop1=Crybaby from hell, Boss PS-5, Seymour Duncan 805 or Green Rhino, EQD Hoof or Earthbound Audio Super Collider. Loop 1 into ISP Decimator II.
Loop 2 (FX loop)-Line6 M9, TC Spark Mini. Loop 2 into mxr 10band. All into a Peavey Triple XXX 212, Ibanez IL15.
#14

They're fine, there are a lot of amps in that price and size range that I'd pick first, personally, but if you like it best then that's what matters. Try to play as many as you can, reading specs online only goes so far.

Other stuff to consider:
Egnater: Tweaker 40, Rebel 30
Traynor: YCV Series
Fender HR, BJr, DRRI, Supersonic
Peavey: 6505 112, Vypyr Tube 60/120
Bugera: 333, 6262, BC30
Marshall: DSL40/50
Vox: AC30C2
Line 6: Spider Valve MKII

Lots of others that I missed, and even more if you buy used, where you could easily get into some of the better Mesa and Marshall lineup. I would try at least a few of the other options in your price range before you land on a Blackstar (or anything, really)
#15
Quote by Arby911
I don't recall people saying that the tone sucked per se (some like it, some didn't) but the deceptive marketing practices are a strike against them.

I don't care how a things works if it does what I need it to, but I very much care when I'm lied to...


+1

In fact the only blackstar i have tried was the (all-tube) artisan 15, and I didn't really like it.

Another thing to augment what colin said- they came along with a lot of advertising etc. at the start, almost a charm offensive, and won a ton of gold awards in guitar mags here, which coincidentally they were advertising heavily in. (I think I read as well that they were funded by investment/venture capital etc. as well, so that might explain that.)

Then it came out that a lot of the amps which they were advertising as, or at least were strongly implying were, all-tube were actually hybrid.

It's not just clipping diodes, either. They have op-amp gain stages and a transistor-based phase inverter as well.
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#16
Quote by Maidenheadsteve
To add some perspective, I was looking specifically at the ht 40 and 60 (both 112 and 212 versions).

FWIW, I've got an HT Soloist 60(1x12).

When I went buying, I tried a few other amps around the price point(up to about £200 over the cost of the Blackstar). That was the one I got on with best, but YMMV.

Can't comment on all the amps Roc8995 listed, but I did quite like the VoxAC30-whatever.

But again, if you can possibly try stuff, do that.
#17
The JCM900 is certainly not all tube, especially the 4100 (Dual Reverb.) The preamp in those is loaded full of op-amps and clipping diodes. Marshall copped a lot of flak over it back in the day. The amps that followed dropped the practice.
Then the guys that designed the 4100 left Marshall and started Blackstar and did it all over again with the HT series. **** 'em. Lying sacks of shit.
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#18
Quote by Maidenheadsteve
My amp right now is a vk212, and the not good boost channel on the distortion isn't all tube either (I think). So if the diodes on the blackstar aren't all tube, then I guess I'd expect similar results.

Great haiku, by the way At the most, I think I'll leave it last on my list of amps to try.


the gain boost in the VK are indeed diodes that punch up th gain and add some mids. you can push the button that takes them out of the circuit though.

you want better gain from the preamp then check the number of preamp tubes. the VK has 3 my Ultra has 4 and many modern high gain amps have 5 or more. now this isn't set in stone as some of it depends on design.

you may want to look at a new overdrive. look for one that has 2 channels or a built in boost. i use a T-Rex Crunchy Frog when i need extra zing for leads. it has a built in clean boost that you can turn on seperately from the overdrive which comes in handy.
#19
Quote by CorrosionMedia
Didn't the JCM900 have diode clipping in the pre? My 2000 DSL definitely does in the high-high gain channel. Does that make it not all tube?

The JCM2000 DSL and TSL are all tube signal path, the JCM900 SL-X is also all tube the JCM900 MKIII has very few op-amps/diodes in it form what I've heard and the JCM900 DR is just a cluster **** of op-amp and clipping diodes
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#20
The SL/X isn't all tube, it uses op-amps for the master volume section. What they did was remove all the SS bollocks before V1. Basically, they took the Mk3 and replaced the clipping diodes with an extra 12AX7 stage. That was the thing that ruined the other 900's but nonetheless, it aint all tube.

The schematics are all over at Drtube.com if you want to look for yourself.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Feb 9, 2015,
#21
Cool, I just remember everyone saying the SLX was the only tube signal path 900. regardless the SLX is a beast of an amp, I'd love to get a 50 watt EL34
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#22
There's no such thing as an all tube 900. And yeah, the SL/X was a beastly amp.
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#23
Quote by Robbgnarly
The JCM2000 DSL and TSL are all tube signal path

Huh. Could've sworn it had diode clipping. I really have to get my DSL50 to a tech then, because it sounds like a box of wasps. I would re-valve it, but I don't have the equipment to bias it.
#24
Quote by CorrosionMedia
Huh. Could've sworn it had diode clipping. I really have to get my DSL50 to a tech then, because it sounds like a box of wasps. I would re-valve it, but I don't have the equipment to bias it.

I put a new Mullard 12ax7 in V1, JJecc83 in V2/3 and a Tung Sol 12ax7lps in the PI, and my DSL100 is a beast and not buzzy/fizzy at all, but it is beefy and punchy as hell.
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Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#25
the lies of blackstar certainly didn't turn me on to them.

they are a little pricey for what you get.

they don't sound as good as a lot of other amps in the price range. and honestly forget the HT-1 and HT-5, they completely blow.

i tried a series one head, it was pretty decent. still would take other amps for the $$$ though.
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#26
Quote by trashedlostfdup
and honestly forget the HT-1 and HT-5, they completely blow.


just to play devils advocate as i'm not an owner but have been interested in the smaller blackstars. The HT-1 and HT-5 get great review scores on retailer websites (HT-1R gets 4.7/5 from 136 votes on Thomann for example) so they can't be that bad? I know review scores shouldn't be trusted but if you use them as a comparator to other products on the same website they have the highest score on any site i have visited. it's just hard to marry up to drastic difference between such a large number of people agreeing in one opinion and a few people on a forum you trust saying the opposite. Is it just that they market towards the less experienced masses so they all think it rocks? what if you are one of those people, is it still a bad option?

For example, I play in a small apartment i share with my girlfriend so i've come very close in the past as it seems like a great physical amp to pair with some pedals/mfx. what are the better options at that size (1 watt compact combo) and price? the vox AC4 perhaps? all solid state amps at that price seem to come packaged up with cheap modelling effects and that won't be for everyone's taste.
Last edited by jecooper86 at Feb 10, 2015,
#27
Quote by jecooper86
Is it just that they market towards the less experienced masses so they all think it rocks?

yes that is the usual explanation.

what if you are one of those people, is it still a bad option?

overall...yes. as your ear develops, you get tired of crappy tone. when i first started playing guitar, i was happy to plug into a bumblebee.


I play in a small apartment i share with my girlfriend so i've come very close in the past as it seems like a great physical amp to pair with some pedals/mfx. could you list a couple of better options for that size (1 watt compact combo) and price? is the vox AC4 better for example?

you may as well get a decent amp with a master volume. just because an amp is low wattage doesn't mean it's going to be ridiculously quieter than a higher wattage amp. small amps get pretty loud too. the difference is headroom. and from my experience (valve jr, ac4), small amps don't take pedals very well.

plus they sound like shit when they're turned down whisper quiet. so if volume is a huge issue, it's a POD and headphones for you buddy. or you can splurge for an axe-fx and get sick toanz.
Last edited by NakedInTheRain at Feb 10, 2015,
#28
Quote by NakedInTheRain

plus they sound like shit when they're turned down whisper quiet. so if volume is a huge issue, it's a POD and headphones for you buddy. or you can splurge for an axe-fx and get sick toanz.


it's all about the sick toanz!

yeah i've been happily resigned to that option for a while, it's the way which means i'll play the most which is what matters. was just throwing it out there for discussion as it was something i considered in the past. Cheers for the response though, helps keep the unnecessary GAS at bay
#29
Quote by jecooper86
just to play devils advocate as i'm not an owner but have been interested in the smaller blackstars. The HT-1 and HT-5 get great review scores on retailer websites (HT-1R gets 4.7/5 from 136 votes on Thomann for example) so they can't be that bad? I know review scores shouldn't be trusted but if you use them as a comparator to other products on the same website they have the highest score on any site i have visited. it's just hard to marry up to drastic difference between such a large number of people agreeing in one opinion and a few people on a forum you trust saying the opposite. Is it just that they market towards the less experienced masses so they all think it rocks? what if you are one of those people, is it still a bad option?

For example, I play in a small apartment i share with my girlfriend so i've come very close in the past as it seems like a great physical amp to pair with some pedals/mfx. what are the better options at that size (1 watt compact combo) and price? the vox AC4 perhaps? all solid state amps at that price seem to come packaged up with cheap modelling effects and that won't be for everyone's taste.


sellers site reviews are for the most part garbage. they are made by folks who just bought them and so of course are thrilled. many sellers will delete bad reviews as well. keep in mind those reviews are just part of the selling machine.

I live in an apt and use my Peavey VK for practice. sounds fine at lower volumes it's all about how you set it up.