The new Jensen Blackbird 40 and its older brother Blackbird 100

Jensen Speakers is glad to share a wonderful review from German magazine “Grand Guitars”.
Michael Püttmann reviewed the new 12” AlNiCo Jensen Blackbird 40 in comparison with the 12” AlNiCo Jensen Blackbird 100, the flagship speaker in the Jensen Jet Series, used by Mesa/Boogie for the California Tweed amplifier range and arguably one of the top guitar speakers of all times. Will its smaller sibling, the Blackbird 40, stand up to the performance of the Blackbird 100?
You will discover all in this quite detailed review that explains equally well the concept and the technical background and provides a very appropriate tonal description of the two loudspeakers, that is never an easy task.
Here below some excerpts, and the link to the magazine’s home page, to download the original article from – in German language only,
Thank you Michael Püttmann –!


Already the Beatles were inspired by the sweet song of blackbirds for their hymn “Blackbird”. The manufacturer SICA Altoparlanti, based on the Italian Adriatic coast, probably had a similar experience. Since the end of the 1990s, the company has not only revived the vintage models of the US classic Jensen under license, but has also repeatedly presented new developments, most recently the Blackbird 40 from the Jet series. Its big brother, the Blackbird 100, has enjoyed great popularity for a few years now, especially in the 12-inch version. Being fit with an AlNiCo magnet surprisingly resilient up to 100 watts, it has a typical American sound with a strikingly warm treble character. 

The Blackbird 100 rounded out the present highs of the Deluxe Reverb easily and very musically. Typical for an American speaker is its fine, but somewhat subdued midrange. The low frequencies, on the other hand, are powerful and fat, for my taste just within the best range, but again enriching for home players. I like this excellent AlNiCo, because it always remains stable, defined and wonderfully musical even when operated at the crunch threshold. This is true even with my Analog Man Sunface NKT Germanium Fuzz over the heavy-hand side of the King Tone Duellist set to only slightly crunchy with delay mixed in, so it’s a pretty gainy sound. If I were to leave it in my Fender for the long haul, I would probably modify the amp a bit tighter in the bass range and thus optimally tune it to the Blackbird 100.

The Blackbird 40 is also a truly excellent AlNiCo speaker, which will undoubtedly spread a lot of inspiration and joy when used in the right way. On the way from the workshop to my studio box, I thought I could feel the 1,200 grams less, whereas already the Blackbird 100 is about 1,500 grams lighter than the Vintage 30. The first time I played it directly with my 1963 Strat, it became clear that the Blackbird 40 has a much more open treble characteristic than its older brother. In its midrange presentation, the lower ranges are somewhat more recessed than in the Blackbird 100, the response seems slightly slimmer. On the other hand, the Blackbird 40 has a tighter, but still quite present bass range […] I can very well imagine that the Blackbird 40 would come into its own in a Tweed Champ-style amp, a Tweed Deluxe or a low-power Twin. In any case, it is recommended for friends of bell-like but musical highs that remain musical and assertive even in overdrive, especially when using large pedalboards that are not or only slightly buffered, and when the humbucker-equipped guitars may sound too mushy.

Conclusions: The proven Blackbird 100 and its younger relative, the Blackbird 40, clearly enrich the model range of Vintage Jensen reissues. While the Blackbird 100 is ideal for slightly warming up trebles that are perceived as too sharp, the new Blackbird 40 with its bass punch, transparent midrange and clear treble can help create an American modernized vintage sound. It would be exciting to experience how its character would develop in the course of a play-in time of around 50 hours at live level.


grand gtrs & basses 1.2021
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