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Blackbird Nominated best Drive Effects Gear of the Year Awards

Gear of the Year Guitarist Magazine

We’re delighted that ‘Guitarist’ magazine have picked the Blackbird vacuum tube preamp for The Best Drive Effects Category. They said, “It’s exceptionally quiet with almost inaudible hiss and hum levels. The drive effects cover the full spectrum of vintage and modern tones, going from Dumble-like smoothness to a more aggressive bite with practically endless sustain.” The Blackbird preamp raises the bar to an unprecedented new level – guitarists now have access to REAL top notch tube amp tones in a compact effects pedal. You can read more about the Blackbird in their December edition – on sale now.


  1. Douglas Robertson says:

    Congratulations, Phil!
    That’s quite an achievement given the plethora of pedals out there to choose from. I agree with them, too.
    Thermionics rule!

  2. Troy says:

    “Best Drive Effects Gear of the Year” should read:

    “Best Drive Effects Gear of the Decade”

    Fixed! :)

    What amps are my fellow Blackbird lovers using with the pedal. Also: All using it in the front or anyone feeding an effects return to completely replace their amp’s preamp? Who’s using it to feed an interface & computer based IR’s or an IR box or even analogue filter box? All channel of the Blackbird (green/blue/red)?

    To date I’ve just been using it in front of my Marshall Vintage Modern 100w head w/ Marshall VM top cab (4 x 13″ w/ the Celestion Greenback variants that were only otherwise used in the rate & expensive Hendrix JTM 45/100 amp from which the VM’s are significantly derived). Mostly with Fender Strats but also Gibson Les Pauls. It mainly lives in blue mode, but also use green when looking for a brighter alternate clean tone. No issues with sending the Blackbird’s tone stacks through the VM’s own tone stack when the VM is set clean.

    I also have a 50 watt VM head set to dirt/crunch that sits on top of the 100 watt head as the amp also has unique & glorious(though non-foot switchable) overdriven sounds, The Blackbird’s classic (blue) dirt sounds are nice to have as an alternative & to have a foot-switch selectable true clean to dirt on what is essentially a single channel amp.

    It would be very interesting to read how other Effectrode runners use it.

    • Douglas Robertson says:

      I use it as a Preamp into a Rivera TBR-3, stereo 60 Watts per side each into its own Marshall 4×12 cab. Bliss.

  3. Troy says:

    Thanks Douglas for sharing.

    That Rivera stereo power amp is a serious piece of kit (“Output switchable between 60, 30, 15, and 8w per side” – Nice!). I wrote 4 x 13″ in reference to my speaker cab. I obviously meant 4 x 12″ :D I like to set the Blackbird for light-medium crunch, just beyond edge-of-breakup say, use guitar volume control to roll to edge-of-breakup & then get to higher gain levels by pushing its input with various other Effectrodes (Mercury, Fire Bottle, PC-2A, Tube Drive).

    If you haven’t got the Tube Drive then I can equally recommend it as an alternate valve overdrive that works well both by itself & also pre-boosting the Blackbird. With the Fire Bottle able to pre-Boost either it is just drive tone for days. Wahs also take on a very different texture depending on whether they are fed into the Blackbird & Tube Drive (or into Tube Driver > Blackbird) – so too does the Tube-Vibe.

    The thicker mids of the Tube Drive make it such a great lead sound tool. The Blackbird’s blue/classic drive mode is perfect for dirty rhythm sounds but it is also given strong competition by the Tube Drive. That they work so well together is most fortuitous.

    Any more info from yourself or anyone else on how you like using the pedal (set up for switching between blue/red or blue/green? preferred methods to vary input gain? valve swapping? preferred guitars & – more importantly – pickup types to feed the pedal? speaker types?) would be interesting.

    I find that by setting the blue channel to the drive amount described above that both the neck & bridge pickups are usable. For significantly higher gain sounds (apart from when using the Mercury or other 60′s-inspired fuzzes) neck pickups just sound too “soupy” or “syrupy” for my tastes.

    Rhythm on neck (for more blues-rock tones) or bridge pickup (for harder rocking tones) through the Blackbird then on bridge pickup kicking on the Tube Drive through into Blackbird is a great rhythm to lead switching move – or on neck or bridge pickup with Fire Booster kicking up things a notch or several for a less high gain bluesier lead.

    Rhythm on neck through the Blackbird then switching on the Mercury before it for lead is perfect for more Hendrix-inspired textures. Having the Blackbird gain low enough also allows for volume boost as well as gain boost when kicking on one of the other pedals before it. Only tried it recently but rolling down guitar’s volume into the Mercury (either with or without Blackbird after it) is another sweet overdrive tone.

    Everything revolves around the Blackbird though – or around the Blackbird into LA-1A now! Being able to kick the LA-1A’s post-boost on to lift the level of any signal being fed into it – & (whether boost is on or off) to help maintain some level when tolling down the guitar volume to clean up the Blackbird – is the icing on the cake. The trick is to set all of the units subtly. In all of the the various combinations they are unbeatable tone partners. The sounds are pure electrorganic! :D

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