Cheap line of Blackstar amps on the horizon?

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Cheap line of Blackstar amps on the horizon?

Post by michnet76 on Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:17 am

Here's another topic to throw up for discussion...

I've noticed a trend develop over the past 10 years (and longer I guess) of big brand names starting to bring out real cheap lines of gear.

Eg Amp brands with their small 10w+ S/State amps like Marshall with their MG's, Orange with their Crush amps, Fender, etc...

Guitar manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon, albeit for a while now. Most of the big brands have their cheaper Pacific Rim alternatives... although some like to try and keep them separate like Gibson/Epiphone, Fender/Squire... some keep the same branding like Schecter, Takamine, Ibanez, Ovation (with their Celebrity, although their dirt cheap brand is Applause) and Fender with their acoustics just to name a few.

So does this take away from the brand in general? I like the fact that I can buy a Maton or Cole Clark and the name carries a bit of prestige, a reputation of quality and professionalism with it, there are no cheap Maton's or C/Clarks to lower their standard. Same can be said with Gibson, Martin, Taylor etc... there are no cheaply made ones to lower their perceived value and status. Whereas pull out a Takamine and it could either be a cheaply made $350 or a $3500 one, only the dedicated Takamine follower would really know, or someone who appreciates a nice sounding acoustic.

Growing up in my early years of playing guitar I always aspired to the Slash look, holding a Gibson LP and standing in front of a huge Marshall stack. To me, at the time that was the holy grail setup to have! Now any kid can go and buy a branded Marshall amp for $150 or an MG stack for well under $1000... but the Gibson is still out of reach to most so they'll have to settle something else and save up their bickies for the real deal - But if they could go out and buy a Gibson branded guitar for under a $1,000 would Gibson still hold the prestige that it does? (okay some will debate that Gibson = prestige LOL!)

I understand the reasoning for these big brand companies wanting to make cheaper alternatives which are aimed at the beginners... they can get them into using their brand early and hopefully when they progress up the gear ladder they will stay with the brand and upgrade. Also they would probably sell a truckload of their cheap s/state amps to wannabe players to every single high end unit going to a serious semi pro/pro guitarist (or a wannabe with $ to spare). So it's about making money too. Talking to the local music shop which has taken on the Marshall dealership for the region, he hasn't sold one DSL/JVM or other high end amp, but heaps of MG, a few AVT's and one acoustic amp (to me Very Happy)

So do you think that Blackstar might go mainstream and jump on this bandwagon one day and bring out a cheapo designed, made in China range of solid state amps to compete with the MG's and Crush's out there? I hope for the benefit of trying to get a good reputation among more seasoned guitar players that they don't and they stick to their higher end stuff - that the HT series will be their only 'low end line'. Their HT-5 combo can be had for $6-$700AUD which is out of reach for a lot of younger beginners (unless their daddy has $ to spare) but it would make a great 2nd or 3rd amp - but more to the point, you rock up with a HT-5 to a gig or an open jam session, you won't be ostracised as much as if you rocked up with an MG or a Crush (I've been there countless times in early years - rock up with cheap gear and no one takes you seriously).

An interesting thought provoker anyway. I know this type of topic is border-lining gear snobbery but at the end of the day we all believe in our gear, have invested hard earned dosh and have a little pride in what we're using, otherwise we wouldn't even be here on a amp brand forum discussing a mere lump of wood (well mulched wood), vinyl, speakers and electronics to start with Wink

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Re: Cheap line of Blackstar amps on the horizon?

Post by MusashiChan on Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:38 am

(Very nice new signature !!! How did you do this ??)

I think blackstar has already done the first step...the HT Serie with its "custom made" speaker, pcb board, digital reverb is a sort of first range for Blackstar products...i think they will stay on this kind of very good stuff, not really the first price with transistors or modelisations (?) but affordable entering to the brand. (Sorry have no inspiration with my english today...).

They have to maintain a minimum level of quality, they know they will never be a major such as Marshall or Fender, so they don't have to propose a full range of gears, just to be be good in what they have succeed. They will make more effects, it's sure, acoustic amps and more specific amps but the core of their sales will always be amps like the HT Venue now. I think the HT-5 is a little bit alone in the very small amp category too. They will have to deal with this stupid market of 5W valves amps for beginners who want to have a valve amp for the prestige.

If Blackstar enter the cheap line market, there will be no more pride to have a PTP Blackstar for example. I'm having one because it sounds, ok, but also because it's cool to have this brand, associate to this quality. If bad quality products enter the brand, i will prefere having a Marshall that everybody (even outside the music community) will recognize.

And EVERY brand is pulling its range down...
Gibson "faded", Fender US Special, even Cole Clark FL1 serie is not really what i'm expecting from this brand. I don't want a Cole Clark for this, i would have one if so...
It's true that Maton is not doing this as i know, if you want a Maton, you'll have to pay for a quality. But Cole Clark is bigger than Maton now no ? It's a choice !

Some will need to have a brand, a name, at a good price ; the others want to have a quality. I will always prefer a brand which have chose to deal with quality. But i think the largest number are the first. And Blackstar have to deal with both, not easy Smile

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Re: Cheap line of Blackstar amps on the horizon?

Post by michnet76 on Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:49 am

MusashiChan wrote:(Very nice new signature !!! How did you do this ??)

I'm a graphic artist by day... and it was a quiet day Laughing

MusashiChan wrote:I think blackstar has already done the first step...the HT Serie with its "custom made" speaker, pcb board, digital reverb is a sort of first range for Blackstar products...i think they will stay on this kind of very good stuff, not really the first price with transistors or modelisations (?) but affordable entering to the brand. (Sorry have no inspiration with my english today...).

Yes they're priced to be in competition with the others of that type, the HT-20 is in direct competition with the Haze 15 & 40 (which is made in India), orange TT (which is UK made I think), Vox nighttrain, Egnator rebel 20 etc.... and I think they've done a great job for the price point too. I think Blackstar outdo the others though with this line in the fact they offer wattages all the way up to 100watts - lots of options. They seem to be great quality in comparison to what the others offer which are made on the Pacific Rim but at a price us working musicians can afford. After all we don't earn thousands of dollars (pounds/euros etc...) from each gig to justify buyings amps worth a few thousand and up!


MusashiChan wrote:If Blackstar enter the cheap line market, there will be no more pride to have a PTP Blackstar for example. I'm having one because it sounds, ok, but also because it's cool to have this brand, associate to this quality. If bad quality products enter the brand, i will prefere having a Marshall that everybody (even outside the music community) will recognize.

Yep my point exactly! But I wasn't trying to come across being too much a gear snob! LOL!

MusashiChan wrote:And EVERY brand is pulling its range down...
Gibson "faded", Fender US Special, even Cole Clark FL1 serie is not really what i'm expecting from this brand. I don't want a Cole Clark for this, i would have one if so...
It's true that Maton is not doing this as i know, if you want a Maton, you'll have to pay for a quality. But Cole Clark is bigger than Maton now no ? It's a choice !

Yeah as for the c/clark thing, they're a new company and really trying to steal some of the Maton market therefore are quite fierce in their FL1 pricing. Over here their straight FL1 (no pup or c/away) can be had for under $800AUD which is in the price range of your average Chinese/Korean made acoustic. As to their quality, each to their own on their thoughts. I played a heap to start with and felt a bit let down to be honest, but on another occasion I played one not expecting much again but ended up walking out the store with it. It's yet to break down or give me any issues and I've hammered it for at least 5 hours a week for the past 2 years. I'd love to invest in an FL3 but I think they're butt ugly TBH! I'm not into the fancy inlays or the likes and love the simplicity of the FL1 style. Maybe I can get a custom one made up?! mmmm.

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Re: Cheap line of Blackstar amps on the horizon?

Post by 6StringBender on Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:29 pm

Gibson is now selling LP Studio faded "50's Tribute" guitars for $799....
SG Fadeds & Specials.........Faded Flying-Vs......all under $900.
And the quality, according to the purists is going down the tubes quickly.

My aspiration is to get an Artisan 15 in the near future........& sure hope Blackstar doesn't follow the other amp makers on the path of "disposable" amps.
I've had the MGs, Vox VTs, Fender Frontman, & a few other disposables, none of them lasted long, and I never did get good tone from any of them.
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Re: Cheap line of Blackstar amps on the horizon?

Post by MusashiChan on Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:42 pm

Just hoping they will not make a cheaper range in another asian country than korea.
For me it's still the only country from south east asia with japan which can make good quality products. I don't remember ever had a good thing from even China...
A buyer in one of my precedent company had visit some of the world most prestigious factories, Taylor (Namm 2008), Gibson, Fender Mex and Corona Namm 2009), Larrivée Canada, Chushin (Jackson Japan, never know how it spells...) and...Cor-Tek (Cort) Korea...
For what i've understood, the processes, labour forces and machines were the best in Canada and Korea. And Korea is cheaper, even with the shipping.
He had a very good impression of the mexican fender factory, pretty the same as the corona one and almost the same mexican workers...he saw the "relic" process of the first road worn series and mexicans were doing a fantastic job in a record time...
I'd really like to see what a indonesian or vietnamese factory looks like...

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