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Sound Quality

Clean channel is very basic, one volume, one tone, much like my Champion 600, but the tone knob seems to be fairly intuitive. You can't quite get the classic Fender icepick clean [like a Deluxe], but as I am not a fan of that, not an issue. There is a clarity though, and with the knob at about 2 o'clock, a definitely usable, alt. country kind of 'clean', if you will. I will need some time to find the 'Tele spank' setting, but I think it is in there, above the 2 o'clock setting. Time will tell...The OD channel is the heart of this amp. This channel has the standard tone controls we are used to these days [t/m/b], and they are functional. The interesting part of the OD channel is the 'ISF' knob, which they say lets you change the distortional 'character' between a USA 'Fender-y' and a British 'Marshall-y' drive. I find the Marshall-y sound more convincing, but then the Blackstar team was started by Marshall emigres, so I expected that. The Fender-y tone, well, is certainly different, and maybe they alter the circuit to mimic a 6L6 power output and/or the 12AX7 pre-amp gain stage. But about halfway between them occurs a fairly unique, almost a Mesa or BadCat kind of drive, which if I may say, is probably where most users will find their happy place.

Reliability/Durability

Well it is way too new, but, the construction seems solid. It comes with metal amp corners, which saved me the trouble of adding them. I'm not expecting a finger-jointed Baltic birch cabinet. The tolex seems a bit thin, which is typical these days.

Price/Value

I could not pass this amp up when they dropped the price to $349. I expect these will be discontinued for a newer version. But for that price, with the existing features, I had to have one.

General Comments

Comes with a one button footswitch. I detected a momentary 'delay' in

the switching that will take some getting used to, but certainly not

insurmountable. Footswitch has a led indicator [take that Vox NightTrain!], and a

cord of decent length [take that Vox, again!].   Also the amp has metal

corner guards [take that, too, Vox! I had to add corner guards to my

Night Train 15CL]. So lets look at this over all: Channel switching, EL34 powered, 20W, not too heavy despite the footprint, Celestion speaker...Fender-ish/ Mesa-ish/ Vox-ish/ Marshall-ish soundsall in one tube amp, with digital reverb that has some depth.


Reviewer's Background

Performing guitarist/singer with over 45 years live stage and studio experience in NY and LA. I own [or have owned] numerous amps, including BF Fenders, Marshall Stacks, Vox combos, Marshall combos, Fender combos, Epiphone, Magnatone, Ashdown, Fishman, Harmony, Gretsch, Bogen, hybrids, SS...but I am a tube amp guy. I generally avoid OD/distortion/fuzz pedals, because I think the amp should do that.


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