Tyre kicking done ... Thankyou TGP ... Hughes & Kettner Statesman

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by MartinC, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    The Thankyou

    I’ve been looking for a new amp for many months now, and finally made a purchase last Saturday

    I just want to say thanks to all you TGPers who have helped me out with knowledge, tips, pointers, sanity, insanity and humour along the way these past few months. It was something of a rollercoaster journey with my budget going up significantly during the search, and then finally coming back down to a purchase that actually left me with change! Also, what I was looking for changed over time and, in the end, came back to a set of specs that are pretty much the same as where I started … but I feel educated.

    If this sounds like a last sign-off, it isn’t. Too much fun to be had around here ...

    The Amp

    The amp I bought was a Hughes & Kettner Quad EL84 40w combo. I can give you my initial thoughts on the amp (why I bought it) but I haven’t had time to thoroughly explore it yet.



    Amps I tried along the way … all combos except where noted:
    • Fender – HRD, DRRI, SRRI, 57 Deluxe
    • Mesa Boogie – LSS, 5:50, 5:25, Rectoverb
    • Orange – AD30TC, Rockerverb 50, Rocker 30 Head + 2x12
    • Hughes & Kettner – Duotone 50, Edition Tube 20th Anniversary, Statesman Quad EL84
    • Genz Benz – Black Pearl 30 (2x12 combo)
    • Victoria – 20112
    • Soldano – Astroverb 16
    • Blackstar – Artisan 15 and 30
    • Marshall – Vintage Modern
    • Vox - AC50CP2
    • Rivera - Clubster 45
    There may be others that I’ve forgotten. The two amps I came closest to buying, but backed off at the last minute, were the Duotone and the Black Pearl. They seem like very different amps … as I mentioned I was on a learning curve during the search, part of which was finding out what I was looking for. That said, the common element to those two amps is that I had a huge amount of fun playing them and they both sound very natural and respond extremely well to your pick and fingers, allowing you to express what you want to express.

    I bought the Statesman because, for me, this is the best blues/roots/classic rock, 2 channel, portable, volume-flexible combo that I could find within my budget (in fact well below my peak budget). By volume-flexible, I mean that it does home, jamming, band rehearsal and performance volume levels with tone that makes you want to play longer. Important for me as I'm intending to stick to one amp at a time ... limited finances and space.

    I hadn’t really considered Hughes & Kettner before this search. I had heard of them, but I associated them more with very expensive heavy rock/metal only amps. I plugged into a Duotone one day and was floored by the tone … I came very close to buying but backed away when I realized that, as great as the Duotone was, it was a little too modern sounding on the gain side of things for what I was after. I spent months after that trying and failing to find something that left me with the same experience/child-like grin as playing the Duotone and it was that amp that caused my budget to increase by 50%. In hindsight, thankfully, it was that experience that also really turned me onto Hughes & Kettner. In the end, I ended up getting the Statesman for $300 Aussie dollars (about US$250) more than a Hot Rod Deluxe at street price. Value for money-wise I'm amazed and delighted.

    In terms of quality of tone, feel and response/articulation, I honestly feel the Statesman is very close to the Duotone, but it is a less modern sounding amp, and it obviously doesn't have the huge feature set that the Duotone has ... or the stage presence of its backlighting. Generally, the Statesman has a vintage oriented EL84 tone and one thing that stands out across both channels is that it’s easy on the ears at higher volumes ... no harshness or irritating frequency traits. It's fairly smooth too ... I've played EL84 amps that are much more aggressive and raw sounding, like the EL84 Hiwatt Customs.

    Clean channel starts coming alive at fairly low volumes ... nothing that would annoy the neighbours. There's no master on the clean channel. It's very articulate and clear with the warmth of the EL84s coming through … no brittleness. There is a "twang" button that is designed to re-voice things a bit more towards Fender cleans. I don't think it does quite that, but it does make things a little more spanky and it's quite subtle ... which I like ... I would liken the difference to playing with strings that are a few weeks old, versus playing with new strings, though that's not to say that the amp is dull at all with twang disengaged. Hair around the edges starts appearing after 12 o'clock with single coils ... still clean if you pick lightly, but you get some bluesy sustain when digging in. With the volume wide open and humbuckers, chords are pretty crunchy and single notes are full of sustain and feel under your fingers ... blues heaven ... and this is achievable without making your ears hurt. I found it tempting to just stay on this channel alone, even though other reviews I’ve read seem to rave more about the overdrive channel. Compared to other 40W amps (SRRI, HRD), this is on the quiet side ... still plenty for a small venue scenario I would think (I haven't actually tried that yet).

    The overdrive channel, which I believe cascades more gain into the clean channel, gives a great, full, creamy overdrive in general, but still with good string to string separation in chords. I'm not sure what to compare it to, but it's head and shoulders above any other amp near its price range (that I've heard or tried! ... and remember, I wanted a blues/roots/classic rock type of OD) and having played some much more expensive amps, I don’t feel like I’ve compromised too much there either. You can get mild OD right through to typical Gary Moore levels of saturation if you engage the boost button. Sounds thoroughly convincing at moderate levels too. The boost is more about added creamy drive than volume.

    I should say that I've only played the amp with an HSS strat, so this initial review is all based on that.

    Reverb sounds good to me. I was considering a SRRI + quality OD pedal at one point ... the SRRI is my benchmark high-point for bluesy reverb. I don't think the Statesman's reverb is quite as well done as that, and it's of a different kind (more airy/swirly than springy) but it's certainly better than what I had before (Classic 30) and SRRI/DRRI aside it's on par or better than the reverb on the other amps I tried ... put it this way, a nice reverb was a must for me as I usually use a little all the time to add a bit more talent, so I wouldn't have bought without it passing the reverb test.

    Icing on the cake is it's a very classy looking amp. The website pics had me a little worried as the tolex looks a bit shiny and plasticky ... not so in the flesh.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
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  2. Axemeister

    Axemeister Member

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    Great report! Great Amp.
     
  3. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    Thanks! :AOK
     
  4. slipslick

    slipslick Member

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    I love it when a plan comes together! Great amp. Enjoy.
     
  5. Miles Long

    Miles Long Member

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    I would love to hear the el-34 version..
     
  6. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    Now if you'd have said that last Friday, I could've helped out ... with a report at lease :D... the shop where I bought my Quad had the EL34 head and matching 4x12. I didn't plug in 'cos I knew that would be way too much amp for my needs. If the quality of sound and response is all there (which I'm sure it would be) that would be a great amp for classic rock gigging. The EL34 and 6L6's both have a few additional features over the EL84 models too ... independent EQ on each channel, serial/parallel effects loop with a level control (rather than straight serial) and a 2nd footswitchable master volume on the overdrive channel.

    At this point I can't tell you that I'm not biased, but I've now tried 3 Hughes & Kettner amps (Duotone, Tube Edition 20th Anniversary and Statesman Quad EL84) and I have been seriously impressed with all three.
     
  7. NortheastHick

    NortheastHick Supporting Member

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    Congrats....Is it true that these have a solid state front end for providing gain?? Not sure, but i heard these only have 2 preamp tubes, kind of like the spyder valve..
     
  8. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    Yes, they only have 2 preamp tubes. I don't know if they have a solid state driver, but I did read that in a post here a couple of weeks ago ... I think Steve Snider posted it. Having read that, I did some digging around. None of the magazine reviews I read mentioned it. The blurb on the H&K website doesn't mention it ... and it turns out that their whole switchblade range and Tube Edition 20th Anniversary amp (seemingly a straight tube amp ... no on-board effects or other advanced electronics going on like the switchblade) only have 2 preamp tubes. So I honestly don't know.

    In the end I used my ears to figure out whether or not to buy.
     
  9. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    An update ... I put the question to Thomas Blug (Strat King, great player and H&K product demonstrator http://www.thomasblug.com/) via email. Short answer is yes there is a solid state driver for the gain. Longer answer is that H&K have used a design approach that aims to create a "tube amp with decent solid state drive pedal in front of it" type of set up ... but it's all in the amp. It's working for me ...
     
  10. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    I'm not sure why anyone here would criticise a solid state front end, since that is what you get when you plug most pedals, certainly the TS-9 inot a clean tube amp.
    I'm a H&K lover also, Triamp plus replex/Rotosphere for me.
     
  11. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    Note sure if anyone was critcising the solid state front end ... I dug deeper out of curiosity and figured I'd just post the facts. It does work extremely well.

    There's a session player in Sydney by the name of Peter Northcote who I've heard many times who uses a triamp. His tone is fantastic. There's definitely something to be said for the German take on tube amps.
     
  12. Steve Snider

    Steve Snider Silver Supporting Member

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    I loved the high gain tones Thomas Blug was getting at Namm so I peeked behind the amp and saw only two 12AX7s. Well there is no way he could get that sound from two 12Ax7s so I asked. The bottom line was the amp sounded great with Blug and Garsed playing it and the SS driver is no big deal to me as it sounded wonderful. Garsed and Blug do kick serious ass though and are two of the nicest guys I have met in this biz.
     
  13. localmotion411

    localmotion411 Member

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    My biggest concern is that I don't always like the sound of an OD pedal stacked into another OD pedal, which is what you would get running an OD into the Statesman cranked. But I've heard these amps sound really great, and when it's all said and done, it's about how it sounds and feels.

    I'd play a guitar made out of a muffler and an amp made out of a toaster if it sounded and felt great. Congrats on your new amp -- have fun, mate!
     
  14. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    I have only seen the sample clips on the H&K site of Blug playing, but that alone is enough to see he is a wonderful player with style and touch.
    It's nice to see H&K getting a bit of recognition here. Being European, they are not as cheap in the USA as the locally made stuff, of which there is a phenomenal amount at ridiculously cheap prices, so it gets overlooked a bit.
    HAve you tried a Rotosphere ?
     
  15. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    Thanks! :AOK

    On the OD pedal stacking, I'm guessing what you'd do is use pedals with the clean channel. Whilst the clean channel breaks up progressively in the last half of the volume knob, I would think that's largely poweramp OD and not part of the solid state thing. I've read another couple of reviews from TGPers and both have mentioned that the clean channel works great with pedals. Haven't tried myself ... funny thing is, I have no pedals and I've been guitar straight into amp previously (occasional wah) ... now I've got an amp with a built in OD pedal! As you say ... whatever works ...
     
  16. Steve Snider

    Steve Snider Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes and it's a pretty cool Leslie simulator though I am not real into that sound so no use for me.
     
  17. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    Me, I'm hopelessly enarmoured of Gilmour, and I don't mind a bit of Mike McCready, so it gets more use than other pedals. The slow setting on it just gives a gentle swirly chime, which adds a bit of colour to clean sounds without dominating.
     
  18. auratnik

    auratnik Member

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    [​IMG]

    Statesman works great with pedals!
     
  19. spyeman

    spyeman Member

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    I have a 100W Switchblade head that I think is awesome, just a perfect gigging amp with the full MIDI capability. Yes, it only has two 12X7's, and I don't care if they have a mouse inside running on a wheel - it sounds damn good and that's what counts!!!!!!
     
  20. Emiel

    Emiel Member

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    Now that's funny! I also own the Statesman Dual EL84 AND the HWA Fuzzwork Orange :BEER

    What kind of guitars do you use with this and by the way... why do you set the mid like that? (I always have it like on 60%, maybe I should try to use it a little bit less too)
     

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