Price paid: $ 599
Purchased from: Musiciansfriend.com
Sound — 9
I use a Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top with stock pickups. It makes my cheap LP sound studio worthy to say the least. The amp does suit my play style, even though it has a tough time playing certain types of Metal without the help of a pedal. The Amp isn't noisy. My Blackstar is built like a tank. I've dropped it 2 or 3 times and the thing still works perfectly. No rattling, no fuzz from turning the gain up too high or volume up too high. Clean sound and good durability. Like previously stated, the amp has great versatility. You can EASILY play a great blues tone on the clean channel, a great crunch on the dirty channel with the gain tuned down a bit, and if you feel like it, a very hard hitting rock tone. The clean breaks up at about 7 or 8 on master volume. It provides a nice mild crunch. This is how the distortion is... Listen to "Master Of Puppets" by Metallica... Any tone the guitar produces off that song, this amp nails (or can nail if you know how to use the EQ). Does this do death metal? No. Does it do INSANE gain, melt your face off screaming distortion? No. The ISF feature (which Blackstar so highly promotes as a selling point) is actually pretty neat. Essentially from what I can gather by using it, it pretty much makes your tone either 1. Very "light" or 2. Dark. The USA side makes your tone more "light" and brighter, good for tones with the like of AC/DC for example. The BRITISH side makes the tone darker and a little more Middy, or so it seems. I personally prefer the USA side over the BRITISH, but its all personal preference for tone.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this amp can handle anything you throw at it except Death Metal and other forms of crazy gain music. I've been playing guitar for little over 6 years and have purchased a couple tube amps in my time. This is easily one of the best ones. If this amp were stolen, lost, broken, melted, thrown in front of a train, etc etc... I wouldn't buy another one, I would probably try out a Vox Bruno or a Hughes And Kettner Tubemeister 18 simply because I like to diversify and try out new things. I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS AMP TO ANYONE. Some tones you can easily immolate through proper EQ settings: - AC/DC (easily) - Queen (Brian May tones, if you use a quarter It sounds spot on) - Metallica (100% nails the early "dark, gritty" tones if you scoop mids) - ZZ Top - The Eagles - Practically any Country tone if you have single coil pickups. - Practically any 60-80's rock tone. I hope my review helped someone decide on whether or not to buy this amp. I would highly recommend taking the time and watching the video's I'll link at the bottom, they helped sway me into buying this amp. Official Blackstar demo:
Reliability & Durability — 10
The amp has never failed me. Always works when I need it to. Like I said, I've dropped it 2 or 3 times and it still works perfectly without any rattling or fuzz.
Features — 9
Alot of reviews on here (and many other sites) talk in circles, so I'll try to be blunt and to the point. The Blackstar HT-20 plays anything from very low gain to medium-high gain rock. The user can easily dial in practically any tone they want with the appropriate usage of the EQ and the nice ISF feature. It has 2 channels (clean and dirty). It came with a channel switch footpedal for free, which the player will more than likely use quite frequently. NO HEADPHONE JACK, which somewhat disappointed me, but it is an amp meant for small, medium sized gigs. There amp has plenty of features. The built in reverb sounds amazing. I use this amp in my house and with my friends when I play. It has enough power to play by yourself, but if you have a friend that has anything over 50w (my friend has my old 100w Fender Mustang), expect the Blackstar to get drowned out. It's loud enough to compete with a medium-loud drummer but if the drummer feels jumpy, expect a few minor complaints about how you're not loud enough. 20w All tube amp. ISF is great, I'll get more into that later tho.