Blackstar St. James is billed as a featherweight tube amp. According to Blackstar, these are the lightest 50-watt full-tube amps in the world. And they are available in EL34 and 6L6 flavours. As either a combo or as a head with a matching 2 x 12 cabinet.
Blackstar St. James
The new St. James range of amps from Blackstar is really interesting and could offer a suitable model for almost all guitarists, especially those on the move. The amps are all rated at 50 watts with a handy low 2-Watt mode for when you aren’t on stage. What makes them different from many tube amps, is that Blackstar claims they are up to 47% lighter than a regular tube amp.
EL34 vs 6L6
Both models also come with the US voiced clean channel, which I suspect is Blackstar hinting at ’60s Fender clean tones.
There is the fawn-coloured version with two EL34 tubes and the classic low gain sound and, according to the manufacturer, a good platform for effect pedals and this one has a switchable 10 dB boost. The other black coloured model has a pair of 6L6 tubes, which have a higher gain for the second channel and can be adjusted more flexibly to your own preference via a voice switch.
Attenuator / Reactive Load
Blackstar not only introduced the thousandth new tube amp with a well-known tube assembly but also incorporated a few modern features. In addition to reverb, there is that power reduction from 50 to 2 watts I mentioned earlier. Plus it has a built-in Reactive Load with an XLR output. There is the in-house Cab Rig DSP Speaker Simulator, which can be set via an editor on the PC. This is based on their recent Dept 10 pedal series and so many Blackstar users will be familiar with how this works.
In addition, the amp can be recorded directly as an audio interface via USB. Ideal for home recording. The serial FX loop with volume control is useful as well. Plus, all the amps ship with a footswitch for channel switching. But take into account that the two channels use a shared EQ section.
The St.James amp head is said to be the lightest 50-watt full tube amplifier in the world at 6.7 kilograms. Blackstar has reduced weight by using custom-wound lightweight transformers. The combo versions and cabinets are fitted with a new Celestion Zephyr speaker. This speaker is very lightweight but doesn’t use neodymium magnets. Instead, they have stuck with standard ferrite magnets and voiced it like a Vintage 30. All the heads and cabinets use candlenut wood as it is light and strong.
Who are they for?
I guess with all these features, just about anyone could use these St.James amps. There is a lot going on and you may, or may not need all these functions, but they could be really handy. Check out the official demos below and see what you think.