Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head

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

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All user reviews for the Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head

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

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.

rodtaq's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Top"

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
Lamp, 1w 5w 18w adjustable 0w (headphones or direct) very practical home studio and concert (direct output + transplanted in parallel on general enclosure)
I leave the description on manufacturer website
Compact, lightweight, rather pretty


Simple Config, clear manual
Setting eq common between the two (clean or distortion)
But the size being reduced can not have everything I note 8

My adjustment Adjustable base:
Treble -5
Mid -2
Bass +3

Home 0w or 1w,
repet 5w group, and small concert hall and once 5w 18


Yes: blues, rock, jazz no hard
Its clear, very friendly (with good bass adjustment)
A little distortion on the lens or not very pleasant (note not my priority as -1)
D 'or use only clean channel with distortion pedal
Boost really powerful (too)

Gibson Les Paul guitar and amp vox AC30 2 greenback


Almost 2 years
Yes orange, vox train, palmer
+ Adjustable Watt
+ Direct output position
+ Clean sound and ease SETTINGS
+ Crunch (it takes a little searching by against)
+ 4cables method
+ Transportability

Its distortion-
Common-tuning the two outputs

Very good value for money, yes I would do this choice

mathieufrancis's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Yeah"

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
Small head of all-tube amp 18W
2 channels, 1 boost
XLR output with HP calculator


Simple and classic config, controllable with a standard 2 channel footswitch.


Very good clear sound, the settings are effective, we can get very bright or very round sound without saturating with good presence.
Distortion channel: big disappointment for me, not a super grain crunch rather cold actually. No presence (currently lamps there?) ... Fetching of metal sounds, not enough gain and boost only adds a very rough appearance to the whole. Impossible to leave the mix group.


I used it once again, no sound, no grain, unusable group what ... Good after this is only my opinion metalhead, but apart from the clear, I do not like at all this amp, I sold and replaced by a Laney IRT studio for the same price offers much better sound quality and a wider range of sounds (and spring mix it!)

Daran27's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Great!"

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
This is an all-tube amp. It is very versatile, lightweight, and can be used in all situations, namely room then repeated serious concert to a potentiometer that changes the output power 18w to 5w 1w to see 0w to register via silent Integrated redbox (cabinet simulation output XLR).


Extremely easy to use.


On a clear sound crystalline saturated through the crunch


It's been almost a year that I use it. I do it again the same choice if I had to do

marco1129's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
All Lamps

1w, 5w, 18w

2 channels, 1 clean, 1 lead + boost


Yes, clean sounds are crystalline, and distorted sounds are available, a palette


A Vigier Excalibur Shawn Lane
2 blackstar pedals, delay and reverb


8 months

very good price / quality ratio

I remake that choice with a reluctance to rectify a mini but is more expensive.

Hyrius's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" amazing little beast"

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
head tube amp, 2 EL34 equipped for power and two 12AX7 preamp for.
all switchable 1W, 5W and 18W speaker for HP 8 or 16 ohms and little more equipped: a position to be able to play via an XLR therefore relay on the mixing console to play with headphones.
a more wear indicator lamps and a return effect. but no reverb ... ALTHOUGH at this price, we will quibble about that.


on cattle in itself was two separate channels (but the power is not assignable independently as on more efficient heads):

One clean and one saturated lead + button to distos more strong.

NB: the two channels share the same EQ!

the clean channel:

this channel is very easy to use: you rule the gain is equalized, it is mounted master. this amp can have a nice clean (do not dream and that we will have a sound Tween), a little too vague for my taste but it adds a charm to him. Once 10am exceeded the gain knob that crunch. what kind of sound I have not been seduced more than that, so I will not dwell on it.

saturated channel (finally!):

like the previous one, easy to use, we rule the gain is equalized, we do fart master and we are left with a typical distortion of our friends Hughes & Kettner! me that attracted me immediately because the 1st time I tried it, it was a customer who came to order at the store and this was the best surprise for small all-tube head that I could test (Orange Laboga, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Blackstar (yerk!), Vox and Bugera <- MDR).
The sound of this channel is hot, not too specific or too runny. you can get good distortion rock has a typical saturation metal pushing the gain in its entrenchment and engaging the boost.
For the more subdued kind Jazz distortion or change lamps or buy another head.

Being primarily a metalhead, I recommend enter Sovtek for the preamp to get a good distortion busy in the midrange.


"Question: Is it your style of music?"

Unfortunately not enough because I play everything and it is still too typical rock (the reason I went to Mesa)

Regarding sounds, those seeking the lens, past your way, this is fat but no more.

I played it with:
-Les Paul Gold Top 1958 to 1957, standard 2008/2012
-Ibanez JEM7V7-WH
-Select telecaster Gold
Jacobacci-studio 3
-Dean Razorback 10,000

HP H & G 1x12 "HP mesa 4x12" and 2x12 "of my design

in 1W can be played at home but stay around the clean and put a good distortion pedal
in 5W, heat lamps and the roundness of her begin to be felt well on the clean as the distortion
in 18W, it has all the power needed to make repeated group and make small concert without sound in a bar (for after you have transplanted) 2 channels are hot and lamps are very well feel.


I used it for 4 months until I go to my Mesa, and sometimes I miss it because its simple setting is so much more obvious that correct ...

the feature I like least is the lack of rate distortion but for the 40th over and a little elbow grease (but really good) by changing the lamps can level the problem.

what I like most is its price / quality ratio that I find quite exceptional!

with the experience I would definitely did because I was advised more than 20 people in 4 months are all super satisfied, and I plan to redeem myself!

Guiohm's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" I like"

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head
Manual is your friend.


I use a loop to WP8, an Orange 2x12 and DI most of the time to save for cleaner, but it is a (small) compromise. A purist would be taken over by a real studio microphone with cab and proper equipment I guess.
Side head not rocket science, basic and effective. For group play with the 2x12 it has all the fields to express themselves and it is monstrous, no more, no less. See in overall opinion for choosing the firm: for toilets, go to Vox (not what I ever said that?)


Due to its simplicity, I think it may suit all but extreme cases specific or particular really his research. It is intended rather modern but allows a lot of things depending on the hardware you put it in front or behind. And it is precisely from where we can really think outside the box.

DI output and DSP reverb, I love the grain it transmits. I found this little combo lamp of the same brand tried it several years ago and had really liked me. Except that TubeMeister is more accurate for saturation. Besides the lead channel is really interesting, but the boost ok here quickly becomes rough (gain has its limits). I think we should keep in mind that the boost is a function and not a solo channel. The clean is pretty neutral in the sense that we recover the soul of the guitar perfectly magnified.
The lamps are original (Chinese) and the sound is already typed. The presence of dynamics, gain, power.

Equalization is well staged. Note that it is different from one channel to another. The lead is enriched midrange and treble. Enough that it is clearly heard (note pun Tinlin). Returning to our buttons ... The sonic palette of this small anabolisé is vast. From light to very distorted with Standard LP is really good (this incidentally buttons volumes and tones are very useful huh).


I knew his H & K for quite some time and this is the sound I wanted so no hesitation on this side I place between the marshall and Orange, there is a little of both mixed to the original sound. Having tried these two brands more vox (I do not like to suspect quality) in the same category before buying TubeMeister, nothing has me excited. Mesa Boogie off budget. Otherwise side Bugera Ampeg and I think there is good but never tried so it's only a priori.
After it is a matter of taste and need. The DI for example, is essential for me in a home studio.

The choice of the firm is important and for my part I did not like the 1x12 intended for him. In comparison with an Orange 1x12 and I both said in Celestion v30, Orange has a different sound, more dynamic feel of a sound less muffled. Like what the design of the box great interest. I opted for the Orange 2x12 (Jim Root) as well ... I tried it, just like that, and worse to see here I have seen and heard and passed the box

The +:
small, practical, versatile, good sound, red box

The United:
A reverb as you know them have been generous Hugues and Kettner.
Not a fan of the genre neon blue tuning key but it is fashion and I think people are wow this is beautiful (rewahou do it when they hear it)! She ate my whole celebrity that little head ... biiiip