Blackstar HT-1RH Ultimate Low Wattage Tube Amp?

Blackstar HT-1RH Ultimate Low Wattage Tube Amp?

ht-1rhIn our quest for tone we all try different things. I do it, you do it, we all do it because it’s in the blood. We couldn’t stop if we wanted to. You find things that you think, at the time, are just what you were looking for only to find later there’s something even better. My quest has bounced from mega-high wattage amps like my Ampeg SVT monster (300Watts) down to Mesa Boogie (100Watts) down to a 50watt Soldano then 30watts, then 20watts (my beloved Jet City), then a 15watt Orange, a VHT Special 6, and then an Ampeg GVT5 watter. I gotta say that all of my previous amps were great sounding units with the amps below 15watts were able to deliver tone at reduced volume. It’s nice to be able to rock out without having the cops called on me or blowing out an eardrum. The crazy part is the tone was better and better as the amps got smaller and smaller. And this has led me to a truly awesome little tube amp that’s perfect for getting an enormous range of tones  at really low levels. The Blackstar HT-1RH. I got the head and run it through a 1×12 cab. It’s a 1 watt tone monster! I believe it’s due to Blackstar adding a patented technology in the controls. It has a clean channel and an overdrive channel that’s switchable from the front panel along with the usual Gain, Volume, and Reverb but instead of a tone stack it has what’s called an “ISF” control which stands for “infinite shape feature”. Instead of me rambling through a half assed explanation I included a video from Blackstar to tell you all about it below. The first thing I did is what we all do: open it up and probably change tubes to my favorites. Not this time. I mean, I opened it up alright but when I saw it was already loaded with Tung-Sols I just closed it back up. That’s another thing: the topology of this amp is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It uses a 12AX7 preamp tube and a 12AU7 for the power tube in push-pull configuration. This lets the amp produce the harmonic overtones of a 100 watt unit while reining it in at 1 watt. Clever idea that just happens to work. This amp can go from sparkling, chimey cleans to crunch to grind with ease. And it does it all at levels that everyone can live with. It can get loud when you crank it but you don’t have to do that with this little gem. It also takes any speaker from 4, 8, or 16 ohms so it’s damn versatile in that respect. There are only two minor negatives: It has a digital reverb that sounds pretty damn good to my ears although it gets a bit slushy  at higher settings, but I rarely play with a clean tone and that is a big part of it. I also find it a bit trebley until you crank the ISF past 12 o’clock, but that’s controllable from the guitars tone knob so it’s no big deal. In fact it could be my pickups causing that condition. Uh oh! Now I’m gonna have to start my pickup search all over again. AWESOME! All in all I am more than happy with this little acquisition, especially since they are retailing at around $250 and I got this one for $125. I actually found another amp that I was going to buy from a pawn shop but when I went to get it the place had closed early so I said “fuck it” and called this guy on craigslist and got the Blackstar. For some reason it doesn’t feel like a random thing. Almost like it was being orchestrated by someone with some influence that wanted me to get the Blackstar. What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Russ

Dean Leslie West Peace Sign Signature Soltero, Dean Leslie West Flame Maple Tobacco Burst Signature Soltero, Gibson Les Paul Studio, Hamer Studio,, Epiphone Les Paul (Korean), Ovation Celebrity, Laney Cub 12R, Blackstar, HT-1R, Jet City JCA20H, Jet City JCA22H, Orange OR15, and a lot of dirt pedals, some store bought some DIY.

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