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Epiphone So Cal 50w Vs Blackstar HT5-5w

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i found these two amps, both in my price range

i like the epi because you can switch from 50 to 25 watts

but the blackstar sounds real good, whats your views??


Blackstar HT5-H - 5 Watt 2 Channel Valve Head Specifications:

* Innovative 5 Watt valve head

* 1xECC83 and 1x12BH7

* Unique push pull power amp design

* Award winning HT Pedal preamp

* Two footswitchable channels

* Enhanced tone controls

* Patent-Applied-For Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)

* Fully equipped for studio or practice

* Speaker emulated output with 1x12 or 4x12 voicing

* Effects loop with effects level switch

* Footswitch included

* Cool vintage styling


Epiphone So Cal 50 Guitar Head Specifications:

* Designed and engineered in the USA by Gibson

* 50W or 25W Class AB switchable

* All-tube circuitry

* 2 channels

* Solid state rectifier

* Presence control

* Contour knob and gain control for channel 2

* Tube-powered reverb

* Independent/interactive EQ switch

* Standby switch

* Shared 3-band EQ

* Master volume

* Dual 4 ohm, dual 8 ohm, and 16 ohm speaker outs

* 12AX7 preamp tubes with DC powered filaments

* EL34 power tubes

* Footswitch jack (switch not included)

* High-tension fuse

* 16-gauge bent and spot-welded chassis

* 11-ply plywood cab construction

* 26"W x 10-3/4"D x 10-3/4"H

* 42 lbs.

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Apples and Oranges.


First question that comes to mind is do you want a 50W head or a 5W head?

Second is what do you intend to use the amp for?

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I agree with wiggy, apples and oranges or, 2 completely differant beasts!!!


I just got a new So-Cal 50 a month ago and love it but it wasn't what I expected at first.


After using a reliable Fender Cyber Twin modeling amp for the last 6 years I had an urge to go back to an all tube amp like I'd had since I started playing 25+ years ago, specifically with a tube power section as the CT has preamp tubes. I was originally hoping the Epi Valve Sr. would be released sooner so when it was delayed another 4-6 months I got a great deal on the So Cal from the vendor who I'd pre-orderd the V Sr. from.


Originally I was unhappy with the gain channel and the loudness of the amp, Very Loud!!!

I changed the stock Ruby power tubes (very good tubes but a tad too loud) to Electro-Harmonix EL34's and that helped tame a little of the amps volume as they are slightly lower gain and help get a bet power tube crunch on this amp.

Also the reverb was very deep so I changed the reverb driver tube to a 12AU7 and it sounds 100% better now.


The clean channel is very good, a little bright but more so on a strat, my Les Paul's humbuckers sound fantastic on that side.


The gain channel also sounds great, not as much gain as I'd hoped initially, so I'd suggest you get a couple pedals, like an overdrive or boost for some additional gain and/or a boost for solos. That extra crunch combined with the amps own gain sounds great, at least though my 4-12 cabinet and the countour knob gives you even more tone options from modern scopped to mid/gain heavy.


Now as far as the 25/50 power switch, it really does not seem to drop the amps volume considerably and the clean channel sounds a little thinner, not much change on the gain side, so I prefer the 50 watt setting.


That being aside, if you need a gigging amp, the So Cal has plenty of volume and push need for live playing.


If you just want a home or apartment amp then get the Blackstar, plus the effects loop and channel switch pedal included with it seem like a good deal. If you want an amp to gig with and play in a band with a loud drummer then it may not be loud enough for all those situations unless you mic it thru a P.A. system and into your stage moniters if you use them. That is why I didn't get a Valve Jr. already as I have a loud drummer I gig with and was scared it wouldn't keep up.


But I am very happy with my So Cal so far and am glad I chose it, even over the Valve Sr. which would've been a one channel,1 trick pony anyway as far as my intended purposes for it. I like that the clean channel on the So Cal gives me more options and I would've had to buy some pedals for gain anyway even if I'd got the V Sr., so that doesn't bug me. I even kinda like stomping on pedals again instead of a numbered pedal board, it makes live playing a little more challenging again, LOL!!!


peace & good luck with whichever amp you ultimately decide on!!!!


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Your question is akin to the old line "So, do you walk to school or carry your lunch?" It's meaningless, because you haven't identified what sound you're after, what type of music you play, and whether or not this is for home/recording or live use. You've got some homework to do.


I changed the stock Ruby power tubes (very good tubes but a tad too loud)

Different brand power tubes don't have different loudness factors! An EL34 is an EL34...they're all supposed to meet the same general specs. It'd be real interesting to see both sets tested for gain. That, if anything, is the difference...one pair has markedly lower gain than the other. I can't imagine it being enough for you to hear a volume difference, though, but they're your ears, not mine.


as far as the 25/50 power switch, it really does not seem to drop the amps volume

That's because there's not much volume difference between 25 and 50 watts. What you have noticed, with the pentode/triode switch, is that the amp voicing changes. That's typical as well.

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Just tryin' to answer the dudes question with my experiences with the So Cal.


He seemed interested in the 25/50 switch so I just wanted to let him know it doesn't affect the volume like he (or I) thought it might and from what the product description might seem to allude to.


Also, my EH EL34's DO make a differance in amp volume on the head, maybe not huge, but definately enough while running it in my apartment that it makes the amp a little more controllable and also adds more Power tube crunch to the gain channel.


According to Myles Rose, the EH EL34's ARE a little less output although they maintain output ratings.

Here's the link:


(near bottom of page)

His qoute is "This tube had 12-15% less output than the Mullard, Telefunken, Siemens, or JJ tubes. But, the power was still well above published maximum allowances for the EL-34. It had about 5-10% less power than the Svetlana tube, but the had more linear curves at lower B+ voltages."


I tried the Rubys EL34B-STRs again just 4 days ago and they are much louder with less power tube crunch.

Myles had this to say on the same link above (just below the EH review) about the Ruby's:

"These tubes had more overall output than the EL-34EH, but less than the JJ


If you feel that something like a Svetlana or Electro Harmonix EL-34 is a bit tame, and a JJ or GT E34L is a bit too

much, these may be worth a try. They were smoother than the E34L and not as aggressive, yet had a more pronounced mid and low end than the 25 watt EL-34 Svets or EH's."


The Rubys I have have a 'pc' rating of 41. I assume it means power capacity, even Myles wasn't sure of how Ruby rated their tubes. The matched EH's I have have a 'lp' rating of 51, I bought the lowest rated pair available at my local store and thinks it helps my gain crunch. The increased headroom from the Ruby's makes the clean channel sound a little better, probably due to their larger sound stage image, but the power tube crunch on the gain ch, is much weaker, which is why I prefer the EH's in this amp. And yes, the lower gain rating (although comparing both sets based on differant company ratings systems is useless without testing them on the same machine) on the EH's is probably what I hear, but all I know is I like it so far!!!

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Here's what I can say about the Blackstar amp... IMHO.

I've owned the Blackstar HT5 combo version for about 2 months now and I like it a lot (only stock amp I've ever bought that I wasn't sorry about buying after the first 2 weeks).

You don't say much about your situation, but if you live in an apartment or have a small practice area its' a lot of amp for the money.

The Blackstar does a really good job of sounding like a BIG amp at full power tube meltdown at a volume level that won't piss your neighbors off (can crank up to decent volume levels also). It loves pedals, and the stock speaker is fine. The clean channel can sound very Fenderish with a clean boost pedal and some reverb. The crunch channel can do early Marshall to Mesa Dual Recto gain.

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