Blackstar St. James amps

geddy

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One thing to remember is when you are talking about Amps then give SMPS a wide birth as they can if not designed properly give every one a big head ache, in more ways than one.
This is true of any design.
 

Moony

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and sorry, Soldano influenced or not, Soldano SLO kicks the snot out of any 5150, Peavey or Fender- there is no comparison

I think the Jet City 22H sounds better than the EVH 5150 LBX or Peavey 6505MH amps too.
 

StrummerJoe

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Why do you think the EVH Iconic is superior to the Blackstar?
I think they are in the same realm but the Blackstar doesn't seem to have an mdf cab like the Iconic (except the front baffle which is thin plywood at the Iconic).
Tubemeister 40 Deluxe has 3x 12AX7 and the phase inverter is tube driven iirc (but a 4x EL84 power amp).

I know Blackstar is bashed all the time on Marshallforum for using op amps in the signal path.
But I really don't get why then that's not a problem with the EVH Iconic.
Is it just the price difference?
Or because EVH/Fender is a US brand an Blackstar UK (and probably made in China)?



I've seen that a couple of times in forums - but nobody said what happened and told something about his bad experience.
I know that they put some red gunk on the screws, even of the tube retainers because they don't want customers to do anything to the amp, which is somewhat understandable.
But when I asked them if I could change the tubes or even the speakers I got a friendly reply that it wouldn't be a problem unless I don't modify the amp.
And honestly I don't know anyone who likes modding these amps - it's a mix of THT and SMD and if something goes bad it's probably more economical to swap the whole board than figuring out what went wrong (unless it's obvious).
The EVH 5150 Iconic is also MIC. That's why I don't have one, though I'd really like to have one.
 

jeffb

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I think the Jet City 22H sounds better than the EVH 5150 LBX or Peavey 6505MH amps too.
I've only spent a bit of time on the JC22 (And it was 12-15 years ago or so) and I found it decent. Ironically (as far as this thread is concerned) I was also testing one of the Blackstar HT amps- 20 ? 40 watter-? along with it that day. I ended up buy a Zvex Distortron that day along with some other pedals because I preferred it over both amps :lol:

I'm not a big EL84 fan so I pass over most of them- especially ones that are high gain modern voiced amps. I played through the original EVH15w (what are they on now, revision 3??) for about 30 seconds and shut her down.

It's too bad Soldano stopped production of those JC amps. They seemed to be much bang for the buck.
 

Moony

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I've only spent a bit of time on the JC22 (And it was 12-15 years ago or so) and I found it decent. Ironically (as far as this thread is concerned) I was also testing one of the Blackstar HT amps- 20 ? 40 watter-? along with it that day.

Jet City was really popular in early to mid 2010s here in Germany.
I had a Blackstar HT20 Studio combo - the old version with EL34s in the power amp.
And sold it immediately after having tested a JCA22H (even through the Blackstar combo used as a cab it sounded much better) - the Blackstar wasn't a bad amp though.
I honestly think there's something about reall all tube amps which can't be archieved that easily when using op amps or mosfets.

I do like good pedals who use that technology of course and I also put them in front of all valve amps. But then in most cases they sound just better than in front of solid state amps. Tbh the Blackstar amps are not really good as a pedal plattform unless you buy the Artisan series, that's a whole other level.

The new St. James EL34 amp is also marketed with "you can use it as a pedal plattform" - I highly doubt it will sound good if you set the amp clean.
The HT series works well with pedals if you put them in front of the classic gainchannel (voice 1 or whatever they call it) - a Green Rhino or Klone makes it sound even better. But not into the clean channel, you'll get very unpleasant clipping then.
 

Bull Rock

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I gigged an ht40 blackstar for a couple years. It was excellent. Power and tone. Got a lot of compliments on the tone in the band live. I tried the mkii version months ago and it was even better. I've owned a lot of amps over the years, still have a dsl 40cr and a vox 35 c1 bruno...id still gig an ht40. I'm going to try the new one when it's available to demo.
 

Filipe Soares

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I had the 5150 LBX mk.1 in 2016-17 and I currently own a JCA20 and here are my 2 cents:

1) both are great lighweight and loud as hell.
2) the LBX was the first EL84 amp that I actually loved the tone
3) I bought the jca to mod it, as a lab rat, one of the mods was to change it to EL34s. I didn´t went made it because the amp sounded as I wanted and I have decided to leave it as is (after a shit ton of mods, but without bigger tubes)
4) in the stock form I´d rather have the LBX, it is ready to go to my kind of music.
5) the jca is a great little amps, with lots of room to mod it to your taste. to me was not about the tone, but to learn how to mod amps
6) in the end my jca sounded a lot like a hot rodded 2203, much like the blue channel in the LBX, but it also sounds more plexish if I want that kind of sound. I didn´t went to a full gain factory because I bought a 5153III 50w, so no need of it.
7) mandatory mods in the JCA: depth knob, loop (if there´s none) and changing NFB resistor to your liking is enough. the LBX in the other hand is ready to go.
 

Moony

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Please not that the JCA20H is a one channel amp and doesn't have the Soldano Hot Rod Plus hi-gain channel.
You can mod it to be a 2203 circuit of course - but if a EVH 5150LBX hi-gain sound is what you're after you would have wanted the 22H not the 20H.
I've modded a lot of these amps and imho a depth mod is a nice to have if you play very quiet and want a somewhat fuller sound. But once you reach band level volumes, I wouldn't use it. The low end is just to big for the 15 watts power amp (that's what you usually get out of two EL84s class ab). The low end gets really flubby. Of course you can mod it to be tighter (eg lower the coupling cap to the first hi-gain channel gainstage) to make it work better. The last ones I've done I left the depth mod out therefore.

But yes, really nice amps and ridiculous prices (the JCA22H was 249 Euros at Thomann when it was released).
 

neikeel

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As long as you accept that once these things fail there is a good chance that they will become landfill like laptops and PCs then all will be well but it is one of the reasons why they have minimal resale value (at least from my observation). They do sound ok and that’s what they are made for.
 

Moony

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not bad, but nothing beats this:



To quote that guy: "Some of the stuff that Blackstar has out will kill this thing" - and he even doesn't like Blackstar amps very much (at least the HT series, the Artisan series is another level).

If you mod the Origin 20 like Headfirst did in the video you've posted - then it's a really good amp!
But that's the question if you could do these mods by yourself or not.
If you bring it to an amp tech, it's debatable if it's better to spend the money elsewhere and buy an amp that sounds good as it is.
But that's up to you.
 

solarburnDSL50

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To quote that guy: "Some of the stuff that Blackstar has out will kill this thing" - and he even doesn't like Blackstar amps very much (at least the HT series, the Artisan series is another level).

If you mod the Origin 20 like Headfirst did in the video you've posted - then it's a really good amp!
But that's the question if you could do these mods by yourself or not.
If you bring it to an amp tech, it's debatable if it's better to spend the money elsewhere and buy an amp that sounds good as it is.
But that's up to you.

I follow his vids. I like watching him service amps. That's where it stops.

I have heard him play his own amps as well as many of his high end repairs. Do not like tones he dials in or playing. Not putting down his playing. Just missing mileage. Got to play to play. Seems like a great tech though.

That's some of the worst tone I've ever heard from a Origin. My ORI 50H sounds great.

Tell me ACDC doesn't live here. Don't they play plexis? I think Plexi like is not a stretch although it ain't a plexi. I have one.

 
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