Okay gang, last week we talked about the best speaker upgrade for the super versatile Blackstar HT Club-40, this week, let's talk about it's splendid little sibling, the HT5R. In case you missed the memo, 5-watt tube amps are all the rage these days. Almost all of em are single-ended amps with a single 6V6 or EL84, and Personally, I find most to just plain be too mushy in the bottom end; but this lil gal is different! The HT5R (and the verb-less HT5) actually come about their 5-watts(ish) via a unique push-pull circuit, which makes for an amp with a much more solid bottom end; more muscle, less mush! I LOVE this lil gal!
Okay, so once again 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 this lil gal, 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...)
Now, on the bigger HT Club 40, my suggestion for an upgrade was to install the Retro 30. But with THIS little gal, that speaker can't really open-up at the super-quiet volume levels that this amp will often be used for, and so, with the head & Cabinet model of THIS girl, my #1 suggestion is the WGS Blackhawk Alnico (NOT the 100-watt HP version), that speaker is a thing of beauty, and will turn your lil HT5R into a full-on boutique tone monster. Why not the 15-watt Black-n-Blue you ask? Well, the Blackhawk is EXACTLY the same speaker, only with a kapton former instead of paper, and so if you ever decide to put the speaker in an amp with more wattage, you'll be good to go with no feqar of burning out that paper former. (Read my blog on kapton vs paper) Oh ... and I actually PREFER the Blackhawk in every situation, too! ****NOTE*** if you have the COMBO version of the HT5R, the BH will not physically fit, and so here I suggest the vintage-esque G12Q which fits nicely!
Seriously, this Blackhawk and Blackstar combination is pure recording perfection. Amazingly rewarding bedroom practice tone, too.
So there ya go, Blackstar HT5R + Blackhawk = Pure HEAVEN!