Are Blackstar Amps Good?

Blackstar is a British guitar amplifier manufacturer. They have been making waves in the industry. The company is relatively new compared to other brands like Marshall and Fender. Blackstar offers an impressive line of models perfect for any music style.

Are Blackstar amps good? All signs point to yes! Since many guitar players use them for their reliability and versatility.

This Killer Rig article will take a look into the backstory of these Marshall-killing combos. Plus, explain why Blackstar has been the go-to brand of many famous artists.

Is Blackstar a Good Brand?

Yes, Blackstar amps are very good. Blackstar is a major international brand in the amplifier market. They are ranked among the best and most innovative by leading guitarists.

Blackstar designs its products with quality. Plus, tonal performance is at the forefront of its development efforts. Their models result from the founders’ over 50 years of collective experience.

And at the highest levels of amplifier design and production. So you can be confident that they’ll stand up to most gigging situations.

Blackstar Amplification Logo

Pros and Cons

These amps have quickly made a name for themselves in the music world. Let’s break down the pros and cons to see if they’re the right fit for you.

Pros

  1. Tonal Flexibility: Blackstar amps are known for their “ISF” (Infinite Shape Feature) control, allowing you to dial in a wide range of tones from American to British.
  2. Affordability: Generally more budget-friendly than other high-end brands, making them accessible for beginners and pros alike.
  3. Portability: Many Blackstar models are compact and lightweight, ideal for gigging musicians on the go.
  4. High-Quality Effects: Built-in effects like reverb and delay are often praised for their quality.
  5. Versatility: Whether you’re into blues, rock, or metal, Blackstar amps can handle it all.
  6. Solid Construction: Built to last with rugged exteriors and quality components.
  7. Range of Options: From low-wattage practice amps to high-wattage stage amps, there’s a Blackstar for every need.

Cons

  1. Complex Controls: The versatility comes with a bit of a learning curve, especially for those new to amp settings.
  2. Digital Modeling: Some purists may not be fans of the digital aspects in certain models.
  3. Limited Vintage Appeal: If you’re looking for a classic, vintage tone, Blackstar might not be the first choice.
  4. Inconsistent Resale Value: Not as well-known as some brands, which can affect resale value.
  5. Power Requirements: Some users have noted that certain models require specific power conditions for optimal performance.
  6. Limited Artist Endorsements: While growing, they don’t yet have the extensive list of legendary musicians backing them.
  7. Tonal Balance: Some users find the tonal balance to be more modern, which may not suit all styles.

History of Blackstar Amplification

Blackstar Amplification was founded by Bruce Keir, Ian Robinson, Paul Hayhoe & Richard Frost. The company is quite young, being created in 2007. Blackstar’s founders are all amp specialists with over 50 years of experience.

The conceptualization of Blackstar started as early as 2004. After three and a half years of extensive technical R&D, Blackstar launched in March 2007.

This took place at the Musikmesse Frankfurt trade fair. Since then, the company has become a popular manufacturer of guitar amplifiers.

Does Marshall own Blackstar?

The short answer is no. The slightly longer answer is that a group of ex-Marshall employees founded Blackstar. Bruce Keir was Design Director at Marshall. While Ian Robinson was previously an R&D manager at the legendary company.

The four Blackstar founders were part of a product development team at Marshall. Well before they all decided to create their own company.

Check out our full review of Marshall amps here.

Where Are Blackstar Amplifiers Made?

Blackstar amps are made in China, but most of the research and development is carried out in the UK. Blackstar models were previously manufactured in Korea. But they recently changed their production to China.

The switch from Korea to China did not compromise quality. Blackstar ensures that its products are tested thoroughly before leaving the factory floor.

What Is the Meaning of Blackstar?

The name of the company, Blackstar, is a reference to the Radiohead song of the same title. The founders had to do endless meetings and brainstorming sessions. Up until Richard Frost came up with the name.

Blackstar’s founders didn’t want to use one of their names or an acronym for their company. Instead, they wanted something different. Especially in an industry bombarded with surnames on the front of their products.

Blackstar ID Core 10

What Are Blackstar Amps Known for?

Blackstar amps are known for their patented innovations. The first is the ISF (Infinite Shape Feature). It allows players to tweak the character of their amps to project a British or American voice.

The second innovation is DPR (Dynamic Power Reduction). This allows continuously variable power scaling down to 10%. Players can achieve cranked amp sounds at a lower volume.

Blackstar’s founders never intended to create a specific sound. Instead, they sought to give customers flexibility. More so to get any tone they wanted, hence the tagline ‘The Sound In Your Head.’

Check out our opinion on Line 6 amps here.

What Do Blackstar Amps Sound Like?

As far as the sound of Blackstar amps goes, they’re geared toward musicians who want dark tones.

Yet, they’re also known for having rich, full-bodied cleans. Cleans that don’t lose clarity even at high volumes.

The distortion on Blackstar amps is excellent too. They have a nice crunchy sound when you turn them up—but not so much crunch that it gets muddy or overly compressed. This is especially true when playing modern styles like alt-rock and metal.

What Genre Are Blackstar Amps Good For?

Blackstar amps are suitable for any genre. Their versatility makes them popular among musicians with different styles.

However, they’re best known for their take on metal and hard rock. That’s because Blackstar amps are known for their darker tones.

But it’s possible to even get jazz and blues tones from these amps, even though I would suggest better options. The clean channels work well and can take pedals to help you expand your range of sounds.

Best Blackstar Amplifiers

For Practicing: Blackstar ID: Core V3 Stereo 40

Are you looking for the best Blackstar amplifier for practicing? There’s no doubt that the ID: Core V3 Stereo 40 is your model. This model is Blackstar’s upgraded entry-level amp. With a great tone and excellent features. It’s also a major steal for its price.

This model has everything you could want in a digital practice combo. It has six voices: Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD1, and OD2.

It also has full-range linear speakers that can be used for gaming audio or watching movies. Furthermore, it’s small and compact, but it still delivers huge tones.

Check out our picks for 12 Best Guitar Amps Under $500 here.

For Recording/Gigging: Blackstar HT Stage 60

If you’re looking for a Blackstar amp that’s good for recording and gigging, look no further than the HT Stage 60. 

This particular model uses two high-quality Celestion speakers. Its boutique-style clean channel has two modes. ‘British Class-A’ and ‘dynamic US,’ which is a perfect feature if you’re after versatility.

Its Power Reduction feature also gives you more flexibility. Ideal both for home and studio use.

What Bands Use Blackstar Amps?

Blackstar has an impressive list of famous artists who use their models. This includes Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, Phil Collen of Def Leppard, and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols.

Since their early days, these artists have been using Blackstar amps. They have never stopped trusting their sound to their models.

Does Blackstar Sound Like Marshall?

Blackstar amps do a good job emulating the classic Marshall sounds, they are also capable of a lot more.

This is because Bruce Keir and Ian Robinson intended the Blackstar sound to be a lot more versatile. More so than Marshall.

This philosophy led them down the path of designing amps that could produce many types of tones. But still, retain a high level of quality in each one.

In addition, it helped them develop a highly flexible amplifier line. Allowing players to get any sort of tone that fits their needs.

Conclusion

Blackstar amps are an excellent option for players of all skill levels. They have amps that can fit any budget, and they have a wide range of tones to choose from.

Are you looking for an amplifier that will give you plenty of options and flexibility? Blackstar is definitely worth checking out.

FAQs

Are Blackstar amps reliable?

Blackstar amps have had some issues in the past with reliability. Their amps are made with cheaper quality components and as such, reports of issues have been coping to light. But there are many that work trouble free. Overall, they are pretty reliable.

Are Blackstar amps good for beginner?

Yes, Blackstar makes lots of different amps that are perfect for beginners. They are often very affordable and provide users with good functionality. The ID Core amps are perfect for practicing at home. Then HT series then make excellent tube amps for a new player.

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Author: Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!