A 50-watt tube combo that weighs just 24 pounds.

Light! Powerful. Wide range of sounds.

Channel one can sound flat without pedals.


Blackstar St. James 50 EL34 Combo


Whether or not the push toward lightweight amplifiers is a lasting trend (and why wouldn’t it be?), the quest for less tonnage is definitely yielding interesting amps. Fender’s recent digital simulacrums of the Deluxe and Twin demonstrated that light weight and vintage-correct style can co-exist. Blackstar, too, has made “lighten the load” its modus operandi for the new St. James series. But rather than using digital means to drop pounds, Blackstar stuck with tube amp architecture. That leads us to the St. James 50 EL34 reviewed here: a proper 50-watt, 1x12" tube combo that, remarkably, weighs just 24 pounds.

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When a guitar collector dies, a collection gets passed on and begins a new life. Here’s one collection’s story.

I’ve been in the guitar business in the same city for many decades. One of the advantages of that is I get to see a lot of great instruments we sold years ago come back again. One of the disadvantages is that many times those instruments are returning because an old customer has died or become too frail to play them. All of us who deal in used and vintage guitars love to see great gear, especially when it’s been well cared for. But when I not only recognize the guitars but also remember the owner, the opportunity to sell their instruments a second time is bittersweet.

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Tired of playing the same old dominant 7 chords during a blues? Let’s fix that.



  • Learn what chord substitutions are and how they work so that you can get more color out of your rhythm guitar playing.
  • Use extensions on dominant 7 chords as a way of creating new substitutions.
  • Play practical examples of substitutions within various blues grooves while maintaining the standard blues harmony.
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Staying creative and phrasing musically while playing chords, especially over a blues progression, seems like an impossibility to many players. After all, most blues songs contain only three chords, the I, IV, and V. So how can you make those simple chords more interesting? The answer is by using chord substitution.

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