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Blackstar is a fairly new rapidly growing amplification company based in Northampton, UK, which makes series of valve pedals and amplifiers. The company consists largely of ex Marshall employees. On their artist roster they include Gus G. (Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne), Silenoz (Dimmu Borgir), Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake, ex- Dokken), Fredrik Akesson (Opeth) to name a few. We went to the Wembley Guitar Centre to have a look at the HT Blackfire Metal Valve distortion. The HT Blackfire is the Gus G. signature pedal. Let’s have a closer look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the box:

The HT Blackfire pedal comes with an AC adapter with expandable cable, a signature picture of Gus G., manual and a certificate of authenticity from Blackstar. The pedals dimensions are 160 x 119 x 80mm and it weights 1.2kg. It comes in a very nice black design (all other Blackstar pedals are silver) and it has the Firewind logo on it.

Certificate of authenticity

 

Input, outputs and controls:

The HT – Blackfire features 1 input for the guitar lead and 2 outputs, one normal and one speaker emulated for connecting it to a desk or a PA. There are 2 channels with independed gain, volume levels and switches. The first channel is called “Fire” and the second “Fury”. Those 2 are named after the Firewind instrumental song “ The fire and the Fury”. Apart from those we have 4 more controls, Bass, Middle, Treble and ISF. ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) is a Blackstar technology which is something like the presence control of an amp but it adds more character to the sound and boosts or diminishes some of the frequencies of the eq (Bass /Mids /treble) in order to achieve the desired tone. In the heart of the pedal we have an ECC83 - 12AX7 valve. One let down is that the pedal doesn’t work with batteries because of its 22DC Voltage but that is beaten by the fact that it comes with its own power supply and it doesn’t have to be bought separately like most of the other pedal companies do today.

 

The Fire channel:

 

We tried the HT Blackfire with a Schechter Diamond Series guitar bolt on with Emg’s 81 and 85, through a Marshall JVM410H on the clean channel, running through a 1960A cabinet. This pedal sounded amazing. By having the gain on the fire channel at 12 o’clock you get this tight refined distortion. The most impressive thing was that even that the sound was heavily loaded with gain; you could still hear the whole bar chord clearly. The response of the pedal is very impressive. Nevertheless of the small distance between the amp and the guitar, there was no hiss or noise coming from the amp on the fire channel. Heavy bottomy guitar tone with a lot of definition and thickness at the same time. Great For heavy metal rhythm playing and riffing

 

 

The Fury channel:

 

Using the same settings with a bit of more volume from the Fury knob we got a bit of hiss and feedback from the amp but again it had to do with the distance as the amp Master volume was cranked a bit. On this channel, even though we had the same settings, there were more mids involved on the gain range for more cutting through lead sound. Again the response was great as it kept the character but added a bit more punch and energy to the notes, making them sound more full and round. The ISF filter gave us the opportunity to shape the tone to the desired point and blast after that. One small disadvantage is that if you are using this pedal only, through a clean amp, you will have to use exactly the same EQ settings for your rhythm and lead sound.
 

 

Overall:

Overall we think it is a great pedal and it is designed with a lot of definition on it. Great quality stompbox, powerful, definitive, punchy and massive. The HT – Blackfire costs £199.00 and it is limited to 1000 copies. It's really worth the money as it has the tightness and thickness of what a metal guitarist needs. So if you want it, go and try it out, as we believe it’s going to sell out pretty fast.

We would like to thank the Wembley Guitar Centre for giving us the opportunity for this review.

 

Thanks for reading and see you soon.

 

 

G.g.t.S.