Switchblade Head review by Hughes & Kettner

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  • Sound: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.9 (29 votes)
Hughes & Kettner: Switchblade Head

Price paid: C$ 621

Purchased from: Long and Mcquade

Sound — 6
This is where this amp falls short (in my opinion). While it sounds great considering there are so many effects and options in it, when I jammed with friends, the sound didn't cut through the way I would liked it to. It got lost amongst everything that was going on. When I consider that my friends with a 50 watt EVH 5150 was better heard than me, I realized that this wasn't the amp for me. Call me a purest but there are certain frequencies that you hit with non digital amps that you don't with digital amps (even if they are mostly tube). Also, there is a very high gain hiss that needs to be gated when you get into the more saturate Lead and Ultra channels. The last thing is that I couldn't get a good grinding distortion out of it or, on the opposite end of things, and smooth marshal, mesa stiletto kind of sound out of it. That being said I am very sensitive to tone and maybe I was being too picky. I might also have not spent enough time with the amp to really dial it in but I did try for about a month.

Overall Impression — 7
Overall, for a musician that is looking for simplicity in terms of switching effects and still have a pretty good sounding amp, I think this is a good fit for them. For myself, it came down to the fact that when I play, I want people to be able to really hear me and a tone that speaks to me, which this amp didn't provide. Definitely a step up from any modeling amp but still too digital for my taste.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This amp is pretty reliable, I didn't have it long but I had no problems with it and my friends who have the same amp have never complained about malfunctions. It's solidly build and even though mine was somewhat beat up from the previous owner still worked like a dream and I never had an issue with it. Although, it would get a little HOT but that's normal for tube amps.

Features — 9
When it comes to features, this amp comes with just about everything but the kitchen sink. With a multitude of effects each assignable to any bank in the 32 channels, this amp is an all in one guitar rig and it perfect for people who are looking to avoid the more in depth aspects of effect and are just looking for the basics. There is also an effects loop which is assignable to each channel which can be run serial or parallel. The only reason I'm giving it a 9 is because there is no way to go very in depth with the effects.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Most versatile amp I've used in years, and I've been a devoted fan since 2008. They take a bit of time to get your tones but once you find that sweet spot you're there! Very reliable after the MIDI cable debacle, no problems since! Please make the Grandmeister in the U K and get them the hell out of Vietnam! And try them all please before you pass judgement!!
    My Hughes and Kettner Switchblade 100 I find doesn't have as good as high-gain distortion as even the Line 6 Combo 212. This may seem crazy but I honestly like the metal tone's I can get out of my Line 6 more than this thing. Although it sounds awesome clean, and I recently bought a MXR 10-band EQ and that seemed to really help the amp out.
    Overall, this is a very overrated amp In my opinion. I will be selling it at some point.