Earlier today, I popped round my local guitar shop to try Blackstar’s new Studio 10 combo amps. I came away with the 6L6 version firmly on my list of amps to buy.
Why Are You Looking For A New Amp?
I love my Marshall Origin 20H. In the 10 months or so that I’ve had it, it’s become my everyday amp at home. It’s been a much better pedal platform than I could have hoped for. Even now, I’m still learning how to get new tones out of it. Without a doubt, it’s been one of the best purchases I’ve ever made when it comes to guitar gear.
If there’s one ‘but’ when it comes to the Origin, it’s that the Origin’s strong personality can always be heard, no matter the pedal used. The Origin is middy, with a strong emphasis on the upper mids. Sometimes, I just feel like a change. Sometimes, I just want a break from the Origin.
Maybe it’s because I grew up playing Strat knockoffs, I don’t know. There’s just something about 6L6 / blackface-voiced amps that always draws me back to that sound. Especially when playing cleaner tones with a Strat.
And with rehearsals well underway for our first acoustic gig, I’m playing a lot of clean stuff atm.
That Sounds Like You Want A Fender Amp?
Fender doesn’t really play in this space atm.
Their high-end amps like the Deluxe Reverb Re-issue (DRRI) are lush. They’re also big, heavy, and expensive. I haven’t really found anything in their lineup that brings that beautiful blackface clean tone to home players on a budget.
So it’s no wonder that other manufacturers are looking to fill the gap in the market that Fender’s left for them.
Enter Blackstar Studio 10
New for 2019, Blackstar has launched 3 new 12” combos: Studio 10 EL34, Studio 10 KT88 and Studio 10 6L6. As the names suggest, each is focused on bringing a specific kind of tone to home and home studio players, in a 10 watt format.
I can’t comment on the Studio 10 KT88 at all, as I’ve not played one yet. When they turn up in the shops, I will go and check them out.
My local shop did have both the Studio 10 EL34 and Studio 10 6L6 in stock. I spent the best part of an hour playing through both with a couple of the new American Performer Strats and Fender’s The Pelt Fuzz pedal. I love that pedal so much!
What Was The Studio 10 EL34 Like?
It sounded good.
It’s got that mid-push EL34 thing going on. Clean, the tones from the Strat were cutting, with good clarity. The kind of clean tones that would work really well in a mix.
With The Pelt, the mid-focus was really apparent. There isn’t a lot of bottom end / extended range on tap. I couldn’t find any warm tones in the amp. It struck me very much as an amp to rock out on, without the excessive brightness of Marshall Origin combos.
I’ve already got the Origin 20H. If I didn’t, then the Studio 10 EL34 would probably be on my wishlist.
What Was The Studio 10 6L6 Like?
Mmm. There it is. That lush blackface clean tone that I’ve been looking for.
This amp has both the extended range and mid-scoop that I remember from the last time I played a DRRI. Clean sounds have that piano-like ring that I want, and The Pelt was warm and chewy.
If anything, sat next to it, the amp was a little boomy. There’s a single tone control, but that’s more for matching the amp to your guitar. You might need to budget for an EQ pedal in the FX loop if you find the amp a little boomy too.
I had no trouble at all imagining this amp sat in my office all day as an alternative to my Marshall Origin. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen come pay day.
Did You Mention The American Performer Strat?
Yes, I did.
I tried both the maple and rosewood fretboard versions, and they both were great to play. I’ll talk more about them at pay day, when at least one of them is coming home with me.