Category Archives for "Guitar Amplifiers"

Review Blackstar HT-5R 5-Watt


Blackstar’s all-tube HT-5R is the compact combo amp you need when you want to get killer guitar tones in the studio. This amazing little combo combines an all-tube 5-watt guitar amplifier with a custom-designed 12″ Blackbird 50 speaker, allowing you to get high-gain tone without frying your eardrums. The HT-5R also lets you dial in a range of great tones, thanks to Blackstar’s stellar ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) tone-shaping control, which takes you from glassy cleans to down-and-dirty crunch, and everything in between. A handy onboard effects loop (complete with an effects level switch) lets you add your own effects into the signal path. Plus, an onboard speaker-emulated output makes it easy to record killer amp tones straight from the Blackstar HT-5R.

Back in the mid-2000s, Marshall R&D employees Ian Robinson and Bruce Keir founded Blackstar Amplification as a vehicle for their own design notions. Since then, the company has enjoyed an admirable run of success. Thanks to a line that ranges from the HT stompbox series to Artisan series handwired amps and the thunderous Series One amps, Blackstar quickly found fans among everyday guitarists and marquee players like Ozzy Osbourne axeman Gus G., Neal Schon, and such Britpop and New Wave stalwarts as Echo and the Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant, Ocean Colour Scene, and Paul Weller sidekick Steve Craddock.

Though the company’s highest-profile amps to date have primarily been mid- to high-power amps with a distinctly British flavor, Blackstar has more recently ventured into small-amp territory to give low-watt-loving studio artists and bedroom players access to Blackstar tones. The HT-5R combo is among the newest of these smaller offerings. Featuring a very cool stereo digital reverb, the amp uses a single ECC83 tube to produce 5 watts of output power.

The HT-5R’s main controls are mounted on the top panel. Its two channels, which are selectable via the footswitch or the overdrive switch on the control panel, give you the ability to conjure everything from snappy cleans to churning growls. The Clean channel has just one Tone knob that gives you everything from mellow warm tones to a brighter sparkle when cranked in the clockwise direction.

The Overdrive channel has a Gain and Volume knob. The latter acts as a master volume, adjusting the overall output of the amplifier. The Gain knob increases the crunch of the overdrive, which is capable of everything from near-breakup to a wild, hairy distortion. The Overdrive channel has an expanded EQ with Bass, Middle, and Treble knobs. There’s also Blackstar’s signature ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) control, which is also found on select HT pedals and on most Blackstar amps. ISF lets you blend characteristics typical of American and English amplifiers. A counterclockwise turn emphasizes American-flavored rock tones—bass-heavy with exaggerated mids. A clockwise turn summons a more Brit-hued jangle. The reverb, meanwhile, ranges from the subtlest color to dramatic washes.

The rear panel of the HT-5R is home to some unexpected surprises. Aside from an Effects Loop, Blackstar includes a Cabinet Select feature, which can toggle between the 12″ Blackbird 50 speaker in the amp’s open-back cabinet, or an emulattion of a 4×12 closed-back cabinet. Engaging the 4×12 gives a tighter response to the output, which does sound remarkably close to the character of a larger cabinet, albeit on a much smaller scale.

You’ll also find a 1/4″ MP3/Line Input that allows you to hook up a portable audio device (CD player, iPod, etc.) to jam along with. The Emulated Output & Headphone jack is another blessing for bedroom enthusiasts. This output will give you the sonic qualities of a guitar cabinet at noiseless levels—perfect for recording or practice without rousing the neighbors.

With its handsome black vinyl and chrome knobs, the Blackstar HT-5R will be comfortable at both black-tie events and roadhouse saloons. Weighing in at 27 pounds and burnished with some hefty corner brackets, this little beast looks and feels rugged. But the sturdiness is more than skin deep—the ECC83 and 12BH7 tubes, as well as the rear panel controls, are all well recessed and secure from jostling onstage or in transit. You get the feeling that a lot of experienced players had a hand in designing this amp.

Blackstar HT-5R Tube Amplifier Head Features:

5-watt tube head
1 x ECC83 and 1 x 12BH7 tubes
12″ Blackbird 50 custom-designed speaker
Unique push-pull power amp design
HT Pedal preamp
2 footswitchable channels
Stereo digital reverb
Enhanced tone controls
Patent-pending Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)
Fully equipped for studio or practice
Speaker-emulated output with 1 x 12″ or 4 x 12″ voicing
Effects loop with effects level switch
Footswitch included

– AWWWWWWW WOW!!!!!!!!!! i almost find myself playing this more than the gain channel. and i’m a hard rocker!!! sorry for my enthusiasm, but i really love this channel. i just sit around for hours playing little blues licks and bouncing chords around. brilliant channel.
-breaks up around 6-7 on the dial, gets a nice tube clip (depending on pickups)
– HUGELY touch responsive. if you dime the vol (like me), you can really “dig in” to notes as they say. or back off the attack and get a nice, sweet, rounded sound.
– 3D sound: this amp doesn’t have ‘verb, but you could almost swear it does with this channel. i was showing a very good friend of mine (who is one of the leading guitarists in the area), and he couldn’t believe the 3D feel of the sound. He’s played for 20 yrs etc etc billion amps etc etc and he is not easily impressed.
– shares eq with gain channel, but it really doens’t feel like you miss out. this channel has such a natural, back-to-basics sound
– NOTE: this channel will bring out sloppy chops very very quickly.
– i can’t say enough good things about this channel.

– not quite loud enough for practice with a drummer (which is what i wanted it for; easy transport to practice)
– the knobs are really really shiny which really does make it hard to see your settings (i thought people on HC were being picky, but it really is difficult with stage lights around)
– included footswitch has a lead only about 3 ft long, rendering it nearly useless :tard: once you plug it into the backand put it in front of the amp, you have very very VERY little room to move. i stretched it to it’s max and only had about 2feet between the amp and the pedal. USELESS. i connect an extension to it using a female-female 1/4″ coupler and a 10ft normal lead, works fine. also doesn’t have an LED. con for me, might not be for you. i like to know which channel it’s on, which can be hard as i run it at the same time as another amp (H&K switchblade).
– outputs, fx loop, ac cord, footswitch ports are all located under and AROUND the back chassis. makes it painful to set up in a rush; nearly have to turn the amp upside down to see what i’m plugging into. its kinda annoying when you’re used to everything just being on the backplate of the amp…
– still pretty damn loud when dimed, however you can get a good tube-driving sound at low volumes, as advertised. so i guess this isnt really a con.
– can feedback/gets a little noisey at high gain at high volumes. not any more than a normal tube amp though. some people may be pissed off, as it’s supposed to be a “recording” amp. doesn’t worry me, i have it set to a britishy-heavy crunch sound rather than uber distorted. my H&K is at a higher gain level, so the blackstar doesnt need to be.


The Blackstar HT-5R is a uniquely crafted amplifier that’s at home onstage, in studios of every type and—provided you don’t work with an aspiring Led Zeppelin rhythm section—the practice space, as well. With a responsive EQ, a wide range of clean-to-high-gain voices, and a booming reverb, this little black box is well suited for recording artists and bedroom pickers who are looking for more refinement and warmth than you get from a budget practice amp. At about $450, this little guy may be more than the average picker can justify for an amp that probably isn’t powerful enough for many gigging situations. But for home pickers who consider tone paramount, this little Blackstar does a lot for the price.

Review Roland Micro Cube GX


As a frequent user of the original two-Watt battery-powered Roland MicroCube guitar amp, I was intrigued to see what improvements had been incorporated into the latest GX version. Though the same size as its diminutive predecessor, at 247 x 172 x 227 mm, the 2.7kg MicroCube GX has a 3W output, can run for up to 25 hours on six NiMH AA-size batteries (around 20 hours on alkaline batteries), and now includes a basic sharp/flat/OK chromatic tuner. A mains adaptor and a strap are also included, and you can choose black, white or red versions of the amp.

Offering eight switchable amp types with separate gain, volume, tone and master volume controls, the modelled sounds range from clean, through blues and classic rock to the new ‘Extreme’ heavy metal amp setting. There’s also now a microphone setting, for use with karaoke-style mics that terminate in a jack plug. Of the five effects, the usual modulation options are joined by Heavy Octave, while a choice of delay or reverb (with the addition of a new spring model) can be added separately.

As the replacement for Roland’s successful MICRO CUBE, the MICRO CUBE GX improves on its predecessor in every way, adding a memory function, new amp and effects types, a chromatic tuner and more. i-CUBE LINK opens new opportunities for practice and mobile recording, providing a built-in interface for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The MICRO CUBE holds the mantle as the most popular battery-powered amp of all time. The MICRO CUBE GX retains the original’s tiny size and huge sound while adding great features and improvements.

Filled with eight of Roland’s renowned COSM amps, the MICRO CUBE GX offers a wide range of versatile tones, from the crystal-clear JC CLEAN to the new EXTREME for in-your-face metal riffs. Five different EFX types include a new HEAVY OCTAVE effect that works great for adding unique, ultra-low power to distorted tones.

Also new to this model is the ability to store your favourite settings by holding down the Memory button. There’s only space for one saveable setting, but by switching between that and the manual mode you effectively have a two-channel amp. The iCube Link interface jack integrates with the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, providing two-way communication with your music apps. Not only does this allow you to play along with music tracks, you can also send the modelled amp sounds into an iOS recording app. Ingeniously, this all happens via a stereo mini-jack that can also accept a standard analogue stereo source — and the cable is included. If you don’t have a favourite music app, you can get Roland’s Cube Jam free of charge from the iTunes App store, which allows for recording your own 16-bit/44.1kHz jams.
Although there’s only storage space for one preset, the ability to flick between it and manual mode effectively gives you two switchable channels.

The sound of the amp seems weightier than that of the original, and there’s a slightly compressed feel to the cleaner tones that makes them sound more ‘produced’. Those blues and rock sounds come over well too, and with a surprising impression of power and depth. The sound gets a touch rough at high volumes, but used sensibly it actually sounds really good, and it’s certainly not a toy. For busking, garden jams or open mic nights, the MicroCube GX delivers the goods in style.

The Roland 3W 1×5″ MICRO CUBE GX combo amp gives you the same tone and versatility that you’ve come to know and love in the CUBE Series, and puts it in a battery-powered package that you can take anywhere.It features recording/Headphones output and stereo Aux input for MP3/CD players, etc. The MICRO CUBE GX can be powered on batteries (LR6 (AA) type x 6) or a supplied AC adapter. It also includes a carrying strap.

Rock for Hours on Batteries
The MICRO CUBE GX features the same ultra-compact footprint, battery-powered operation, and big tone that made the original MICRO CUBE such a massive hit around the globe. With up to 25 hours of playing time using six NiMH AA-size batteries, you can enjoy uninterrupted fun while jamming at home, at the beach, on camping trips, at parties-wherever! Increased power output delivers even better performance than before, and a chromatic tuner is built in, eliminating the need to carry an external tuner when you play.

8 Classic and Modern Amp Models
Filled with Roland’s renowned COSM amps, the MICRO CUBE GX provides tones for playing any musical style, from ultra-clean jazz to heavy rock and everything in between. The newly added Extreme amp kicks things up a notch, giving you a massive voice for crushing, in-your-face metal riffs. There’s also a MIC setting for using the amp with a vocal microphone. Five different EFX types are available to sweeten your sound, with a new Heavy Octave effect that works great for adding unique, ultra-low power to distorted tones. An independent Delay/Reverb processor is onboard as well, with a newly added spring reverb option for authentic surf and roots-rock sounds.

High-Quality Effects
There’s no need to lug around pedals when the MICRO CUBE GX comes with eight DSP effects. All the essentials are included-from chorus and flanging to a phaser and tremolo effect. A separate Delay/Reverb processor lets you dial in anything from slapback and long delays to reverb and more (in addition to using one of the aforementioned modulation effects).

Total Recall
The new Memory function turns the MICRO CUBE GX into a dual-channel amp, greatly increasing its versatility. It couldn’t be simpler to use-just dial up the amp tone and effects you want, hold the Memory button for a few seconds, and your settings are saved! After that, you can toggle between the saved setup and the current knob settings with a quick button press. Use it for saving a favorite sound, switching between rhythm and lead tones, or calling up a special sound for a particular song or style.

Product Features:

Power: 3W
Ultra-compact portable DSP guitar amp with 5-inch speaker
Runs on battery or AC power (adapter supplied) and includes carry strap
i-CUBE LINK jack provides simple audio interfacing with Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (interface cable included)
8 COSM guitar amp models including JC-120 and a special mic preamp model
8 DSP effects: chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo and separate Delay/Reverb
Built-in chromatic tuner
Recording/Headphones output and stereo Auxiliary input for CD players, etc.

Weighs only a few pounds. Size of a car battery. Runs on batteries. High Quality effects.

The recent MC amps come with robust jacks (this is usually a major weak link since you are constantly plugging in). Runs on AC power (included) as well as on batteries. A carry strap is provided to make it easier to carry.

These sound impressive and have lots of power. The look cute, but at the same time are ruggedly built. The biggest plus, as per most guitar players, is that you can take it outside and play it (without needing power supply); the battery setup is really cool. You can use it with your lead guitar or even your bass guitar. You may also plug in your microphone in for some fun.

Nothing Much..overall Good




The Roland Micro Cube Bass RX is more powerful and feature rich compared to the GX model. Besides sounding great with great output, this one has a tuner, metronome, drum machine, really good effects, modeling, full treble, mid and bass controls, volume and gain, and above all…it runs on batteries.

Roland Micro Cube RX is a tiny, battery-powered bass amplifier that packs a big punch. Small, yet loud, and gives sound in true stereo! These little amps can deliver powerful sounds through their stereo power amps and updated custom speakers, four per RX. This one can’t compete with your larger AC powered amps but its a lightweight, sound packed wonder.

Review Marshall DSL Series DSL40C Guitar Amplifer

The critically acclaimed Marshall DSL40C shares most of the same great features as the DSL100H: footswitchable classic/ultra gain channels, rear panel pentode/triode switch (40-watt down to 20-watt) and a rear panel series FX loop. The DSL40C is loaded with a single 12″ 40 Watt Celestion Seventy 80 speaker. The Marshall DSL40C is 40 watt (switchable to 20 watt) all-tube combo guitar amplifier featuring footswitchable classic and ultra gain channels, effects loop, and controls for gain, volume, and reverb for each channel, as well as global treble, middle, bass, presence, and resonance controls.

The classic gain is split into 2 settings, clean and crunch. The clean channel, although not a prominent as a fender for example, still gives a nice warm sound, reminiscent of a 59 Plexi super lead head. The crunch sound is pretty versatile allowing for both a slight crunch up to a heavy overdriven sound. The ultra gain channel is also split into 2 settings of lead 1 and lead 2. The lead 1 sound is reminiscent of a JCM 800 and is perfect for getting an 80’s hard rock tone, slash and mick mars esque. The lead 2 setting adds even more gain and gives a tone more fitting of metal players such as Zack Wilde.

EQ settings for this amp include the standard bass, middle and treble, with the additional Resonance and Presence knobs for greater control over tone. The presence knob adds higher frequencies to your sound and creates a more “crispy” tone, while the resonance knob adds low end creating a fatter sound. These extra EQ settings are perfect for slightly altering the tone without having to mess with the bass, mids and treble. The tone switch button is another feature among the DSL 40C, this button lowers the mids and gives a scooped sound which is popular amongst metal guitarists.

For those in need of an extra push, the Lead 2 tone stacks up even more gain and also a boost in the mids. We’re into Zakk Wylde and Kerry King territory, and it’s here that the tone controls come into play.Sonically, the DSL is as great as it’s ever been, if not better. Unfortunately, it’s also got the weight to match, and after a couple of days carting the amp around the houses, we’d give our kingdom for a couple of side handles.The other downside is that, for such a feature-packed amp, the supplied footswitch only manages a channel switch and reverb control.

You can drop it to 20 watts for practice sessions using the Pentode/Triode, so that you can get that natural overdrive from cranking valves without bringing the house down.Anyway this is a serious tone monster that has a good enough transformer and power supply to sound very nice played very very quietly at home or tearing the roof off a stadium. It is capable of delicate cleans but can also do the deepest, heaviest most monsterously bassy power chords. At full volume it would drown out the loudest drummer.The nice thing is that he tones are all so rich and fully of harmonics. The amp is very touch sensitive and reacts very well to picking intensity.


  • Clean/Crunch Modes for Classic Gain Channel
  • Lead1/Lead2 Modes for Ultra Gain Channel
  • EL34 Valve Power Stage
  • Bass, Middle, Treble and Presence Controls
  • Tone Shift Button
  • Variable Resonance Control
  • Pentode/Triode Switch
  • 2 Custom Voiced Digital Reverb Controls (one for each channel)
  • Footswitch Included (for channel change and reverb on/off)
  • 12” Custom Voiced Celestion 70/80 Speaker

Product specifications:

  • Country of Origin: UK
  • Additional Features: Output switchable to 20W; 4x 12AX7, 2x EL34 valves; 1×12″ Celestion Seventy 80 speaker
  • Audio Output Power: 40
  • Available Controls: 2 x Gain 2 x Volume Bass Middle Presence Resonance Reverb Tone Treble
  • Available Inputs: 1/4 Inch Jack AM In Footswitch input
  • Connectivity: Effects loop Speaker Outputs
  • DescriptionOutput is 40W (switchable to 20W)
  • Device Type: Valve amplifier
  • Dimensions: 621 x 490 x 252
  • Weight: 22.85
  • Channels: 2
  • Valves: 6


  • Loud
  • Great tone
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Good power output


  • Limited functions
  • Poor sound quality
  • Weak reverb

Final Conclusion:

Overall the Marshall DSL40C is the perfect amp for someone who is looking for a no nonsense good quality amp. The diversity of the amp allows you emulate everyone from Mark Knopfler to Malmsteen and everything in between. In both look and sound this amp lives and breathes Marshall.

I demoed the DSL at GC and I was blown away. The clean channel on this amp is the best that I ever heard. Its not glassy,but more dark and warm. The second voice on channel one is crunch mode,but be warned it sends the volume threw the roof which freaked me out at first. It really does the whole ?Plexi? thing that the old guitar players talk about. The second channel is where I spent most of my time. With the button set to Lead 1 you really can get a good classic rock sound. If you crank the gain on that setting you can pull of that 80’s brown sound perfectly. With the button pressed in to Lead 2 you are able to obtain classic metal tones all the way up to modern death metal. The other features on this amp are usable. The pentode/triode switch drops the output and cuts the volume in half. It doesn’t really effect the tone unless you are on the Lead 2 channel with the gain cranked. The presence and resonance were a surprise, as an amp for this price usually only has one…this one has BOTH!! This can be useful on low bedroom/apartment volumes which is where I will use this thing. The reverb is kind of weak for my tastes,but it is better than most. Some people are bothered by the shared EQ, but I don’t gig so I?m cool with that. I was really surprised with the sound and very pleased at how this thing handles modern heavy metal. It is a warm sound not fizzy like other high gain amps on low volumes and it is quiet when it is cranked. The build on the amp is high quality and for the price this is one of the best amps on the market…can’t wait to get one.

If you want true Marshall sound then this amp is for you. I ordered this amp because I wanted something portable with great tone and I got it sooner than expected. If you think 40 watts is not enough, let me tell you, this thing kicks butt! I use my Boss GT10 with the 4 cable system into the EFX send and return. The cleans are sparkling and the distortions are incredible. It has more power and gain than anyone would ever need. Check out the vids on youtube for more info. I wish I had one like this years ago.

Fender Frontman 10g Guitar Combo Amp Review

The Frontman 10G, Fender’s smallest guitar amp offers all the hallmarks of a great amplifier: quality tones, flexible controls, simple uncluttered operation, and classy looks. The world-class, value-priced Frontman 10G combo amplifier makes practice sessions lots of fun! It’s a 10-watt, solid-state guitar amplifier with a 6″ Special Design speaker and built-in overdrive.

The Frontman 10G is perfect for beginning guitarists, students and teachers and guitarists on a tight budget looking for an “extra” practice amp. Fender Frontman amplifiers have won an army of users by delivering quality tone at a great price. Fender took the time to custom-voice the Frontman’s overdrive for great tone, and this winning formula also features the unmistakable Fender Blackface look.

Wide variety of sounds…from Blues to Metal plus the legendary Fender clean tone

Selectable Gain control allows for a wide range of guitar tones; from tube-emulated overdrive to full-strength, ultra-saturated distortion that feels great under your fingers

What sorts of instruments will work?

Whilst this is sold as a guitar amp, you can definitely use other amps with the Fender Frontman 10G. Keyboards, bass guitar and vocals are the obvious options. However, even other stringed instruments like violins will be fine. Any instrument that can plug into a standard input jack will work. If your instrument doesn’t have a pickup, then a standard mic could be used to amplify the sound.


So what about the sound? Well, it’s actually louder than you’d think, though at high levels, the small speaker and casing means that you’ll lose a lot of bass and depth to the tone. The 2 band EQ (Treble and Bass) gives a pretty nice ability to alter the tone, so you’ll be able to brighten or dampen the tone, depending on the instrument and the application.

The overdrive button will kick in some distortion that will allow you to get a pretty nice result for more rock and metal styles. It’d be great if there were two channels so that you can switch between a clean and gain tone, without having to alter the amount of crunch. However, that’s too much to ask for this price range. If you need that type of feature, then check out our Ultimate Gift guide, where we look at several mid priced amps that will do the trick.


Fender is a bestselling brand with a reliable reputation, but you probably already know that. Most sellers will probably recommend you to buy a Fender amp and this Fender Frontman 10g is a reliably good choice.

Fender Frontman 10G Electric Guitar Amplifier
  • 10 Watts
  • 1-6" Fender Special Design Speaker
  • One Channel
  • Controls: Gain, Over-Drive Select Switch, Volume, Treble, Bass
  • Other Features: 1/4" Instrument Input, 2-Band EQ, 1/8" Auxiliary Input Jack for Jam-Along with Media Player or CD, 1/8" Headphone Output Jack for Silent Practice, Closed-Back Design for Heavier Bass Response

This Fender Frontman Guitar Combo Amp is also cheaper than several other amps and is more long lasting too. Even after years of use, it will most likely look and sound just as the day you first bought it. It is so compact you can conveniently store it in a corner and prevent it from getting damaged. Even if it gets bumped or dropped down a bit, it will probably not get too extremely damaged.

Final thoughts on the Fender Frontman 10g Guitar Combo Amp

If you are a beginner guitarist or you are on a tight budget, then this Fender Guitar Combo Ampwill prove to be ideal, as long as you intend to use it from indoor practicing and/or jamming with friends. In other words, the Fender Frontman 10g Guitar Combo Amp is the perfect guitar amp for beginners with just the right features for a surprisingly affordable and reasonable price.

I wanted one of these for a long long long time……n o w. I have one. I’m using it as a monitor with a line 6 jm4 out the amp connector and my samson mdr624 mixer running into the looper aux out to aux in….an audio technica mic and an lp 100 all also purchased atsweetwater…the mixer is handling multiple synth action with no problems…..the fender frontman 10g plays back and monitors it all crystal clear at 1/2 I can ‘t complain because with that work load I m hardly ever even getting any clipping….self control….the lil amp is my friend now…o wait I hear it calling me even as we speak

It’s the tiniest Fender I’ve ever seen (or played) but it’s still a Fender. I used a twin reverb for over 30 years with my explorer and had the nastiest sound you can imagine without any modern wave shaping doo-dads. This one will never take the place of that twin but it’s a great little practice amp and I can actually carry it alone (by the time I got to be 50 I had to beg my daughters to help me carry the twin – ha, ha). The controls are simple so it’s pretty easy to dial in an acceptable sound and the naughty button roughs up things plenty good enough for practicing. I haven’t tried it with my acoustic yet (I’m not even sure why I would, probably just curious) but it works fine with my electric and also for practicing my bass at low volumes.