Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head

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TubeMeister 18 Head, Tube Guitar Amp Head from Hughes & Kettner in the TubeMeister series.

23 user reviews
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Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head tech. sheet

  • Manufacturer: Hughes & Kettner
  • Model: TubeMeister 18 Head
  • Series: TubeMeister
  • Category: Tube Guitar Amp Heads
  • Added in our database on: 03/21/2011

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Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head user reviews

Average Score:4.5( 4.5/5 based on 23 reviews )
 13 reviews57 %
 6 reviews26 %
 1 user review4 %
 1 user review4 %
Audience: Value For Money :

jefferyfreelance's review"A Great Amp with Excellent Sound, Good Features, and One Minor Flaw."

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
I admit, I can be dazzled by sparkly things. When I saw the first ad for the Hughes and Kettner Tubemeister 18 I was excited, with its blue glowing front panel. It looked fantastic, and the description of features sounded like just what I was looking for. I bought the Tubemeister 18 Head to use in my rig. I play in a local band that gigs about twice a month, and this amp suits my purposes perfectly.

Power Soak

The power soak was what I was most interested in. Being able to adjust the volume through wattage output rather than the master volume is a big advantage, especially when using pedals. Distortion pedals are affected by volume, but using the power soak does not cause volume discrepancies like using a master volume. 18 watts is great for gigs, 5 watts is perfect for rehearsal, 1 watt is best for at home practicing, and turning off the output and sending out through the built-in Red Box is great for recording. In certain situations I have even sent my signal out to the main mixing board via the Red Box. I would rather mic my cabinet, but sometimes that just is not possible. Having a built-in DI box is a great feature.

FX Loop and Channels

The serial FX loop is great for effects that you do not want going through the lead channel. I have a reverb pedal going through mine all the time, I will speak about why in a bit. You can hook-up a footswitch to go between the clean and lead channel. There is a boost feature that can be added on top of the lead channel, but not onto the clean channel. This is really good for going from a clean sound to full out lead by having the boost pre-trigger then switching to the lead channel.

The Sound

I do not use a footswitch with my Tubemiester 18, because it works really well with pedals. I have yet to find a pedal that does not sound good going into this amp, and believe me I have plenty to try. The sound of this amp is so good it made me rethink the rest of my signal chain. When I bought the amp I was using a multi-effects device that included amp modeling. The amp models masked the tone of the amp so much I had to do something different. I ended up going to individual pedals which allowed the amp to really shine.


Another nice feature is TSC, Tube Safety Control, which monitors the tubes in the amp. I have yet to have an issue, but it is nice to give the back of the amp a quick glance to make sure everything is running fine.


The amp head is very light, and easy to transport with the included gig bag. I keep a speaker cabinet at my band’s rehearsal space, and a cabinet at home for practicing. This makes it easy to go back and forth from home to practice. I still have to take a cabinet to gigs, but that is a given anyway. It can handle 8-16 ohms speakers.


This amp looks fantastic on stage. This may not be a reason to buy an amp, but it is a nice benefit. A very sturdy metal enclosure protects the inner workings on the amp. The 3-band EQ is great for dialing in your tone, but the true tone of the amp is so good it will not take too much twisting to find the sweet spot.


There is no reverb on this amp. Like I said, I was using a multi-effects device when I initially bought the amp head so the fact it had no reverb did not bother me. I had reverb aplenty already. When I switched to pedals, then I had a problem. I ended up buying a reverb pedal, and put it on my pedalboard. Once I realized that I left it on all the time I removed it from the board, and now it sits on my amp fed through the FX loop, where it sounds best.

Final Thoughts

This is a great sounding amp. The clean tone is very crisp, and allows each note of the chord to be heard clearly. It takes pedals really well, and has a very good dirty sound. The distortion is not enough by itself for a heavy metal player, but for the rock crowd it is plenty good enough. Add your own distortion pedal, and you can take this amp to thrasher heaven. It is a perfect size and wattage for gigging in bars and clubs. It has a very modern sound with all the sonic benefits of tubes.

James...'s review"Really great 18 watter"

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
With all these manufacturers getting into the compact low wattage amp game, I figured it was only a matter of time before Kettner got into the fray. But this company always seems to do things their way. They prove that they can take a good idea and put their own German spin on things.

This is a small buy fairly well featured amp with an effective 3 channels and power reduction feature for low volume use. It also has the timeless Kettner Red Box on board and ready to go. El84 power tubes of course. On paper this looks like a pretty versatile amp.


The footswitch makes things simple enough. There is an FX loop which is a nice thing to include for guys like me who almost can't live without one. It's not that hard to dial in, the controls are pretty elementary. I haven't had mine long but if my previous HK products are any indicator this thing should be able to survive a 50 foot drop. The tubes don't need biasing...nice to know. Overall I have no complaints here. My footswitch works well. The weight is where it needs to be.


The clean channel doesn't break up much from power amp cranking unless you are in a low watt mode. Kettner designed it to work like a Mesa clean channel and rely on preamp gain. I'm not a big fan of these kinds of clean channels but it sounds good enough for me. Kettner is not really known for their amazing cleans. if you want that get a Vox or Blackface. The lead channel is very hughes and kettner. Kind of like a Marshall meets a well mannered Soldano. Those of you who have played a Duotone will have an idea what I'm talking about. It's a pretty refined lead sound. The boost channel is obviously for liquid amounts of gain and it's voiced for heavy rock. Sometimes it can be a little out of control. But to other players this is desirable. Maybe I'm old fashioned.


Time will tell if these catch on and compete with the likes of the Tiny Terror and the newer Mesa mini rec series. Some say this market is overflooded but I've tried most of the 18 watt offerings and this is a very appetizing entry for someone who wants all the channels covered. I really like mine and I'm gonna hold on to it and sell my Mesa mini rec I just got.
King Loudness11/29/2011

King Loudness's review"What an amp!"

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
The H&K Tubemeister 18 is a recent model offering from the company that combines KILLER tube tone with a portable package for recording. It has two channels, clean and drive. Each channel has its own gain and master volume controls, but they share a three band EQ section. It's powered by a pair of EL84s delivering 18 watts. There is also an onboard boost for the lead channel and an effects loop as well. Did I mention its small size? This attribute makes it perfect to grab and go as a small amplifier for gigs and recording.


This amp is very British in its general tonal nature. The EQ responds more like a Marshall type amp than a Fender or Mesa Boogie. Having only the single EQ will be a drag for some players, but it is what it is. It's also admittedly not the highest gain amp in the world, but you can get great eighties tones out of it with the gain maxed. I found it fairly easy to dial in and get tones going due to the lack of superfluous features. It sounded great at a variety of volume levels as well, making it a GREAT practice or recording amp.


This amp seems to respond well to a variety of guitars and tonal styles. The clean channel has a nice sparkle that works well with a Strat or Tele for funky or fusion type tones. Using a Gibsongives it a bit more body and girth for jazz and blues tones. The drive channel can do everything from Zeppelin to Ratt with ease. The rig particularly shined for eighties rock using an EVH Wolfgang and EVH 4x12 cab. Using that combined with the gain boost was probably my favourite tone of the day from this amp.


All in all I think this amp is a great addition to the lunchbox heads on the market. It combines great tones with portability and a very reasonable price of $600. It has a variety of purposes and sounds killer to boot! Definitely worth a look for sure!

iamqman's review"Nice compact head"

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
This is a pint size amp for those needing to get a lot of tone out of a small lunch box size head. This little amp has two channels one dedicated to the cleans one for the distortion. What is great about this amp is the red box feature. I'm not talking about the red box full of blu rays and dvd's at your local shopping mart. I'm talking about a speaker simulated interface that allows you to go direct from the amp into a recording session or the house PA system. This is a great features for those where playing loud can be an issue and you need to silence you loud rocking guitar tones.

Another wonderful feature is the self biasing on the back of the amp. This amp will auto bias you tubes so you don't have to shell out $50 to get it done by some tech down the street. This is great for people and allows you to not skip a beat leaving you amp on someone else bench for a day or two.


Channels 2
Power 18 Watts
Dimensions 356 x 156 x 150 mm
Weight 5 kg

Warm tube tone with phenomenal dynamic range that sweeps from sparkling clean to throaty crunch

Harmonically rich tube distortion and the gain reserves to go from edgy overdrive to soaring lead sounds

Re-voices LEAD to summon modern high-gain sound that pairs plenty of punch with endless sustain

Passive voicing section tweaked to evoke the best frequency response out of each channel

Preamp section sporting two 12AX7 tubes

Push-pull power amp that pumps out stage-approved 18 watts

Oversized transformers with tons of headroom

TSC-protected power amp featuring auto-bias and status LED

Footswitch connection enabling remote channel switching and BOOST actuation

Serial FX loop for adding effects-flavored spice to the sonic stew

Quad-stage power soak with silent recording capability

Balanced RED BOX OUT with authentic speaker emulation


The clean on this amp is pretty solid. Nothing to complain about too much. It isn't as sparkly as I would have hoped but it will do. It still is chimy and sweet but not exactly the perfect clean channel.

The distortion channel is pretty good though. The tone is beefy and thick like all the Hughes and Kettner amps have. Having the lead boost kicks up the gain a bit and gets sustaining very well. I really like the tone of this amp and I find it has a similar voicing to the rest of the line of amps.


At new these amps come at around $699, which is a great price for this versatile head. I love the tone from this amp and the many features especially on the back side of this amp. The auto bias and the red box is a very great addition to a very great sounding amplifier.

I would recommend this amp to anyone who needs a good multiple channel amp that can be playing live or direct in to a recording booth. If you need something under $1000 then this is a good one to go for.

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head news

[NAMM] Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister Series

[NAMM] Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister Series

Published on 07/20/11
Hughes & Kettner has announced the new Tubemeister line of amps.

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Other names: tube meister 18 head, tm18h, tm 18h, tm18 head

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