How Blackstar’s St. James series made tube amps lightweight without sacrificing tone

The full St. James range
(Image credit: Future)

Over the past few years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that using a valve amp was a bit like owning a classic car. Yes, you get all the charm and charisma of the ‘real thing’ but also some less desirable old-fashioned attributes, including heavy weight, limited compatibility with digital recording setups and a fraction of the variety of tones achievable with digital modeling devices.

Ever the innovator, Blackstar has taken a fresh look at some of those basic assumptions and tried to make an amp that looks and sounds completely classic and yet, under the bonnet, is both significantly lighter, more tonally flexible and tech- compatible than any the company has made to date. 

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Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.