Price paid: € 1250
Purchased from: Musik Produktiv
Features: This Amp was made in 2010 and I have been playing on in for over 2 years now. It has never failed me and it does everything I need very well. The stock amp produces a typical British, Vintage sound when not using effects on it. You can get anything along AC/DC and Led Zeppelin and '60s/'70s bluesy sounds. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and every other riff from that time sound great on it. It is build to look Vintage and sounds exactly as it looks.
The gain levels even when turned up all the way don't offer massive amounts of distortion, so metal fans will probably not be happy with this amp. But don't think you have to settle for the sound of the past! I'm using an analog Electro-Harmonix Soul Preacher Compressor with it and get amazing American style sounds out of it suitable for Green Day, blink and anything punkish.
It has 2 channels, appropriately named "Loud" and "F*N LOUD". You don't want to turn this monster up at home for the sake of your neighbours. Both channels have the same controls (Bass, Mids, Treble, Volume and Gain) and share a master volume and presence control. Unlike on some other amps I played on, the EQ actually has a decent impact on the sound and allows for good variety and fine tuning to suit the sound of your guitar. It comes with a foot switch to switch between the channels and doesn't make any noise when doing so.
On the front panel we can find said channel controls, a little flick switch to change between them, the master controls, a lightbulb power indicator (No LED, a real bulb.. Sigh. Reminds me of golden times)and flick switches for Power, Class AB/Stand-by/Class A and Full Power/Half Power. This allows for great versatility, and lets you endlessly vary the combinations and sound you get out of the amp. The modes you can choose from are: Full Power Class AB (100W), Full Power Class A (60W), Half Power Class AB (50W) and Half Power Class A (30W). You can go from tons of headroom but also powerful punchy distortion down to those crunchy Vintage sounds without using any effects.
On the back there are 2x4 Ohms jacks, 2x8 Ohms jacks and 1x16 Ohms jack for your speaker, a send and receive jack for your effects loop (which is tube driven), send and receive volume controls and a line-out jack. You can't use the amp without a speaker connected though, so you will need a speaker simulator box to play through headphones. But who would want to do that when they go for a 100W amp?
The only feature I am kind of missing is a noise gate, because I tend to get alot of static noise when using my analog effects, but I can live without one just fine. The amp has tons of power (What else would you expect from a tube 100W half stack?). You can play it live in medium sized rooms without even using PA, and if decide that you don't need your eardrums anyway, you can even hook up more speakers. I think I should also mention that there are NO solid states in the signal path, everything is tube driven. It features 6x12AX7 (ECC83) and 4xEL34. All in all it doesn't have every feature you can get, but it does everything it's made for impressingly well, so for me it is a solid 9. // 9
Sound: The main guitar I am using with this amp is a humbucker Vintage VS6 SG, and it sounds amazing. The amp lets you hear every little detail that comes out of the guitar very clear. Every guitar sounds completely different through this amp because it reproduces the unique features of each one so very well. As mentioned earlier, I mainly play '60s/'70s and '90s-'00s rock and punk. The Vintage feel you get from it when playing older songs is amazing, since everything is tube driven and there's not a single solid state element, it sounds very authentic. From just hearing it you could never guess this amp wasn't made when Jimi Hendrix was still alive.
The amp lacks a bit of gain for the more modern styles (e.g. punk) I play on it, but I compensate for that with a compressor pedal and love the result. I don't think the amplifier was intended for that use anyway. By itself, the amp excells at clean, crunchy and mildly distorted sounds. The second you hear a blues riff jammed on it you are bound to fall in love. No details are swallowed, there is no compression of the sound, everything is just right. The amp is loud when you want it to be and quiet when you don't. There is no static noises in the clean channel (except a very quiet humming in Class A mode lately which I suspect to be from tube wear), and only a little bit (which is expected) when you turn turn the gain up all the way in the distortion channel.
There is only distortion when you want it to be there, meaning you have TONS of headroom when playing clean in Full Power Class AB mode. I never managed to distort my clean sounds by simply turning up the volume, but then again I never turned it up all the way because as mentioned earlier, this amp really is LOUD. Overall I give this amp a straight 10 in sound, because it sounds so great and amazingly authentic when used for what it was built for. // 10
Reliability & Durability: In over 2 years of use, I never had any problems whatsoever. I played many gigs without backup and fully trust it when doing so. The build quality is very high, I didn't notice any flaws on the outside and the inside is very tidy and solid. The one thing that makes this amp a little annoying to use on gigs is the sheer weight though. You always need at least 2 people to carry the half-stack around because it is so massive and solid. Everything on the chassis is made out of 3-4cm thick wood, which adds up quickly to over 80kg with a closed cabinet speaker. On the other hand the solid chassis seems like it could survive a war without getting a single dent, so I guess you have to compromise. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall I am perfectly happy with this amplifier. I am not really into heavy rock or metal, so for me it does everything I need. I have around 10 years of guitar experience and played on everything from 5W Marshall Cubes, 5W Tube Halfstacks, Peaveys, medium sized VOXs hybrids to Marshall Halfstacks and ENGLs. But out of every amp I played I like this one the most. I love how unique it is, most people don't even know the brand at it looks nothing like your generic guitar amp. The details that went into the design are astonishing. If it were stolen or lost I may consider getting something more American sounding, maybe a Mesa Boogie, but I would hate to give up the beautiful crunchy and clean sounds of the Blackheart for that. // 9