|United Kingdom, United States|
Blackstar Amplification is a producer of guitar amplifiers and effects units based in Northampton, England. The company was founded by a group of ex-Marshall employees, remarkably Bruce Keir. In 2009 they began operations in the United States. The majority of the research and development for Blackstar is carried out in the UK -- with production taking place Asia. Previously in Korea, manufacturing of Blackstar amplifiers now takes place in China.
The Artisan series, designed in the UK, is manufactured in Korea with point-to-point tagboard construction. The dual channel amplifier uses pre-amp valves (most specifically the EF86 pentode) that are 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. Some models have four channels. It offers a patented 'ISF' (Infinite Shape Feature), which alters the saturation to sound either 'American' or 'British', or anywhere in between. The range includes 45, 50, 100, and 200-watt models.
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 20, 40, 50, 60, and 100 watt amplifiers. All models except the 50W and 100W are available in combo form. The 50W and 100W is head only, and the 20W comes in either head or combo. The HT Venue series also contains three different cabinet sizes: 1×12, 2×12, and 4×12. All speakers in the HT Venue are Celestion. This product range was discontinued in 2017, and replaced by HT Venue MkII.
Launched in 2017, this product range is redesign of the original HT Venue series along with modern updates such as USB and D.I. recording via an XLR output. Following more than 3 years of intensive R&D and market research, Blackstar released this update to the award-winning HT Venue line, stating that these products 'take the range to a new level of sonic performance, whilst adding every major enhancement that guitarists have requested; resulting in a massively flexible feature set that is still intuitive and musician-friendly.' These products were well received during the initial release, and have gone on to win numerous awards across various publications.
Blackstar's alternative range to the HT Venue range - 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. This product range was discontinued in 2017.
Blackstar's line of digital programmable amplifiers available in 60 and 100 watt head format and 15, 30, 60 and 120 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 Dual 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 to provide a valve sound for recording without the need for a microphone.
The HT-1 is essentially a 1 watt version of the HT-5. It is also available in head-cab format, with a matching 60 watt cabinet.
Blackstar produces guitar pedals for boost, overdrive, distortion, distx, modulation, reverb, delay, dual and metal. Some of the pedals incorporate valves (tubes) in the electronics, the drive pedals incorporate Blackstars ISF feature. Like the HT-5, some of the pedals have an emulated speaker output for direct recording.
Several artists use Blackstar products, including the great British blues guitarist Danny Bryant, Baz Warne of The Stranglers, Neal Schon of Journey, Kurt Viehdorfer, Opeth, Razorlight, The Donots, Rose Tattoo, Pat Travers, and Silenoz of Dimmu Borgir. Recent additions include Frank Hannon of Tesla, Gus G of Firewind, The Cure, Ozzy Osbourne, and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi .