Thursday, March 11, 2010

Review: Blackheart Handsome Devil Combo Amp


blackheart handsome devil

Keep in mind that I am not a good guitarist.  I have learned riffs from my favorite King’s X songs.  And can hack through some of my favorite old music from Jars of Clay.  And of course I can play any worship song with first position chords. 

I have loved Metal forever and had always envisioned myself getting better at churning out some metallica thrash riffs.  But surprisingly there is something not quite fulfilling and attention holding about learning to chugga-chugga through a few metal riffs.  I can sound good for a good 20 seconds before I have to start a new song’s riff.

The only amps that I have owned since I really started learning are modeling amps that have hundreds of digital sound combinations that you can blast through.  But playing Sad but True through insane distortion and a phaser is silly for a minute but really has no lasting appeal. 

But of course, for some reason, I was looking for a cool modeling amp with all the bells and whistles. 

I only had about $350ish to spend and was looking through Craigslist for anything that caught my attention.  I searched for all of the metal amps that I have been told that I should like, Mesa Boogie, Bogner, Soldano, but of course they all cost hundreds more than I have to spend.  While goofing around I found a blackheart handsome devil amp.  It is the combo.  There are separate head and cabs for sale too.  I had never heard of them besides catching a glance of one a couple of months ago at a guitar store.  But I didn’t know anything about them at all.

There was a link to an online youtube demo.  I was shocked at the great distorted sound as well as the clean sound.

Handsome Devil Review

But what really started occurring to me after watching dozens of other reviews was how much I love not only the sound of a tube amp, but how much I love the blues. 

I have known for a long time that I like rock with a lot of blues in it.  But I always thought that metal would hold my attention.  But it never happened.

After hearing these demo’s I was motivated to at least read more reviews and potentially go out and try one.  I read reviews and learned that they were developed by an amp maker that had a great name from creating some awesome amps in the past.  They were less expensive than most tube amps because they are produced overseas. 

But no matter what I tried.  No one locally had them to try.  So I decided to buy the one on Craigslist without even trying it.  I talked the guy down to $320 and met him at his office. 

After getting it home, here is my review:

This amp has amazing sounds.  The tube distortion/overdrive is thick and syrupy like a much larger amp.  It will give you a great blues tone, or if you turn up the drive you will get a much thicker beefier tone than British distortion.  Even though the highs are clear, they are tight thus giving you not only articulate chords in distortion but an amazing lead tone. 

You can get great distorted overdrive at low low volumes.  I can turn it down and have a cool sounding distortion to practice with while Kim watches tv in the next room.

The amp is a 15w amp, but switches into a triode mode where it becomes a 7w amp.  Both settings can get very loud.  Both deliver great sounds, but they are different sounds.  The 15w pentode setting gives you some great chiming clean tones like a vox amp might.  The 7w gives you more laid back tones that sound a bit like an acoustic guitar when you are clean.  The 7w has a lot of room to turn it up and get some great gritty clean sounds.  You can really get as heavy as you want and find tons of cool sounds in between. 

If you want metallica, you might not be satisfied.  But if you want Metallica, you really need a Soldano, or a Mesa Boogie amp anyway. 

What this amp has done for me is not only educate me about the different sounds that a tube amp can produce.  It has also shown me how much I love a great blues sound.  This is my new project now.  I want to play some great blues and learn how good I can get at it.  It’s going to be fun with this amp.

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