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Hughes & Kettner Switchblade 100 Guitar Amp Head

 
The Switchblade 100 guitar amp head has 4 channels that put the full arsenal of classic tones at your fingertips, from spine-tingling clean and crunch to singing lead and crushing, saturated sound. It seamlessly integrates all-tube preamp and power ...


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Possibly the perfect grab 'n go amp. featured

Sound I can play any guitar through this amp and get good tones. I mainly play Neal Moser guitars with Dimarzio pickups (Super 3 bridge), but also play similarly-equipped Ibanez RG and S series guitars, as well as Les Pauls. I've never plugged any guitar into this amp that didn't sound phenomenal. That said, this amp, and I've found this to be true of most Hughes & Kettner amps seem to respond more prominently to treble frequencies than others. The amp has an extremely "hi-fi" quality to it--great low-end tightness and great string-to-string separation. The amp has a great mid-range grind and top-end that is full but not too bright or "ice-pick" type. Again, the amp has a wonderful amount of control that allows you to get YOUR tone.

The speakers are Eminence Rockerdriver 60 speakers and complement the amp extremely well. The amp has four channels: Clean, Crunch, Lead, and Ultra. The gain and channel volume are controllable and MIDI-programmable per patch, and each channel has a uniquely-voiced gain boost accessed by turning the gain knob to the maximum. The "boost" LED will illuminate when the boost is engaged on each channel. The amp can go from sparkling, crystal cleans with lush chorus, delay, and reverb, to straight-ahead 70's rock 'n roll, to 80's hair metal, to full-force punishing levels of gain for the heaviest music. The channels all have specific voices to match classic amps: The clean channel emulates the "California" clean sounds, the "Crunch" channel is classic British, the "Lead" channel is British high-gain, and the "Ultra" channel is American high-gain. I'm sure you can figure out what the intent with each channel is.

The amp has on-board digital effects that are divided into three sections. There is an independent reverb control, an independent delay control that includes delay time and level, and a modulation section that allows you to select between chorus, flanger, and tremolo. The effects are good and are independently configurable and saveable per patch. The great payoff with the MIDI patch capability is that once a patch is saved, the knob positions can be changed but when the patch is recalled the settings will be recalled exactly as they were when the patch was saved, regardless of the current knob position. You can always find the original knob position--just turn the knob until the "Original" blue light illuminates. This will tell you where the knob was when the patch was saved. Saving a preset is as simple as a two-button press on the face of the amp, or one on the amp and one on the foot controller.

The effects are all good--they're not the best reverb, delay, and modulation you'll ever hear, but they'll get the job done without having to carry a ton of extra gear. Each modulation section goes from subtle to extreme before moving on to the next effects section. The amount of different tones you can get with the on-board effects and four different channels can cover virtually any gig. There's also a good amount of overlap in the channels. The clean channel with the gain boost on can deliver a good amount of bluesy crunch, overlapping with the Crunch channel with the gain set low.

The Switchblade 100C is deceptively loud and can deliver the goods in any venue; on its own in a small-to-medium sized venue, or with an extension cab or cabs for a larger venue. I've played this amp by itself, in combination with an extension 2 x 12, or with the internal speakers disconnected and two extension 4 x 12 cabinets connected.

One of the trademarks of Hughes & Kettner amps is that the controls are extremely sensitive and while you can coax pretty much any tone out of this amp you need to take the time and put in the effort dialing in the specific tones desired. The amp is easy to understand and operate so I'm not sure a manual is needed, but it is available, clear, and concise.

If you can't get a good sound out of this amp, I kind of don't know what to tell you. The amount of functionality, flexibility, and control built into this amp affords the player an almost infinite tonal palette with which to create. I previously owned a Switchblade 100 Head and regretted selling it. Getting the Switchblade 100C cured my seller's remorse and provided me an outstanding amp where all I need is a power cable, guitar cable, and the controller and cable, and I can play any gig.


Reliability I've just recently been experiencing an issue with the amp. When the amp gets hot the digital effects section sometimes cuts out. If I keep a fan on the amp this doesn't happen. I'm going to take it to a factory-authorized tech to have it checked out.


Customer Support Hughes and Kettner support has always been top-notch. When I purchased my Triamp MK II H&K sent me two replacement neon lamps at no charge. They've been equally helpful supporting me in diagnosing the issues with my Switchblade. I'm sure it's something simple and will be corrected in short order.


Liked about it Extremely flexible platform--no tone I can't coax out of this amp.
Complete all-tube amp and stereo effects in one package.
Can be used as a combo or a head with an extension cabinet.


Didn't like On the heavy side, but worth it.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.5

By racerevlon
Nov 21, 2012
 
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Switchblade Test featured

Sound Now I was amazed at what this amp can produce from only 2 preamp tubes. The clean channel is very nice and warm, so is the crunch channel. The lead channel sounds a little tamed for me but is pretty "oldschool". The Ultra channel is for very very high gain up to near "mesa" like sounds. Now many say this amp lacks character, I do not think so. The channels are rather "modeled" after other amps and the amp has no "own" sound. But unlike digital modelling amp it produces very good results and you can find excellent sounds. In fact it is like having a fender, 2 marshalls and a mesa in your bag at once.
Now the effects are nice and for digital effects the reverb and delay sound very nice and nearly as good as some rack effects that cost as much as this amp alone. The modulation effects (chorus, flanger) are for subtile use ok, but do not sound very good to me compared to some real stompboxes out there. So I would only use them rarely.
The presets are in fact pretty ok and nice to play around with, so you get the idea. Most sounds I wanted I got, by selecting a preset that was close to what I want and then fiddling a bit with the settings.
Although you have to say that this amp is very picky on cabs. I would recommend a 2x12 or 4x12 closed cab with Jensen Neos rather than the typical Celestions.


Reliability For the short time I had it to test it made the impression that it was build for the road. I also had it in a H&K amp gigbag which is nice and gets the job done. For more road use I would recommend a case though.


Customer Support I used the Email support for some questions and they were very nice and answers came within 24 hours.


Liked about it It has a good tube sound, it can produce lots of different sounds if you like to fiddle with it and has decent effects built in. The floorboard is also very nice.


Didn't like It has no real own character. You will never go along and say well -> that sounds like a switchblade.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By Tank
Oct 12, 2009
 
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Great sounding amp worth the investment, despite t featured

Sound While I have a variety of different guitars, my main "go-to" guitars are my Ibanez RG 770DX and 760 series with Dimarzio Super 3 bridge pickups, and either Super 2, Evolution, or PAF PRO neck pickups. I change the middle pickup to taste, but sometimes it's an Evolution middle, True Velvet, or Pro Track if I want a heavier sound. This amp is able to adapt to any guitar provided you're willing to take the time to work with the EQ and pair the amp with speakers that best suit your sound. I played this amp through Vintage 30's for a while and didn't think much of it, but once I switched it to a cabinet with GT-50's the amp came alive, in my opinion. The controls, especially the EQ are highly interactive and small changes make large differences. You can get a fairly good crunch sound on the clean channel with the gain dimed, and it's all up from there. The Ultra channel with the boost engaged has punishing amounts of distortion, yet isn't all that noisy. The different tones available in between cover the entire spectrum, Fender shimmering cleans to Marshall crunch to over-the-top metal. You just need to put in the time and tweak to your settings. The on-board effects are good, but not great, and are present, but not over-the-top. Again, adjust to taste. I use them mostly on the clean channel only.


Reliability This amp has been solid and I've had it for just over two years. The only issue I've ever had with it was shortly after arrival one of the power tubes worked its way out of the socket due to thermal expansion. I re-seated the tube and haven't had any issues with it since.


Customer Support I dealt with customer support regarding a different amp and they were extremely helpful, even providing parts for free when they didn't have to. Great experience.


Liked about it I love the fact that it is an all-tube amp (despite the controversy) with on-board effects, MIDI controllable, and the vast number of sounds available. Plus, the Hughes & Kettner tone sets you apart from the standard Marshall/Fender/Mesa tones. Put in the time, and this amp will set you apart from the rest.


Didn't like The foot controller, for a MIDI controller, doesn't really provide any information about the patches or the ability to name them, so you pretty much have to remember what your patches are. You'll probably want to get a more flexible MIDI controller. The manufacturer would have done well to indicate that the controls are highly interactive as I fear many people will be put off by this amp simply because they don't take the time to adjust it to their tastes.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By racerevlon
Aug 05, 2009
 
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