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Annihilator on rocking the world’s biggest stages with the GrandMeister 36


It might be hard to believe, but Jeff Waters and Annihilator have been melting faces and rocking stages with their ferocious brand of Canadian heavy metal ever since 1984. More than three decades and millions of record sales on, they’re still a musical force to be reckoned with, and a huge influence to countless metal bands across the globe. So, when Jeff and Co. decided to visit Hughes & Kettner HQ, we jumped at the chance to ask them all about their favorite gigging amps!

The typically tranquil town of St. Wendel, Germany, got a whole lot louder for one week in summer 2014.

Sure, there’s not a day that goes by at Hughes & Kettner HQ when someone doesn’t turn up and thrash away on their amp of choice – it’s all highly important tone-based research, honest – but this was different. Very different.

Because for a few select days, Jeff Waters and the Annihilator crew commandeered our demo hall and used it as a base and a practice space while they jetted (well, bussed) around playing a selection of Europe’s biggest metal festivals.

Jeff Waters rocks the 2014 Hellfest with Annihilator. Note the adulation from the 30,000 fans, and the GrandMeister just poking up in the bottom left of the shot!

Jeff Waters rocks the 2014 Hellfest with Annihilator. Note the adulation from the 30,000 fans, and the GrandMeister just poking up in the bottom left of the shot!

This was a big thing for us. And not just because Annihilator are awesome, and great people to boot.

It also gave us the opportunity to talk with Jeff and vocalist/guitarist Dave Padden about their love for the GrandMeister, and their readiness to use it in front of 30,000 people at places like the Hellfest.

You see, metal guitarists have a history of using full stacks – they look cool, they’re loud as hell and we often have the impression they’re the only thing that’s going to give us the amazingly fat low-end that down-tuned riffery demands.

So persuading serious musicians that a somewhat smaller 7.7kg head can do the business can be demanding.

We’ll let Jeff and Dave do that for you. In the video, Jeff takes us through his initial impressions of the GrandMeister when he first heard about it, his reaction after playing it, and the response it brings from other bands who come into contact with it.

Take it away, boys:


So, there you have it. Proof – if it was still needed – that a small amp can indeed sound just as huge as something way bigger, whatever your stage.

And what other globetrotting metal band can carry four of their main amps in two small suitcases?

Answers on a postcard please, and do let us know your experiences of live GrandMeister action – we’d love to hear about the onstage experiences you’ve had with this diminutive powerhouse…


See more great live shots of Annihilator with the GrandMeister on our official Pinterest page:


First published: December 12 2014. Most recent update: October 02 2015.

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Leave a comment

Dominik on November 10, 2017 Reply

I play clean but usually snappy, loud, hendrix like stuff. And i guess if I play enough small venues i can afford a bigger amp. Thank you!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on December 4, 2017 Reply

    That’S the spirit! The more you play, the better you do, which will lead to bigger venues and a bigger amp down the road… at least we hope so 🙂 But for now, go for it, experiment, and see what happens! Make a list of all the things you’ll need your new amp to have, and you’ll have a whole lot of fun trying out new ones when the time comes 😉

    Rock on!

    Team H&K

Dominik on November 8, 2017 Reply

Ok, I have a Tubemeister 18 and a 1×12 speaker cab with a Celestion Creamback 75. Im planning on doing my very first gig and ive played guitar for a year. Is it loud enough for the stage? If so, Whats the biggest venue it can take?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on November 9, 2017 Reply

    Hi Dominik! This depends on a few things really – for example, if you want to play gentle clean sounds and you have a live drummer, it might struggle. For more distorted sounds, you will have more headroom to play with. Don’t forget though, at any time you can use the Red Box DI out on the back of the TubeMeister to go straight into the PA/mixer at any venue that has one, so there’s no volume problems there at all! Hopefully this helps, and good luck with your first gig 🙂

    Team H&K

Christian on January 4, 2015 Reply

Hey Guido – I’m glad you like my tone. I’m using a Marshall 2×12 cabinet with G12-65 heritage speakers. The Grandmeister sounds really warm and smooth with that cabinet. Ampwise, I mainly use the Crunch channel for rhythm with very few bass while mids and treble are almost in the middle position. Gain is at 2 o’clock. From time to time I add the boost to have a little more sustain. For lead tones I use the Lead channel with a little delay from the onboard fx unit dialed in. With the band I’m always playing at 36 watts.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on January 5, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for the info Christian!

Guido Dirkx on December 19, 2014 Reply

Hi Christian,

That’s a really nice guitar tone you have and also cuts well through the mix. Would love to have some insights on your amp settings (gain, volume, eq, etc). Thanks for sharing.

Had a chance myself to use the grandmeister at an open air gig last summer. Played it at 18W hooked up just to the 2×12″ Cabinet. Response from the field afterwards was that it was loud enough 🙂

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on December 19, 2014 Reply

    Wow, not even micced up? Cool!

Scott Conner on December 14, 2014 Reply

Ordered one for a customer and finally got to hear one. AWESOME amp! Planning on getting one for myself.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on December 16, 2014 Reply

    Awesome stuff Scott, glad you were impressed when you finally got to hear one in the flesh! Enjoy yours too 😉

Christian on December 13, 2014 Reply

I’m using the Grandmeister since almost a year now and the great thing is it replaced a lot of gear on my board as well, thanks to the onboard FX unit. It’s simply a great sounding amp with great innovative features;-)

Here’s a live example from our band – just the Grandmeister and it’s FX, no other gear involved…

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on December 16, 2014 Reply

    Nice stuff Christian, and thanks so much for the kind words! We’re chuffed with how much you guys all love GrandMeister…

Tribute to legends on December 13, 2014 Reply

I own a Grandmeister 36 for sbout to months and it rock like hell.
Small size but hughes sounds. I can recommend this amp.

Rock on!

Annihilator is a great band!!!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on December 16, 2014 Reply

    Agreed on all those points 100%! Rock on indeed…

jacek polak on December 13, 2014 Reply

I agree ! I use Grand Meister36 since one year or so, and it replaced my Diezels, Marshalls and Bogners amps !

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on December 13, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Jacek, and we agree! As do Annihilator 😉