#1
Hey guys!

So 2,5 years ago I've purchased my very first tube amp, a Tubemeister 18! https://www.thomann.de/gb/hugheskettner_tubemeister_18_head.htm? Unfortunately, with budget being an issue, I've opted for a rather cheap cab, a Kustom Defender 112 (https://www.thomann.de/gb/kustom_defender_112_cab.htm)

I know that I could have bought a cheaper amp with a better cab for better tonal results, but no head seemed to have what I wanted. The tubemeister just seemed perfect.

However, skip to today and I find myself rather disappointed from the tone I get. Don't get me wrong, the cleans on the Tubemeister are great and they impress me every time I turn on the amp.

The problems start with the dirty channel. Apparently tubemeisters (and H & K in general from what I read) are really susceptible to fizz and mine is no exception. I've played with the EQ and the guitar controls a LOT and even though you can tame the fizz it will never completely go away. Also, I wish there was a little more gain on the lead channel. It really is not suitable for 'lead' at all, even with the gain maxed out. It's nice for distorted chords, but you really need the boost on to have any hope of soloing. And the boost adds a TON more fizz making the things even worse...

Furthermore, the sound often tends to be very two dimensional, even on the great clean channel.

Is this all caused by the cheap cab or the Tubemeister? Does the cheap cab limit the Tubemeister from showing its true potential? Will a better cab ( around 400 bucks) help the tubemeister unveil its tube characteristics?

Or should I consider selling the Tubemeister, stack another 400 bucks on top of it and upgrade to a better head?
#2
Good speakers will always help shape your tone, and CAN, but not always make or brake an amp. However, "good speakers" (using my words) is relative. What sounds good to one person may not to another.

That being said, unless your speakers are complete rubbish, they SHOULDN'T effect your tone to extent you're describing. So ... THAT being said, I think you should look into investing in a new amp & cab. It sounds like your tastes have changed and you need something that will fit it.
#3
that tubemeister is hybrid, not all-tube. now, that might have nothing to do with it (tubescreamer pedals are solid state and aren't exactly what i'd call fizzy), but it might.

speakers make a big difference, but at the same time as Xander_X says unless you have a really crappy one you'd want to make sure it's not the amp before forking out much more money on a new speaker.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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#4
Take your head to a shop, plug into a good cab. If you lose the fizziness and like the tone, buy the cab. If the fizziness is still there, ditch the amp.
#5
Quote by Dave_Mc
that tubemeister is hybrid, not all-tube.


Hybrid amps have one set of tubes, Tubemeister is all tube, no doubt. I know of the hybrid rumors, but nothing is proven. My guess is that only the boost function of the amp is affected by that solid state thing, since the amount of tubes could not possibly produce that much gain.

Quote by Xander_X
It sounds like your tastes have changed and you need something that will fit it

Nahhh, my tastes are exactly the same as before. It's more like it that Tubemeister wasn't the thing I was expecting it to be. The thing is that I bought the Tubemeister blindly. Where I live I have a very limited amount of options to choose from and test before buying. I have to rely on youtube and gear reviews, which as we know aren't the most reliable things ever...

TBH I was expecting to hear that a good cab would probably solve my issues, but you guys got me thinking.



Here Thomas Blug plays through a matching cab and gets a really good tone. I'm nowhere near at getting a tone this good, though I accept that he has much better gear than me. (and his playing is prety good as well, let's not neglect that!)

Which brings me to my next point:

Even though I complained a lot about the fizzing in my first post, I have to say that it's almost unnoticeable when playing along with others. The problem is that the lead channel can sound really sterile and my licks tend to sound disjointed one from the other. I want to achieve a fluid lead tone, like Thomas does in the video above, or fusion players like Tom Quayle do.

So I've been thinking that the solution to my problems might be a really good delay/reverb pedal. Tubemeister does lack built in reverb after all. What do you guys think?
#6
I'd think about a tube change first. What brand stock tubes are they? The tube change in my Valve Jr was the difference between keeping it or not. Cost a hundred or so trying a variety of tubes, but 10 years later ii still love this amp. After that I'd think cab and pedal board.
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#7
BlackRose93

I have a similar issue as its hard to find the amps around here that I want to try.

Even though I hate supporting GC vs the Mom & Pops, I usually buy my amps from them off the website. That way if I don't like them, I just take it to my local GC and get my money back.

They don't normally refund the shipping unless its proven defective as a policy, but I always get my shipping back whether I keep the amp or not. They have a 24 shipping guarantee, and I've never had them ship a used amp out in less than 72 hours. They always make some excuse. But I get free shipping everytime ๐Ÿ˜œ
#8
Quote by BlackRose93
Hybrid amps have one set of tubes, Tubemeister is all tube, no doubt. I know of the hybrid rumors, but nothing is proven. My guess is that only the boost function of the amp is affected by that solid state thing, since the amount of tubes could not possibly produce that much gain.


It's not all-tube.

(I'm not sure what you mean by "Hybrid amps have one set of tubes." )

As far as I'm aware people have posted pics, and IIRC it seems to have a suspicious number (i.e. more than zero) of op-amps at the input.

Not proven... well, maybe not in a court of law, I suppose, but H&K has form with hybrids, and it doesn't have anywhere near enough tubes for the amount of gain it has and being a push-pull design...

It's proven enough for me. YMMV, of course, and that's your prerogative.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#9
Dave_Mc

Hybrid amps have, by definition, tubes either in the pre-amp section OR in the power-section. Tubemeister has in both. You are right that it shouldn't have that much gain, I've already told you that. But only when the boost is engaged. Normally the amp has the amount of gain you would expect. It's like the amp has a built-in distortion pedal, that's all.
#10
No I would say that if there are any solid state shenanigans, either in the preamp or the power amp, that it's not all-tube. Having some tubes in the preamp and power amp doesn't make it not hybrid if there's solid state stuff going on too.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#11
Quote by scott58
I'd think about a tube change first. What brand stock tubes are they? The tube change in my Valve Jr was the difference between keeping it or not. Cost a hundred or so trying a variety of tubes, but 10 years later ii still love this amp. After that I'd think cab and pedal board.


I second a tube change, I have the anniversary edition 36 and I switched out the preamp tubes for a set of Tung-Sols from the no-name Chinese. Much better sound overall and a little bit more gain on tap as well. Money well spent in my opinion.
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#12
The Tubemeister is undoubtedly a hybrid amp.

Just because it has *some* tubes in it doesn't make it an all-tube amp. There exist op-amps in the guitar's signal path.
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#13
I recently managed to acquire the schematic for my H&K St Dual El 84, and I'm guessing that the Tubmeister is similar. It is very complicated and comes in two sheets. The one labelled "Preamp" is all SS, and the one labelled "Power amp" is preamp tubes, power amp tubes and a few transistors thrown in for good measure.
#14
^ Yeah I think it's a hybrid too. Certainly the number of preamp tubes it has is suspicious, to say the least.

I have seen the schematic for the old discontinued Edition Tube, and it definitely had shenanigans going on. They have form with this.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#15
Hybrid amp for sure, but one of the good ones. I think the preamp stage is ss and tube, but they won't release the schematic. 

I would play around with a tube change, try to tune the preamp tubes. I'd say look for darker sounding ones. It is also possible to just swap the speaker in the Defender cab, they show a Kustom speaker which is probably a low grade something. A swap to a Celestion V30 would probably do the trick, or try another speaker/speakers - take the amp to the store and play around.
#16
BlackRose93 I have been lurking about this site for like 5 years, but I made an account to reply to this because it's the one thing I know about.

I went on a rig minimizing spree a couple of years back. I downsized my 100 watter for a pair of HK Tubemeister 18s (one for backup).  I can verify that no matter what you do, the distortion channel, with boost activated, will be fizzy. Additionally, it's got one of the loudest buzzes I've ever heard when you're not playing. I've even tried to tame the buzz with an ISP decimator and an MXR smartgate (ISP is better in all regards btw). 

I have played my TM18s through an Orange 1x12, Marshall 1960A/B, and a Mesa Rect. 4x12.  The tone is pretty good, but the fizz and inability to be fairly quiet while not playing was a deal-breaker. I've since switched back to my trusty 100 watt head. 

I would recommend NOT investing in a high quality cabinet because it won't tame the fizz. It does have a good high-gain tone, but it comes at a price (unbearable buzzing).  There are a variety of quality tube heads out there for under $1000. I'd go that route.
#18
Quote by diabolical
Hybrid amp for sure, but one of the good ones. I think the preamp stage is ss and tube, but they won't release the schematic. 

I would play around with a tube change, try to tune the preamp tubes. I'd say look for darker sounding ones. It is also possible to just swap the speaker in the Defender cab, they show a Kustom speaker which is probably a low grade something. A swap to a Celestion V30 would probably do the trick, or try another speaker/speakers - take the amp to the store and play around.

Agreed!  I have the TubeMeister 36 and haven't experienced the fizziness mentioned. When paired with the H&K 412 with V30s, it sounds huge, for what's technically a mini amp.  It also sounds pretty good even when you dial the power soak down to 5W.  

BlackRose93, try a Vintage 30. Used ones are pretty cheap.
#19
Quote by SmithDerp1
BlackRose93 I have been lurking about this site for like 5 years, but I made an account to reply to this because it's the one thing I know about.

I went on a rig minimizing spree a couple of years back. I downsized my 100 watter for a pair of HK Tubemeister 18s (one for backup).  I can verify that no matter what you do, the distortion channel, with boost activated, will be fizzy. Additionally, it's got one of the loudest buzzes I've ever heard when you're not playing. I've even tried to tame the buzz with an ISP decimator and an MXR smartgate (ISP is better in all regards btw). 

I have played my TM18s through an Orange 1x12, Marshall 1960A/B, and a Mesa Rect. 4x12.  The tone is pretty good, but the fizz and inability to be fairly quiet while not playing was a deal-breaker. I've since switched back to my trusty 100 watt head. 

I would recommend NOT investing in a high quality cabinet because it won't tame the fizz. It does have a good high-gain tone, but it comes at a price (unbearable buzzing).  There are a variety of quality tube heads out there for under $1000. I'd go that route.

Thanks for the info, that's a very useful and helpful first post.  

Quote by Tony Done


excellent.

fup me that's a lot of op-amps in the preamp.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Mar 7, 2017,
#20
SmithDerp1 That's weird, I don't experience any buzzing at all. And I'm most of the time standing next to the cab facing it with my guitar. My guitar has a pair of EMG's though (which I've outgrown quickly, but I'm not willing to spend on new pickups), so it might have to do with that. It's funny because I don't think it has a good High-gain tone, while it seems to be the opposite for you.

Ippon Some time ago, while browsing the internet, I found two guys saying that the Tubemeister 36 is even fizzier than the 18 one. How can different owners get so different results from the same amp?

Anyway, thank you guys for your responses. I've came to the conclusion that Tubemeister might not be for me. 

What I don't like is that It seems to me that the amp has way too much of his own character, like it doesn't listen to me. It seems to me that it masks my sloppy playing, because every time I play with a Fender Hot Rod Deville in our studio my sloppiness becomes real apparent. I have to really concentrate and play my best, but then I get an amazing tone out of it. It really makes me a better player.

What I want is an amp that will tell me to my face 'Hey, you suck big time' , so I can listen to that and improve my playing.
#21
Quote by BlackRose93
SmithDerp1

What I want is an amp that will tell me to my face 'Hey, you suck big time' , so I can listen to that and improve my playing.


Sounds to me like you might be ready to look for Dumble clones or just graduate to classical guitar.
#22
BlackRose93 As far as tone goes, I'm not terribly picky. As long as an amp can pass a minimum acceptable threshold, I can live with it.  Definitely not a tone chaser by any means. If you're looking for an amp that will tell you how you're playing, you may want something less "hifi" than the TM18. That could be a Marshall, Mesa, or any one of the numerous options available these days. A more "open" amp, with less compression on the high gain settings, will definitely put a microscope on your fingers.  Example: I had to be much more careful with my string muting, pick attack, and palm muting when I switched from the TM18 to a Mesa Rectifier.   It's literally what feels right for you, and you'll need to try extensively before you buy. 
#24
I've been GASing a lot right now and what caught my interest is Mesa's Mini Rectifier. That thing seems to be pretty much what I want from an amp. It's quite cheap in USA at 999$ but in Europe it costs about twice as much...

Another one that I seem to like quite a lot is Victory's The Countess head. The sound clips sound pretty promising.

Man so many great options to choose from, with so few opportunities to actually try them where I live...