Blackstar Sonnet 120 Acoustic Amp Review
Verdict and Review Summary
Blackstar's acoustic combo is flexible with a ton of functionality. In a market that hasn't seen a ton of acoustic amplifier options (they usually come in preamp pedal form), the Sonnet series provides a needed commodity at an incredibly decent price. Hard to find anything to complain about unless you want to do some serious hair splitting.
Blackstar is a really solid mid-tier amp builder.
For those wanting a lower price, but still want something in the same style as a Mesa or Diezel amp, I've always recommended Blackstar as a good compromise. Their new (at the time of writing this review) line of acoustic amps match the same standard of value, giving you a highly functional and great sounding amplifier for an incredibly generous price.
I got a chance to test and review the Sonnet 120, which is a 120 watt acoustic combo amp on the smaller side.
A 60 watt version is also available.
Though the 120 watt Sonnet is plenty loud, especially for indoors. Plus it has balanced (XLR) outputs that allow you to go straight into a PA system. Often I'll recommend going smaller and lower wattage when buying an amp, but the 120 actually gives you a bit more control than the 30 and 60 watt versions.
In this case, it's worth it to go up to the higher wattage option.
I'll detail my experience here in my full Blackstar Sonnet 120 review.
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Compare the Blackstar Sonnet 120 with similar acoustic amplifiers using our comparison table below. Note that products without a rating simply don't have a singular review yet.
Blackstar Sonnet 120
Fender Acoustasonic 40
Boss Acoustic Singer
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Manufacturer Audio Demo
Price Tracking (includes 120 and 60 watt versions)
This section allows you to compare pricing from multiple vendors for the Sonnet 120, as well as setup price alerts and view price history. If you have questions, feel free to get in touch via the comments section below.
Current Sweetwater Pricing
Price Alert Tool
Quick-Look Blackstar Sonnet 120 Review Card
For those in more of a hurry, this is a quick-look rating card for the Blackstar Sonnet 120, with some basic ratings and pros/cons.
IDEAL FOR: Indoor practice, small to mid-sized venues, church, warm tones, flexibility, acoustic reverb
Overall Tone Quality
As I mentioned in the review card, I tested the Sonnet 120 with my Taylor 114ce acoustic, which is a concert-style body with a cutaway. These guitars (and the concert body style in general) tend to be on the brighter side and make their living more so with fingerpicking and lead acoustic as opposed to strumming.
Over the years I've used a handful of different preamps for that guitar and none of them have been quite as warm and inviting as the Sonnet 120.
That's the most defining feature of this amp, which impressed me given the natural brightness of my guitar.
I could dial in more highs if I wanted to, but it sounded so good on the low end that I wanted to camp out there most of the time.
The Fishman Loudbox has several ambient and modulation effects, while the Sonnet 120 has four reverb modes. I'd be willing to sacrifice a couple reverb modes for chorus or delay, but that's not a deal breaker.
Since the 120 has two channels, the reverb is mirrored on both with the reverb type selector controlling both channels. Unfortunately, you can't select a different reverb type for each channel. Again, not a huge problem but something to keep in mind.
You also have a time control that allows you to tweak the reverb trail.
What would really improve this feature is a wet/dry mix, but the quality of the reverb effects still sound great.
Controls and EQ
Like the reverb, EQ is mirrored on both channels. Phase and Shape buttons are on both channels as well. This can be useful if you're running two acoustic guitars with two different tunings. You can just switch them out with the EQs already set. Here are the controls you have to work with on each channel:
All of this control gave me plenty of room to play and a broad range of tones to work with. I have the preamp on my guitar taped off, and I never change it. So this was a good way to add some variety and flexibility to my acoustic tone.
Again, the default of the amp seemed to be warm, so much so that I had to be pretty intentional about getting things to a brighter sound.
Though you also brilliance knob and a hi-pass filter, which are universal to both channels.
Adding a little more midrange and turning up the brightness gave off a really nice higher-end tone without sounding too harsh.
How it Compares to Preamp Pedals
I've tried a handful of preamps with my acoustic guitar, primarily the following:
- LR Baggs Venue DI
- LR Baggs Para DI
While these double as DI boxes, their primary function is to serve as a preamp in pedal form. I think the biggest difference between the Sonnet and the pedals is how large and thick the tone from the Sonnet sounded. In the pedals, I find myself avoiding push too much volume because it just sounds too chaotic and aggressive for an acoustic guitar.
The Sonnet 120 had a way of adding a lot of volume and gain while still sounding like an acoustic guitar.
This is also part of what makes the warmth so easy to dial in.
It makes sense, given that the Sonnet is giving you 120 watts while the preamp pedals are essentially just an EQ.
Overall Value (price)
Blackstar has always struck a good balance between price and quality.
The same is true of the Sonnet series, which has primarily three models:
- 30 watt version
- 60 watt version
- 120 watt version
As the wattage goes up, so does price and some features are stripped out of the lower wattage models. While I'd be happy with a 60 watt amp, the 120 is still an extremely decent price, plus you get the full compliment of features and controls.
Check the pricing tools above for a current cost, but I'd argue that the Blackstar Sonnet 120 is a higher-value option that gives you plenty for what you pay.
Ideal Fit and Context
Like most acoustic amps, the Sonnet is great as an open air practice amp, or a buffer between your guitar and a PA system in a live environment. It's a great option for small to mid-sized venues, perhaps for restaurants or bar gigs, especially those that want to run two guitars.
It's also a great fit for recording and studio work.
I'm planning to use it at church, for sending a signal to our PA system and then using it as my own personal monitor (I'll just turn it sideways instead of facing out into the crowd).
Given the low price, there are plenty of contexts in which the Sonnet 120 would be a fantastic solution.
To be fair, I haven't tested a lot of acoustic amps in my time, but I definitely liked what the Sonnet was able to do more than what I've gotten out of isolated acoustic preamps.
Overall, I was totally impressed with this amplifier, given what it costs.
It will absolutely make your guitar rig better, so I'm comfortable recommending it without hesitation.
If you have questions about our Blackstar Sonnet 120 review, or about our testing/review process, leave it in the comments section below and I'll help out as much as possible.
We'll see you there.