I've used an Ibanez Prestige and a Gibson LP studio with it. I've ran it thru a homemade 1x12 with a celestion classic lead 80 and my Marshall 1960A 4x12 cab. By all intents and purposes I'm a tube Marshall amp kind of guy. I have owned just about every good Marshall ever made. I currently use a Marshall DSL 100 and a JMP-1. Before I bought this gem I also got a Epiphone valve junior. This head absolutely kills the epipy jr in tone and features, although it is twice the price so, maybe that's not fair to compare them. I will anyhow since they are both 5 watt heads. I do like The epipy, it has it's own vibe. To me the epipy can get more of a "plexi" type tone out of it. The HT-5 can get close to the "plexi" tone but slightly darker sounding. The HT-5 does the more modern tones better. If I could only keep one of the 5 watters, it would be a no-brainer the HT-5 is staying. I would miss the better "plexi" tones from the epipy but I can run my JMP-1 into the FX return of the HT-5 and have it all. Yes, thats right. You can run an outboard preamp into just the power amp stage utilizing the HT-5 as a power amp. This sounds sooo good. I can get "my sound" from my JMP-1 at bedroom levels, YES!!! Anyhow a litle more on th HT-5's distorted tone. To me overall it sounds darker than any Marshall. It almost sounds Mesa boogieish. The manufacturer says the "ISF" knob goes from "american to british". I would dissagree, maybe american to somewhere in the middle of the atlantic but not quite making it to England. A Marshall is more trebly and has a more bitting midrange presence than the HT-5. If I had to get an AC/DC tone I would use my Epiphone valve junior. If I needed to get a Metallica or any new metal tone I would use the HT-5. The clean tone is again darker sounding than a Marshall. Nothing out of this amp sounds too bright or midrangy. On the contrary the HT-5 has huge bottom end beef. Not the flabby/farty bottom end either, just loads of beef to it. If you find the Marshall tone a bit too bright/brittle/buzzy sounding then you will most likely love this amp. The best way to compare the sounds of the Blackstar HT-5 and Epiphone valve junior would be like this: The epipy sounds like it was made by Marshall to be a mini plexi head and the HT-5 sounds like it was made by Mesa/Engl to be a mini dual rectifier or Engl Fireball head.
I like the HT-5. It has it's own vibe. It will definitely come in handy for recording sessions and bedroom jam sessions. I wish it was a litle closer to the Marshall sound but that's just my opinion. It does sound very good and is worth the $299. This amp will with out a doubt please many guitarist and feel a big gap that the Valve Junior did not get. My only complaint is that the FX loop send is before the channel volume on the distortion channel so it can't really be used to push a bigger power amp if you wanted, unless you put a mixer in the line. A seperate line out with a volume knob, after the volume control, would have been nice.