Red Dog Music | Oct 9, 2018 | 0
Blackstar LT Drive: our hands-on review
According to their website, the Blackstar LT pedals offer “amazing valve-like tonal performance, valve-like responsiveness for a wide variety of playing styles”, and the Blackstar LT Drive claim “amazing valve-like tone and compression”. That’s a lot of valvey-ness. Does it deliver? Well, I bought one…
While my general misanthropy led to quite a hiatus from playing music with other people, part of me did miss playing in a band. That’s not to take away from the fun I’ve had making electronic music, but sometimes it’s nice to get out and about and strum some chords with some like-minded individuals.
So, imagine my delight at having the opportunity to play your actual gig as the new guitarist in a band!
Now, I may have preferred the opportunity to get another couple of rehearsals under my belt, but when the opportunity of a gig came up, we went for it.
This meant I had to actually get on and sort out the guitar rig. In the songs I’ve learned so far, I play clean, slightly crunchy, and crunchy. In rehearsal, I’ve just been adjusting the settings on my overdrive pedal between songs, but didn’t really want to be doing that on stage. A second crunch pedal was required so that I could just add that on top of the slightly crunchy pedal. This follows the well-known formula: slightly crunchy + slightly crunchy = crunchy.
With the gig just a couple of days away, and my wallet feeling thin, a more affordable pedal was required. Fortunately, we’d not long had the Blackstar LT pedals shown to us by the always delightful Sam from Blackstar and, having heard the sounds from the Blackstar LT Drive was soon on its way home with me.
The Blackstar LT Drive pedal is built like a tank, offers the controls you need to get the sound you want dialed in quickly, without distracting you with functions you might not need, and sounds great. It also has a ‘clickless’-type of switch, that feels smooth and solid at the same time. I could do without the yellow colour if I’m honest, but, as long as the sound is good, you can overlook the appearance.
Currently being guitar amp-less (thank you venues that provide backline!) I did what you should never do: I took it to the gig without ever having passed a signal through it. It was patched into the pedalboard after my Crybaby, TC Electronic Polytune, compressor and first overdrive, and before the modulation and delay pedals.
I was playing a Gibson Blueshawk with its single-coil Blues-90 pickups into a Marshall Valvestate amp and the amp was left on its clean channel. The Blackstar LT Drive pedal did just the job, providing that hint of crunch, much like a valve amp as it starts to break up. The sweep of the gain knob gives you as much crunch as you’ll need if you’re not into too much of a high-gain sound, think older, vintage amps breaking up, rather than modern, scooped metal tones, and you’re in the right area.
While never really a necessity, having a tone control on the pedal is a handy inclusion for having a toppy tone kick in if you want to cut through, or for rolling some of it back when you want a thicker sound.
Using this as a second overdrive in series was a treat. The first pedal provided the workman-like edge-of-breakup sounds, but adding the Blackstar LT Drive on top sounded great: a thick, classic-sounding overdrive with sustain by the bucket-load.
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