blackstar 104 6l6 head - initial impressions - cheap as chips (475 s/h) but not as greasy

nickpnickp Frets: 179
This is only the third amp I have owned so treat this review with caution as I'm a virgin.  It's built like a brick outhouse - very heavy.  100w, 4 channel, two sets of EQ - one for the clean and crunch, and one for the OD channels.  In comparison to my Engl the cleans and the crunch sounds are much less brash, a little more middy and more usable to be honest.  I seem to be running the clean channel with gain fairly high so it's just on the edge of a little breakup - so i can strum clean chords and arps, or digging in gets a small amount of hair to the nicely rounded clean tones. 

at the moment i've set the crunch channel to a mild crunch hoping to get some AC/DC style rhythm sounds - but the crunch has a lot of gain on tap if needed - in truth the clean and crunch channels could probably do most things on their own.  Again sorta marshally sound despite the 6l6 tubes (to my ears)

OD1 and od2 - spoiled for choice - OD1 is again running fairly low gain which I might be able to use to rhythm on a heavy verson of whisky inna jar perhaps (will be able to tell at rehearsal volumes)  OD2 is set mid gain for a great marshally sort of lead sound.  both give fine lead sounds with the Lester and I'm getting there with the strat :)

overall very flexible what with the four channels, independent eq, bright switch on the clean channel, heavy crunch switch for the crunch channel plus the two od channels.  lots of EQ available, presence and a bottom end thump knob.  It's quite loud - the handy power reduction knob taking it from 100w to 10w will be useful for giggin as  50W was plenty for pubs - but even at 10W it's bleeding loud at home.

do I like it -- yes.  it's more friendly to the stuff I play than the engl.  in comparison the engl's clean and crunch sounds are not so good but the Engl has some beautiful higher gain OD1 and 0d2 channels which I prefer - but overall I think the blackstar is more useable from funk through blues to classic rock - and then if you want to play metal then I have no idea as we/I don't really go to that end of the spectrum.

relatively cheap second hand - some on the forum have gone for about £450 for a 100w head - I paid £475 with a footswitch from ebay and it's pristine - don't think it's hardly been used.  it was bought as a back up amp for the engl combo as I can fit the head in the car no probs with the other bits of gear, but I suspect it might end up as gigging amp no 1.

v happy so far.  some gigs will tell for sure so I'll try to update later in the year when it's made some real noise.

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  • JayGeeJayGee Frets: 864
    I've had the EL34 version for about 2-and-a-half years now and echo pretty much everything in that review. Personally I find OD2 "a bit much" and seldom use it but apart from that it's great - I was actually quite surprised that on what's ostensibly an out and out Rock Monster of an amp the clean and lowest gain dirt channels turned out to be the highlights... 
    Don't ask me, I just play the damned thing...
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