Tom’s seasonal pick – Blackstar Artist 15

Tom has his say on one of the hidden gems in store:

If you’re a gigging musician who needs something versatile, relatively portable and great sounding, then look no further. The Artist 15 has literally blown me away with sounds ranging from a classic Fender Twin Reverb to a Marshall JVM. One of the great things that I like with the Blackstar amps is the ISF control which shifts the frequency of the mids, enabling you to achieve that classic ‘scooped’ sound which is more noticeable if you take some of the mids out on the amplifier EQ controls as well.

When turned towards 0, it gives tight, focussed, percussive response, characteristic of American amps. When turned towards 10, the response becomes woody, crunchy and warm, like traditional British amps.

This amplifier actually performs beautifully with both humbucking and single coil pickups and doesn’t add anything to the guitar, but rather compliments what the guitar already has and brings out the best in a guitar; the perfect companion to a great guitar.

They’ve also nailed the reverb. On various amps, when turning the reverb up it swallows the tone and kind of washes it away… What I really like about the Blackstar reverb is that it almost sits underneath the note instead of on top and blends in a naturally organic way.

I’m also a big fan of aesthetic simplicity when it comes to amps and I think Blackstar did a perfect job of designing the Artist 15: a leather covering on the classic wood construction looks both understated and extremely cool, and the controls are all easy to use and configure.

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