Thursday, 30 July 2009

New amp update - Hughes and Kettner Statesman Dual 6L6 review

So yes the new amp purchased last week is a Hughes & Kettner Statesman 60W 2x12 Dual 6L6 combo.

I wanted an amp since I’m trying to get back to band playing/gigging etc. Also I’ve got fed up with the Line6 POD. It is very good don’t get me wrong but really there is something missing playing through one of those and small hi-fi like speakers, it just doesn’t move the air the right way. Also I found I rarely if ever really used the power and versatility of the POD and relied on a very small number of sounds… honestly probably about 8 at the most.

I had been looking for something valve. The Marshall Haze 40W looked good, the Blackstar HT5 good but probably underpowered if I did get into a band. Ideally I wanted something with separate eqs on the two channels but that starts pushing the cost up.

A couple of bloggers etc. commented on looking an H&K and a local shop recommended them as well. I also looked at the new small Laney 50W stack but the distortion on that was a bit “ringy” for me.

I stumbled over this H&K when looking in the local shop for the EL34 40W combo which was in the running maybe. But this is that amps big brother with bigger cab, separate eq and some other features. It was “shop worn”, i.e it has a few marks and scuffs on it where it’s been bumped so brand new but a little “road worn”… funny for guitars you pay extra for that for this amp I got a discount… ironic!

I tried it out on two occasions and the impression was excellent. It has a very warm crunch tone, it’s very “classic rock” and only at it’s extreme setting gets close to metal. If you are after a real metal rock amp I wouldn’t recommend this, H&K do others like that or the Marshall JVM is a good place to look. The clean channel is ace – very clean for a start unlike some that crunch up too early for me perhaps. It has a “Twang” button (don’t we all?:-)) that adds a Fender flavour to the sound. With my Les Paul on the neck pickup I get a very warm jazzy sound that I’m in love with.

So features is has…

Dist channel
Gain and vol. 3 band eq. A boost button that preshapes the eq, very useful esp to add that extra bit – RHCP going from riff to solo in Can’t Stop it is spot on.
Clean channel
Vol and 3 band eq. Twang button and the boost works on here as well with less effect for me.
Reverb and presence controls.
Clever bits
There are some clever bits hidden around the back. First you can balance the reverb level so more on the dist or the clean channel – handy. Reverb is footswitchable if I get another foot pedal for about £30.
Second master vol. Now this is neat. This is a footswitchable only (no button on the front) boost or cut that is preset on the back and works on both channels. So you set up to have a little lift in vol and use it if say at solo time you just feel you’re getting lost. The advantage is that it is relevant to the position of the channel vol on the front so you don’t have to adjust it once set whether in the bedroom at low vol or on stage the lift is set relevant to that…. Very very clever and useful.

Finally – it sounds great! With my Les Paul my son claims it sounds “awesome” and on the dist channel with the boost in my rendition of YYZ or Spirit of the Radio sounds almost like Alex Lifeson… no wonder he uses H&K amps. I’m glad I looked here rather than the Marshall blindness I had for a while. Due to the knocks I managed to get it for only £600 which was a stonking bargain to boot.


  1. l shall have to ask my son to translate this...he is 14 and in a band, has amps and guitars coming out of his ears. Ive just got in from town and he got up when he heard me...2.45 pm!! WTF??
    so you know herne bay old haunts....sigh

  2. I am so going to need to pre-warm my valves when I finally drag out my amp again...

  3. Any chance of upping some MP3s?

  4. Hi,
    Iam a guitar player, ex-professional musician for most than 30th years (I have a great living 50) and guitar expert that includes guitar repairing, desig and building instruments, reviews and journalist work for guitar magazines here in Portugal. Trough my career I met all those great musicians that make me want to play guitar and became a musician such Deep Purple, Led Zepp, Peter Frampton, Eric CLapton you name it. Along the way I met manufacturers worldwide and aroud 1995 I met the guys at Hughes & Kettner trough the portuguese distributor of the brand. I was blown away with their amps. Aroud the time they come up with the Triamp and was love at the first sight. I use it (half Stack) from 1996 untill 2009, the best and greatest amp ever coupled with my Ibanez RG550DY from 1987 customizedwith Kent Armstrong Motherbucker pickups(4 of them. I always have a lot of guitars around me, diferent ones and diferent brands among the ones I built ( you can check it in my blog there are lots of pictures there). In recent years I discovered a brand with low cost high standards and excellent guitars thanks to the portuguese distributor - Vintage Guitars - that's what Iam using now. A little custom and they are ready to hard work on the road, and if they bacame worn out? Just buy another one its cheap. I have lots of Les Pauls type, PRS type and so. I quit playing professionaly so I sold my Triamp to my best student and some Ibanez to, to have at home an Hughes & Kettner Statesman 6L6. What an amp! It sounds so live, it sounds me, an old 70's vibe rocker in essence who payed almost everything through the years (I have bills to pay so...). Anyway all this to tell you I agree with everything you write about the Statesman and I believe you gonna have a lot of fun playing with. About drinking I can only tell you the same that I say about drugs... They don't give anything to was they only take from us. I never went in that path anyway but I lost very good friends in that road. Life's too short for bad tone so its better keep on rockin' than have a stone saying "I didn't wake up this morning".
    All the best