Cost: $549.99 new
Generously sent for review by Blackstar, huge thanks to Jennifer for the help!
How it Works and Final Score: 8.7
The Studio 10 6L6 from Blackstar is a fairly stripped down, affordable tube amp that is the perfect size for bedroom players and small stage players alike. The amp features a 1×12 Celestion 70/80 speaker, with 10 watts of output and a built in overdrive channel controllable by the included foot switch or by a button on the control panel.
Controllable parameters include gain, tone, reverb, and master volume, allowing you to dial in a fairly diverse array of tones, even without a typical 3 band EQ. For an amp at this price point, there is quite a bit of features built into the back of the amp as well such as effects loop and three speaker outputs.
Inspired by many of the classic American amps from Fender that predate the Studio 6L6, it follows through on its promise of bright, clear tones. If you crank the gain and volume enough, you get that classic overdriven Fender tweed sound but in a much smaller package, allowing for more comfortable in doors playing. The amp really sparkles with single coils but loses a bit of the natural drive and output I got with humbuckers via a Dean Modern 24 and Guild Jetstar.
The built in reverb in fine, nothing to write home about, but it does lack some of the depth of that Fender or Vox spring reverb tank I’m accustomed to. My amp arrived with a footswitch for the drive channel, but there are also aftermarket ones from Blackstar that can control both drive and reverb. It seems like this would allow great sound shaping without any pedals or cheap sounding, built-in FX.
Personally, I found the drive channel to be a bit muddy, especially with any neck pickups or the tone knob rolled off on the guitar or amp. I think having a 3 band EQ would really help this drive shine a bit more, but for the price you can’t get everything. Besides a bit of muddiness, I enjoyed how raunchy and noisy the overdriven channel was, as it really mimics the touch sensitivity of a vintage cranked tube amp.
Construction & Reliability: 9
Nothing to be concerned about here, it seems to be solid as rock thanks to its heavy casing and hefty 32 pound weight. All the wiring seems to be correct and sturdy after cracking it open to inspect, the only issue (and it’s so minor), it seems like some of the washers around the input jack and power switches were a bit loose.
This single valve amp really mixes the best of solid state and tube amps together into one affordable package. The 6L6 output drives your lead tones but preserves that Fender-sparkle at lower, clean volumes. For $550, I think it is a bit of an amplifier “tweener” in the sense that it is probably too expensive or low volume to be someone’s amp for their first band, but is probably a bit below some of the other standard tube practice amps that veteran players may have in their house. Overall, it’s really a great fit for players like myself, who have expensive tastes but can’t afford expensive gear, as it mimics the sounds of vintage Fender combo’s at a much more palatable price. But based on quality alone, you are getting more than you pay for with the Blackstar Studio 10 6L6!