Artisan Series Design
The founders of Blackstar have over 50 years of experience in amp designing and during that time have been privileged to have access to and use many historical ‘reference’ amps. The reality wasn’t always what was expected, as Managing Director Ian Robinson explains:
“Like many who’ve been lucky enough to have access to a selection of vintage guitar amps, when I plugged in to them I expected to get a sound similar to the records I’d heard them used on by my guitar heroes. However, the experience was rarely satisfying. The tone between different amps of even the same model varied significantly and they were frequently a challenge to get a good sound out of, or at least could do just one sound really well. From the outset when designing the Artisan series of amps it was essential for us to capture the essence of these reference tones that we all grew up listening to, but to make the amps flexible, simple to use and deliver the tone expected from such classic formats.”
During the development of Artisan there were literally hundreds of hours of listening tests and A/B’ing between designs to refine the boutique tones desired. The outcome was three beautiful, toneful amps, perfect played straight and fantastic for use with pedals.
Two Valve Preamps
The choice of preamp and power amp valve in each Artisan is essential in capturing the feel, response and tone in keeping with each design.
In keeping with some of the most revered designs in guitar amp history, we chose ECC83 and EF86 preamp valves. The ECC83 dual triode has an exquisite British vintage feel in terms of gain, compression and distortion. The EF86 pentode valve was used in very early American guitar amplifier designs to provide unique gain and compression characteristics, the extra gain of the EF86 allows the power amplifier to be driven harder for more compression and rich harmonic distortion.
The Artisan's topology allows the blending of channels. By paralleling the guitar connection to the inputs of Channel 1 and Channel 2 endless tonal variations can be explored. Use the HI input if you wish to achieve power amplifier break-up and overdrive. Use the LO input if you wish the amplifier to remain clean (this is especially useful if the guitar used has high output pick-ups).
All Artisan models have an Impedance Selector on the rear panel that enables you to match the amplifier's impedance to that of the connected speakers.