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NAMM ’16: The New Class

 | March 16, 2016 

Blackwing Amplifier Company

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Blackwing Amplifier Company Founder James Heidrich

Some companies that are new to NAMM each year are run by relative newcomers to the music products industry, but a fair amount of first-time exhibitors have industry veterans at the helm: those who have decided to strike out on their own. Blackwing Amplifier Company [blackwingamps.com] is one such example. The company is headed by James Heidrich, the Founder and former Owner of Bad Cat Amplifiers. Heidrich drew upon his years of experience designing amps, as well as the industry trends he observed while working at his old company, when determining Blackwing’s direction. “I’ve seen a lot of companies going overseas for parts because of the bottom line,” he explained, “but I spend more money than ever on my new product.” Heidrich noted, “I want to give the player the best that money can buy. So, I use audio-grade components, one-percent-tolerance parts, CTS pots, Carling toggle switches, Switchcraft metal jacks—not plastic jacks—and American-made transformers.” He added, “My amps are all tube, and that’s the way I like it. And, I have a brand new custom Celestion 60-watt speaker that makes the amps sound really punchy, full and articulate.”

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Blackwing Amplifier Company

Heidrich detailed his company’s impressive array of products that debuted at NAMM, saying, “The Screamin’ Eagle Class A has dual B+ voltages off the power transformer, so there’s a 50-watt setting and a 30-watt setting. It’s not a half-power switch. I’m not using resistors to drop the power. It’s actual B+ voltage.” He continued, “The Screamin’ Eagle 50 is a Class A/B amp. The BlackHawk Class A has three preamp tube choices, including a triode EF86. I could turn that amp up to full volume—15-watt or 30-watt—and not distort…not have to use any transistor devices or amplification. The Crow is a 20-watt 6V6 single-channel amp, and it’s the only model that comes standard with reverb. It’s got a great, classic American sound, and it’s a favorite recording amp among studios. The Raven has EL84 and EL34 power tubes and a dual-voltage B+ power transformer. The 30-watt runs the 84s; the 50-watt runs the 34s. Then, you have three preamp tube selections and passive or active tone control, so you have 12 distinct settings.”


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