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Blackstar Dept. 10 Boost review

How much difference does a tube make to a boost pedal?

Blackstar Dept. 10 Boost
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Boost's amp-flattering quality makes it a viable option for a wide range of setups, and it's sure to complement the other pedals in the Dept. 10 series.

For

  • Adds tube-like warmth to your sound.
  • Powerful tone-shaping from Low and High controls.
  • Solid build.

Against

  • Just remember it has a high current draw and source your pedalboard power supply accordingly.

To be frank, Blackstar’s Dept. 10 Dual Drive and Distortion preamp pedals dazzled us. Those valve-driven dual-switch units offered four voices and onboard editable cab modelling for a comprehensive and flexible backline on your ’board. 

Their smaller sibling is packing the same ECC83 tube but it could easily be overshadowed by the features of the larger duo. In serving a different player need, it places itself in a much more crowded marketplace – there are a wealth of boosts and overdrive pedals out there. So can this little Blackstar pedal shine? 

Blackstar Dept. 10 Boost

(Image credit: Future)

It needs to be highlighted that all three Dept. 10 pedals use a full-voltage dual-triode valve with internal circuitry running to over 250VDC, to help the valve reach its operating range, just like a full tube amp. And yet they are powered by a 9V PSU that runs at 500MA. 

There’s one included here but if you’re adding this to your pedalboard’s power supply, it’s worth keeping in mind that you’ll need one capable of powering a pedal at that higher milliamp rating.

Blackstar Dept. 10 Boost

(Image credit: Future)

So there’s serious power under this steel little hood – this is a valve being run as it should, and protected by a metal roll bar, no less. The controls here are simple: Boost, High and Low. The latter two controls use James Baxandall passive tone circuitry that provides an organically gradual sweep.

The boost adds smooth sustain and fatness to a Strat bridge pickup set low at around 8 o’clock, and its added breadth and presence really does feel and sound like a tube amp rather than the approximation some boosts provide.

Even at higher levels, this quickly finds a home as a natural tube-driven extension of your amp or pedal gain stages. Its quality makes it a go-to boost for a wide variety of rigs, and would even make a great bedfellow to push either of the Dual units.

Specs

Blackstar Dept. 10 Boost

(Image credit: Future)
  • PRICE: $219/£159
  • TYPE: Triode valve-driven boost pedal 
  • FEATURES: Built-in buffer / line driver
  • CONTROLS: Boost, Low, High
  • CONNECTIONS: Input, output, power
  • POWER: 9V DC 500MA (PS)
  • CONTACT: Blackstar (opens in new tab)

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Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar (opens in new tab), handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar, he worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including as Editor of Total Guitar. He's currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with his own songs and is enjoying playing covers in function bands.