Blackstar Fly 3 Micro-Amp Review: A Life Changer

Hey good people! My name is Alon, I'm 27 and I play mainly the guitar, piano, and harmonica. In the last few years, I traveled through four different continents with my guitar while performing and teaching music. Currently, I am based in sunny Tel Aviv, Israel. The GuitarHippies mission: To get you to enjoy your musical journeys to the fullest. Cheers!

About five months ago I decided that since I am traveling often, and that my main focus right now is on playing the electric guitar and not the acoustic, I want to buy a travel amp. I heard previously that there's a relatively new category on the market of new micro amps and honestly, I was very skeptical about the quality, sound and volume they can provide, but decided to do some research, and ended up with the Fly 3 – which surprised me in all aspects. Here's my review about it:

When I researched, he internet said that the Blackstar Fly 3 is the only one that actually sounds good from the bunch, (there are also the Marshall Mini Amp, the Orange Crush Micro Amp, Honeytone Mini Amp, Fender's, and more) but I still decided to go ahead and went to a couple of stores to check them all out.

My conclusion was that even though they were all about the same size and in the same price range, the Blackstar did definitely sound the best, and so I decided to get it – still very excited from the fact that I'll have an amp that I can carry around in my bag. So I shelled out 55$, and this is where our story begins.

blackstar review

My Fly 3 next to its best friend – my Swedish blues queen – the Hagstrom Viking. Check out how they sound like together in the video below.

blackstar fly 3 review 5

Some of the competition. All of them are in the 30$-70$. First of all, we're lucky that technology has made guitar amps so small, and I appreciate that. However, my biggest problem when I tried them was that they all had a very dry and tiny sound, and lacked the delay, and also the crunchiness that the Fly 3 delivers. (picture source: premierguitar.com)

The Blackstar Fly 3 Review – After 4 Months of Heavy Use (My video review is followed by a text summary of the review)

Micro-Amp Review – Blackstar Fly3: Life Changing

This video above was filmed almost three months ago, and since then I only grew to be even more thankful for it. 

The video really sums it all up succinctly while giving you the most important thing of all – sound samples. However, I still want to give you the most important points of the review right here, so there you go:

The Blackstar Fly 3 Review – PROS
  • The extreme portability is what makes it a life changer for me. Again, being able to have an amp that sounds great and that I can easily walk around with to friends (in my bag), to the beach, or even just to a quick jam in the living room without a second thought – is something completely new for me. As an electric guitar guy, I don't have to “settle” for an acoustic guitar anymore when I'm outside my house.
  • SOUND: As I say in the video, I was astounded that this little one sounds better than my Vox VT40+, which is also considered a great amp and weighs and costs 10X more! It basically rendered my Vox useless and I barely touch it now. You can play around with some great cleans, into crunchy, grungy sounds that are just a lot of fun to play with, especially on my favorite Jimi Hendrix, Clapton, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and blues tunes.
  • Delay: I can't stand a “dry” electric guitar sound, and my biggest problem with all of the other amps was that they lacked any sort of delay or reverb. Here you get an excellent delay effect built in, with an option to play around with two factors around it: time, (how long the delay will stretch) and also about how noticeable it will be to begin with.
  • The EQ knob: A cool feature to give you more sound variety – you can set the sound between “British” (definitely my favorite) and “American” . It's hard to explain the difference here so I'll send you to the middle of the video to check it out yourself.
blackstar fly 3 review

The sound controls – richer than I expected. See the video to listen to how it sounds like in different configurations)

  • The volume is surprisingly very high: Since it's so small and only 3W, I was skeptical of how loud it will be, and if I'll be able to play my favorite songs on full volume in my stereo system and jam along with them (like I alwasys do with my other amp) but I was surprised to find out that it can blow my ears in my music practice room. Literally. Especially if I twist the gain knob to the heavier side. If you're only playing clean it will be loud – but not too loud. Bottom line – for practicing by yourself and even playing in a practice room with a not-too-loud band, it totally cuts the job. Still, I'm very surprised.
  • Excellent overdrive channel: by pressing down the OD button you get a highly distorted channel which works great for solos – especially if you're more into the heavier rock / metal sound. It also bumps up the volume dramatically, to levels that I don't think you want to get to in a room – unless you want to cause yourself some ear damage…
blackstar fly 3 review 2

It also comes in white or black with a UK flag on the front grill. I actually wish I knew it before I purchased mine…

  • The convenience of not having to plug in the electricity, and not having to carry around an electricity cable besides the guitar cable when you haul the amp around. More on that in the next point.
  • Price: I think it's hard to argue that 55$ for an amp that sounds so good is more than decent.
  • The batteries last a very long time. I play the electric on average for one hour a day, usually with a relatively high volume and gain, and so far each cycle of 6 AA batteries lasted me for a month. Again, a huge surprise since I was sure it only lasts for a couple of hours and I was bummed that they do not supply a power supply, (you can use one but you need to purchase it separately) but after I noticed the longevity on the batteries I actually said “why bother”. You can get a rechargeable set of batteries if you want but I use plain AA alkalines and I'm happy so far.
  • You can plug your phone into it and use it as a speaker, even while you play the guitar – so you can jam with your favorite songs.

 

blackstar fly3 mini amp

You can get a Blackstar Fly 3 “Pack” of two speakers, and they'll play your guitar in stereo. I tried it in the store, and while it was pretty cool, I did not see a real need to get it. Plus it adds some hassle which I don't like. Anyway, you can still disconnect that second one if you wish and use it as a single.

Blackstar Fly 3 Review – CONS:
  • As much as I try to make this an even review, the (almost) only con I could think of is the fact that it does not come with a power supply and you have to buy one (if you don't want to use batteries) – AND it costs about half of the amp itself. Perhaps it's hard to ask for more in the 55$ I paid for the amp, but hey, at least I got one con on it.
  • Another one – if you want the amp to sounds good to your ears, you better not place it on the floor, but instead place it somewhere close to your ears height. This means that it might be on a table or something like that, so be careful to not place it near the edge – so it won't fall down if you step on the cable. I actually already had a few close calls with this one.
blackstar fly 3 review 3

The dedicated power supply unit that you need to purchase separately if you wish. I opt, at least for now, to just stick to 6 AA batteries since it's hassle free and they last for a very long time anyway.

blackstar_fly_mini_guitar_amp32

6 AA batteries * about 1 hour a day, last me on average for one month. I was surprised by the efficiency.


So those were my two cents on it, if you have electric guitar and you want to be able to take it out of the house, even occasionally, and without the hassle of carrying a huge amp – then this is the best gift you can purchase for yourself. Enjoy!

P.S – if you have it and you got any more ideas for “cons”, to make this a more even review, let me know in the comments. (-;

Alon

blackstar fly 3 review

The best price is on Amazon – 55$. Link here.

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