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Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 - 36/18/5/1-watt Tube Head Reviews

5.0 stars based on 20 customer reviews
Questions about the Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 - 36/18/5/1-watt Tube Head?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Charlie Davis

    The Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 is a great sounding, versatile amplifier. Its three channels each have a wide range of tones and selectable power. I used it for a session recently, and it exceeded all my expectations. One of my favorite things was the built-in Red Box DI. This helped us get real amp tones direct into Pro Tools, without worrying about amp bleed into the drum mics. Overall, a great multi-purpose amp that will be at home on stage or in any studio.

  • from February 9, 2017

    Incredible tone!

    If you are a tone junky, don't look any further than the tubemeister 36. Picked this up after years with another name brand tube amp and wish I did it sooner. This amp is very articulate and insanely fun to play. Although I love tube spring reverb, this digital setup is almost as good. Especially since it mellows out in the crunch and overdrive settings avoiding a muddier sound common with reverb and overdrive. I have read other reviews about changing tubes to help but I personally don't think it's necessary. Obviously different tubes lend towards different tones, but don't think for a second the stock tubes won't do the job well. The power soak is a huge reason i bought the amp and it does exactly as advertised. From 36 watts to 1 watt, this amp keeps its voicing perfectly. I haven't used the redbox yet but have read good things. If you have a chance to play it, do it. If not, don't lose any sleep ordering it based on reviews. You will not be disappointed! So stop over thinking your decision and buy this amp.

    As always Sweetwater did an exceptional job from start to finish. The head and 1x12 cab showed up in perfect condition on time. Nothing but good experiences with them.

  • from Stockton, CA February 9, 2017

    Beyond expectations

    First I would like to mention Adam Szmurlo , My personal sales engineer ,He is a pleasure to work with Thanks Adam!
    This is one killer Amp, It cuts through the mix, It sounds damned good, The Midi input works great.
    I run a Midi-Moose - to Alesis Quadraverb- thru to the midi input of the TubeMeister 36 , Allows me to switch channels Clean-Crunch-Lead and the Quadraverb programs simutaniousely , I can do this 126 times if I like HA!
    Another thing about Hughes & Kettner is they ship this unit with a very durable gig bag , ( Almost an insult to call it a bag)
    For those having trouble with Midi, I made the mistake of plugging my cable in and the pins were not aligned. no harm done it just did not work.
    I recommend this amp , it suits my needs sonically and has a great sound of its own.

  • from Dallas December 31, 2016Music Background:

    Unreal Tone

    I have been searching for a mid range all tube head for a while and had a chance to play a Tubemeister 36 a while back and continued going back to it. The clean tones from this amp are the best I have ever heard in this price range. I was also impressed with the lead and crunch channels even though I generally use pedals but have really enjoyed the sounds I get when not wanting to use pedals. I paired with a single 12 inch H&K and wish I would have gotten 2 12s. I give this amp 5 stars

  • from CA November 30, 2016Music Background:


    Yes I moved up, Complete guitar rig over haul.
    Every Channel works for me , Clean, Crunch & Solo.
    Yes I use a Midi controller with a rack mount effect unit, works perfectly!
    Yes rack effects sound good through effect loop. Changes channels & effect simultaneously VIA Midi controller.

    Hybrid mix between Midi & pedalboard pedals.
    DI out Live Sound System, "Sweet", no complaints from sound engineers.
    I am really really Happy I chose this this head it FAR exceeded my expectations.
    Along with the 2 H&K 1x12s, I am SET!

  • from September 16, 2016

    No hesitation on powe

    This head is more than expected. Clean sounds, complete volume control. 1 watt tube saturation and redbox are ideal recording tools.

  • from Columbia, SC August 21, 2016

    Blown Away

    The best amp I have ever owned. The sounds are phenominal. Love the clean channel as I was looking for an amp with pristine cleans and I was not disapointed. The crunch qnd lead channels rock as well. I have heard others describe the lead channel as "fizzy" and to them I say you need to check your cabinet or speakers. There is no fizziness here. This amp is the easiest amp I have ever owned to diql in that perfect tone I qm looking for. The sound just seems to fall in to place with little to no tweaking. Love the power soak feature. There seems to be little to no loss of tone running this amp at any of its power settings. My only complaint with this amp is that the reverb on/off switch and level dial are on the back of the amp. This makes adjustment of this feature a little quirky but its not a deal breaker by any means. As far as Sweetwater I can not say enough good things about them. This was my first time buying from them and they went that extra mile and a half to make my experience a great one. Joe James my personal sales engineer did a great service by matching a lower price for me. He followed up with a personal phone call to tell me when my item would ship and when it would be delivered. Loving everything about this experience. Loving H&K, Sweetwater, and Joe James. You rock guys. Keep up the great work and keep those great products comming.

  • from July 1, 2016Music Background:
    Sound engineef

    A great high gain amp

    In the beginning buying this amp seemed costly for my budget but I can say you that it is nothing after having it for a year now! I sold all the synthetic sounding distortion and overdrive pedals just except the blackstar's tube overdrive and booster one. I sold 5 pedals after this amp and now that making a simple calculation, it is like it was half the actual price !! The distortion tones are very very very organic, natural and just like it was on your head until you realise that, that sound was this one:) the Crunch channel gets the same adjectives, just perfect. However keep away if you buy this amp for clean tones, the clean channel is far inferior than a koch studiotone or fender deluxe or bassman 100t or even a bugera. If you are after a country style clean tone than just find a nice DI and record it through some good gear. The result would be far more satisfying. This is for sure not intended for clean stuff it is just intended for overdrive and high gain kind of sound. It does the high gain thing almost same as USD 2000 tagged amps, I made a shoot out against mesa rectifier 100w just to be sure to keep it or to return it and buy a mesa mini rectifier instead and the result was: in lead channel of course mesa was a bit more aggressive and pleasing but neither my wife nor my rock lover dudes were able to tell what is what:), surprisingly on crunch channel it was more creamy than mesa and sounded just better so those people voted for this one.
    The speaker emulated xlr output as all amps I tried is just a toy, nothing can come close to miking a real cab however comparing with some cheap emulators on market, it is one of the best. By the way just a technical note, this amp uses a diode clipper to achieve the distortion sound. It is not a tube distortion 100%. Is this important? The answer from technical point is yes but from audience part is just ********. Just enjoy the sound !
    Finally, I didn't want to write at all but this amp is the most cool looking one in all amps in the market today, just switch the power button on and dim the lights, HAPPY CHRISTMAS! This wasn't a joke it somehow inspires you comparing to ugly looking black amps.

  • from Denton, TX March 22, 2016

    Simply Amazing tone

    This is the best amp I've ever bought. I would have paid way more for it. Amazing tone in a tiny package. The Redbox DI is an absolute game changer for live shows. I paired this with a Boss GT-100 using the 4 cable method and a MIDI cable to control the channels. Definitely purchase something to change your channels if you need it because the footswitch is not included.

  • from Southern Indiana, Louisville KY. March 16, 2016Music Background:
    Small stage, Big stage, for 50 years

    Total tone attack!

    Through my many years as a guitar player, (50) this amp tops the list with it's features, power, tone, and especially it's compact size! I have always played Marshall amps, "800,900.and 2000 series with 1960 cabs, but as I grew older and technology became more evident I started looking to downsize but still refused to give up the tone and power of a tube amp. The clean channel is clear and chimmy, and if you crank up the gain it gives you the perfect breakup for blues. The crunch channel is perfect for just about anything, and I use the 3rd channel (lead) just for a boast for solo's,which has eliminated my volume pedal. ( I use 2 guitars, a 99 American strat with Seymore Duncan SH4 in lead position, and PRS carved top custom 24). I've tried the modeling scene but just couldn't get satisfied with the tones, and the confusion of the multi pedal controls. I like a simple footswitch with the control on your amp, something you see and set just the way you want it instead of scrolling through numbers and memory banks taking up valuable time on the stage. ( I have the FS2 footswitch but H&K also offers the midi footswitch). It is a simple 3 channel amp with power changing features to play any venue, big to small, without sacrificing tone. The red box feature is fantastic giving you the full 4/12 speaker emulation out front where you need it, not on stage creating chaos. Yes I know in ear's were made for that, ( have 2 set's) but I don't like in ears, still prefer floor monitors. The reverb is good and especially sings in the clean channel also allowing me to eliminate a reverb pedal. So if your looking for the amp with features, full sound, yet lightweight because your tired of lugging around the big gear, then I would say check out the TubeMiester 36. Oh yes, this is NOT a amp made in China, it is German made with a great warranty. And one last thing, Sweetwater is the place to buy this amp, with there tech support and GREAT Customer Service, you can't lose!

  • from North Dakota January 29, 2016Music Background:
    Worship Leader

    Great Amp!

    I love this amp! There were a few others I was looking but the H & K came out ahead, it had the features I was looking for. It has great tone, and I love the flexibility of the 3 channels. The Clean & Crunch channels are awesome no matter what Guitar I have strapped on!

    My favorite option has to be the Red Box DI. The ability to plug directly into the front of house and just use a small cabinet on stage to reduce the stage volume is a Great feature!

    I have used a bunch over the first month of ownership and have not been disappointed and it has been a great addition to my gear! H&K got it right! It is solid and very ascetically pleasing to the eye as well!

    Great product and I urge other players to strongly consider this amp if they are looking for new one or adding to their collection!

  • from January 28, 2016

    Great amp!!

    I love this amp! The clean channel on this amp is amazing! I dont care for the 2 distortion channels, but that's not what I bought it for. I needed a smooth clean tone and this amp has it! I added a mxr 10 band eq to boost the low end a little bit and i finally found the tone that I've been looing for. I would definitely buy this amp again! Five stars for Sweetwater customer service!

  • from Humble, Texas November 11, 2015

    Blue light special

    I purchased a few amps quite recently and the Tubemeister head took a back seat for a while. The other amps are Fender, Dr. Z and Mesa Boogie. All great amps.
    I pulled out the Tubemeister tonight and found the sound I was looking for. What a sweet tone!
    I had only played this amp a few times but that will change. It was interesting to play the Tubemeister after focusing on all of these other amps (4 mesas, 2 Fenders and 3 Dr. Zs). The Tubemeister is right at the top.
    What a great find and what a super value. I am looking forward to getting to know this amp better and check out different speaker cabs. I also bought the H&K 2 x 12" cab and will hook it up tomorrow.
    My sales Rep id Tim Harrington. I told him one day that I wanted a new rig that was off the beaten path. He recommended this rig. I believe it is the same rig he is using. He has great taste and good ears.
    Tim is excellent at handling any questions or requests that I present to him. A big salute to Tim and to Sweetwater. Tim also sold me a Rock Crusher and I plan on trying it out with the Tubemeister set to 36 watts.

  • from Houma, LA December 21, 2014Music Background:
    Prior guitar tech and just love to play guitar

    Great tube amp

    This is my second and by far favorite tube amp. After many years of playing solid state, I've found the tone and tube power I've been searching for. I love that the power soak really lets you dial in the tube sound for many different types of tube tones. From loose classic crunch to tight modern response, it'll give you what you're looking for.

  • from Asheville, NC October 25, 2014Music Background:
    Full-time, Pro Musician

    Great Amp with Even Greater Tone

    This amp is a beast. It has the some of the best tones of any amp under $1,000.00 I have heard. It is plenty loud enough to project over drums, bass, and vocals. The MIDI programming is simple and I was up and running, switching amp channels and effect presets on a G-Major processor, with my Behringer FCB1010 foot controller in a matter of minutes. I was gigging with this amp two days after it arrived from Sweetwater and it performed perfectly. I will be keeping this amp for a very long time.

  • from Denver April 12, 2014Music Background:
    30+ Years



    Light weight, huge sound, louder than you think, fantastic clean channel with plenty of head room, boutique sound in a small package. Both the crunch and lead channels have great usable gain, and all 3 channels are very easy to "dial in"... The direct emulated speaker out (red box) is a fantastic feature. I have used this going direct to the house without a cab, and also live to supplement a miced cab. The sound guys love the tone, and it really seems to cut through the mix.

    Chris McCown my long time Sweetwater rep suggested this amp, and I am grateful for his recommendation.

    It seems to be built like a tank. I have many amps (fenders and modded marshals, etc.) but the TubeMeister 36 is the one I am gigging with now...

  • from Indiana, USA November 28, 2013Music Background:
    Gigging and studio musician

    Great tone

    Unpacked and plugged the Tubemeister 36 into the matched 1x12 cabs and took it for a ride with my deluxe american fat strat. No effects,100% amp and guitar. Results: Clean channel full and articulate, not too bright or brittle, for me, it was just right. Very deep and round. Crunch channel delivers 80's rock riff tone without any loss of note detail. Lead channel gives solid sustain and boost, will doubtless cut through the mix when needed. Verdict: all around great performance out of the box on all channels. Dialed in levels using the power soak feature (common on most amps these days) and was able to switch between channels using the midi footswitch seamlessly. Easy to program the switch, and onboard reverb adds to the overall tone.
    Note: Midi FS sold separate and is a must have. I was able to get a demo of the mkII, if none are left, the mkIII is coming out soon.
    Next i hooked up my pedal board. A ts808 tubescreamer made the clean channel sound like CCR or the Stones right out of the gate-quickly becoming my go to sound for classic rock rhythm. The ts808 on crunch channel turns it into a lead ala SRV or ZZTop. Lead channel needs no extra OD.
    Amp responds well to all modulation effects and wah.
    I've played the same Vox set up for 15 yrs and this new H&K rig floors me. Highly reccomend. I'll be back after 3 mokf gigging to post an update after the honeymoon phase.

  • from United States August 22, 2013Music Background:

    Great lunch box amp

    This is my first low wattage amp. But let me tell you this amp does not lack in power at all. With the ability to run 36,18,5,and 1 watt. And direct to the board you have so many options to get the tone you are looking for.. The clean Chanel is the most impressive on my take. It have a gain and master volume so you can get some great crunch tones. And with 3 channels you have tones galore to choose from. And you wont lack any high gain setting as well. I run this through a custom 212 custom cab and it sounds great..

  • from Fort Wayne, IN August 15, 2013Music Background:
    Working musician

    Amazingly Flexible Amp

    This amp is everything I hoped it would be and more. Programing the MIDI was a snap and 24 hours after purchase it is fully intergrated into my MIDI setup. I bought the 212 CAB and the sounds is just beatiful. Cant wait to use it in a live setting this weekend.

  • from Harrison, AR February 16, 2016Music Background:
    Semi pro, trained jazz bassists, guitar, vocals . Rock Rythym and Blues Baby

    You chose wisely....

    This amp will knock your socks off! I am a huge fan of pink Floyd and David Gilmore, with this amp and my American strat I can get some really cool tones outta here. I have gone to using the amp's overdrive only, I have done away with all my stomp boxes and have gone to using a T.C. Electronic nova system for cleaner tones. The clean channel on this amp is amazing!! Very clear highs and crisp lows, I would highly recommend buying this amp. I also bought the 2x12 cabinet to go with it but unfortunately rarely use it because the built in red d.i. Box I run directly into my mixing board and it doesn't lose an inch of tone. I only gave it 4.5 stars because it doesn't come with a foot switch. Having a foot switch to go from clean to overdrive channel would be awesome. And if all that's not enough for you the "lead boost" channel will sonically deafen you.... Lol. And as always sweetwater's excellent customer service and Ryan Clapper are always a pleasure to deal with.

  • from Bellingham, Washington January 5, 2014Music Background:

    Mini Size MEGA Tone

    I just bought the Tubemeister 36 after trying another brand name amp head for thirty days (which I returned). The flexibility offered by the Hughes & Kettner can not be matched by ANY amp head in its price range. Just waiting on the optional midi controller that will allow on the fly channel and settings storage and retrieval. I get great Tube breakup at all wattage settings and its really great to get these amazing tone at Midnight while jamming in an apartment without the Authorities kicking in my door with a noise ordinance violation. More than enough power for a club gig also. I LOVE this purchase. By fAR THE MOST VERSATILE AMP I'VE ever OWNED

Questions about the Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 - 36/18/5/1-watt Tube Head?

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