Review of the Blackstar 60 Soloist

Discussion in 'Other Amps' started by frankyfal, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. frankyfal

    frankyfal Well-Known Member

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    I play classic rock, country and jazz and I needed a tube combo amp that had lots of clean headroom and a warm fat overdrive. Having been disappointed with the DSL40c/ Creamback despite new tubes and a treb cap mod, the gain channel still sounded fizzy compared to older Marshalls and it developed a weird after tone so I sold it. I then tried an Egnator Tweaker 40 because the 15 was a great practice amp, but there was no clean headroom. The Tweaker 40 does not have the magic that the 15 does by the way.

    Still on the hunt for a decent combo under $800 I tried a Blackstar 40 combo at a store and they let me crank it for a while and I was impressed with the tone.
    I looked online at the other models and chose the Soloist 60 w 112 for a few reasons that I will get into here.

    Out of the box I was impressed with the side handle cut outs and the caster holes on the bottom for attaching wheels. The amp is about 48 lbs so these both come in handy. It had a nice black finish and the controls had a straight forward design and all the bells and whistles of the other amps plus so many more features that I liked.

    The clean channel has 2 voicings. One very clean and full and the other breaks up after 5. There is only a volume and tone for this channel, but that is all you need. Both voicings sound great.

    The drive channel also has 2 voicings. One more modern and gainy than the other. It has bass, mid, treb and an ISF knob that lets the drive channel swing from USA to British voicings. I turned the knob all the way towards the British side to sound like a Marshall. :D
    I was able to dial in a great, ballsy AC/DC crunch tone. The owners of Blackstar are former Marshall employees I understand. With my band I never put the gain past 3-4 and the sound is full, warm and cleans up with my attack and or vol knob perfectly. No flubby bass and the highs were balanced.
    I upped the gain just to 2 o'clock to see what would happen and found myself 3/4 of the way thru War Pigs before I realized it was 7 pm and my neighbors may have had enough. I was in amp heaven. No fizz or shrill just great tone. I then attached my pedal board and tried effects. The loop has a switch for rack or pedal effects. The reverb was useable and there is a dark/light switch on the back to suit your flavor. It took pedals well and I even tried pushing the drive channel with my OFA OD and it handled it great although I wont need that as much as I will explain now. There is a volume controlled boost switch that is controlled thru a sturdy, metal LED lit 4 button foot switch ( included ) that boosts either channel . There is also a button in conjunction with the boost feature that adds mids, sustain and lowers the bass to get your solo's to cut thru the band mix better, thus is why I wont need to push this amp. I just adjust the boost volume and I have a third channel that is a searing solo channel at the stomp of a button. Clean/Crunch and Solo. I am set for any gig. I use the vol knob on my guitar to clean up the crunch to get a crispy rhythm sound and on the clean channel ( I use the very clean voicing with the vol high so it is almost breaking up ) my bridge pick up (LP standard) gets the channel to break up ever so slightly giving me a twangy almost Fender bite if I need it.

    I hooked up a 212 cab to this and the sound was even bigger, not that the Celestion 80/70 wasn't good enough even not broken in. On the DSL the 80/70 only added to the fizz and shrill. This amps tone complimented the speaker, but thanks to this board I will probably experiment with a different one someday.
    There are more features like presence and line outputs too, but look online for these descriptions.

    To each his own, but I would recommend trying one of the Blackstar HT combo's out for yourself. It's nowhere near a vintage Marshall, but for Zep, Aerosmith, Sabbath, southern and classic rock it is great. :slash:
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
  2. John BNY

    John BNY Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations! I think Blackstar amps are great, and have gigged with them on multiple occasions.

    I have a HT 100 head and a Series One 200 head, and I am a Blackstar fan. I've heard some complain that Blackstar amps are not 100% tube amps and may have SS components to derive their tone, but I could care less. So long as the amp produces good tones, that's all that matters.
     
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  3. frankyfal

    frankyfal Well-Known Member

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    I agree about the tone. I read that they use a diode to achieve the higher gain or in place of the Phase Inverter or something along that effect. The 212 version of my amp has a third pre-amp tube for the PI. I can't tell with my ears. I am 100% satisfied so far and my gig combo search is over. Time to obsess about a guitar now...
     
  4. shooto

    shooto Well-Known Member

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    hmmmm....I had an HT-5 when they came out and really dug it but returned it because it couldn't hang with a loud drummer for practice...later tried a combo and it was much different than the head, couldn't dial it in nearly as easily and in the end, still wasn't the same- thanks for the review, will have to visit them again-
     
  5. frankyfal

    frankyfal Well-Known Member

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    Addendum. The sucker started motorboating. I called Sweetwater. They sent me a new one in 48 hrs. Still jamming though
     
  6. Rozman62

    Rozman62 Well-Known Member

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    I have a HT20 combo for a few years now. Great little amp. It's my rehearsal amp and I use it in one venue that I play 8-10 times a year. The rocket 50stock speaker is crap. I replaced with a WGS Invader.
     
  7. axuality

    axuality Active Member

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    I've had 4 Blackstars, loved them all and my favorite was the 60 watt 2x12. Those amps are what you guys say-utterly fantastic. The clean is close to boutique good, and to me the gain is very smooth, but I only use the clean channel, pedals for dirt.
    And yea, I think they tune those HT amps for the Celestion70/80. I tried others, but it was the best I could find. The 2x12 was so loud, so heavy and so powerful. Really good bass.

    The amp stood up to my 50 JCM2000 and sounded very much the same if you set the knobs correctly.

    I love Blackstar.
     

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