At NAMM earlier this year, Blackstar stole the show with its all-new St. James guitar amp range, which offered traditional tube tones, contemporary Cab Rig software sounds and a weight that was unheard of for valve-loaded amps.
Now, the company has expanded its innovative St. James lineup with two 50 watt 2x12 combo amps.
Available in two iterations – a classic EL34 design and higher gain 6L6 variation – the 2x12 combos join the flagship 1x12 and head/cab St. James units, and deliver many of the same meticulously engineered specs.
Both amps weigh a mere 16.8kg (37lbs), despite coming equipped with two ECC83 tubes and two 12” Celestion Zephyr ferrite magnet-loaded speakers – carefully constructed to reduce weight yet retain Celestion’s Vintage 30 sounds – as well as either two EL34 or two 6L6 tubes.
Further weight has been shed in the chassis department, with both 2x12s featuring ultra-light candlenut housings. Lightweight power transformers developed around Blackstar’s patent pending Switched-Mode Power Supply – the result of 36 months of R&D – also helped shave off some excess pounds.
Just like the original St. James amps, the 2x12s strike a nice balance between traditional and modern, with both combos coming equipped with the brand’s Cab Rig DSP speaker simulator.
This operates exactly like the previous amps: Cab Rig attempts to overcome “the shortcomings of IR snapshots” and uses an algorithm to simulate numerous speaker, room and microphone pairings. Over 250 mic and cab combos are available, and can be saved into one of the three onboard slots, while further tweaks can be made using the accompanying software.
As for amp-specific appointments, the EL34 212 flashes a Fawn tolex and is dubbed a “classic low gain pedal platform with +10dB of clean boost”, while the 6L6 212 alternative is a clean and modern high-gain alternative with a Black tolex.
Control-wise, they both sport the same layout as their 1x12 siblings: Power and Standby toggles are joined by Channel selection and voice/boost switches, as well as parameters for Master, Reverb, Treble, Middle, Bass and channel-specific Volume knobs.
There’s also a power reduction switch, allowing users to flick between 50W, Sag and 2W output modes to find the right balance between power and response for different performance settings.
It’s important to note that Blackstar says Channel II is “where the amplifiers reveal their own unique character”. The EL34 is all about chime, clarity, crunch and all the other buzzwords associated with vintage-style amps, while the 6L6 aims to also harness modern low-end chugs.
Both 2x12 combos are available to preorder now for $1,499.
For more information, head over to Blackstar.