Folks, the Blackstar HT series Club 40 is a true thing of beauty. Man, I love products made in Korea! Move over Japan; Korea is the new Asian manufacturing mecca, and Blackstar amps are certainly proof of this fact. Honestly, Blackstar doesn't make a BAD amp, but there is something just ...well ... downright perfect about the Club 40; if ya only had ONE amp and it was the Club 40, you'd be fine. Let me point out right here and now, this is NOT a review of the amp, you'll find plenty of those out there, and they will mostly be glowing. Folks, you are about to find out the one way you can take the Club 40 from "almost" boutique sounding to flat-out THERE!
Okay, so I gotta admit that I'm a bit of a reverb snob, and as such I find the built in digital reverb to be fairly lacking; usable, but I'd REALLY want a quality reverb pedal between the guitar and amp. But the tones, from clean to face-melting, are solid as a Korean build Hyundai! But if you take the time to sift through all the various user reviews out there, you will find two areas where the serious tone chasers find the amp slightly lacking
Complex top-end sparkle and fender-like glassiness.
Bottom-end "thump" (Yes ... it IS a 1x12 combo, I know...)
Most Club 40's I see on stage have the bass maxed out, the mids about at 12-noon, and the high control at about 4-6 o'clock, and it still just doesn't have the complexity or solid authority of a Dumble, or a vintage blackface 1964 Vibroverb. Of course, the Dumble is 50 times as expensive, and the SR is 10 times as expensive! But the Club 40 CAN get there ... or at least it can get VERY close ... with the proper speaker upgrade.
Yep, here I am on my little soap-box again, preaching that same old worn-out sermon: why, oh why, do Amp companies always cut corners where it matters the most: the speaker?!? The Blackstar uses the same lame Chinese made Celestion 70/80 as most every one of it's competitors ... and those speakers just plain suck. To really bring the Club 40 to it's full potential, the speaker you need to install is the Retro 30. That speaker will add both the extended top-end complexity as well as the solid bottom-end authority that gal so yearns for.
Your welcome ;-)
Next week we will address the HT series lil' brother, the HT5R. Yep, she's a GREAT lil gal too!