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Blackstar HT Studio 20 - 20-watt 1x12" Tube Combo Reviews

4.0 stars based on 20 customer reviews
  • John Borges
    from Rocky Mount NC December 15, 2016

    Black Star HT Studio

    This is by far the best little power house for the money..It play's like a much more powerful amp,clear,crisp tone on clean or overdrive channel. It is very pedal friendly,however I really love the variations I can get just with the settings on this amp without any added pedals. I play a Gibson Blues Hawk,semi hollow body and also my American strat,incredible sounds with either axe.

  • Tracy
    from Oklahoma December 14, 2016

    Amazing ballsy amp

    First thing was I got this in 2 days in December. Thanks Aaron Hoff. The amp came in a great packed box and it was in great shape. The amp switched on with very little tickering sounded awesome. It really can get you some solid retro sounding sounds and then it can switch to sounding very modern. Can't wait to jam with this live and record with it.

  • Roberto Ortiz
    from San Luis, AZ January 18, 2016

    Great Tube Amp!

    I have to say I love this amp. The clean channel is just amazing and sounds incredible when you play it with Stratocasters. The OD is a bit muddy but suits the blue sounds I look for when plugged in with a Les Paul. In my honest opinion I do love it. The quality is just amazing compared to my other two amps. I'm not gonna lie, I will replace the speaker with a
    Celestion Vintage 30 and may do something about the tubes, but for now, it does what I like.

  • Logan
    from St. Cloud, MN USA April 24, 2014Music Background:
    Semi Professional

    First Real Tube Amp

    The cleans are sparkly and buttery. The overdrive has incredible distorted tones and is better than any solid state amp there is. I have played many other tube amps, but they all seem very harsh compared to this. There is minimal hiss from the amp. The build quality is superb. To me, if you can find a reason to get more than 20 watts then your insane.

  • Todd T.
    from cleveland, Oh. June 19, 2012Music Background:

    amazing tone

    don't wait to pull the trigger on this amp... its more than worth it. the tone on this amp is sweet, fat, warm searing.and all points in between. you're not gonna find a better amp in this price range. it is a huge step up for me... been playing fender 65r solid state... now i wonder what i was thinking... even if you play for fun, you have to treat yourself to the luxurious tone that the blackstar produces...you'll never regret it.

  • Kevin Sawyer
    from Elizabeth City, NC December 5, 2016

    The amp is great. The strap handle...not so much.

    Couldn't ask for a better amp. Unfortunately the strap handle breaks after just a month or so of use. Sweetwater was awesome when it broke the first time and sent me a replacement. Unfortunately, the replacement strap handle broke after a month or so. It seems the strap handle has some kind of flexible metal in it that must be cutting into the strap handle causing it to crack and break. Other than the issue with the strap handle, it has been an awesome amp.

  • Customer
    from Washington MI November 22, 2016

    Great tube amp for a great price

    I ordered this amp yesterday and it arrived early today. As always their shipping is extremely fast and free. The amp sounds great. Has a nice tube tone. Very low price for its quality(black Friday deal). I highly recommend if you want a nice tube amp but don't wanna pay $

  • Matt
    from December 23, 2014

    Blackstar HT Studio Upgrades

    I've had my HT20 for about 3 years now. Its a great amp with a few draw backs. 1st, I replaced the stock speaker with a Vintage 30 and the mids on the OD channel really started to cut thru and id say about 15% louder and more focused tighter low end and more presence. 2nd, I changed out the OD 12AX7 with EH 12AY7. Now the OD has full sweep. Before the OD was either on or off and the stock Marshall speaker was just mud. Next upgrade will be swapping out the EL34's with some EH. I know that with the money I spent on the upgrades I should have just bought another amp that was good from the start but I got this on a refurbish deal for under $400. The only issue on the referb was the footswitch had a cold solder joint.

  • Jeff Crook
    from Hammond, IN September 17, 2014Music Background:
    30+ years guitar, rock and blues.

    Outstanding Tone

    Bought this amp about 2 months ago. I also play an Egnater rebel 30 half stack and a Vox AC 4. The Blackstar is perfect for the recording studio. Superb tones eminate from this amp. I would not be afraid to gig with it either. I sold a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe because it was too much power for the studio. With the HT 20 I can crank up the clean channel for that tube break up or utilize the dirty channel for more extreme Marshall like tones. The amp plays well with my Strat, Tele and Les Paul and it takes pedals very well. I would have rated it a 5 if it had a cover and a little more clean headroom but all in all this is one killer amp and I would buy it again and absolutely would recommend it.

  • Rob Wagman
    from Pennsylvania, USA August 14, 2012Music Background:
    43 years as a pro musician. Also recording.

    Blackstar HT Studio 20

    I am so impressed by the tones I get from this amp, very clean or great overdrive tones. Nothing compares with this amp when you consider the sound quality and the price is very low compared to other vintage, boutique amps that usually cost thousand of dollars that are not any better then the Blackstar Amps.

  • John Z
    from Illinois December 10, 2016Music Background:
    Just a guy that likes to play guitar

    Worth its price, but not perfect

    I have only had the amp for a coupe weeks, but I have played through it every night since it arrived. I think the clean channel is terrific. It just sounds open, alive, and beautifully present in the room. I believe it rivals or exceeds any clean sound I have every heard from a tube amp. This amp is also a huge step up from the solid state amps I have owned or played on. Tubes just have that certain "something". The OD channel is where I have had a harder time finding what I am looking for. In my tinkering with the controls, I have found a sweet spot right as the gain is dialed up. I observed it to be right around the 8 o'clock mark, just before the gain really ramps up. This spot gives me a solid gritty drive tone that seems to match my humbucker guitars really well. I am finding that most gain settings beyond 9 o'clock are a little muddy. (The clean channel sounds great with anything I have hooked to it). Overall the amp is built like a tank, and the controls feel solid and high quality. ISF works as advertised, and the reverb is good. I have a suspicion that a different speaker will help this amp on the drive channel as well. I am very pleased with my purchase of this Blackstar amp, and I would recommend it. Just plan on taking some time to get everything dialed to your liking.

  • Rob
    from Pittsburgh, Pa June 20, 2011Music Background:
    Musician 20+years, Recording Studio Owner

    Sweet Sounding Amp!

    This amp lives up to the hype. For the last couple of days I have been putting this amp through it's paces in my studio. I LOVE the clean sounds this amp produces. The reverb is great up to about 12/1 o'clock after that it becomes more of an effect. On the gain setting it delivers as well. Very nice focused chunky distortion when the ISF is dialed more towards the American side. Dialed more towards the British side the sounds takes on a really dark and muddy tone but still very usable in the right type of song. My best sounding results were found with the ISF set at about 10 o'clock. I didnt give this amp a 5 due to the stock Rocket 50 speaker. I swapped it out for a G12T-75 that I had lying around and it certainly kicked it up a couple of notches. The stock Rocket 50 sounded good and it would make most folks very happy but a better speaker will certainly bring out more of the dynamics this amp produces. The other reason for the 4 rating is that you cant achieve early breakup from the gain side when rolling back your guitar volume. However if you throw an OD pedal in front of the clean channel its sounds beautiful. From beautiful clean bell tones to bluesy grit to full on modern hard rock this is a great amp. When an amp makes me want to keep playing it's a keeper!

  • Mike McIntosh
    from May 1, 2016Music Background:
    Basic level recreational player.

    Brilliant cleans. Still looking for vintage overdrive.

    I agonized over this purchase. I got a new Gretsch and needed an amp for living room practice, home recording, and songwriting jam sessions. I wanted an amp that would faithfully deliver the guitar's famous clean tone, and recreate a classic rock overdrive. After a month of research I narrowed my choices to this amp, a Marshall DSL 40c, and a Vox AC30. Obviously I picked the Blackstar. I am thrilled with the amps clean tone. It was exactly what I'd hoped for, and the Gretsch sounds heavenly through it. The emulated 4x12 recording output works great with my basic home studio setup. I am still tinkering with the dials though to find a classic rock overdrive tone I'm happy with during casual jams. The overdrive tones I'm getting all sound too midrangy and compressed. I'm looking for an expansive, natural sounding breakup. I haven't had the amp long (just over a month) so I may find it yet. Also, it is possible it will sound better after a few more hours of operation. I'm looking for a specific thing, so I don't consider this particular downside a criticism of the amp itself. It is beautifully constructed, handsome, easy to use, sturdy and easy enough to move around. I consider myself fortunate to have this amp.

  • Edward Halterman
    from El Segundo, CA August 27, 2014Music Background:
    Band-leader, songwriter, engineer

    Blackstar? My name is M-u-d

    This amp was just okay. The clean channel was nothing like any of the Fenders I own or even Marshall for that matter. The crunch channel was sometimes okay, but I found myself really cranking the treble to try to compensate for the muddy mids I was getting, but it never would get ride of it. I think in times these will get better, but not currently.

  • MQ
    from New York, NY & New Haven, CT July 8, 2011Music Background:
    Gigging Hobbyist

    Almost great

    I wanted a tube amp with glistening, bell-like cleans and tight, heavy distortion, with a budget of $600. On paper, this amp seemed to be absolutely perfect. In reality, this has turned out to be half true. The clean channel is absolutely gorgeous - crystal clear and smooth like butter. Honestly, I preferred the clean channel to even the Fenders in this price range. One of the few amps with which my guitar actually sounded great using the neck pickups (for some reason in most amps, my neck humbucker ends up sounding too muddy to be useable). That said, it can be difficult to get a crunch out of the clean channel at all but the higher volume settings - something to keep in mind if you were going for touch sensitive breakup. The overdrive channel on the other hand, has ultimately disappointed me. From the demo videos it seemed that the HT Studio 20 had a searing, cutting distortion that projected well and handled gain without becoming loose and undefined. No matter how much I fiddled with the EQ and ISF tone-shaping feature, the overdrive sounded like it was coming from under a blanket. The EQ and ISF changed the shape of the tone *under* the blanket, but for the life of me I couldn't get rid of the **** blanket. To my knowledge (and from my research) this unit was not defective and exhibited none of the signs of defect noted by other users. With my Schecter Omen-6, this amp sounds squashed and compressed and muffled. It sounds like there's a great tone hiding under the blanket, but it simply has no presence. The overdrive has been heartbreaking, because the build quality on this amp is absolutely superb, up there with some boutique manufacturers. It's a very manageable weight, and boy does it get LOUD if you need it to, though it can also back down to a bedroom level and still have workable tone. Additionally, the digital reverb on this baby is pretty sweet sounding, ranging from a subtle spring to some Edge-like, cavernous echo. Honestly, I couldn't tell it was digital. My suggestion would be to try it out for yourself, and compare it to other amps in the price range, and even high-end models to get your bearings. The problem with the overdrive could potentially be the speaker - I tried an HT 20 head with a Traynor cab at a local music store, and it had the exact opposite problem - the cleans sounded muddy, and the overdrive sounded much clearer (but still squashed relative to other amps...). Hard to say really. Give it a try though - maybe you'll have better luck.

  • Brandon
    from Texas December 29, 2016

    A good home amp...but very muffled.

    This amp is about as simple as it gets. I run it through a custom 1X12 with an eminence Governor and it sounds quite a bit better/louder than the stock speaker. The clean is very nice, but limited in tonal options. It's only EQ is a tone knob...this is not a big complaint to me. The drive is simply "okay." It's very dark sounding and not particularly cutting. I've gigged with it at a few small gigs with the clean channel and using pedals for drive. It did the job, but wasn't spectacular. The biggest flaw with this amp is that it is very muffled sounding no what you run it through. It's as if it's in a room full of pillows. I tried it through my 1X12 and my 2X12 which sound huge with my other amps and it continues to have that quality. It's especially apparent on the drive channel. Beyond that, the drive has a sort of "solid state" sounding quality to it. I imagine that this is not a pure tube signal at all. If you are just playing at home and find a good deal on one, it is plenty fine of a practice/small gig amp...but for the regular gig player and those who are a little more advanced in their playing, this may be little underwhelming.

  • CP
    from CA, USA December 6, 2012Music Background:
    Hobbyist to the point of professional?

    Not Quite There

    I believe another reviewer mentioned that it often sounds as if this thing is under a blanket and I concur. Some of the clean tones can be nice, but to me, this amp sounds solid state about 75% of the time. Not always a bad thing, I've used solid state amps and have a '79 MusicMan that's hybrid tube/ss. Good tone can be gotten from them.

    The problem with this amp is presence and character. It's lacking in both. I do a stereo amp setup (this amp and a Vox AC15) and the difference couldn't be too much more glaring. The Vox shimmers and rings whereas this one plays sounds like I'm playing pre-recorded music through it. Yes, I'm aware they're two very different amps, but I just can't anything to bite through the Blackstar. I even replaced some of the tubes with newer, crunchier ones and still couldn't get what I wanted.

    However, it's not a poorly made amp. Although I don't care for the sound, it's still a high quality sound that you can shape quite a bit. If you're looking for a very middle of the road, non-polarizing amp, this would work for you. For me it seemed to be a basic workhorse amp for those that don't get too finicky. Guess I'm a diva.

  • Customer
    from December 4, 2012

    Almost what I wanted

    This is a fine amp in many ways and I think for many players it will live up to their expectations. The clean channel is quite nice but not quite as nice as my vintage Fender Deluxe. My problem is with the overdrive channel. Why couldn't this have more range and subtlety? With no gain, there is no volume. As soon as you advance the gain to get some volume the distortion kicks in immediately in a rather big way. So the options are limited. You can have quite a bit of distortion or a whole heck of a lot of distortion. Why couldn't this have been designed to grade more slowly into the distortion? If it had been designed that way I would have given it 5 stars and been very happy with it.

  • Customer
    from Temperanceville, VA June 11, 2015Music Background:
    Studio owner

    Tube conflict

    I am not an engineer but it seems the problem with this little guys overdrive channel is obvious. The power tubes used in this amp are EL34s. If you look at most other manufacturers of this wattage tube amp you will notice they all use EL84s. Most don't get to the 34s until they reach around 60 watts. I believe this is the "blanket" effect that everyone talks about.

  • Mike McIntosh
    from Washington September 12, 2016

    Handle broke after only 6 months

    Disappointed that the carrying handle broke after only 6 months. I only used the amp at home and seldom carried it around. The clean tone is exceptional but I'm unable to get a classic rock crunch I'm happy with, despite the ISF knob.

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