very cool to be able to move between a big,
powerful clean tone to a snarling bark by
simply flipping the pickup switch.
The TubeMeister’s Lead channel was
impressive, too—there’s enough gain on
tap for everything from blues to hard rock
and metal. AC/DC and Mountain riffs had
the same tight voicing and articulate highs
that the clean channel exhibited, only with
a creamy distorted foundation. Kicking in
the Lead Boost pushed the amp into headbanger territory. The most impressive aspect
of this channel—with and without the Lead
Boost engaged—was how well it reacted to
my picking technique. Played with a more
fluid, lax style, the notes were bouncier and
lows and mids had more give, while tighter,
more percussive picking firmed things up
considerably— coaxing a perfect thrash
tone that kept up with furious triplets and
quick power-chord riffing.
To hear how this little blue-eyed devil
would push a 4x12 cab, I routed it to an
Emperor 4x12 with Weber C1265 speakers
and plugged in a 1978 Greco GC-700 Les
Paul clone. With this setup, the TubeMeister
took on a more massive character but with
the same balanced, high-fidelity tone.
However, while that treble clarity worked
really well with the smaller Epi cab, the
highs bordered on harsh with the Emperor.
Luckily, this was easily remedied with the
guitar’s Tone knob and moderated Treble
settings on the amp—although some of the
amp’s trademark detail was also sacrificed
in the process. In the end, I found that the
TubeMeister sounded more dimensional
with the Epi cab’s single speaker than with
the Emperor’s speaker complement.
you’re after detailed tones in a
smartly appointed package that
won’t break the bank—or your back.
your tonal proclivities veer toward
the vintage end of the spectrum.
Hughes & Kettner
Hughes & Kettner did a fantastic job
designing and building the TubeMeister
18. It serves up great tones in a portable
package that’s very accessibly priced. It
has a high-fidelity tinge that’s typical of
many other Hughes & Kettner amps—
which means it won’t replace or replicate
the unique voices of a vintage Fender or
Marshall—but in terms of quality, flexibility, and diversity of tones, it’s one of the
best small-wattage amps out there.
or use a mobile device to watch a
video review of the amp at