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?
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.
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.
- 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)