Features: The Hughes & Kettner Statesman Dual EL34 is a 50 watt all-tube guitar amplifier head.
This amp uses two 12AX7 tubes in the preamp and two EL34 in the power amp section. It has two channels: Clean and Drive. An effect loop, switchable form serial to parallel, a second volume knob (which you can access from the back of the amp) providing the possibility of a footswichable second master volume. Also you have a Hall-Balance-knob which you can set your high quality spring hall to be equally strong present on both channels, or either have more reverb on the Clean or the Drive channel. You can switch channels, boost and the second volume with the featured footswitch and also switch the effect loop and hall on or off with an optional footswitch. The Clean channel has a volume knob, while the Drive channel a Drive and master one. Both channels have got independent knobs for Treble, Middle and Bass. On the Clean channel you have the option of using the "Twang" mode, which is basically a bright switch making the sound "funkier". The Drive channel provides a Boost switch that gives you more gain (which is great for solos). You also have a Hall and a Presence knob for botch channels (but remember you can adjust the amount of hall going to each channel, or switch the hall via a optional footswitch, so it's not problem having one hall for both channels at all).
This Amp is made to give you Vintage 60s clean and the classic rock tones. You can use it for Blues, Jazz, Rock, and even Metal, if you take your time with the tone and gain settings.
It has a lot of extra features (second master, twang-mode, boost, hall-balance) which make this two channel amp very versatile.
I play in a Blues, Funk and Hard Rock crossover band, and so I need to have access to many different sounds, although this amp has a simple two channel layout, it suits my styles of playing very well. Also I tend to use various effects on certain parts (envelope filter, whammy, phaser, delay) and this amp takes it like a pro, no problem even if put directly in the input.
I play in a moderate sized practice space with a bassist who loves to slap the crap out of his bass in some parts using equalization to cut though the mix and also a very loud drummer who equally like to beat the crap out of his instument as the bass player does. I started with a 100 watt solid state amp with a 2x12 box and an internal 12 inch speaker many yeats ago, so I was a little afraid how a 50 watt amp with now only the 2x12 cabinet can handle the volume levels. To be honest, it's no problem at all. I use to play at 6,5-7 out of 10 volume setting and the amp is very loud and cuts beautifully through the mix, and has even got more reserves if needed, but even on large scale gigs you won't really have the the need to use it because with a 2x12 cabinet it's loud enough. If you should feel the need of getting even more volume, get a 4x12 or even two of them as a full stack, but I think its a little overkill.
I want to make this review as just and neutral as possible, so I thought about possible downsides of the features. Normally giving an amp only one hall section for all the channels would be a bad thing, but because of the Hall-Balance-knob this problem is solved very efficiently. I use the hall-balance setting to have hall only on the clean channel, but I could also adjust it to a small amount on one channel and a bigger amount on the other or distribute the hall equally to both channels, so it's not a problem at all. I think adding a gain-knob to the Clean-Channel would be a superb thing, because it would expand your possibilities even more, but the clean sound is balanced just right to get crunch sounds on higher volume settings.
About the rating: A 10/10 would be an amp with tons of features and possibilities, midi layouts and an extreme variety of settings. // 8
Sound: I use two guitars with this amp. A Fender Standard Telecaster and an Ibanez RG 2550 EX with DiMarzio Pickups (humbuckers in the bridge and neck position and a single coil in the middle). So basically the Fender is my soft, twangy funk machine while the Ibanez is more suited for heavier music genres. I use both guitars in the A-Standard tuning (A-D-G-C-E-A), I like to have the very heavy low end for the blues and heavy parts this amp can handle the significantly low tuning without any problems.
As said before I play in a Blues, Funk and Hard Rock Crossover Band. Imagine BB King and Robert Johnson meeting Hard Rock and old school Rap. This amp is able to cover all of the needed sounds. You can easily play Jazz on the Clean channel and also modern or old school Metal on the higher gain settings, the sound is still very transparent even though not as aggressive like boogie rectifiers. I mostly use the Drive channel with higher gain, middle and bass settings giving me aggressive but still transparent sounds which can be superbly controlled using you volume knob if you like to have less amounts of gain, for solos I use the boost switch and it works really well for this purpose. I love to have a chunky Blues, a heavy Hard Rock and a twangy Funk sound and it's all possible in the range of the two channels. I think this amp suits Blues and Rock sounds best, but still you can pull of the range of the other one if you take your time with the settings. I also use whammy, phaser, envelope filter, synth and delay effects to create weird and dj-like tones on certain small parts, this amp takes them like a pro and doesn't lose any tone quality even if you dramatically change the tone using the effects.
This amp is has no issues with noisiness. On high volume settings with plenty of gain you can hear it happening but not more than on any other amp out there. The Clean channel stays clean even on very high volumes until you reach the last quarter of the volume-knob where it slowly changes into soft and very nice overdriven tones but then the volume reaches a very high level. The Drive channel gives you a soft overdrive, than slight distortion to even more distortion until singing lead tones and modern or old school metal sounds. You can get superb blues, crunch rock and some very transparent and dynamic metal tones. Blues sounds extremely good on this amp. You can use the volume knob on your guitar and play very dynamically. Funk and Jazz are no problem for the Clean channel. Rock tones are suited very well, kind of Marshall meets Vox with more of the Marshall. If you have aggressive pickups and chose high gain settings you can get very good Metal tones out of this amp, but you have to invest time in the proper equalization, because this amp won't sound extremely brutal like a boogie rectifier or any of the Engls. You also have to use the middle knob wisely if you like more scooped sounds or a classic sound setup for playing Metal. You could always use Tube Screamers or Boost pedals, but this amp has big amounts of gain, so it won't be necessarily needed.
About the rating: A 10/10 would be a boutique amp capable of making me cry because of the tone quality. // 9
Reliability & Durability: Hughes & Kettner are known for their superb made in Germany" qualities. The amp is build like a tank, and the tubes are superbly secured. I read many other reviews and until now no Statesman disappointed their users.
About the rating: A 10/10 would be a superbly crafted amp being capable of taking a serious beating without any problems. // 10
Overall Impression: For me the Hughes & Kettner Statesman EL34 is a brilliant example that you don't need a four-channel with 17 tubes amp to get a high variety of rich tones. I tend to use the phrase less is more even though I would not say that less is a good description for this amp.
It is able to cover all my needs for the many kinds of music I play, and sounds great for any possible kind of music you would like to play, even if it suites Blues and Rock best.
There are some reviews on YouTube for this amp but no one that shows the full potential of it measured by the variety of tones, basically it's always soft Blues and some oldschool Rock, which sound great, but you could get the impression this amp isn't capable of Jazz, Funk or Metal which is not true at all.
The prize for this amp was 1214,00 Euro, but then Hughes & Kettner decided to stop producing it mainly because the amp didn't sell that well due to poor marketing methods and the lack of Fame compared to Fender, Marshall and Vox. Now this amp costs 555,00 Euro because the sellers want to get rid of it because of the production stop. This is a great possibility of getting a superb all-tube amp for very little money. I compared it to some Bugera 1990 and 1960, which are more affordable and not that horrible as many out there say, but by far not as good as the Statesman. I also tested Marshall JCM 800 and 900, which tend to be slightly more aggressive and lack the Vox tone and give you the sweet Marshall one instead, but they are far more expensive and not as versatile, same thing for Orange or Boogie, great sounds and in some categories better than the Statesman but all this for high-end prizes.
I love this amp's tone and the versatility of it. It would be even better if it had a gain-knob for the clean channel and more aggressive possibilities on the Drive channel, but as I said nothing a bit of playing with the tone and Drive controls couldn't handle. The Clean and Drive tones are just that superb.
If it were stolen, I would track the thief down, recover the stolen amp and make an example of him.
About the rating: A 10/10 would be the amp of my dreams with having everything I would ever dream of. // 9