Blackstar Amplification is a UK-based manufacturer of guitar amplifiers and effects, largely made up of ex-Marshall employees. Their products include the hand-wired, boutique "Artisan" series, the Series One series, and a range of pedals and amplifiers in the HT line. In 2009 they began operations in the United States.
The Artisan series, designed in the UK, is hand-wired in Korea, with point-to-point tagboard construction. The dual channel amplifier is designed for boutique tone, utilizing pre-amp valves (most specifically the EF86 pentode) associated with smaller Vox amps. The range includes 15, 30, and 100-watt models in both head and combo form; the 15 and 30-watt combos were called "substantial amps that provide substantial tones" in Vintage Guitar.
The Blackstar Series One range offers more features than the Artisan range, including, on some models, four different channels. It offers Blackstar's patented 'ISF' (Infinite Shape Feature), which allows the saturation to be altered to sound either 'American' or 'British', or anywhere in between. The range includes 45, 50, 100, and 200-watt models.
HT Venue Series
Launched in 2010 at the Winter NAMM, Blackstar introduced a new line of HT amplifiers. This line is essentially the same as the HT-5 series, but with more power. The models contain a 20, 40, 60, and 100 watt amplifiers. All models except the 100W are available in combo form. The 100W is head only, and the 20W comes in either head or combo. The HT Venue series also contains three different cabinet sizes: 1x12, 2x12, and 4x12. All speakers in the HT Venue are Celestion. The 50W is head only.
HT Metal Series
Blackstar's newest model, clearly designed for Metal music and play-styles. Heads come in 1, 5, and 100 watt formats, and 1, 5, and 60 watt in combo format. These amps carry the signature ISF and emulated output of Blackstar amps. The 1 and 5 watt formats have 2 channels, while the 60 and 100 watt formats have 3 channels. These amps boast "extreme gain and tone", and are "Voiced for Metal- Hundreds of hours of technical development and focussed listening tests have resulted in the ultimate gigging metal head." This line of amplifiers was released at Musicmesse 2013, but are not yet available for purchase as of April 2013.
Blackstar's innovative line of digital programmable amplifiers available in 60 and 100 watt head format and 15, 30, 40 and 100 watt combo format. Along with the ISF and Emulated output, they also possess powerful digital preamps with 128 unique storage banks to store your settings.
One of Blackstar's smaller amplifiers at 5 watts, it is effectively an HT pedal packaged as an amplifier. Having ISF and EQ features in common with some of the pedals, the HT-5 also includes an emulated output, which can allow the valve sound to be captured for recording without the need for amplifiers.
This is essentially the HT-5 in 1 watt format. It is also available in head-cab format, with a matching 60 watt cabinet.
Blackstar's HT pedals are a line of six different pedals: Boost, Overdrive, Distortion, Distx, Dual and Metal. All the pedals are valve powered and incorporate the ISF feature. Like the HT-5, the pedals have an emulated speaker output, allowing for direct recording. As of March 2010, Blackstar had introduced a new line of HT-Effects pedals, which feature three effects: Reverb, Delay, and Modulation. These pedals are, like the other HT line, all powered by a valve.
Blackstar has several artists using their products, including Kurt Viehdorfer, Opeth, Razorlight, The Donots, Rose Tattoo, Pat Travers and Silenoz of Dimmu Borgir, as well as recently including Gus G of Firewind, The Cure and Ozzy and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi to their lineup .
- Dragich, Bob (October 2008). "Boutique Tone, Bargain Pricing". Vintage Guitar magazine 22 (12): 158–60.
- "Blackstar Amplification - Products". Retrieved 2009-09-28.
- Barrett, Andy (2009-09-17). "Blackstar sets sights on US". MIPro. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
- Lawson, Stephen (2008-05-20). "Road Test: Blackstar HT-DUAL". Total Guitar. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
- "Blackstar Amplification - Artist News". Retrieved 2009-11-21.