Blackstar HT-5R MKii vs Fender modelling amps

Hi everyone,

I still own a Fender Mustang III V2 modelling amp and it is a great amp, but since I own the small Blackstar HT1 Mki I am thinking of getting the bigger brother two. The Blackstar HT-5R Mkii. The Blackstar HT1 is a great sounding small amp and perfect for bedroom levels. I only play at home and my current Fender Mustang is great for low volumes even though it is a 100 watt amp. The Blackstar HT-5R Mkii is interesting because it is a hybrid tube amp and I liked the crunch sound coming out of my small Blackstar.
The big advantage of the Fender is that there are a lot of effects on board which are easy to access. The Blackstar only has reverb and a distortion channel I believe. A lot of effects on the Fender I don’t use. I only use some effects like delay, reverb and stomp boxes.

I am not sure if the Blackstar is suitable for bedroom levels. Switching over to the Blackstar I would be missing the easy to access effects on the Fender. I could purchase a multi effects pedal like the Boss ME 80 for the Blackstar so I would have a lot of Boss effects to my disposal

What are your thoughts on this? Would it be a step forward when switching over to the Blackstar?

If you’re happy with your HT1 and like the effects on your Mustang III it might be a better idea to forget about going for the HT5R and getting one of these, it would be a great inexpensive option!

Hi,

Thanks for your reply, but with all due respect, the Fender Mustang Micro is not for me.
To be clear, I use my Blackstar HT1 in my living room and my Fender Mustang III in my study room.
I could upgrade my current Fender to the new Fender GTX100 and have all the possibilities which I have now but it still remains a SS amp. I really like the crunch tones of my Blackstar and it is a tube amp.

Question remains, is it going to be too loud for bedroom levels?

The HT5R Mk II isn’t a hybrid, it’s all tube:
BLACKSTAR HT-5R MKII FEATURES:

  • 5 Watts
  • ECC83 preamp valve 12BH7 power amp valve
  • 2 channels
  • 1x12 speaker
  • 2-button footswitch included
  • Footswitchable Voices for Clean and Overdrive
  • Power reduction to 0.5 Watt
  • USB audio out
  • XLR DI out
  • Newly voiced studio quality reverb
  • Boutique styling
    It would be too loud at 5W setting but ok at 0.5W.
    I wasn’t suggesting using the Mustang micro as an amp, I was suggesting using it to use with your tube amp for the FX that you like from your Mustang. Plus it has the benefit of being a DAW interface.
    I don’t see any point in changing your current Mustang if you’re happy with it, unless you perhaps looked a a Boss Katana 100, that may be a better option if you really want to change your Mustang.

The reason people sometimes, mistakenly, refer to it as “hybrid” is because it’s got some solid-state gain stages and clipping in front of the preamps. This is akin to embedding a distortion pedal into the amp, so it’s not really “hybrid” in the real sense.

There’s a several tube amps (e.g. Mesa) which have similar distortion circuits built in.

Also, there’s a rumour that “HT” stands for “Hybrid Tube”, when it really stands for “High Tension” (meaning “high voltage”).

Cheers,

Keith

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There was a great deal of love for the HT5 on the old JG Forum and many members bought and loved them … though many soon realised that it was a LOUD amp and not so suited to home use without some sort of power attenuation.

Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

At the moment I am not able to test another amp out in a shop due to the covid rules in my country.

I will have to make my choice based on reviews on YouTube and experience of other amp owners.

The Blackstar would be my first choice simply because it is a tube amp and easy to use. I would be missing out a lot of effects which I have on my current Fender.

I am not sure if the Boss Katana 100 is up my alley. Read that the Boss sounds more Marshally. I like clean tones and crunch tones. Not to much distortion. The styles I am learning are Blues, Rock and Rockabilly.

My main concern of the Blackstar is that it would be to loud for at home practice. It does has power switch to lower the power down to 0.5 watt. Will it still sound good with lower volumes with crunch tones?

The Katana has a reasonable range of decent clean and crunch tones including, on the mkII versions, a more Fender-y style clean.

And there’s loads of tone editing options:

On the other hand, it’s hard to go too wrong with an HT5R.

Cheers,

Keith

Thanks for your reply.

The Boss Katana is very popular, I know, but to get the most out of it you will have to connect it to a laptop or desktop PC to tweak the settings with Tonestudio. Will it be a big improvement over my Fender Mustang 3 V2?

On the other hand, the Blackstar is a easy to use amp but won’t it be to loud for at home playing? Will it still sound decent on the 0.5 watt setting?

I don’t know for sure. I’ve used the older HT-5R (mk 1) and it was great, but that was in a rehearsal room on the 5W setting.

I have a Bugera G5 Head which is a similar circuit to the HT-5R and which has a 0.5W setting. That sounds pretty good on the 0.5W setting although, as with most of these amps, if you turn them too low they don’t sound that good.

If bedroom volumes is going to be most of your usage, maybe you should look at something like the Yamaha THR10ii?

A lot depends on how quiet you need to play.

Regards,

Keith

Today I have been playing with my Fender Mustang 3 V2 and tried some presets from other users. I have a zip file with all the presets from the Fender Fuse Community. Especially the presents from intheblues are great. Not sure if I am correct, but the best setting is to crank up the master control (set it around 5) and use the volume control to keep the level acceptable for home playing. Listened to a review from Justin on Youtube where he talked about the Boss Katana and told something about the amp circuitry and that it is better to keep the master control high and the volume low.

Anyway, after playing around with my Fender I must say this amp is coming to live. Now I am not sure if switching over to the Blackstar HT-5R MkII would be an improvement. Will I have the same tonal quality on low settings then with my Fender?

I took my small Blackstar HT1 and placed it on top of my Fender to compare the sounds. The Fender has much more bass to it, but I must say that the Blackstar sounds great for such a small amp. I like the crunch sound from the Blackstar.

The only reason that I want to switch over to the Blackstar is that it is a tube amp. Will it be worth it?

I followed the community’s advice and went to a music store last Saturday.
I tried the Ht5r mkii.
I really liked it. It’s perhaps a really good compromise.
The 5watts seemed to me not to be prohibitively loud but my ears may had already been bleeding as I was playing the dsl20 before that…
But really 5 Watts weren’t that loud.
The 0.5W setting sounded very good I must say without the tone changing too much compared to the 5 Watts and you could really crank the clean channel volume :wink:

If the only reason you are considering changing is because of a perceived expectation that a different amp will automatically sound significantly better because it has the label “tube” on it, then I would say no.

The guitar world is full of myths. One of those myths is that all tube amps are automatically better than the alternative simply by having tubes in them. It’s the same sort of myths that get people buying overpriced cables for their hifi. It’s easy to get caught up in, and to believe in this stuff.

Especially when using at lower volumes where you don’t normally get to drive the tubes hard enough to make them provide “tube tones” (unless using a load box).

If you are happy with the Mustang and the sounds you can get from it, and it is still inspiring you to play then I would stick with it for the moment. The Mustangs are great amps. In many respects they are better than a lot of tube amps.

And there are plenty of musicians who are happy to gig with amps like the Mustang, proving it’s not a second-class citizen or a compromise.

I should point out that I have two “tube” amps in my collection, and they are not, by a long way, the amps I generally prefer to use; not because they don’t sound good, but they don’t really sound that much better than my solid state/modelling amps, and they tend to be less convenient for me to use and less functional.

Cheers,

Keith

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I would also add if you have a Mustang III v 2 you already have 21 Tube amp emulators. Every amp model in the Mustang range is based a tube amp, I think some folks just don’t know what they have.

The best thing to do with a III v 2 (or any Mustang) is to replace the 100 factory settings or at least spend time setting them up. They are all way OTT with ridiculous gain settings but most modelling amp factory settings are as well.

When I got my Mustang I made a spreadsheet listing all 100 pre-sets and went through each one, playing a few things over it and marking it like or dislike. Think there were maybe 3 or 4 that got the nod but they have been tweaked beyond recognition by now. I then set about replacing the others with pre-sets I could use. Admittedly most of these were “band based” or “artist based” or signature guitar sounds.

With a recommendation from @Rossco01 I think, years ago, I first acquired all of the ITB pre-sets and then started adding band stylised pre-sets. This was easier when the Fender Fuse site was up and running as I would search for the sound I was after and the download the pre-set with the highest number of DLs.

All that is still accessible via the links provided by ITB including the Fender Fuse interface. That includes the near 10k pre-sets that were on the Fuse site. The only ball ache now, is there is no way of knowing what is good or carp. My old measure was if there were 3 Robin Trower pre-sets and one had been downloaded x 2.5k and the other 2 were in the hundreds, well go figure.

Now its trial and error if I want something new. I’ll search my folder with the 10k pre-sets for what I am after, say 12 string, the load up the pre-sets to the Mustang and find one to my liking.

But once you have got the Mustang set up with the pre-set you want BACK IT UP via the Fuse Utility menu or make a copy of the FUSE/Ampdata folder and FUSE/Presets folder.

If you ever have to do a factory reset (it happens) you will be able to reload all your replacement pre-sets. And that is a god send, as without it you have to start from scratch and that my friends is where the Madman moniker came from.

Save money, invest time. Mustangs are darned good especially the III v 2.

Simples

Thank you for your very usefull information!

Instead of Fuse, I use the Remuda Android app. I am an internal tester for this app and the developer is still working on improvements. What I did with all the 10k presets from the Fuse Community, is do a search in all the presets. Say for instance Rockabilly. I then copy all these presets over to my tablet running Remuda. In Remuda I can then import all the presets. From there I can start trying them out one by one. When I like a preset I then save it to my amp. It’s still not a perfect app but it does the job wel.

My Fender is complete with the 2 and 4 switch as well as the expression pedal. I believe that the new GTX does not have a expression pedal.
I also use a Boss RC3 looper, but one big disadvantage of this pedal is that I always hear some noice on the amp. I am using the original Boss adapter.

Anyway, I am now not sure if switching over to the Blackstar is going to be a good choice?

Thanks Keith for your answer! In my previous home I had to play at lower volumes. In my current home I can play at higher volumes and this makes the amp come more alive. I am now really discovering this amp and it’s tonal qualities. Haha…living her for almost a year now, and finally got more time to fiddle around with the amp.

I had Fender Mustang 1 as my first amp and I found it sounded great at a higher volume but not so good at lower volumes something that is not the case with my Katana ( although that is the 100w model). A bit of volume make a big difference

There is a 20w blackstar that has the option to play at 2 Watts also. Sounds like a fine middle ground.

Hi,

I’ve had a Blackstar HT-5R MKII for about 8 months now & I have to admit I’ve been really pleased with it. It only ever gets played in the house (as I’m nowhere near good enough to play a gig :grin:) and the 0.5W setting, with the volume set at about 10/11 o clock is perfect.
Most of the time I leave it on the clean channel and use pedals for my distortion (I like Fuzz… probably too much). I’ve recently started experimenting with the overdrive channel & you can get some really good distorted tones out of it and the ISF knob lets you tweak that even further between American & British amp sounds.
Good value for money as well in my humble opinion.