In a very short period of time Blackstar have built a solid reputation as a manufacturer of innovative, practical designs that provide the maximum quota of bangs for the minimum amount of bucks. But in the value for money stakes, they may have outdone themselves with the small yet perfectly formed Fly 3.

Its £49, cheaper than a cheap overdrive and cheaper than any amp other than those novelty micro stacks we’ve all had at one point in our lives (and quickly abandoned).

The influence of it’s bigger siblings in the ID range is pretty clear, along with the master volume and gain knob, you also get a knob for Blackstar’s ISF (infinite shape filter). This gives you a range of tones from British grit to American sparkle. It’s a much more subtle, usable and musical tone shaping option than a traditional tone knob. There is also a knob controlling a digital delay – this is not hugely versatile but thickens up the already excellent tone nicely. There is also an OD switch to in effect give you a 2 channel amp.

This miniscule 3 watter has more crafty tricks up its sleeve. The 3” speaker is full range and not voiced like a guitar amp speaker at all but is designed to add as little colour to the tone as possible so is ideal for playing along to a MP3 track.

How does all this work? I tried a 1986 Ibanez Roadstar for single coil duties to try out the clean tones and they are pretty good, more Mesa Boogie than Fender but with a transparent, modern twang. With a Gibson 335 and overdrive turned up there is a nice, tight medium overdrive tone. It’s not a Marshall stack, but look at the size of the thing. The delay thickens up the tone and has a nice analogue-y feel to it. For £20, you can also get an extension cab to make the world’s smallest stack.

This miniscule 3 watter has more crafty tricks up its sleeve. The 3” speaker is full range and not voiced like a guitar amp speaker at all but is designed to add as little colour to the tone as possible so is ideal for playing along to a MP3 track. Battery life is also excellent, ranging from 6 to 40 hours depending on the volume and the amount of overdrive and delay.

It’s designed purely for practice and bedroom noodling and is far too quiet to ever gig with. But it is brilliantly designed for practice work and you get a wide range of amp tones of amazing quality for the size of the package. There is nothing this small and this cheap that sounds anywhere near as good and I cannot think of any player that would not get something from it.

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