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Get the guitar sound: Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Nile Rodgers


One of the best things about being a guitar player is that moment when you genuinely manage to recreate a sound, a tone, a riff, or a solo by a guitarist you love. But sounding like your heroes is not easy, and of course it’s about your fretboard skills and technique as much as it is the gear you’re using. Knowing how to set your rig up helps, though, so here we begin the first in a Blog Of Tone series on achieving the amp sounds of the stars. We’ll begin with no less than Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and the Hitmaker himself, Mr. Nile Rodgers…

Great guitar skills and tone are completely subjective. Want proof? Well, try this: ask ten guitarists to name their top ten six-stringers.

We’re pretty sure you’ll get 10 completely different lists.

But anyway, here we’re going to pick guitar players we love, regardless of anything else, and tell you how to get your amp tone in the same ballpark. Let’s do this!

Jimi Hendrix

In the early morning hours of August 18, 1969, a force of nature was unleashed that would forever change the world of electric guitar.

Granted, it wasn’t that exact stellar moment at Woodstock that transformed James Marshall Hendrix, journeyman guitarist, into Jimi Hendrix, cosmic rock deity, but his apocalyptic rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at the legendary hippie happening imbued the phrase ‘flower power’ with a whole other meaning.

The one and only Jimi Hendrix. Of course, only Jimi can truly sound like Jimi, but read on to get your amp set up in a way that'll get you a little bit closer to the man's legendary tones... (Photo by Pudimm, used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

The one and only Jimi Hendrix. Of course, only Jimi can truly sound like Jimi, but read on to get your amp set up in a way that’ll get you a little bit closer to the man’s legendary tones… (Photo by Pudimm, used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

Wah, fuzz and feedback

That strange brew of wah, fuzz and feedback transformed the American national anthem into a battle cry and Jimi’s guitar into a machine gun.

Perhaps he was protesting the Vietnam police action; maybe it was an act of patriotism. Whatever his intentions were, there’s a strong case for claiming that Jimi Hendrix ‘invented’ modern rock guitar with that performance.

More than a musical instrument

The musical vocabularies of today’s guitarists are sprinkled with phrases coined by Jimi, and the same goes for the modern toolset of tones and techniques.

Even if one isn’t given over to venerating pop icons, Hendrix’s bold visions, fearless experimentation, and genre-defying psychedelic soul music merits respect on another level.

In his hands, the electric guitar was more than a musical instrument.

He felt or understood it to be the weapon of the young, the disenfranchised and the unheard, and he used it in a way that was wild, savage and sexual, and certainly a revolution in musical expressiveness.

We'll get into more detail down below, but this is how we set our amp up to get Jimi tones!

We’ll get into more detail down below, but this is how we set our amp up to get Jimi tones!

Thus Jimi not only reinvented the guitar, he also created the template for what countless young men would later aspire to become – a Rock Star in capital letters!

The Hendrix sound

Jimi’s setup – much like the man himself – was modest, but oh so effective.

Electronics guru Roger Mayer crafted effects to fit Hendrix’s music just as well as the bespoke cowboy-dandy duds that fashion designers tailored to fit his frame.

The Mayer/Hendrix connection proved fruitful for all of us, yielding fresh sounds that extended the electric guitar’s powers of expression by several orders of magnitude. Wah, fuzz, Uni-Vibe effects and fluidly controlled cascades of feedback created a whole new universe of sound swirling around the massive star at its gravitational center.

It was a sound so otherworldly that contemporaries couldn’t help but thinking that there was a little voodoo involved.

Here’s how we got our amp sounds into the Hendrix galaxy. Using the Red Box AE DI out (on 0 watts, meaning we get the full power amp saturation at ear-pleasing volumes), we selected the amp’s Lead channel (with the Boost switched off, and set the EQ so the bass and treble are at 12 o’clock, and the mids are cranked all the way! With the gain at 2 o’clock, we’re pretty close, we reckon…


By the way, if you’re using a tube amp with no Red Box-type DI, start with the Master volume down super low, or you’ll deafen the neighborhood! Once you start playing, you can then crank it up as much as you need to get those Hendrix-esque sounds.

David Gilmour

Welcome to the Clean Machine: Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour is another master of sparkling tone, albeit with a touch more British steel.

His forays into neighboring crunch and lead territory can certainly make your hairs stand on end, but Gilmour’s ethereal clean tone is still the yardstick by which undistorted cathedral guitar sounds are measured.

Take, for example, that haunting four-note motif after the initial solo on Wish You Were Here’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

That line is a masterclass in restraint, proving that the Gilmour style guide boils down to one rule: less really is more.

The unique Gilmour style

Few would dispute that his trademark emotive touch – a unique blend of spare beauty and soaring pathos – is unlike any other guitarist’s in the rock era.

David Gilmour onstage. (Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius shared under the Creative Commons license. Original image here:

David Gilmour onstage. (Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius shared under the Creative Commons license. Original image here:

There’s no excess in his art, and his lean lines would never have prompted Emperor Joseph II to give Gilmour the kind of grief he gave Mozart about there being “too many notes”. Yes, his playing is economical, but there’s no denying the powerful compositional drama in his note choices and delivery.

Getting the Gilmour sound

Born on March 6, 1946, in Cambridge and brought on board the mothership as a stand-in for Syd Barrett in 1968, just in time to set the controls for the heart of the sun, Gilmour still goes to great lengths to produce his tone today.

His current setup is fairly extensive (check out some recent live footage to see what we mean!), but the essence of his magic can be distilled with relatively basic tools.

A Strat, a good tube amp, a touch of compression and a little echo or reverb are all it takes to at least shine like a hazy diamond.

In our example, we dimed the clean channel gain to get just enough drive and natural compression to lend sustained notes some staying power. The mids are cranked too, and the bass and treble are at 12 o’clock – couple that with plenty of picking hand energy and you’re certainly in the ballpark:


Set your amp up like this and you'll be on your way to that signature Gilmour sound...

Set your amp up like this and you’ll be on your way to that signature Gilmour sound…

Nile Rodgers

Now it’s time to pay homage to a man who spanks the plank like no other, Nile Rodgers, furioso funkateer and the raja of rhythm who rules the R&B roost!

Rodgers is the undisputed heavyweight champion of clean funk-approved playing. His distinctive touch is instantly recognizable; his ultra-tight licks the propelling force that drive hits such as Chic’s classic Le Freak and French electronic duo Daft Punk’s platinum-selling Get Lucky.

Those infectious syncopated grooves, locked in with four-to-the-floor beats, have made millions want to get up, dance, and do the white man’s overbite.

Jazz, weird chords and superstars

Then there’s his knack for choosing unusual chord inversions, a gift informed by a deep love of jazz. Yes, friends, listening to jazz is acceptable.

Indeed, Rodgers’ musical roots ring true in those rich, sophisticated voicings and chops honed in the jazz clubs and concert halls of Lady Liberty’s home town.

Formed and tempered by experience in this crucible, his pop craft paid big-back dividends for superstars such as Madonna and David Bowie, for whom he produced landmark albums. We would be hard-pressed to call to mind another guitarist with as many gold records to his or her credit as Nile Rodgers.

Nile Rodgers with The Hitmaker - these two have probably sold more records than you have. (Photo Credit: Roy Cox. © Nile Rodgers Productions. All Rights Reserved. Used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

Nile Rodgers with The Hitmaker – these two have probably sold more records than you have. (Photo Credit: Roy Cox. © Nile Rodgers Productions. All Rights Reserved. Used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

Like so many of the very best stylists, his approach to guitar parts is surprisingly simple and logical: come up with a smart idea or two, an infectious groove and a catchy hook line, and capture the magic with a clearly structured sound and a tight performance.

Sound like The Hitmaker!

Rodgers’ rig is as simple as they come – all he needs is one Strat.

(His studio weapon of choice is a hard-tail known as The Hitmaker: this axe has skanked to the tune of some two billion dollars’ worth of music!)

Pretty much any Fender-style combo will do to take his distinctive ‘chucking’ sound to the stage. There’s not a huge amount of top end in Niles’ tone, and little of that typical Strat twang and snappy attack.

He prefers to dial in a warm midrange that sits nicely in the mix without stepping all over other instruments’ frequencies – a brilliant strategy, if you ask us.

To get this sound, the low end has to be tight and restrained to keep the preamp in the clean zone even when the spanking gets vigorous.

Give the power amp master knob a healthy nudge to the right so as to leave plenty of headroom, and back off the gain; 12 o’clock will do nicely.

Start with the EQ controls flat, set to the center position, and make subtle adjustments as needed (we found dialing in a few more mids worked wonders – give it a try). And it all sounded like this:


Set your amp up like this and strap on a Strat if you want that clean Nile Rodgers tone! Now, if only that amp had a Talent knob...

Set your amp up like this and strap on a Strat if you want that clean Nile Rodgers tone! Now, if only that amp had a Talent knob…

So there you go – three legendary guitar sounds to try and emulate. Let us know if these tips inspire you, or get you sounding a little more like Hendrix, Gilmour or Rodgers.

And do tell us: who would you like to sound like? Want to know how we’d set our amp to sound like AC/DC, or Tom Morello, or James Bay?

Then let us know, and we’ll see what we can do!


First published: April 22 2016. Most recent update: April 26 2016.

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Leave a comment

Rock ON on November 6, 2019 Reply

Can we get the tone for AC/dc on the Deluxe 20 please bro

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on November 19, 2019 Reply

    That’s a good one, we’ll add it to the wishlist for the future 🙂

Steven Spence on November 3, 2019 Reply

Got my BS200 back from the shop today. $92.00 for repairs. Seems the culprit was the universal power thing. Technician told me he learned from H&K this is a common problem with this amp. Happens so often H&K has come up with a mod to fix it. He performed the mod & I’m back in business. Great amp but people should be made aware of the built in flaw. The mod has also eliminated the quiet little chirp. H&K told him this will probably happen to most units at some point.
Probably covered by warranty for original owners. Bought mine used, so I had to pay. Still love this amp though!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on November 5, 2019 Reply

    Hi Steven. We’re glad you have the amp back and working, and are still able to be enjoying it despite what you’ve been through! We actually asked our product expert about this, and he said it’s something a small number of the first amp batch had. Now, if any of the first batch of BS200 amps comes in for a service for whatever, the techs can also make the mod to make sure the powering up issue you had won’t happen.

    Team H&K

Steven Spence on October 24, 2019 Reply

Thanks for the contact info.
Mesa also offers a 5 year transferable warranty.

Steven Spence on October 18, 2019 Reply

Thanks for all your answers. Your customer support is the best!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on October 21, 2019 Reply

    Thanks Steven, we do try our best 🙂

Steven Spence on October 18, 2019 Reply

Mesa has a 5 year transferable warranty.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on October 21, 2019 Reply

    Yes, you’re right, we didn’t check theirs. It certainly implies it’s transferable, as long as you have the original sales receipt. However, they only offer it in North America. Us folks in the rest of the world don’t get anything at all, and have to rely on distributors!

Steven Spence on October 17, 2019 Reply

Sorry,I forgot to answer your question. No, it won’t switch on. Totally dead. Does make a chirp every 8 seconds or so.
I have a question about the front plate. Are the words supposed to light up so you can see them? Like the tube amps do? My BS200 doesn’t and it’s very difficult to read the knob descriptions.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on October 17, 2019 Reply

    Hi Steven. We’re sorry to hear about this. It’s definitely something a tech will need to look at to get sorted then. The ‘chirping’ thing isn’t an issue in itself – that’s actually part of the amp’s design, and is explained in this portion of the manual, right at the start:

    Heads up: Black Spirit 200 Floor comes with a universal power supply
    that works reliably at any mains voltage worldwide and maintains the
    sound quality wherever you go. When the amp is connected to a mains
    outlet, it will consume a tiny amount of power – less than 0.5 watts –
    even when it is switched off. Every seven seconds or so, it will issue a
    soft chirping sound that is only audible in a very quiet environment. This
    does not constitute a material defect that can or needs to be repaired.
    If this sound bothers you, we recommend that you plug the amp into a
    switchable extension socket so you can flip its switch to cut off the power
    supply to the amp.

    The tech will need to get to the bottom of why ampo is not switching on, even if you’Re holding down the power button for the required length of time.

    Now, just to the other queries you had:

    – The words don’t light up, no. They’re actually not designed to do that in the tube amps either, it’s just the blue LEDs behind in the tube amps are going through plain Plexiglas, as opposed to the black the Black Spirit 200s lights have to penetrate! So that’s why that happens.

    – Unfortunately, no, our warranty is non-transferable, which is the industry standard. (The only other significant amp maker we know with a transferable warranty at time of writing is Victory Amps in the UK. Credit to them!) We realize this is frustrating, but there’s unfortunately nothing we can do there.

    Your first point of contact now should be the folks at Yorkville Sound, our North American distribution partners. They here:

    Telephone: +1 7162972920

    Hope all this helps a bit, and again, we’re sorry for the inconvenience and frustration the amp is causing you! Hopefully Yorkville can help you get it fixed up and working again ASAP.

    All the best,

    Team H&K in Germany

Steven Spence on October 17, 2019 Reply

Nope. No warranty. Original owner sold it to me. He bought it new in 2-2019. Sold it to me a couple months ago. Warranty isn’t transferable. That sucks! Now I have an almost new amp that does nothing. Have to find an H&K repair shop in Texas.

Steven Spence on October 16, 2019 Reply

Won’t switch on. I was playing at the 2 watt setting in my bedroom went it went silent and all power went off. It now makes a chirp about every 8 seconds like a small bird. I unplugged everything from it. Power cord, guitar,effects loop, everything. Let it sit for a few minutes then plugged in the power cord and still nothing but the chirp. I bought it used. It’s only about 8 months old from the original owners’ purchase. I read there’s no transferrable warranty. True? That’s a shame. Most companies have a transferrable warranty. Only area I see H&K lacking. Is there a US H&K headquarters I can contact?

Steven Spence on October 15, 2019 Reply

My BS 200 went dead! I bought it used 2 months ago so there’s no warranty I think. I’m in the US in Texas. Where can I take it for repair?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on October 16, 2019 Reply

    Hi Steven. We’re sorry to hear the amp’s not working. Any signs as to why, or will it simply not switch on any more?

    The ‘good news’ here is that we have an automatic 3-year warranty on our amps which is valid in the USA too. Contact the store where you got the amp and their techs will be on the case ASAP.

    Good luck with this, and let us know if there’s anything else we can do from the German side.

    Team H&K

Steven Spence on September 5, 2019 Reply

Thanks for your replies to all my questions! You guys set the standard for customer support! I’m impressed

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on September 5, 2019 Reply

    No problem Steven, always happy to help out when we can 🙂

    Team H&K

Steven Spence on September 5, 2019 Reply

Will the settings for the tones on a Grandmeister Deluxe give the same results on a B.S. 200?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on September 5, 2019 Reply

    Hi Steven, they’ll be similar, but you may just need to tweak here and there to get a little closer – the Black Spirit 200 and GrandMeister Deluxe 40 are similar amps, but not 100% identical.

    Hope that helps,

    Team H&K

Steven Spence on September 4, 2019 Reply

Have a B.S. 200. At full power and volume, will that damage the speakers of 120 watt cab?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on September 5, 2019 Reply

    Hi Steven! No… unless you have the 200-watt mode on with the master volume/channel volume cranked at all times! But you’ll damage your ears way before you damage the cab in that case anyway, and it won’t sound nice either! We use the Black Spirit 200 with 120-watt and 100-watt cabs all the time in 200-watt mode, and we’ve never had an issue 🙂

    Team H&K

Steven Spence on September 1, 2019 Reply

Have a BS200. Playing at full power, will this damage the speakers of 120 watt cab? What do you recommend as a cab wattage?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on September 2, 2019 Reply

    Hi Steven! Well, your ears will be damaged long before the cab, let’s put it that way. If you were to really have the amp on 200-watt mode and cranked, after some time you’d see some damage to the cab, yes. And it won’t sound good before the , either 😉 But less than that, and within reason, you’ll be just fine! We use our 120-watt and 100-watt rated cabs all the time, and they’re just awesome with the amp.

    Hope this helps,

    Team H&K in Germany

Steven Spence on August 21, 2019 Reply

How long before we see some Andy Timmons tones?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on August 30, 2019 Reply

    Depends if we can get him to play some tones for us or not! 😉 Otherwise we’ll have to do it ourselves, which will take a bit.

Steven Spence on August 4, 2019 Reply

I can’t get it to download to my Kindle Fire HD10 which is Android 5.0.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on August 6, 2019 Reply

    Hi Steven, we’ve seen you’ve taken this up with the developers at the Google Play Store too, so hopefully they will have a fix for you ASAP!

    Team H&K

Steven Spence on August 3, 2019 Reply

Tried to download and install on my Kindle Fire HD10. It went to my phone. Both are Android devices. But it doesn’t see my Kindle. Any suggestions?

Steven Spence on August 2, 2019 Reply


Steven Spence on August 2, 2019 Reply

Any ETA for the remote app for the BS200 on Android?

Steven Spence on July 28, 2019 Reply

How about some Andy Timmons tones!? He has several.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 31, 2019 Reply

    That’s a top idea, we’ll add him to the wish list 🙂

DanL on January 13, 2019 Reply

I feel Ed’s pain. The glare on the knobs makes it impossibly difficult to identify the setting, particularly on a small screen

Zach on April 18, 2018 Reply

How would you set up and mid scoop Metallica Hatfield sound. Particularly harvester of sorrow or puppets album.

Ed Holmes on March 27, 2018 Reply


    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 3, 2018 Reply

    It’s just the knob settings you see in the pics Ed! Very simple to recreate in a few seconds. We’ll hopefully do some more GrandMeister presets soon though, if that’s what you mean 🙂


    Team H&K

Ryan on January 31, 2017 Reply

I love these tone articles! I read the AC/DC + SRV one as well, and I’ll need to try these as well on my TM18!

As for some tones I’d love for you guys to try and duplicate:

-Slash lead tone
-Jimmy Page
-Eric Johnson (noted tone freak, might be difficult!)
-Carlos Santana
-Per Nilsson (If you’re not familiar – lead for Scar Symmetry. For an example of great solo tone, try the solo in Neuromancers)

Love my TM18 btw! I’ve been able to get everything from sparkling cleans and bluesy breakup to classic rock burn and even (with the aid of my trusty Tube Screamer) full tilt heavy metal roar.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on February 7, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Ryan, we have fun putting them together too! And cheers for the further suggestions, we’ll add them to the wishlist 😉 It’s surprising even to us how versatile the TM18/TM20 can be, what with just the two channels. And with a dirt box like that in front of them, they’re just killer! Stay tuned for more tone articles soon… 🙂

Damion V. on January 31, 2017 Reply

Well since nobody’s asked yet and I’m contemplating adding a Tubemeister Deluxe 20 to the steed, how about tones for:

– Metallica (MoP, And Justice For all, Black Album era)
– Motley Crue (Dr. Feelgood)
– ZZ Top (Billy GIbbons’s epic crunch)


    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on February 7, 2017 Reply

    More cool ideas to add to the wishlist! We’ll see what we can do Damion, and let us know what you think of the Deluxe 20 when you’ve tried it 🙂

Kasper Fauerby on September 28, 2016 Reply

Ahh, I just saw you announced the Grandmeister Deluxe. Also watched the Rabea review on YouTube.

In the meantime I actually bought a TM Deluxe 40, but unfortunately had to return it 🙁

There were sooo many things that I loved about that amp, but a few details made it unusable for me (unfortunately). I really loved the clean channel!! Seriously guys, that was just awesome! The crunch channel also had many of the sounds I was looking for. Unfortunately I didn’t fall in love with the lead channel. I’ve been using a Marshall JMP-1 preamp for many years, and I just love that smooth saturated distortion that unit gives me. I found the TM amp to be a tad too “sizzly” on the lead channel. Now, I actually had planned for this to be the case – I expected the TM to be a killer in the studio, but for my live gigs I wanted to continue to use my JMP-1 as pre-amp and just utilize the sweet sound of the TM 40 tube power section into a 2×12 cabinet.
But unfortunately a small detail ruined that option for me – as advertised in the manual for the TM40 I was planning to utilize just the power amp by feeding my preamp signal into the effects return – but much to my distress I found that the effects return was placed AFTER the main power amp volume control 🙁 Effectively that meant that if I fed the TM40 with another preamp, I was forced to run it a full volume 🙁 Now, I don’t know if that is standard or not (my Vox AC30 combo has a master volume after the effects return) but unfortunately that rendered the entire amp unusable for me in live situations.
Now, I gotta be honest with you guys – as I said, the clean and crunch tones of this amp are AMAZING! If I could afford it I would have kept it (or in that case the TM20 deluxe probably would have sufficed) for just my studio recordings (I regularly post recordings of cover songs on SoundCloud). But since I need my gear to be useable for live situations as well I unfortunately had to return it. I’m hoping maybe a future revision of the TM amps could have master volume after effects return? Or that I sometime in the future will be able to afford “studio only” gear, then a H&K is DEFINITELY on my wishlist 😉 Take care you guys, I hope you find my feedback useful.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on October 17, 2016 Reply

    Hi again Kasper! Thank you very much for the detailed feedback (again) and we’re sorry to hear that it didn’t quite work out for you with the TM Deluxe 20. We actually asked our senior product manager about this FX Loop thing, and he had the following to say about it:

    “Kasper, you’re right, but there is a reason we place the FX Return after the power amp on the Meister amps: turning down the Master (before the power amp) sacrifices the tone. The concept of a Meister amp is as follows: we replaced the Master with a power soak. So it is true, that the FX Return goes directly into the “always fully open” power amp, but then, you can enjoy full power amp tone at lower volumes with the power soak. The JMP-1 has MIDI, so the JMP-1 can even tell the “Master volume” to the TubeMeister Deluxe 40 via MIDI. So this is actually a great option to control not only volume, but power amp saturation as well.”

    “The only thing to remember is as follows: even when you only use the power amp, the preamp channel matters! Because the channel defines the current-feedback behavior of the power amp. So, if you want want perfect lead tones with the JMP-1, swicth to the lead channel of the TM40 via MIDI as well. Or even use the current feedback in clean mode as a creative preamp/power amp sound design. I think the combination of JMP-1 and TM40 is a great idea, and the “real power soak Master” is (for us) not a bug, but another feature 🙂 ”

    So there you go, that’s how it was intended. Not sure if you ever tried this in conjunction with the JMP-1, but could potentially be something to try again in the future! Let us know if you ever do try something like this – we always appreciate hearing what guys like you in the real world are trying out 🙂

Kasper Fauerby on July 22, 2016 Reply

Thank you for an excellent reply – that really helped!

Unfortunately I cannot seem to find a dealer here in Denmark, so as much as I would like to simply try both that’s probably not going to be possible.

Before posting my original question I was leaning towards the TM20, but after your explanation of the differences I’m now pretty much settled on the TM40. Here are my reasons;

My current rig is maybe a bit different compared to most people. It’s based around a rack system with a Marshall JMP1 pre-amp and a bunch of rack effects. When playing live I currently feed that into the FX return of a Vox AC30. Previously I did experiment with a “double preamp” setup, but these days I’m actually only using the power amp from the Vox. In the home studio I’m currently simply running my rack gear through a cab simulator plugin.

The problems I’m trying to solve with a TM amp are these:
The Vox is too loud! At the last gig I ran the master volume on 1-2, so I’m not really hearing the power tubes open up. The vox is also very heavy.
For hobbyist home recordings my current setup is OK, but I have no way of recording tones with a proper tube power amp. That is very important for me to get fixed 😉 Finally I’m hoping for some better cleans for my recordings with the TM….

I’m not sure either TM preamp sections would work for me a direct replacement of my live sounds for now. I’m used to having midi controlled presets, and even 3 channels on the TM40 would probably not cover all the amp sounds I’m looking for. That’s why I was considering the TM20 even though it has a shared EQ section. Live I was planning to use it as a power amp only, and in a home studio I’m happy with one set of EQ, as long as I can dial in all the tones I need…

As you can imagine I have no clue what the sonic implications of having a tube phase splitter vs a solid state one is… so that’s not really affecting my decision 🙂 But thanks for explaining the purpose of the third tube!

The differences in gain range is probably the deciding factor for me. The TM40 sounds to be a much more versatile amp. Given that the price difference is fairly small it makes sense to me to get the one with the most sonic possibilities.

I was worried about heat from the power soak when running in silent mode, but after reading up on the topic I believe that would be the same for both TM20 and TM40 because putting the TM40 in 20w mode simply disables two power tubes – correct?

It also affects my decision that the TM40 has some sort of midi control and separate master volumes for each channel. Even if I end up only using the power amp section when playing live I can see how it could be useful to run different channels and watt modes for clean sounds and dirty sounds. And it sounds very useful to me to easily be able to tweak overall volume of all clean sounds and all solo sounds from the stage.

So yeah, sorry for the wall of text – but you asked 😉
For me, personally, the perfect amp sounds like the TM40 feature set with just the two power tubes from the TM20. Well, actually to make it really perfect for my setup it would also need to include the programability of the older Grandmeister amp with the new sounds of the TM Deluxe series… but that’s another story 😉

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on August 9, 2016 Reply

    That’s alright, no worries 😉 We enjoy getting blog-length answers to our blogs!

    It seems like the TM40 will be the right solution for you, then – as you say, it simply covers more bases than the 20, and is more flexible to your specific needs. (And yes, when you set the TM40 to 20 watts, you are just disabling one pair of power tubes!)

    The other solution to your recording problem would be to continue with the Vox, but build an isolation room/box to put it in so you can crank it 😉 Not worth it, really, but if you love the tone of the Vox. That said, the TM40 will get you into Vox territory on the cleans anyway.

    By the way, your other final story… Of course we can’t say anything officially on here right now. But you know what? Maybe don’t splash the cash for a couple of months, just in case. Wait and see if there might be other options around in the future. You never know what might happen 😉

Kasper Fauerby on July 20, 2016 Reply

Great sounds! I’m right on the verge of getting this amp – but I have one problem that I hope you can help me with. I can’t decide between the Deluxe 20 and Deluxe 40!

20 watts is loud enough for me – but I want the best sounding amp!
I’ll be using it live, but mostly on 0W in a home studio….

It would have been easier if the only difference between the two models were 2 additional power tubes, but the pre-amp section seems pretty different as well. Can you explain what the purpose of the 3rd preamp tube in the 40W model is, and how the crunch and lead channels on the 40W differs from the Lead/boost channel on the 20W.


    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 22, 2016 Reply

    Hi Kasper. Hmm, maybe this will help inform your decision – or just confuse you more, but here goes 😉

    So, in the TM40, the preamp tubes are as follows:

    Tube 1: Driver
    Tube 2: Cathode Follower
    Tube 3: Phase Splitter

    In the TM20, you have a Driver and Cathode Follower, while the Phase Splitter is solid state. In the TM40, the Phase Splitter is also a tube. Make of that what you will 🙂

    The Lead and Crunch channels on the TM40 benefit from seperate Gain and Master controls (on the 20 you have a switchable BOOST, but no level control), and from a seperate 3-Band EQ. On the TM20, Lead and Clean share the EQ, while on the TM40, the overdrive section has its own EQ.

    And the overdrive gain range is also extended on the TM40. This means that the Crunch channel on the TM40 starts cleaner than the lead channel on the TM20, and the lead channel on the TM40 goes beyond the boost on the TM20.

    Hope that helps a bit! And now the final point: tone is in the eye (well, the ear) of the beholder. Or the listener, in this case 😉 Only you can decide which sounds better to you, so we’d recommend that you give both a play and make the choice based on the one you think is going top perform better for you. It will depend on other factors too, like your choice of cab, guitar, technique, etc.

    We wish you the very best of luck with your search, and let us know when you’ve made your choice – we’d be interested to hear which model you go for, and why 🙂

Matt on July 15, 2016 Reply

Well seeing as I’ve just got a TM 18 head this week, I hope it’s soon! I really like these kind of articles about approximating a particular tone, as it makes for a really interesting home practice when you’re trying to emulate a particular player.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 18, 2016 Reply

    We’ll do our best Matt, although he’s not going to make the next one we do – it’s already written and ready to go, and Clapton’s not in there. We’ll try our best for a future episode though! We also love the idea of being able to emulate players like this, so we want to do as many as we can 🙂 Enjoy your TM18!

Richard on July 11, 2016 Reply

I’ve been using a Tubemeister 18 combo for a few months with my band. As others have said in this post, it’s very versatile. I played a large outdoor gig with it last Saturday and used the red box DI to the mixer for the first time. It sounded great, I had many positive comments about the tone through the PA. I used the TM18 combo like a monitor which worked well. I got tones from a completely clean jazz type tone, to a sustaining overdriven Santana style tone (using the drive channel with the “more drive” button on, the master very low and the drive nearly all the way on). And did I mention it only weighs 22 pounds ? I can carry my whole rig from the car in one journey.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 11, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for sharing that great story Richard! We’re chuffed at how well the TM18’s features worked out for you. Were you nervous about trying the Red Box out live for the first time? We’ve met many players who are, you see, but as soon as they experience the results they change their minds…

    Oh, and Santana would obviously be another good player for us to crack the sound of! We’ll start with your settings and work from there 🙂

Matt on July 4, 2016 Reply

Any chance of a Clapton set up? Would love to see suggestions on how to replicate some of that Woman Tone!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 8, 2016 Reply

    Great idea Matt, we’ll have to add Clapton to the list for the future 🙂

Peter on June 26, 2016 Reply

Sorry, is it just me having troubles making out the positions of the knobs? Especially for the Gilmour example it is impossible to spot the positions of the Mid and Gain knobs… some simple diagrams would work better.

All in all a great idea to demonstrate the capabilities of the amps!!!!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on June 28, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the feedback Peter. It’s actually an issue with chrome knobs like these, and something we are always considering when designing amps for the future. Being able to see your controls on a dark stage can be useful 😉

    But anyway, here’s the Gilmour controls we used for you:

    Mids: 10
    Bass: 5

    Clean Channel
    Master: 4
    Gain: 10

    Worked for us! Make sure you play with serious picking hand energy too. Try that and let us know how it sounds for you 🙂

Randy on May 10, 2016 Reply

Excellent! I’m really looking forward to dialing those in on my Tubemeister 18.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on May 10, 2016 Reply

    Good luck, we hope you enjoy the tones!

BRENDON on May 5, 2016 Reply

Hi !! Great tones , really love the Hendrix and Gilmour ! Also the recording is very clean ! Any tips on removing noisy signal ? Noisegate or a specific setting ? Im using Tubemeister 18 through its redbox output ! Love the amp!

Cheers Brendon

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on May 6, 2016 Reply

    Hi Brendon, glad you like the sounds! Hmm, we got these sounds straight from the amp with no post production. But if your TM18 recordings are noisy, even on cleans, there are some things you can try. First off, check all the links in your recording chain. See if you can work out what the noisy component is. It might not be the amp. But if everything’s fine and you’re still getting unwanted noises, get a noisegate going. Start with it on very gently, and gradually turn up as needed. Only problem is on cleans you’ll probably lose some tone 🙁

    The Red Box AE on the TM Deluxe is actually a much-modernised version of the Red Box in your TM18 though, and if you’Re big into recording it could be worth a look. The new one is way more flexible, you see… It lets you pick between certain tonal characteristics (like a small or large cab, modern or vintage sound, etc.) and it also has the option of turning off the AE impulse response sounds too. THis means you can feed the basic power amp tube tone into your DAW and then add FX/delays/cab sims to your heart’s content, and you’re never going to have noise problems again 🙂

Randy on May 4, 2016 Reply

Excellent tones! How about something more bluesy with a bit of dirt …. say in the range of Gary Clark Jr? I’d love to hear a SRV tone as well.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on May 6, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Randy! Hmm, good tip on Gary Clark Jr., we might have to have a go at him. Safe to say SRV will get done too – we couldn’t forget him 🙂

Andy on April 26, 2016 Reply

Sweet! Cant wait to get my hands on this amp! Here in quebec it got delayed to the end of may. Pehaps i might as well get the 40 if it arrives at the same time hmm…

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 27, 2016 Reply

    Hmm, try them both out and see which suits you best! If you need a lot of clean headroom the 40 might be more up your street, for example 🙂

JB on April 26, 2016 Reply

STS has a song named Oort Cloud that has the tone I mentioned towards the end. There’s a pretty nasty bass solo in that same tune for the interested.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 27, 2016 Reply

    OK, thanks for the tip – we’ll check it out 🙂

Andy on April 26, 2016 Reply

How about some Van Halen 🙂

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 26, 2016 Reply

    Yeah, we’re probably going to have to get to Van Halen sooner rather than later! Stay tuned 🙂

Robert on April 25, 2016 Reply

I have a tone I’ve been trying to get on my GM36 – Warren Haynes Solo tone – do you have a tip for that?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 25, 2016 Reply

    Hmm, that’s an interesting one Robert. Got any specific video links you could give us for an exact Haynes solo? Send ’em through and we’ll ask our guy if he can help out 😉

jimmy thunders on April 24, 2016 Reply

i really like my tm18 i can get many different amp sounds from it. i can make it sound like a marshall. i can make it sound like a fender. very versatile amp

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 25, 2016 Reply

    They are extremely versatile amps Jimmy – we’re glad you’re happy with yours! Thanks for reading the blog, and we hope it was useful for you 🙂

JB on April 23, 2016 Reply

Forgot to mention who I’d be interested to see you guys do a mock-up on!

Chris Letchford’s clean solo tone from Scale the Summit
SRV’s tone from Tin Pan Alley


    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 26, 2016 Reply

    Ah, these are interesting ones! Pretty sure we’ll get to a classic SRV tone at some point in the not-so-distant future. Scale The Summit we’re not too familiar with, so we’ll have to check them out. Any specific songs you’d recommend to hear that solo tone as required?

JB on April 23, 2016 Reply

I have a H&K TubeMeister 18 that I really enjoy. It originally was a purchase out of necessity because I needed an amp with a D.I. My band rehearses in two spaces each week. One space we can be quazi-loud and the other we can’t make much noise.

In the quiet space we have electric drums, D.I. bass & guitar amps, and everyone wears headphones. The only thing heard by the outside world is vocals, muffled stickings and strings. I use the H&K in the “cyber space” studio.

The H&K has really really great tone. I was VERY surprised with what I got for my money. Not only that, it looks cool too!

There are a few small changes I would make though. The amp does get fairly hot in a small room. Luckily the chassis is made of metal. We played a gig last week and I used it on 18watts but we had a large fan blowing across the stage and the top of the amp was cool as a cucumber. Another change would be the knobs. They are solid, and have very smooth pots, but I find it hard to see the indicator dimple on each knob to be able to tell what I have it set at. This isn’t a huge issue, but at a glance from across the room or stage it is hard to see what the EQ, Gain, and Master knobs are dialed to.

I can’t wait to get to the studio next week and try these couple of tones above on my TubeMeister18! Can anyone make out the gain setting on the Gilmour tone clone? The reflection from the knobs is making it hard to tell. I’d imagine I’ll be able to tell by my ear, but currently I’m writing this down since I don’t have my amp at my disposal currently.

Thank you!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 26, 2016 Reply

    Cheers JB! Glad you’re enjoying your TubeMeister 18, and thanks for the comments and suggestions. It’S a tough one with the knobs, and you’re right – sometimes the chrome can be hard to see when you’re on a dark stage. The heat thing is not a problem at all – it’s part of the design. We actually did a blog a while back about the GrandMeister and its heat – check it out:

    Overheating is only going to be a danger if you put the amp in a rack without adequate space or a fan or something to keep it cool. Of course, doing it the way you did with a fan is also one way to go.

    On the Gilmour setting, we whacked the gain on the clean channel all the way to 11! As high as it goes is what you need for that ‘on the edge’ soaring solo tone! Give it a go and we’d be interested to hear how it works for you… 🙂

Bobby on April 23, 2016 Reply

Alex Lifeson please!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 25, 2016 Reply

    Hmm, that’d be a great one – we might have to crack out the Alex Lifeson signature TriAmp for that 😉

Tim on April 22, 2016 Reply

Also, I run straight into the amp with no effects except the occasional wah. Love the tones of the amp without added effects 😀

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 26, 2016 Reply

    This is also awesome to hear, cheers! 🙂

Tim on April 22, 2016 Reply

Love this article. The David gilmour sound is awesome. Being that I’m more into hard rock and metal, my question would be, how would you dial in the eq to get mark tremonti tones? I have my 30th anniversary tubemeister 36 dialed in to a sound I like, but would be curious as to what you all, the experts, would recommend.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 26, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Tim! Yeah, our colleague doing the sounds is well into his Gilmour, so he’ll be pleased to get that praise 😉 Hmm, Mark Tremonti would be a good one for a future article – we’ll have a look into that one for sure 🙂

Ewing on April 22, 2016 Reply

I am a fan of Tubemeister Head ( mine is 18 Head Anniversary version with NOS tubes ).
It will be very nice to see how to setup the amp for to sound like AC/DC or other guitar heroes.

Thanks for your great article and videos

Cheers from Spain

Huey T. on April 22, 2016 Reply

Hi Guys,

I like how it’s so simple to get killer tones with your well developed and clever amplifiers. It’s so simple and so good, I believe I can almost hear the direct and pure signal path the notes take from the guitar through to the TubeMeister Deluxe! And I’m so happy that you guys build analogue stuff… I fear the day will come when analogue will forever be lost! Just like the fantastic dinosaurs… Did I mention that I love T-Rex & The Gang? 🙂

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on April 22, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the kind words Huey! Never fear, while Hughes & Kettner is here the dinosaur world of analogue is also here to stay 😉 We also love a pure and simple guitar signal – check out our Puretone amp for proof of this 🙂 If you like T-Rex, maybe we should do some Marc Bolan tones for you next time!