I’m planning to use a borrowed electric guitar from my son in addition to my steelstring accoustic to get used to it and to have the option of silent practicing with headphones too.
A couple of years ago, we bought a Roland Micro Cube in a bundle with the guitar and my son used it for a while, until he stopped playing. I’m still a beginner and I’m still unexperienced with the electric guitar, but this amp’s sound is really horrible and I can’t bear the “sound” that’s coming out of this device. That’s no fun at all. It makes “noise”, but is not able to create a clear tone. Already had it for a check up at my local dealer. No result.
So I’m looking for a new amp which should comply with the following recommendations:
should be optimal for my small practicing room of approx. 12 m2 up to living room size
no gigging or band ambitions
very important: good sound even at low volume, very good clean sound options
should not only have basic options but a reasonnable number of built in effects, channels, presets, equalizer, should have potential for my individual development (don’t want to buy a new amp every 2 years), modelling options welcome for future use
should have ports for incoming / outgoing media / mic / recording / foot switch etc.
Bluetooth welcome but not essential
very important: no disturbing operating noise, no humming
During my web search and going through Justin’s gear videos on the website, I selected mainly two options:
Blackstar ID Core 20 V3
Boss Katana 50 MK II
I tend to the Blackstar at the moment, because it has all required options and offers a wide stereo sound, has 2 clean channels, it’s smaller and more than 100 Euro less than the Katana. The Blackstar has two smaller speakers of 5’’, the Katana one 12 ‘’ speaker. (Are the 5’’ speakers a disadvantage?) There are some sound samples in the web, the Blackstar seems to sound warmer and less sterile than the Katana and the wide stereo sound seems to be an advantage. But user comments criticised some operations noise in the former generation.
So, maybe is there anybody, who has practical experience with one or both of them?
Any other recommendations? My (small) dealer also sells Nux Amps. Are they an option too?
I know, this kind of question might be asked a thousand times before, but as far as I could see, the Blackstar wasn’t mentioned so far.
Many thanks in advance for your support!
Hi Andrea, I suspect that you may be shopping at Thomann so here are some more for you to look at:
There may be duplicates and you will need to change it to De warehouse but for reviews Andertons UK review some of them, if not EytschPi42 is pretty good!
A lot depends how much you want it to have; my approach would be to get a simple but good basic Amp and learn to use it, either of the Orange Crush amps come into this category; at a later date you could add a multi fx unit or separate pedals. I would go for the 35RT because it has an external fx look which is a good idea if you want to use a looper in the future. My reason for choosing a simple amp is that one with lots of toys and settings can be distracting from your main goals, learning to play electric guitar rather than learning to play with the toys of a more complex amp it’s an easy rabbit hole to fall into!
Any further questions ask!
The Blackstar ID Core amps are great sounding. Yes, they only have two 5" speakers but their small size is not indicative of their sound. They do not sound boxy and nasally like other micro amps do. They are designed and voiced differently. I have had a couple and was impressed. They fx choices and options are not spectacular but are decent enough for some basic reverb, delay etc.
In a small room they have plenty enough volume.
The Katana is better in the overall scheme of things. But in a small room it takes more space and you will likely not crank it up to a volume at which the 12" speaker becomes a noticeable feature.
Thank you Darell, Thomann is a good advice, I already looked at their website for information and they also have a telephone support team. But I first wanted to ask members here about their experiences and maybe to get some further useful information.
You are very right to mention that the whole gear issue is a big distraction from the main issue, learning to play guitar.
I already had this within the last weeks, as I tried to get our simple little amp sounding better. I’ better invested the time in practicing…
This is a main reason, why I wanted to buy a combo with a choice of inbuilt effects, which I can use further down the road, I don’t want to tackle with a lot of additional stuff as pedals and other accessory at this time of my learning path.
So I’ll try to find a good sounding amp that serves me for the next couple of years.
My local dealer sells e.g. Blackstar and Nux amps. Nothing on stock right now for testing, but it would be nice to support a local dealer if possible and the product is good.
I use the Positive Grid Spark amp. They offer two options but from what you say their Spark Mini would be best. It’s available mail order direct from https://www.positivegrid.com/ or you can buy in store at the bigger chains (I’m pretty sure Guitar Guitar stock it).
The best thing about the amp is the tone library - makes you sound like a rock star
Thank you, Richard, for this helpful reply. The sound samples of the Blackstar were impressive, but you never know, if it’s really the pure sound of the amp, or if they used further equipment to polish it. Good to hear about your positiv experience with the Blackstars. Thank you too for your opinion concerning the 12" speakers.
I have the Katana 50. The one thing it lacks is an fx loop. This means that if in the future you buy a looper pedal (which is the one pedal Justin recommends everyone gets) or a pedal that adds backing drums/bass, any effects you add to your guitar sound is also added to your loop. Drums/bass with reverb/delay do not sound good! There is a work around for this but it’s not as tidy as a built in fx loop.
The Katana 100 has an fx loop but is more expensive, has a larger footprint and is much more amp than you are looking for.
Right in that case the Nux 20BT would be a good one to try as well as the Blackstar ID Core 20 III.
I use a Blackstar ID Core BEAM, which is very much the same, except that it is voiced to play Bass, Electric, Acoustic and Music as in mp3 or anything on your phone from iTunes or whatever, either via Bluetooth or a cable.
They are really good, the Nux is very similar so you would have to try them out and decide which you like most.
Don’t use any fx except perhaps a bit of reverb, and use the gain from a little to a lot and set the tone controls all to 12 O’clock, this will give you clean to dirty sounds.
Hope that helps!
Katana 100. Great amp. Very easy to use as a “simple” amp with five “voicings” from acoustic > clean > crunch > lead > brown and then the ability to select three effects. Very difficult NOT to get a good sound out of it. If you want more you can dive into more detailed fx selection using the PC software. Good for home use and for elsewhere if needed.
@sairfingers Indeed, the pedal options are surely another point to consider, already thought about that too, as the Blackstar only has a connection for a footswitch but not for a pedal. The Katana 100 is definitely too exaggerated for my needs. When I’m at the point to dream about loopers etc., maybe I have to go for another solution. At the moment, that seems to be very far out of my range
@lodewijk Nice to hear, that you are happy with the Blackstar ID Core 40. Do you think it’s better to take the 40W than the 20W? Is the amp sounding good at low volume too?
@Rossco01 Thanks Jason, the Katana 100 is too much for me and my room, I think. It surely would blow out my windows. Don’t know, if there is an option to reduce the output as in the Katana 50. Anyway, a 53 old beginner doesn’t need 100W , or now more than ever ?
I’ m no expert myself but have the Blackstar in the 40w version and getting to quite like it. Being able to connect your computer to it and access more settings which aren’t on the amp and save different settings and also download ones from the community make it pretty cool. If I had my time again might have gone for something like a Fender amp but it’s a great amp and still learning.
I swear by the Fender Mustang amp. It is affordable, easy to use, and has more than plenty effects to choose from. They have different models with different watt ranges available depending on your budget. I bought the LT-25 model and it costed me around $175 or so. The last one I had before that was a Marshall practice amp. Sorry UK folks, but that one is terrible. Marshall should stick to their full size amps, which sound fantastic.
In my opinion, the amp does sound good at low volume, too. I only play in my living room at home, so my amp(s) are at low volume for 95% of the time. The other 5% is my son using my stuff. I had a (cheap) Harley-Benton at one time and got rid of it because of the difference at low volume with the Blackstar.
I bought the 40 with the whole “you never know that I’ll jame with some people and then I’ll have the output” mindset. In hindsight, I could have just gotten the 20; I never put it that loud. But YMMV and all that.