Other Amps

Blackstar Fly 3

1

A few weeks ago I was playing my Duo Jet on a Saturday night through my Carvin Bel Air 2 X 12, 50 watt amp and what I thought was the lowest possible volume. I failed and woke up my wife. I was immediately on the hunt for a headphone amp. I've had the Vox headphone amps that plug directly into your guitar and was never completely satisfied. I started my search for a Fender Frontman and a Fender Mustang modeling amp, both of which I used to own but was also never completely satisfied with. I love tubes!

Then I remembered my brother raving about his Boss Katana and my guitar player friend raving about his Randall from the 1990s. Both of these amps are solid state but somehow through their design deliver a natural tube like saturation without digital modeling. I went on YouTube and looked around for a version of that technology in a small amp. I checked out a bunch of clips of the best mini amps and narrowed it down to the Yamaha THRs, the Boss Katana Mini and the Blackstar Fly 3. I heard the tone I was looking for most in the Blackstar Fly 3. It has a great clean sound, has a natural sounding overdrive and is focused on strong mids, not ultra lows and metal distortion. I found one used for $40 + tax and shipping on Guitar Center's website and ordered it. It arrived at my door today.

It has to be one of the best $40 I’ve ever spent on anything. It's used but it appears to be in great condition. It sounds really, really, really good! I put it on top of my bongos so you can see how small it is. I can’t believe it. This amp is not a toy. The little speaker doesn’t sound little at all. It sounds like a big amp and with 3 watts it’s still too loud if I turn it up the whole way in my apartment. With headphones on it sounds huge and great. It has a built in delay but if you turn the delay level all the way up and turn the delay time all the way down it gives you a natural sounding room style reverb. I don’t know how they make these things but I’m impressed. You could literally record an album with one of these.

2

Sounds like a lot of bang for the buck!

3

Blackstar makes great amps. I've had a few over the years. My current amp is a 50 watt Blackstar Silverline Special.

Everybody raves the Boss Katanas, for modeling amps, but every Katana I've played has been a big, fat "meh" for me. My Blackstar though, sounds great, and not just for the metal tones - it also has great cleans that don't sound glassy, and great vintage amp sounds. Does the 6V6 tube model sound just like a Deluxe Reverb? No, but it sounds good in its own right. Ditto for the 6L6, EL84/6BQ5, EL34/6CA7, and the KT88/6550 tube models. Oh yeah, and it has much more overdrive level control IMO, than the Katanas have, (which seem to either just go "awk" sound-wise, do upper midrangey hair band tones, or sound mega fizzy for the dirty tones - ugh!). But ya know, the Katanas cost quite a bit less than the Sliverlines, which is probably why they're so popular.

4

I miss my Tom Sholz Rockman. Until I could afford an amp, that’s what I had. It made me think I sounded better than I was (am?). Instilled a desire to play. How’s that a bad thing? Gotta like chorus though. Thrive

5

Blackstar makes great amps. I've had a few over the years. My current amp is a 50 watt Blackstar Silverline Special.

Everybody raves the Boss Katanas, for modeling amps, but every Katana I've played has been a big, fat "meh" for me. My Blackstar though, sounds great, and not just for the metal tones - it also has great cleans that don't sound glassy, and great vintage amp sounds. Does the 6V6 tube model sound just like a Deluxe Reverb? No, but it sounds good in its own right. Ditto for the 6L6, EL84/6BQ5, EL34/6CA7, and the KT88/6550 tube models. Oh yeah, and it has much more overdrive level control IMO, than the Katanas have, (which seem to either just go "awk" sound-wise, do upper midrangey hair band tones, or sound mega fizzy for the dirty tones - ugh!). But ya know, the Katanas cost quite a bit less than the Sliverlines, which is probably why they're so popular.

– EllenGtrGrl

I'm really impressed with the cleans in this little amp too. It's exactly as you described. I tried to press the "OD" button to get some overdrive but for the sounds I use most of the time I preferred keeping it on the clean setting and turning up the "Gain" knob instead to get a bit of dirt. It seems if you're going for some metal tones pressing the "OD" button will get you there. I haven't checked that out yet but I do have my punk rock parts Jazzmaster with a humbucker in the bridge and a Boss Metal Zone pedal I haven't used in years if I really want to push it over the top. I think I'm going to pull out both of those and mess around a bit with them and see how far I can go!

6

I miss my Tom Sholz Rockman. Until I could afford an amp, that’s what I had. It made me think I sounded better than I was (am?). Instilled a desire to play. How’s that a bad thing? Gotta like chorus though. Thrive

– Sourpuss

I agree! I use my Rockman "all the time!" They got a bad reputation due to the cheeseball headphones they came with, but with my Sony Naturals it sounds like I'm playing on another planet, and WAY better than I can actually play! Ha! Oh, and this is weird...it used to burn through it's 6 AA batteries until I bought an 8 pack at the Dollar store! I've had a set of cheapo batteries in it for over a year????

7

I agree! I use my Rockman "all the time!" They got a bad reputation due to the cheeseball headphones they came with, but with my Sony Naturals it sounds like I'm playing on another planet, and WAY better than I can actually play! Ha! Oh, and this is weird...it used to burn through it's 6 AA batteries until I bought an 8 pack at the Dollar store! I've had a set of cheapo batteries in it for over a year????

– hilosean

Lol, I forgot about it’s appetite for batteries. It’s been decades since I’ve had mine. The Rockman coupled with my cheesy Sonex-180 deluxe (yeah, that’s right!) by “The Gibson guitar company” cranked out some righteous, distorted 80’s guitar tones. Finally sold the Sonex and bought a Gibson ES-320TD from a Wyoming pawn shop in about 1982. Kinda want another of those. My first hollow body. I was entertaining aspirations of replacing Dave Edmunds in Rockpile. Oh, to be young again.


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