Hughes & Kettner is a boutique shop that produces some of the most interesting amps on the market. You could say that their models have a rather distinctive flavor. One model that really stands out is the TubeMeister TM36H. If you are looking for a great tube head for under a grand, this Hughes & Kettner might be just what you need. Let’s take a closer look and see what this bad boy has to offer.
The controls found on the TubeMeister TM36H are somewhat unusual. There are three channels to work with, including clean, crunch and lead. Those three channels each come with their own master volume and gain controls. However, there are also two three-band EQ sections to work with. Hughes & Kettner wanted to give the user an edge in tone shaping unlike what is the standard these days. On the back of the amp, you will see a reverb knob as well as the attenuation controls. Overall, getting used to the controls might take some time considering how the layout was designed. Once you do, you will find that TM36H offers some pretty intuitive solutions. If you are wondering why the reverb is on the back, it’s because it is a switchable reverb that isn’t meant to be tweaked too often.
One of the dead giveaways that you are dealing with a Hughes & Kettner amp is the dark blue backlighting on the front. Even the knobs are glowing with the blue hue. As we have mentioned before, TM36H comes with three channels. These are powered by three 12AX7 and four EL84 tubes. The combined power output at your disposal is limited to some 36 Watts. Even though it is not the most powerful head out there, Hughes & Kettner has fitted this model out with TSC protection that takes care of your tubes. In case you start pushing the tubes into the red, a set of LEDs will notify you that you are possibly in risk of damaging the amp.
There is nothing better than an all tubes amp that comes with a crisp clean channel, great overdrive, and enough juice in the lead channel. Hughes & Kettner TM36H offer a very rare type of configuration where you can play blues through some single coils one day while blasting face melting metal riffs on an active set of humbuckers the next. The amp is loud enough with its 36 Watts of power. Hooking it up to a decent speaker cab results in that quality tube tone we are all trying to find. Having two EQ sections
means that you can dial in two different tones for two different channels. It is also worth mentioning that TM36H plays very well with effects pedals which you can plug into the FX loop.
Hughes & Kettner’s TM36H is one of the more refined tube amp heads you can find these days. Aside from its pretty flamboyant appearance, it is capable of delivering a wide range of tone profiles. It is a jack of all trades but it does each one with a good dose of quality. Those who want something a bit different from your average tube head will find TM36H to be a perfect fit.