Blackstar Dept. 10 Dual Drive and Dual Distortion review

A truly expanded tube preamp experience in a pedal? Blackstar has nailed it

Blackstar Dept. 10 Dual Drive and Dual Distortion
(Image: © Phil Barker/Future)

Guitar World Verdict

Blackstar has delivered a world-class and accessible package here. For usability, value and quality of tones, these are two of the best gear releases of recent years.


  • +

    Authentic valve tones.

  • +

    Formidable flexibility, especially from the Dual Drive.

  • +

    Superb DI sounds.

  • +

    Onboard effects loops are ideal for integrating other pedals.


  • -

    You'll need a pedalboard power supply capable of supplying 500mA at 9V to get that tube cooking.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Valve preamp pedals are not a new concept – and Blackstar should know. It was there at the vanguard with its HT range back in the year of its launch in 2007. The company’s late co-founder and technical director Bruce Keir played a key role in the design and development of pedals that harnessed valve technology in a compact, floor-based enclosure. It’s a testament to his legacy that the company has named its new range after the team tasked with continuing the innovative work Keir helped start: Department 10.

The elephant in the room is that the appeal of valve preamp pedals has been relatively niche in the guitar world. Perhaps because so few have been truly valve-driven like these pedals are. Meanwhile, the development and popularity of digital effects and boutique overdrive pedals have exploded, along with cab and amp modelling units.

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Rob Laing

Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, 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.