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Finally, the user-reviews on vendor sites such as Guitar Center or Sweetwater often start something like this: “I’ve only had this for a couple of hours but… OMG, it’s the best thing I’ve ever owned… I highly recommend it!!!!”. If anyone writes a review for a product they’ve owned for less than 3 months, then do yourself a big favor - ignore it. As far as user-reviews, always pay more attention to the negative reviews than positive reviews, and be willing to walk away.
Hughes and Kettner never responded to any of my emails when I experienced an issue with my amp (more on this below). It would have been nice if they had gotten back to me, even if only to say that there was nothing they could do for me.
The Amp’s Sound Quality
As long as the power-soak is not engaged, I like the clean channel a lot, but I don’t care for its higher gain channels. The power-soak causes undesirable noise in my amp.
If you are a high gain player, and you like the high-gain sound of most main-stream distortion / overdrive pedals, you may very well like the sound quality of the higher gain channels. I tend to stay more in the clean domain. But I do love to crank an amp and hear the sound of an amp pushed to its sweet-spot. My Grandmeister sounds fizzy at higher gain settings (yes, I’ve changed tube-configurations a couple of times). It provides an artificial, pedal-like gain quality. Since I’m not made of money, rather than buying another amp or two, I’ve spent quite a bit of the past 5 years searching for quality amp-in-a-box type of pedals to get the higher gain sounds I’m looking for. I review some of these separately, but I particularly like the Origin Effects RevivalDrive and the Bogner Ecstasy Blue pedals. When I play these through the clean channel of my Grandmeister, I get a very natural amp-like overdrive that sounds quite good to my ears. Anyway, buying expensive external over-drive pedals to replace functionality that I found wanting in my expensive, multi-channel amp isn’t exactly what I’d hoped for originally!