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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jefferyfreelance 04/03/2015

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 Head : jefferyfreelance's user review

« A Great Amp with Excellent Sound, Good Features, and One Minor Flaw. »

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Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Anyone
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.