Price paid: € 550
Purchased from: candyapplered guitars Ireland
Sound — 9
I have used it with a telecaster, and Gibson Melody Maker so far extensively, however I tried short stints with a Gibson SG aswell. In my opinion I think that amp makes single coil guitars sing! This amp has a surprisingly wide range of tones available and it's very easy to dial in a good sound from the start. The clean channel reminds me so much of a clean Vox AC30, it's so beautiful and articulate in fingerpicking styles. The clean channel could cut glass it's so sharp and snappy. The two distortion channels are the surprise packages here really. The first overdrive channel can be very easily dialed into an ac/dc sound, however, tweak the presence and gain sound, and you have a very good convincing rockin' blues sound like Rory Gallagher. The second distortion channel is incredibly tight and controlled. It can be driven to metal heaven, and I managed to almost perfectly replicate Matt Bellamy's tone in "Knights Of Cydonia", so high gain is something this amp can do really well. Overall the sound is just impeccable.
Overall Impression — 9
I play a wide variety of styles, anything that takes my fancy I'll play. My main ports of call are punk, hard rock, metal, and blues. I feel as if this amp does each of these very well, the hard rock sort of sounds are out of this world at times. I've been playing for a bit less then 6 years, self taught. I own a Gibson Melody Maker, Telecaster, and a self made humbucker'd telecaster. I feel as if guitars like the Melody Maker are made for this amplifier. I wish that I asked for information on buying a footswitch, I didn't get one with this amp, and I'm not sure if my spare Crate footswitch will work with it.. If it was stolen/lost, I think I would reach a whole new level of depression. This amp was made for guitarists like me; who needs Vox cleans, marshal overdrive, and mesa style metal. The versatility of this amp makes it stand out from the crowd. I love the isf feature, but I think that the reverb could be a little better to be honest. I won't compare digital to spring reverb, but I will say that this digital reverb is only ok. I compared this to a Vox AC30 which was selling for the same price. Even though I was mostly looking for a clean amp, the Vox did not match the Blackstar at all in my opinion. The Blackstar has a striking clarity of tone, with amazing note separation. If you are even slightly interested in this amp, you owe it to yourself to demo it. I'm sure it will surprise you!
Reliability & Durability — 8
I feel as if I can depend on it, however I don't think I could ever gig a tube amp without a backup, as you never know what will happen. The construction of this amp looks so very sturdy, it looks like a complete tank, and weighs like one too! I haven't had this amp long enough to say that it can last the test of time, but I would be surprised if any harm comes to it, as it does seem to be a quality piece of kit. It managed to survive 2 years of gigging before I bought it, and it still looks as new, so there must be something good going on here.
Features — 8
Well, you know the details anyways, it's all posted above. The one groundbreaking inclusion in this amp is the isf feature. From my use of is it really does make the amp have a huge range of sounds, making it a truly flexible and versatile amp. So in my opinion this amp has all you need and more features-wise, good Celestion speakers, 60 watts, digital reverb and the isf feature. There is an effects loop, and the effects can be footswitched for ease of use.