Answering calls from guitarists everywhere for a valve amplifier that is truly lightweight and portable, Blackstar delivers the most advanced, innovative and best-sounding 50 Watt valve amps in the world. Available in a classic EL34 design and a higher gain 6L6 model, the St. James amp models are simple to use but highly versatile. Developed after months of forensic examination of vintage valve amps, the intuitive two-channel set-up delivers Blackstar’s best ever cleans and overdrives without compromise. We were lucky enough to try them out, check out our video:
Why did Blackstar design the St. James Amplifiers? Here’s what they had to say:
Firstly to produce a range of heads and combos that were the lightest available while retaining the essential elements of traditional valve amps, with no compromise in tone or performance; something guitarists have been requesting for decades.
Secondly, to include everything within one box to enable the output of authentic ‘mic’d cabinet-of-a- hard-driven-valve-amp-in-a-room’ sounds, direct to stage box or recording device. This has been achieved by using the full signal path of the amp (including power valves) to drive into a genuine reactive load, which is then passed through a proprietary state-of-the-art DSP section to provide almost limitless variations of cab/speaker/mic/room simulations.
As has been the design philosophy of Blackstar from the beginning, these products have been designed by referencing the sounds of traditional and modern valve guitar amps, but we are not enslaved by old dogmas with regard to the components and topologies used. We apply uncompromising care and attention to every detail to get the sound and performance that we want and modern players expect.
- The lightest 50W valve amps in the world with no compromise in tone or performance. The head weighs just 6.7kg (14.7lbs) and the 1×12 combo is only 12.8kg (28.2lbs).
- EL34 models: Classic low gain pedal platform with a +10dB clean boost to take it from ‘chimey’ to ‘creamy’ and beyond.
- 6L6 models: Classic US clean and modern high gain, with a Voice switch for more saturation and looser feel with plenty of resonant low-end ‘chug’.
- St. James retains the essential elements of traditional valve amps; specifically using valves in the preamp and the power amp, as well as the loose-coupling effect of an output transformer.
- Patent-applied-for design using a unique combination of a Switched-Mode Power Supply (SMPS) powering a real valve amp (valves in pre and power amp), a reactive load and advanced DSP for XLR and headphone outputs.
- Built-in reactive load allows you to drive the valves without a speaker connected. Perfect for recording or ‘silent stage’.
- Includes Cab Rig, Blackstar’s next-generation DSP speaker simulator that reproduces the sound and feel of a mic’d up guitar cab in incredible detail. Deep-dive using the accompanying free software and capture the incredible tones via USB / XLR out or headphones.
- The power Reduction switch allows you to select 50 Watts, 2 Watts or Sag to easily get the perfect balance of power and response for any situation from studio to stage.
- Exclusive Celestion Zephyr lightweight loudspeaker. We worked closely with Celestion to design a unique lightweight speaker that uses a traditional ferrite magnet. Based on the ‘soft parts’ and voicing of a Vintage 30, the Zephyr packs a huge tonal punch but at a fraction of the weight of a standard guitar amp speaker.
- Pro connectivity and integration into your setup using low latency USB audio as a valve interface for recording, and XLR D.I. for live use.
- The universal power supply is lightweight and can be used anywhere in the world from 90V to 264V 50/60Hz.
- The built-in reactive load and pro connections make St. James perfect for silent stages.
- Completely separate EQ circuits are used for each channel. This is achieved by switching dual-ganged potentiometers, which means there is no compromise in tone between the two channels even with the shared EQ controls.
- The Sag setting generates more power supply ‘sag’ to accentuate the all-important amp compression, the ‘feel’ is softer and more ‘vintage’.
Where does the name come from?
St. James is one of the oldest parts of Northampton. It’s the site of an abbey from the 12th century that gives the area its name and is home to the Northampton Saints, our world-class rugby team’s grounds, and the iconic lift tower that dominates our skyline. Personally, for the Founders there was also a very significant James (Jim) in our history… not to mention the many guitarists that also share the name; Hendrix, Page, Hetfield, plus many more.