The Tone King Reviews the Blackstar HT Stage 100

Blackstar HTV100 – Tone King Review

by Marc Johnson for

One of the fastest up and comers in the amp building industry, BlackStar amps is seeking a place in every rocker’s arsenal with the HT Venue 100 head.  Powered by four EL34 valves, this three-channel amp provides something that most amps lack – versatility. Blackstar promises a ‘boutique’ style clean channel with both a ‘British Class A’ and a ‘Dynamic US’ mode.  The overdrive channels also include different modes and are both equipped with Blackstar’s own patent-applied for Infinite Shape Feature (ISF).

I took it for a test drive and right away I was blown away by the gain that this amp offered. This was the first amp that I didn’t need to max out my gain knob to get my neck harmonics and pinches to ring out.  As I rolled the gain, it was like I was rolling through a library of tones that included everything from Zeppelin to Metallica. 

The ISF technology on the amp adds to its versatility by bringing out its British tones.  For those who have owned a Marshall in the past, you’ll know and understand the midrange circuit in the older JCM series amps, which is harmonically so much more than a simple Mid. With the ISF technology, the HTV100 nails Marshall tones with ease.

The clean channel isn’t a joke either. While the clean channels on most amps is just, well, there, while the clean on the HTV100 is warm and clear. I was quickly able to dial in to David Gilmour by just adding a bit of reverb.  The ‘British Class A’ mode gave the clean channel clarity without sounding chimey, while the ‘Dynamic US’ mode beefed it up a bit without letting it get muddy.

Overall, this is a killer amp. Brutal gain and a warm clean become only more versatile by the inclusion of different the modes, and the innovative ISF makes it easy to nail the tones of a British gain amp.  With all these features, Blackstar’s HTV100 is definitely going to be a quick addition to The Tone King’s own arsenal. 

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About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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