Are Blackstar Amps Good?

Blackstar is a British guitar amplifier manufacturer that has been making waves in the industry. While the company is relatively new compared to other prominent 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 article will take a look into the backstory of these Marshall-killer combos and explain why Blackstar has been the go-to brand of many famous artists.   

are blackstar amps good

Is Blackstar a Good Brand?

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

Blackstar designs its products with quality and tonal performance at the forefront of its development efforts. In addition, their models result from the founders’ over 50 years of collective experience at the highest levels of amplifier design and production, so you can be confident that they’ll stand up to most gigging situations.

History of Blackstar Amplification

Blackstar Amplification was founded in 2007 by Bruce Keir, Ian Robinson, Paul Hayhoe & Richard Frost. 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 officially launched in March 2007 at the Musikmesse Frankfurt trade fair. Since then, the company has quickly become one of the most popular manufacturers of guitar amplifiers in the world.

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.

Together with Paul Hayhou and Richard Frost, the four Blackstar founders were part of a product development team at Marshall 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 are 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, since Blackstar still 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 brainstorm sessions 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 in an industry bombarded with surnames on the front of their products.

What Are Blackstar Amps Known for?

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

The second innovation is DPR (Dynamic Power Reduction), which allows continuously variable power scaling down to 10%, so 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 the flexibility 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. However, they’re also known for having rich, full-bodied 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, with their versatility making 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.

Best Blackstar Amplifiers

For Practicing: Blackstar ID:Core V3 Stereo 40

If you’re 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 the 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, including Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, Phil Collen of Def Leppard, Neal Schon of Journey, and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. Since their early days, these artists have been using Blackstar amps and have never stopped trusting their sound to their models.

Does Blackstar Sound Like Marshall?

While 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 than Marshall.

This Blackstar 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. So if you’re looking for an amplifier that will give you plenty of options and flexibility, Blackstar is definitely worth checking out.

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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!